Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
630 Reviews
Read the review
For Trade:
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 630 | Ratings: 1,411
Photo of Bone53
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Houghs

Appearance: Dark amber color with a red tent. Looks awesome

Smell: Caramel, cherry, plum, woody

Taste: Very sweet upfront, but not cloying to me. Caramel, toffee, dark fruits, vanilla, oak

Mouthfeel: Thick and oily body; Smooth with light carbonation and bitterness, especially approaching 17% abv.

Overall: As the guy before me mentioned, I find this one to be rated fairly low. I see how people could find this a little too sweet, but there are plenty flavors to be savored underneath the sweetness. This is the strongest beer I've had and expected it to be boozier. I had no problem finishing the 12 oz snifter. I was pleased with this one. Good job Avery!

 682 characters

Photo of Abe_Froman
4.52/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dogfish head goblet.

Pours a deep amber with a reddish hint. Little head that dissipates quickly.

Smells sweet, with hints fruit and wood.

Tastes sweet with Caramel, fruit, plums notes. Hints of wood, and brandy flavors. It has a lite alcohol after bite.

Flows slightly slurpy across the pallet. Very light carbonation.

I really enjoyed this beer. I was actually surprised to see its ratings here as I think they are low. It is a sweet beer and that my be surprising for some, but along with the sweet it has strong and layered flavors.

 574 characters

Photo of richj1970
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into tulip glass.

A: Pours a reddish brown with minimal one finger head.

S: Bourbon, caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla.

T: Follows the nose fairly closely. Very sweet with no hops to be found.

M: Thick with an almost syrup quality to it.

O: Tasty brew but tends a bit sweet for my palette. The addition of some more hops would be welcome here.

 376 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich red colour, fairly clear. Head is just a whispy cloud of bubbles, fairly large with small amount of lacing left behind. Not bad.

Smells weizeny. Fair banana to it with lots of nutmeg as well, cake dough and treacle. Smells possibly strong and rocky fuely, but some decent fruity sweetness as well.

Tastes strong, fairly boozey, with a big banana sweetness. Slight metallic edge on the back, touch of sweet spice with nutmeg and vanilla, but yeah, sweet boozey notes, some Calvados sweetness around the edge. Huge residual sugar, huge banana character. If I were a big banana fan I'd love this. I like the sweetness more than I do in most other overly sweet beers, but disenfranchised by the heavy banana leaning.

Sticky, syrupy sweet feel. Fairly smooth but a lick of booze heat. Not bad.

Bit sweet and more than a bit heavy. Feels a bit like malt liquor, but there's certainly more complex sugars there to be enjoyed.

 935 characters

Photo of TBoneJones
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep ruby mahogany snifter pour, lively bubbles, fairly clear, minimal head. Body appears thinner in appearance than I'd have expected.
Smells like oaky burn, and alcohol soaked cherries and plums.
Tastes sweet sweet sweet! Dark fruit dipped, or soaked I should say, in sugar. While the sweetest beer I've ever tasted, I do enjoy the way the caramel and oak work together. The alcohol stays more well hidden than I figured it would, as each sip brings mostly the sweet plummy oak flavors, while the hops are less prominent. Syrupy. You may enjoy this to a point, as an after dinner sipper, if you can get past the cloying aspect.

 631 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.76/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Small 12oz bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney. March 2014 release date.

Pours a wonderfully clear amber colour, with a lovely fine crest of white that looks overtly bright compared to the body. Specks of lace, but not much persistence. Body is thick and fine, and although there's not a lot of carbonation, it's quite fine and static when tilted. Looks really very good.

Nose is wonderful. Big porty sweetness laced with huge tropical fruit notes. Fragrant overripe banana, pineapple and mango, all linked wonderfully with a rich spice that connects somewhat to a suggestion of pepper and booze. I really love it a lot.

