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Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
628 Reviews
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Samael's AleSamael's Ale

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 16.90%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
A super-caramelly, oak-aged strong English-style ale, brewed with Columbus, Fuggels hops and two-row barley, caramel 150L malt.

2007: 14.50% (Batch #3)
2008: 15.53% (Batch #4)
2009: 16.45% (Batch #5)
2010: 15.82% (Batch #6)
2011: 15.31% (Batch #7)
2012: 15.47% (Batch #8)
2013: 16.90% (Batch #9)
2014: 14.20% (Batch #10)
2015: 14.60% (Batch #11)

Added by ommegangpbr on 06-24-2005

User Reviews
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Reviews: 628 | Ratings: 1,406
Photo of MacMalt
3.86/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. It pours a coppery orange color with a thick, foamy, ecru-colored head and lacing. The smell is predominately oak, caramel, brown sugar, and molasses. The taste is very hot and boozy with burnt oak, burnt sugar, molasses, malt, and maybe a hint of apricot. It is also extremely sweet - even for an English Barleywine - and extremely potent. It has a chewy, syrupy mouthfeel with light carbonation. I'm not a shrinking violet when it comes to high ABV but I think this would be a lot more enjoyable at around 10.5%. Overall, it is definitely a drinking experience. Just not one I'd have on a regular basis.

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Photo of do_ob
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Dark, rustic apricot in color and topped off with about 1/2 a finger of vanilla-colored foam. Sweet caramel, red licorice, charred oak, and candied sugar on the nose. The aroma seems more complex than those few characteristics, but it's tough for my to describe. Overall, very sweet and candy-like with a big, boozy backdrop. The taste is about the same, only intensified. Incredibly sweet, with gigantic notes of sweetened caramel, red & black licorice, oak sap, sweet booze, and tons of sugar. Probably the sweetest tasting beer I've ever had. The mouthfeel is very syrupy and dense with little carbonation. The aftertaste is a bit medicine-like, aikin to a cough syrup of some kind.

Overall, not a bad beer but way too sweet for my liking. Well balanced enough, and the flavors are nice, but the ABV coupled with a cloyingly sugary taste makes this one tough to drink on your own.

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Photo of rarigney
4.67/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This may be one of my favorite beers, ever. I wasn't expecting to be as impressed based on the community average rating. It looks great in the glass, light mahogany with a thin head. It's somewhat sweet with some fruity notes and a definite alcohol presence. As an earlier review stated, "Think caramel covered apricot soaked in rum."

I am putting this one back on my shopping list to cellar a couple for later.

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Photo of Dactrius
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Hopcat. Smell is strong oak. Taste follows suit with the oak being so strong it almost completely overpowers the base beer. I'm not usually a fan of oak aging because it seldom seems to mesh well; this beer seems to avoid that problem by having such a strong oak character that there isn't much left to mesh with. Drinking this is like giving an oak tree a bj.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Brew & Meatball Company on 04/28/16.

I assume this is the 2016 vintage, as it is labeled as 16.3% ABV.
Heavy caramel malt and sweet, vague fruit accents with noticeable alcohol presence. Think caramel covered apricot soaked in rum.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This one has been hanging in the cellar a while, 2014 vintage. Gorgeous burnished body, small head and modest lacing but retains a thin sheet of white head throughout the glass. Aroma and taste are both a bit rudimentary but just spot on at the two year mark; lots of brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar and molasses, a subtle woody oaky note and a faint hop character but basically zero bitterness. After two years any booziness has been tamped down and the overall effect is well rounded, sweet and smooth, a little sticky but not cloying. Medium body and carbonation, maybe slightly thin, but that contributes to the drinkability.

I will be buying more of these this year; would love to see what this is like fresh, but it's a terrific drinking experience at the two year mark for fans of the English barleywine.

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Photo of Biggiekrock627
3.79/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Had 2012 poured on tap at Euclid Hall in Denver on March 9, 2016. The aging helped meld a series of complex flavors but there was somethimg missing to tie it all together and the alchol seemed more in your face vs balanced.

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Photo of DrAnnaNemis
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Really nice rendition of an English barleywine. I'm really not a big fan of barleywines so I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. Pours a murky copper with practically no head and some particulate matter floating around. What little aroma it has is like a sweet wooden scent. Taste is where this beast hits the mark. Oak, vanilla, figs, honey, cherries. All blended together yet distinctly separate. Mouthfeel is overly sweet but slick and the lingering alcohol aftertaste supplies plenty of warmth. Really nice beer with a great buzz!

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Photo of Slack
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 Batch #11 with 6 months of age on it

Light mahogany in color with maybe ¼ inch of head.

Sweetness, fruit, vanilla, booze and oak on the nose.

Taste is sweet with an oak background. Pick up the same fruit note along with caramel.

Mouthful is medium heavy with low carbonation. Finish is cloying, sweet, and warming.

This beer hit the mark as an after dinner sipper. As it warmed a lot of the notes became more pronounced. Would definitely enjoy it again in the same capacity.

