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Kelpie - abv 4.4 per cent; £2.20/50cl
The seaweed Irish Moss, or Caragheen (Chondrus Crispus to botanists) is known to brewers as “copper finings”, and is used in the brewing process not to flavour beer, but to enhance its clarity.
However, this week’s feature, the Scottish beer Kelpie, includes bladder wrack as an ingredient in an effort to replicate the flavours produced by brewers on the Argyllshire coast centuries ago, where barley for beer, and indeed whisky, was grown in fields fertilised with seaweed.
It is brewed by the innovative Williams Brothers who have revived many ancient Gaelic recipes for beer, several of which have featured in this column over the years.
Dark brown in colour, it pours with just a thin head and an aroma that combines dark malt loaf, blackcurrant fruit, chocolate and a hint of iodine.
The texture is thinner than expected, but very smooth with a slightly sweet flavour of milky chocolate and light malt.
There are hints of hazelnut and charcoal, and that salty, iodine note reappears along with some elderberry, coffee and spice.
Very soft, rounded and restrained with only the faintest bitterness and just a whiff of hops, this could make a very agreeable dessert beer. As for a category… hmm, well what about “mild porter”?