Samael's Ale - Avery Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Samael's AleSamael's Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,218 Ratings
THE BROS
78
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,218
Reviews: 592
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 14.99%
Wants: 71
Gots: 295 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  16.90% ABV

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)

(Beer added by: ommegangpbr on 06-24-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,218 | Reviews: 592 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Joebraggot
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of Trexter103
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of mike02767
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of AustinBrooks
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of Arbitrator
1.3/5  rDev -66.4%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass.

A: Pours a hazy tawny-amber with copper translucence against the light. An aggressive pour yields a finger of light tan-colored head that retains moderately, resulting in a light film on top of the brew (which in turn retains indefinitely) and a thin collar around the edges. For a 15% beer, to have any carbonation at all is impressive, and for it to stick around is mindblowing.

S: Oh, delicious rubbery ethanol, I've missed you. Honey, caramel, tons of oak, cherries, and light orange.

T: Rubbery ethanol. MMM!!! Once that subsides, the flavor delivers a honey-backed punch of caramel, oak, and cherries. Orange rind comes through in the aftertaste, but only after swirling in the mouth and paying some careful attention. It's very subdued.

Seriously, I work in a lab where I use acetone, methanol, and isopropanol on a daily basis (as well as some toxic chemicals), and this rivals the brain-cell killing power of any of those. The flavor sensations induced by smelling those match the potency of Samael. This is just poorly done.

M: Medium-bodied; kind of light for something so heavy, but I suppose that's what makes this so solventy. So boozy.

D: Ugh.... So undrinkable. Like the mating of oak and bottom-shelf vodka that comes in plastic bottles. It might cool off with aging, but best avoided young. The nicest thing I can say about this beer is that it's vile.

I wound up microwaving the rest of the bottle for 1 min @ 1200W. The ethanol receded substantially, and the beer became halfway drinkable, with strong honey, cherries, orange rind, and oak. It's not something for which I can justifiably bump up the score, but it's a suggestion: microwave it instead of drainpouring it.

Photo of jfcaa193
1.5/5  rDev -61.2%

Photo of BeerNinja007
1.58/5  rDev -59.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Pours a dark golden amber colorwith a dense off-white head. Smells syrupy sweet, like caramel or honey, with a hint of lemony citrus and maybe apple. Taste is too sweet and it feels thick on the tongue, almost like mead. Definately oaky, some smoke flavors, caramel, and again a hint of apple. Very slick mouthfeel, I think from the sugar. Alcohol burn is mildly apparent. Overall I'm quite disappointed.

Update: dumped this down the sink, couldn't finish. Bleh!

Photo of CRichardsMN
1.63/5  rDev -57.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Appearance:
Split this 12oz bottle 3 ways into tulip glasses. Pours out a bright, cloudy orange with roughly no head and leaves a bit of stringy residue on the glass.

Smell:
Smells syrupy sweet with a heavy dose of oak and alcohol. Smells much more like a liqueur than a beer.

Taste:
Well, I guess "wow" could be used but it wouldn't be because it's good. This is way too sweet to even call a night cap, like they just kept dumping in sugars to artificially inflate the alcohol. Speaking of alcohol, it burns the tongue and throat. I am not against alcohol but this needs some serious balancing. The only other flavor that hasn't been numbed out is a powerful oak which also strikes me as artificial. It oddly reminded me of a spiked HollyNog (artificial egg nog).

Mouthfeel:
Extremely heavy, perhaps only a half step from corn syrup. There is some carbonation, which also seemed a little out of place (if it was intentional) or a failed attempt to cut the sludge from your mouth. I like heavy and thick but this is like drinking a fizzy candle.

Drinkability:
Nope, thanks, but nope. Won't be doing this one again.

Comment:
I am really disappointed (and hate) to have to rate this beer so poorly as I can appreciate how difficult such an intensive beer could be to create. I have tried some other "brews" which I would put into this same category (Barley John's Anne's Old Ale - 17% ABV, Samuel Adam's Utopias - 27% ABV) and granted they are much more expensive, they deserve the price tag and the recognition. When the ABV gets so high, balance is critical and Samael's Ale is not there and is very poorly done. Even with other reviewers suggestion of "mellowing" or even microwaving, I don't think this beer will ever be worth the cumulative BA rating it is getting.

