Azrael - Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AzraelAzrael

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BA SCORE
82
good

181 Ratings
THE BROS
80
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 181
Reviews: 39
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 14.01%
Wants: 4
Gots: 35 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Pale Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: on 06-20-2009

Formerly called Gargamel.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 181 | Reviews: 39
Reviews by Navalartichoke:
More User Reviews:
Photo of biegaman
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Azrael, a name popular folklore attributes to the Archangel of Death, a beer brewed by an outfit called "Devils Backbone", despite sounding dark and satanic is actually bright and cheerful looking. And its clarity, dainty bubbles, and flashy highlights are commendable. Wrapped by a halo of virgin white foam this has, if anything, an angelic appearance.

Somewhat unusual for a "Belgian inspired golden ale", this aroma doesn't have the immediate onslaught of peppery phenols and fruity esters. It does, however, have the wholesome, comforting scent of warm white bread and an obvious amount of sweetness. A clean malt bill and subtle yeast nuances makes for a nice introduction.

Those pleasant notes of crackers and candi sugar are equally appreciated on the palate as they are in the nose. It's an approachable, very easy-going ale though it does give some indication to its strength (7%). It may be too strong for some, but those familiar with Belgian ales won't have a problem (and have likely come across much harsher examples).

Still, there's the very perceivable sensation of refined white sugar in the mouthfeel. Some of the fruit esters start to seem too real as well (like drinking spoiled apple cider or munching down on rotting pears). None of this is noticeable at first but it becomes a bit more of a concern as the beer loses it chill (a corresponding "warming" sensation also ensues).

Brewing Belgian ales properly requires knowledge of advanced calculus - most brewers outside of Belgium have only rudimentary algebra. Azrael does a better job than most - I'd put it about on par with some of the more popular Flemish and Walloon brands. It also makes a highly enjoyable tipple in its own right. A sixer is a deal with the Devil (Backbone Brewing Co.) worth making.

Photo of Jason
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle, sample from the brewery.

Thin white lace, perfect clarity to show off the pale golden hue. Some phenols, ripe pear, melon rind, spice, and yeast in the nose and on the palate. Kiss of alcohol after the first sip, drying finish with spicy and fruity tones. Faint bubblegum. So it hits the bells an whistles of a Belgian style brew though perhaps a little to clean in some aspects yet the phenols play a bigger part than they should have perhaps.

Photo of chinchill
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle.
Pours clear light golden with a small and weak head. Minimal lacing.
Modestly attractive aroma features both bready malts and fruity/spicy notes.
The flavor follows.
Light body and medium-light carbonation.

Photo of Jeffreysan
3.66/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a pretty golden color with a quarter of a finger of white foam that completely dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Malty, yeasty, and fruity, the typical aromas of a Belgian pale ale. Notes of freshly baked sourdough bread, clove, pineapple, slight notes of banana and musty barnyard aromas.

Taste: Slightly malty, but very yeasty (as Belgian pale ales tend to be). Slightly fruity and slightly hoppy. Notes of freshly baked sourdough bread accompanied with some spices, such as clove, cardamom, black pepper, and ginger. There are also some subtle fruit flavors of pineapple and banana. The beer finished with some subtle hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and refreshing with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 7.0%, there is no alcohol presence on the palate.

Overall: I’m not usually a fan of Belgian pale ales, or many pale ales at all, but I’m a huge fan of the Devil’s Backbone Brewery, and surprisingly, I really like this pale ale. It has a great balance between the malt, the yeast, and the hops, accented by some really interesting spices and fruit flavors. I’m definitely getting a few bottles of this again! Another killer beer from Devils Backbone, my favorite Virginian brewery!

Photo of TheStig
3.13/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the bottle to the glass, a clear light amber with a finger-half finger head. Very little lacing. Playfully active bubbles sparkling throughout.

A slight touch of pineapple notes in the scent, some other gentle floral and sweet herbal elements, but nothing distinguishable.

Nothing overpowering or prominent, and that's a little disappointing. The usual malt and wheat tastes are present, but... I don't know... I'm searching for some taste to build on, but it's not there. Inoffensive.

Feels quite lovely on the tongue, the carbonation is pleasing and somewhat soothing.