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Photo of SheaDawg
4.8/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Surprisingly light on the palate for a beer with such a high ABV. I had a May 2015 batch 11 beer. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.
L: reddish blonde with no head
S: hint of pear on a sweet note
T: sweet, almost cider like. Extremely smooth. No evidence of a high ABV! Impressively light on the palate
F: carbonation is nearly nonexistent. Refreshing

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Photo of mr-jj
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Split between a pair of snifters from a 12 oz bottle.

Color is clear amber with a thin head. Aroma is caramel apple, oak, and booze. Taste is really sweet and sherry-like - reminds me of a dessert wine. Mouthfeel is syrupy with a drying bite of alcohol at the finish. Overall, it's an interesting experience. It's a nice drink to sip for dessert, but not what I expected.

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Photo of Czarkazm
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Batch #10. Heard this one is really boozy fresh so I sat on it for as long as I could. Pouring out the first half of the bottle, this beer is a clear, burnt orange/amber color with a surprisingly thick off-white head. I saved all the particulates in the bottle for the second pour. The aroma is very sweet, lots of brown sugar, rum-soaked raisins, candied dark fruit, prunes, dates, lots of caramel and dark toffee, and oak. Tasting it, this has got to be the most cloyingly sweet beer I've ever tasted. Very thick and syrupy mouth feel. Tastes like concentrated cane sugar extract, port like qualities, fruit marmalade, toffee, honey oak, vanilla, and cherry. I was surprised by the lack of booziness but the cloying, seemingly-artificial sweetness was a bit much.

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Photo of OnePuttBlunder
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2008 Version Bottled April 2008

Big caramel bomb to the eyes, nose and the palate. Still retains just enough alcohol heat to remind you you are drinking a 15% beer. Very sweet slow sipping beer.

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Photo of imstimpy
4.36/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pronounced 'Shmills
Vintage May 2015, consumed Oct 2015

Pours an orange amber with very little head. With any aging, sediment will be present in the bottom. If I recall correctly, the swill will present a yeast flavor that doesn't compliment the flavor.

The smell is some part oak, almost toffee or orange peel or floral (but not quite), probably more toffee or caramel than fruit.

It tastes nothing like most barleywines. It carries atypical sweetness without much hop. It is simple at first, with oak and caramel, with a hint at the 15%. As the temp rises from 45*F, the complexities present with a better balance and deeper flavors very reminiscent of a tawny port. It passes the wife test, "It's sweet," she says. It also means there is no hop to it.

The feel is caramelly smooth. It coats the mouth, tantalizes the tongue, and lingers with a slowly diminishing flavor.

Vintage 2010, consumed May 2015
OMG it tastes like alcoholic candy- sweet, with flavors akin to some ports. It is light on the tongue, but coats well.

Vintage 2009, consumed Sept 2015
Very similar to the 2010.

At the right temperature, it can be consumed immediately. As it ages, it gets sweeter and even further from the barleywine style. I'm guessing 3-5 years is a great age for this beer, but realize it turns to dessert.

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Monk's in Philly after Papal visit. Moved to this after brandy barrel aged Angel's Share kicked. Fruity and sweet with great flavors. Went very well with curry mussels.

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Photo of delta490
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #11
Pours a ruddy brown with a very short-lived fizzy cream head. No retention whatsoever. The aroma is big, oaky and boozy with a hint of sweetness and little earthy hops. The taste is quite good, sweet, almost like a port, but with the oak providing a nice subtle background note to check the sweetness from both the malt and the alcohol. Its surprisingly light on the palate given its aging and alcohol content and there isn't any of the burn you would expect.

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Photo of CHickman
3.74/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

April 2012 Bottle (Batch #8, 736 cases) 15.47%; found this bad boy on the shelf at one of my local places and assumed it was ready to consume since it's over 3 years old, so I chilled it a week and drank it. Pours cloudy dark chestnut brown color with a 1 finger foamy tan head that faded quickly and left minimal spotty lacing. A lot of sediment was floating around the brew, which showed more as the beer went down - it looked like a snow globe when there was about 3 fingers left.

Smells of dark fruit that's starting to rot, candied sugar, booze like dark rum, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, toffee, a pear that has soft brown rotten circles, maple syrup and bourbon and/or oak barrel notes. It would be cloyingly sweet but the alcohol is so strong that it negates the sweetness and just seems to add malty, sugary complexities. No hops to speak of in the nose, this is all fermented malt.

Taste is actually pretty nice considering the strong booze and borderline extreme sweetness of this barleywine. Like the nose there's the flavor of dark fruit that's starting to rot with a brown bosc pear that sat way too long leading it off, then a red apple with soft spots and very brown banana coming to mind; the next wave is dark rum or any other sweet booze that seems like it fermented and almost turned to brown sugar, french toast soaked in syrup, candied sugar, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, toffee, apple cider with cinnamon, maple syrup and bourbon and/or oak barrel notes. Complex - check. Boozy - check. Balanced like other English barleywine varieties, not so much. It's more like the sweet mash strained and compressed with a touch of maple syrup and dark rum, but no hops adding leafy or bitter notes.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, with a heavy body like a pea soup, very mild carbonation, and a sweet finish that's a combo of toffee, caramel, wheat bread and dark rum. The alcohol is pretty well hidden throughout but it creeps up and starts kicking your ass about halfway through the pint glass. This is a brew that will put hair on your chest as it's bold and intense.