Photo of RKLIII
1.75/5  rDev -54.8%

Photo of pibbxtrasucks
1.75/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Beer pours dark amber with a thin bubbly cream colored head. Smells sweet and strong, you can tell by the smell it is going to be a big beer. No hop aroma. First taste is incredibly sweet. Cloying sweet. The sweetness leads into a slight oak taste (Note: as this is my first "oak" beer I am only assuming that is the flavor I am picking up) Just before the finish you taste the 14.5% alcohol. Leaves you mouth feeling sticky and sweet. Mouthfeel if very thick, almost like syrup. I'll try my best to finish this since I payed 7 bucks for a 12oz, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Overall, I say this beer is far to sweet and unbalanced. I recommend tasting this with a friend or two, perhaps 4 or 6oz would be the perfect amount.But 12oz alone is just to much to drink of this strong ale... flavored with oak chips?

Photo of Offa
1.98/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Cloudy deep red with a medium-small tan head soon thinning to a ring and no lace.

Aroma is fermented toffee, very meaty with hint of old steak sauce, very strong but simple and one-dimensional. It has a faint woody hint hiding underneath.

Taste is strong, bad fermented toffee with a hint of woody whisky quality. It is soon evident that it is sickly sweet yet with a hot, strong alcoholic boozy character, rough, sharp, one-dimensional, and unpleasant. This has a couple traits that are really intense, without anything else, and goes for sheer strength over any semblance of quality, complexity, or the like. I know the ABV is high, but I've had several that are very close to this and are far smoother, less obviously boozy, and have complexixty and character, rather than simply hot, sweet, rough alcohol. It is a total dud.

Photo of TTripp725
2/5  rDev -48.3%

Photo of AtrumAnimus
2/5  rDev -48.3%

This one pours a very dark orangish tint with a very thick, very long lived head that is off white and settles very slowly leaving a nice complex lacing down the glass.

The nose is buttery spice, alcohol with some earthy notes, pine, bread al floating on sweet fruity malt and apples.

The taste is very strong and dominated by the alcohol and a very strong malt base that has notes of bourbon. The flavors are rather overwhelming to the palate and not balanced. The finish is dirty and not that good. The flavors are a jumble of bourbon, hops, fructose and alcohol with a tinge of breadiness.

The mouthfeel is the best part of the beer. There is a nice silky mouth coating experience to this beer.

Overall the texture is very rich and satisfying, just the fact that the flavors are a mess and a jumble detracts from the overall experience. This beer is not drinkable and very disappointing as I am a huge fan of Avery and love many of their beers immensely. I highly recommend avoiding this one.

Photo of Biff_Tannen
2/5  rDev -48.3%

Photo of meathookjones
2/5  rDev -48.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Dark cherry red body with a small cap of white foam. Big fruit sweetness with plenty of sugar coming through as well to the point of being cloying. Alcohol was also pretty much in your face after this warmed a bit. Taste was more sugary syrup coated fruits with not much else to provide any sort of balance. Through the syrupy sticky sweetness the strong alcohol still manages to come through and provide a burn on the way down. Too much sweetness with only boozy notes to counter it. Pretty damn thick as expected but way to sticky and too much burning warmth. Drinkability was just about non existent as I slowly drank the 12 once bottled over a few hours. Easily the sweetest beer I have ever had I don’t think I’ll touch my other bottle for 5+ years.

Photo of fooferjw
2/5  rDev -48.3%

a drain pour tried to let get room temp made it through about half just way to sweet almost over powering sugar

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2/5  rDev -48.3%

Photo of Sephiroth
2/5  rDev -48.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Bottled in May of 2006, Batch 2. Pours with decent head, no lacing, color is orangeish red, or reddish orange if you prefer. Aroma of cherries and strawberries soaked in rum.

Whoa. This is a big beer. There is a sharp sweetness that I don't care for. Various sugary flavors running rampant. This is simply not ready to drink. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. To say that it is coating doesn't come close to explaining it. Not drinkable by a long shot.

Photo of PatronWizard
2.15/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Picked up a 12 oz and felt it was time with my lunch today.

Pours a right proper ruby amber with a decent head.

Smell is FRUITAAAY. And glue? Some sort of plastic adhesive fo sho.

Intensely strong flavor, and sadly enough, not to my liking. Some caramel, apple, other fruits, wood, elmers school glue, and a healthy dose of good old fashioned alcohol. Big alcohol burn. So I looked at the ABV: bottle says 15.53%. Are they fucking kiddin me? I like liquor and when I drink liquor I drink it straight, but not to wash down my lunch!

Feel is very thick, syrupy, suffocating. Could've been a little better if not for the alcohol sting.

Drinkability is nil.

So I don't know if I can make it through this beast, which pisses me off and I decide to take (6) 2 oz drinks to polish this off and keep my manhood intact. And I did.

Been typing the above from notes, and now have to say that a bottle of this noise will result in increased joy directly afterward, even if it is hard to take down.

Overall: only once baby

Photo of blakelive784
2.2/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a pint glass, reviewed live:

A - Pours a nearly transparent copper amber color with no discernible head. The lack of head is excusable given the ABV, though it's pretty mundane overall.