For something that's named after the angel of death, I was expecting something a little more... well, *more*. It's inoffensive, but it's just not impressing me. I'll pass on it in the future.

Photo of Treyliff
4.04/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- served in a goblet, pours a clear and bright golden color with a small creamy white head, short retention leaves just a ring of foam after it settles

S- slightly phelonic yeast, big bready and doughy notes, floral aromas with a bit of light fruit

T- fruity notes of apple and pear, sweet Belgian yeast, honey, floral and herbal hop notes, sweet-yet-dry finish with just a bit of clean alcohol at the end

M- medium body and carbonation, creamy mouthfeel and finish, alcohol is barely noticeable. This drinks way too easily for an 8% beer

O- well balanced with nice apple/pear notes, superb drinkability and brilliantly hidden alcohol, very refreshing on tap.

Photo of Beejay
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: A light straw color in the glass, very clear, and some light white head on top, that quickly dissipates.

S: A light pale biscuit aroma comes out right away. Slight fruit esters, and a touch of spice.

T: There we go. Malty and rich flavor, with notes of bread, dark fruits, spice, and caramel. The Belgian characters are there, but they are in balance with the malt profile. A touch boozy, but not enough that it detracts from the brew.

M: Medium in body with plenty of carbonation. There is a slight cling in the finish, pretty good.

O: Pretty good, I would love to see a little more in the aroma department, but other than that it seems like a pretty solid offering.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a Bruery tulip.
7% ABV

A - Shimmering with clarity this golden yellow beer is surprisingly pale, topped by a lofty but fleeting stark white head which leaves next to no lace.

S - Like the label states, the aroma is "Belgian inspired", suggesting only hints of the country's unmistakeable yeast through (very) dry mustiness and citrus as well as slight notes of spice. Floral hops cut through and join granulated sugar and pilsner malt for a nice American-made Belgian aroma.

T - Sweet unfermented sugar and pilsner malts linger through the incredibly dry - almost musty - light beer while herbal and floral notes peek through. Belgian inspirations seem to be at a minimum with little yeast esters coming into play beyond suggestions of clay and lemon citrus.

M - One aspect of Azrael that Devil's Backbone nailed is the mouthfeel; crisp with elevated carbonation and a dangerously drinkable alcohol level. Dry through and through, this seemingly light-bodied beer finishes with mild sweetness for the most inspired part of the brew.

O - This Devil's Backbone beer plays it safe with the tagline of "Belgian inspired" on the label; whether they go crazy or don't get crazy enough, it's only inspired, not "Belgian-style," attempting to match the masters. But this American-made beer still does a good job of reproducing quite a few characteristics of the Belgian golden brews; fully carbonated and dry with dangerous drinkability, the main key to this style. Azrael is a very nicely crafted beer, but doesn't quite attain the necessary level of yeast complexity the style demands.

Photo of blackie
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

wfm single

a: served in a tulip glass, azrael is a pale golden in color, producing a thin white head upon pouring, retention is low

s: pale barley with a sugary, honeylike note, lots of yeasty clove and bubblegum, banana, simple hops with a snappy, grassy aroma

m: carbonation lively, around moderate-high, with a light body

t: pale malts with spicy yeast notes and a grassy hop hit, some sugars and a glimpse of alcohol, clove and banana, bitterness around moderate, finishes with lingering yeast

o: a fine if fairly standard bpa, dig the phenolic spice on the nose, drinks well

Photo of mendvicdog
2.77/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

artificial cloying sweetness. yeasty. slightly undercarbed.

Photo of obywan59
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy golden yellow with a 1/2 finger white head that disappears quickly, leaving a thin ring around the glass and no lacing.

Belgian yeast upfront, doughy yeast off the second, harder pour. Fruity. Pear and some wonderful lemony spice, clove and light cinnamon?

Taste of sweet tart green apple. A little Belgian funk with some light sweet cloy on the second glass. Banana and clove in the finish. More lemony spice as well. As the beer warms, a light hoppy bitterness develops.

Seems moderately full in body to me. A little heavy on the tongu., It feels syrupy. A little peppery in carbonation with a pretty decent burn. Very warming.