I've got mixed feelings about this as I wanted to like it more but it was so sweet and boozy that I just carried on to finish the 12 oz bottle I opened. It was almost too sweet for my liking, but I still appreciated this brew.

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Photo of MarvinSnyder
4.14/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2015- 14.6%

What a great English barleywine with all the potential in the world. Just a little too sweet for my taste though!

Pairs perfectly( alliteration aside) with the pub mix -spicy seasoned peanuts served at the DoG Street Pub.

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 edition, poured into Teku glass.

Lovely ruby red, very odd look for a beer. One finger foamy white head, little retention.

Smell of oak, dark fruit, some alcohol.

Taste is sweet dark fruit, brown sugar, vanilla up front, some malt and alcohol back end to keep sweetness within reason.

Pretty well-balanced between sweet and dry. Alcohol burn there, but not bad (2014 ABV less than most years). Light-medium carbonation. Frighteningly drinkable for this ABV and style.

Definitely a pleasant surprise considering other reviews.

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Photo of ScaryEd
2.95/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

2015 release poured into a teku glass.

Pours a clear mahogany color with a bubbly, cream-colored head that leaves in a hurry. Almost no lacing to be found.

The smell is boozy, with notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and sour apples. I also detect some dark fruit notes like fig and raisin.

The taste is way, way too sweet. So much candied apple and molasses and brown sugar. A bit boozy just like the nose. The flavors themselves are not bad, but this is simply far too sweet for my tastes.

The feel is full bodied with moderate carbonation. It's sticky, syrupy, and just overly sweet. A slight alcohol burn on the finish.

Overall, not a horrible beer, but certainly a disappointing one. Avery tends to knock their higher ABV beers out of the park but this one just didn't work for me as well as I had hoped. The sweetness is just overpowering and it's very difficult to finish this beer in one sitting. Took me over an hour just to finish 12 ounces.

I'd be willing to get this again to let it sit for a year or two to see how it holds up. But as it currently stands, it's a very mediocre barleywine.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.83/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Striking golden honey color with not much of a cap or lacing. Aroma is made up of caramel for sure with some fruity esters kicking in with the booze/wine. Super sweet, candied fruits dance on the tongue and the oak adds to the robust flavor. Lots of heat with this barleywine and the syrup consistency coats the palate while the 14.6% abv slightly burns when finishing. I sipped this one for well over an hour and enjoyed it immensely! Hope to find another one someday...

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Slightly hazy copper, barely any head, only lazy carbonation. Pungent, smells of caramelized brown sugar, green apples, licorice, some raw oak, some alcohol. Very sweet, lots of that turbinado sugar and apples, vanilla, toffee, some spiciness. For all the sweetness the finish has that bitter licorice flavor, probably accentuated by tannins and alcohol, although I don't pick up any actual ethanol flavor. Full body, sticky syrupy, trace of carbonation.
Certainly interesting. Unique assortment of flavors, but as for their delivery, it was way too sweet when I was sipping it, and had way too harsh of a finish when I wasn't. I'll give it some respect; it gave me something to mull over and mentally digest, but the nonstop assault on my senses (in a bad way) prevented me from ever getting into this beer.

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Photo of E-McFarden
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hazy brown amber in color. Head was course and minimal despite vigorous pouring and didn't last long. Lacing is minimal to none. Apples and caramel come through at the foreground of scent, followed by alcohol and white wine smells. Taste is immediately sweet on the palate with molasses and raison flavors. I also get strong caramel and apple-like flavors. This has a small amount of spiciness to it as well. Feel is understandably heavy with little carbonation and a wet finish. Overall its balanced well and hides the alcohol surprisingly well. A little too sweet for me even though its a barleywine style ale.

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Photo of emyers
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours cloudy amber with a one-inch off-white head. Great head retention for the abv and leaves a nice lacing down the glass.

Smell: Dominated by caramel malt and fruity yeast esters with just a whiff of hops. Definitely some alcohol there.

Taste: Tons of sweet caramel malt with a bit of oak presence. There is some dark fruit in there as well. Finish is quite sweet with some alcohol heat. Flavor profile is very in-your-face with the caramel malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Very full-bodied and viscous. Low carbonation level keeps it extremely smooth.

Overall: A very unique beer - the flavor profile does not make this extraordinarily drinkable, but as a slow-drinking sipper it's quite good.

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Photo of BWood
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Updated upon second taste around a year later.

L: reddish haze ale

S: sweet Carmel, dried fruit, maybe fig. Vanilla and the oak.

T: taste as it smells. Very sweet but not sugary.

F: smooth and tongue coating. Leaves a lasting mid tongue tingle. Probably from the alcohol.

O: much better this time. I'm not sure if my palate is expanding but I really enjoyed this.

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.