S - Heavy oaky syrup dominates the nose. Maple and ass. Heavily imbalanced. Light floral and spicy hops notes. Imbalanced and uninviting.

T - Off oak dominates the palate. Alcohol is apparent throughout. Caramel is overwhelming. No hops notes are apparent at all. Cloyingly sweet.

M - Thicky and syrupy. Alcohol bite on the finish.

D - Definitely a sipper (if you want to endure it). Bordering undrinkable on account of how sweet and alcoholic it is. I'd never have it again.

Photo of RobertColianni
2.25/5  rDev -41.9%

Photo of neonbrown82
2.35/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This is one of the worst brews I've ever tried. It pours very light with a thin wispy head that dissolves to nothing in an instant. The carbonation is very minimal, expectedly. Doesn't look too terribly bad, but it doesn't look to particularly great either.

The smell is bad. Like vinegar and grapes and cider. With the acidity and tartness and whatnot, it almost reminds me of a sweet white wine. Only in the smell can I even detect the slightest hint of oak chips (which by the way is a pet peeve of mine when a brewery mentions their beer is oak aged when it is actually just soaked in oak chips for a short while).

The taste is just as bad as the smell, and much more cloyingly sweet. The alcohol is surprisingly smooth, but that is too much to say for every other detail of this beer. Tastes like green grapes, apple cider, and vinegar. Only a slight bit of hoppiness and no oak flavor.

The body is thick, syrupy and very puckery. Not very good. Disgustingly sweet and vinegary, and coats to the mouth. Pretty much everybody I sampled this beer with ended up pouring out most of it (and I sampled it with two independent groups of people).

Photo of uawildcat
2.4/5  rDev -38%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a glass. 2007 vintage.

Poured a clear dark color until I let a little bit too much into the glass and the yeast got decanted as well. Opps.

It smells pretty good like berries, booze, and brown sugar. Awesome smell.

Taste is overwhelmingly like nail polish remover, artificial strawberry, and fire. Not acceptable. Even after 4 years of aging it still is too hot.

The mouthfeel is unimpressive. Too thick, too hot, too sticky.

Overall, a poorly done big beer. I can barely tolerate sips. Drain pour.

Photo of goodbyeohio
2.45/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

i believe that during my last review of this beer, my palate was suffering from a severe lack of flavor reception, or perhaps i had an intense sinus cold. or maybe this beer has just turned foul.

fiery glowing orange, clear with slight blur haze. creamy ring and more head than i'd imagine on a 15% beer. lacing is preserved in sheets as the beer moves about the chalice.

aroma of sugary-ripe cherries soaked in everclear. brown sugar-infused vodka gives way to a mildly soapy character. smells rather off and extremely boozy.

holy sweetness! big malts and unfermented sugar greet me immediately, and some sickly sweet fruit puree shows up mid-swallow. the alcohol and intense fruit combine for the perfect grapey triaminic flavor that reviews clutch at so desperately. i actually cough every other sip due to the extreme aggressiveness of this brew. the finish isn't awful, as it leaves some red berry pulp and gingerbread notes behind.

also, on a positive note, the mouthfeel is perfect (slightly fizzy, yet thick- however not too sticky.. kinda creamy) and drinkability, for this abv, is decent.. although i think that's due to the sweetness here. not sure that heaps of turbinado sugar is a proper way to skillfully mask abv, but whatever. probably won't revisit a third time, twice was puh-lenty.

Photo of kojevergas
2.45/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Batch #8 15.47%. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with foiled over pressure cap served into a New Belgium pilsner glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high, though I fear it'll be too hoppy.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of beige colour, hardly any cream, okay thickness, and pretty good retention considering the ABV. Colour is a clear copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Somewhat vibrant, but not horribly appealing.

Sm: Alcohol, pale hops, heavy caramel, toffee, and clean malts. Heavy oak. A strong aroma.

T: Clean malts with some light indistinct pale hops. Some alcohol heat, but it's rather understated for how high the ABV truly is. Caramelized malts. A muddy oak tone. There's little going on here considering the style and oak aging. It doesn't seem worth the effort to age. Some layering. Not particularly complex or subtle. No yeast comes through. A bit boring - especially for the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet - thankfully, because the flavours would do worse if brought out by the mouthfeel. Adequately carbonated. Far too thick and syrupy (its biggest problem by far). Fairly heavy on the palate.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV, but you wouldn't want to quaff it. Not quite a sipper. I don't much care for it. I certainly wouldn't get it again. I wouldn't recommend it to friends either. A disappointing brew from Avery. They should free up the aging space for a better beer. A very poor example of a barleywine.

High D+

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,218 ratings.