Much better in the end than I thought at first. Tasty, aromatic and well balanced. Kind of a cross between a lemony/fruity summer brew and a thicker warming winter offering.

Photo of cbutova
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- Clear golden pour to a tumbler with a bubbly white head that dies down fairly quickly. Ends up with no belt and rare lace.

S- Mostly the yeast off the top with a bundle of pale fruits and some spice. Golden candi sugar, pear, yeast spice, slight banana and even a champagne grape hint.

T- Pale candi sugar and light skinned fruits like apple and pear responsible for much of the flavor. Coriander, banana, lemon peel, white grapes, phenols and pale cracked cereal grains.

MF- Silky and frothy texture to the medium body. Carbonation on the high side with a certain effervescent feeling on the palate and a light bitterness rounds it out.

A medium ABV golden Belgian ale with spice and fruits. Drinks smoothly without sweetness interfering with the flavors.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at SAVOR 2011. Served in a goblet.

Pours a clear, sparkling golden color with a large and fizzy white head. Plenty of spotty lacing on the way down. The nose is pretty tame -- mostly grainy with some light floral and grassy notes. The flavor bumps things up, having those same components but adding in a bit of citrus and earthy yeast. Light sweetness on a light body. Fizzy carbonation and a dry finish. Nice beer.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Devil's Backbone goblet/snifter.

Also known as "Azreal AKA Gargamel". All right. It pours a clear pale straw topped by a finger or so of white micro-foam. The nose comprises apple cider, florals, and a healthy dose of citrus zest. The taste holds notes of green apples, grapefruit, pears, greens, light florals, and a touch of Belgian spice. The body is medium, with a moderate carbonation and a smooth, slick feel. Overall, a delightful sumemry brew, a nice deviation from the normal BSPAs.

Photo of JayQue
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Good summertime beer. Pours a clear golden color into my Chimay goblet with a nice, delicately bubbly white head. Head retention is average. Lacing is minimal. Aroma is pretty light. Some light fruit and citrus zest.

Taste is better. Spiciness, light fruit and some Belgian yeast. Not a great Belgian beer, but certainly enough Belgian elements to enjoy.

Mouthfeel is a bit too light.for a great Belgian beer..not a heavy duty Belgian presence. The yeast is there, but not the strong fruit/candi sugar presence.

This is a worthwhile beer, but I wouldn't turn down a Duvel to have this one.

Photo of PaulH67
2.47/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

12 oz bottle from 6 pack. OK"Boned on" date 4/7/15. Flat , no head, good color. Smell ok. Bitter and metallic taste. Expected more effervescence and head from this "Belgian." Won the gold at GABF for this style? Not in my book. Avoid.

Photo of DefenCorps
4.02/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled June 14 2012.

A nearly crystal clear golden yellow with a dense, white head that falls off to a ring rather quickly. The nose is pretty solid. Dry, spicy and fragrant with honey, white pepper, moderately floral. There's an enjoyable yeast phenolic profile as well. A little bit of alcohol is also present.

The palate opens delightfully spicy with light clove, white pepper, a little bit of ripe fruit (stone fruit, not-yet-ripe bananas) and a bit of honey. No real hop flavor is present, though there is a little bit of earthy bitterness. Drying, spicy and phenolic on the finish, this light bodied beer is highly carbonated ( a little more than I'd like). This is a pretty excellent BSPA, one of the best I've had recently - dry, clean but with plenty of yeasty spices, and with dangerously well-hidden alcohol. Highly recommended.

Photo of Brubaker
4.05/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours clear yellow, sallow with a little green to it. Nice 1+ finger white head. Dissipates to a fine lacing for a little while before becoming a ring. Well carbonated.

S- Fruity, malty. No hops or alcohol. Medium-strong.

T- Tangy/spicy with a bitter that blends with the alcohol. Sweet moving to a dark sweet and bitter finish.

M- Medium body. Bubbly and coarse. Clean.

O- Enjoyable. No grapefruit taste yet good bitter. Nice balance with the malts. Fruity & light.

Would Drink
Would Buy
Might Make

Photo of UPMD_Bill
4.04/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really liked it. Nice golden color, not much head. Citrus aroma and flavor, and lots of peppery notes. Lots of carbonation.

Photo of Eeroomnhoj
4.47/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just finished a 7 mile hike and saw that Shenandoah Park sells beer!!

We grabbed two of these and commenced to enjoying the heck out of them. Can't really tell if we were really thirsty or this is real good beer. I'll err on the side of the beer. Read good beer.

Photo of delta490
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a lighter gold with a barely lasting fizzy white head. No lacing, whatsoever. The aroma is malt, bready and yeasty, with light fruit notes. The taste is very similar, with a more yeast-forward flavor. A lighter body balances the lighter flavors.

Photo of JAXSON
3.86/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear amber pour, nice lacing, soapy head. Beautiful look on this. Nose is seedy green raspberries, vanilla, mild brett. Lactic and a bit yogurty. Flavor is cream, green raspberries, vanilla, and that lactic quality. Finish is herbal and leafy, a bit like the Victor Francenstein in that way. Numbing on the finish. Flavor becomes a bit more medicinal as it opens up. Dischordant. The nose delivered it here, the mouth just lacked the focus I was hoping for.

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.04/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a medium golden color with a big billowy white head that initially fades fast, but then leaves a rather persistent ½ finger head. This small head faded slowly to leave a lighter level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma is sweet and yeasty with a nice Belgian malt aroma. The sweeter aromas are a mix of orange and pear with all the aforementioned smells joined by a slight grassy smell. With a little bit of a doughy aroma as well as a hint of alcohol mixing with the rest, a rather nice triple like aroma is produced.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweet citrus flavor of orange upfront mixed with a good Belgian malt flavor. Soon after the start, yeast flavors as well as a bit of honey come to the tongue as well as a light fruit flavor of pear and some apple A very faint alcohol taste comes to the tongue at this point, and while it grows stronger to the end, it never gains all that much potency. In the end a lighter grassy hop flavor and a bit herbal hop taste join the taste to leave a still more sweet, but very pleasant flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is on the slighter thinner to average side in terms of its creaminess with a carbonation level that is average in intensity, but consisting of very tiny champagne like bubbles. The very fine carbonation bubbles are very nice for the sweeter Belgian malt and fruit flavors of the brew while the thinner to average body further suits these flavors as well as makes it rather easy drinking.

Overall – This is a rather nice tasty Belgian strong. It has a sweet and fruity base matched with a lighter citrus hop note. It is rather easy drinking and enjoyable and one if I had the chance would go to on more occasion.

Photo of DaveBlack
4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Not much to look at. Crystal clear, straw yellow brew with a small amount of head that is fed constantly from bubbles from the bottom of the glass. Despite that, retention is minimal.

S: Belgian yeast is the dominant smell, with a light apple crispness as well. Beyond that there isn't a whole lot.

T: Really tasty beer, and much more complex than the nose leads one to believe. Once again the yeast dominates upfront, but then comes a nice biscuity grain taste, hints of apple, and a floral finish. Alcohol is present throughout the beer, and, despite there not being much to hide behind, is not at all overpowering.

M: Light and crisp, fair amount of carbonation.

O: The is a good beer. I bought it because it's (relatively) local, and I had heard good things about Devil's Backbone. This beer certainly delivers. It is well balanced, flavorful and it's hard to argue with a 7.8% beer that goes down so easily.

Photo of argock
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap in a Shaker pint at Mellow Mushroom (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Dreamy caramel amber with soft 1/2-finger of light beige frothy head with good retention and some lace at the top of the glass.

S: Aromas are mostly Belgian yeast spiciness with some light fruit, caramel, and herbal, earthy hopping.

T: I enjoyed this beer, but it left me wishing for a bit more power behind the flavor. The light fruitness blends well with the deft caramel and spicy yeast highlights, but everything I am describing woul dhave to fall in the "light" category: there is no dominant direction for this beer. The hopping is subtle with earthy, herbal notes for the most part. I just wished this beer would have declared itself with more character in at least one direction.

M: The feel is lighter than the ABV with crisp and clean carbonation helping the drinkability of this brew.

O: I would have a more favorable overall impression except for everything is subtle -- it needs more of a central character to provide a clear direction for what this beer is trying to be.

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Azrael from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 181 ratings.