Taste is just sublime. Lovely sweet, luscious toffee character, laced with fragrant tropical fruits again: here mango is strong along with a clean vinous note of port or botrytis semillon. Beautiful finish with the wine characters gliding to a fragrant, fruity finish laced with crisp toffee aromatics. Aftertaste has remnants of banana, and a lilting residual pepper spice. Booze is there somewhere but never affects the flavour, which is balances throughout. It's phenomenal, gorgeous stuff.

Feel is thick and rich. Beautifully done.

This is a truly phenomenal beer. The complexity is there, and there's so much to explore. More: there's some really interesting characters that you don't expect even for this style of beer. Even more still: it manages to be phenomenally well balanced, meaning it's supremely drinkable despite the weight. I genuinely love this beer—it's at the very peak of the craft.

 1,586 characters

Photo of spoony
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 355 ml bottle (Batch 10, March 2014 Release) into a tulip.

A-The beer is a pretty, reddish-hued brown color. It is clear and still in the glass. The head is short, but the cap of tan foam has pretty good retention for a beer without any visible carbonation.

S-The aroma is hugely sweet. There is a bit of overripe fruit, like apples and cherries, but sugar is the main flavor I smell. Like maple syrup and caramel. The alcohol is solventy and warming like fortified wine or port. It is pleasant if you're ready for the sweetness.

T-The taste is similar, i.e., massive sugary sweetness. There is the same suggestion of overripe fruit and syrup sweetness. The alcohol is somewhat buried beneath the sugar, but it pokes through every other sip to warm the palate. Hops are pretty much an afterthought. The oak flavor is mild and comes through as just a faint vanilla.

M-The feel is medium to full in body with a syrupy, coating flavor and below average strength carbonation.

O-I like sweet beers and this is definitely a sweet beer, so it gets decent marks from me. It drinks more like a fortified wine or port than perhaps any other beer I have ever had. Thus, it makes for a good dessert drink if you are ready for the sweetness and are into sipping and sharing, but I don't know when else I would drink this.

 1,320 characters

Photo of maDUECEgunner
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 0z bottle poure into plastic cup because I'm still at work

Appearance: pure copper color with white head.

Aroma: fruity with a little of oak

Taste: really fruity and woody

Mouthfeel: really sticky and cloying.

Overall: I am glad it's only a 12 oz. it too sweet to drink too much. I enjoyed it though.

 309 characters

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2014

Appearance: a golden reddish color. two fingers of a tan head that fade slowly and leave a strong lacing. very strong bright clarity

Smell: lots of sweetness, toffee, caramel, hints at maple or molasses. serious oak component. boozy alcohol.

Taste: strong super sweet caramel, lots of toffee, slightly astringent maple and harsh molasses. oak plays in nicely along with some strong booze.

Mouthfeel: thick, syrupy, hot, lots of sweet but balanced with some bitterness and astringency. slight creaminess to it. possibly the biggest sipper I have had in a while if not ever.

Overall: very strong and flavorful beer, on the edge of being harsh and astringent. would love to see this with some age on it. definitely plan on taking a while on this one. it is a big intense beer

 791 characters

Photo of Kuaff
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The 2014 version, on tap at... the Avery tap-room! ABV is 14.2%. A 5 oz. pour served in a cute little mini-snifter.

The color is a bit on the lighter side for a barleywine... like a clear, bright red. A miniscule off-white head doesn't last long.

Aroma-wise, it's all about booze-soaked dark fruits. Raisins come out more as it warms up. I can't detect a whole lot else.

It tastes like sweet, boozy sherry or bourbon in beer form. As it warms up I get more complexities, like red apple, cherry, and caramel flavors. It's kind of like maple syrup, too. The finish is of leathury oak.

The feel is pretty thick, but not as much as I'd expect from such a beastly barleywine.

Quite boozy, and exceptionally sweet, I can see why there's a relatively small amount of beer drinkers this appeals to. I do think it's pretty good, though.

 833 characters

Photo of Beejay
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle

A: Ruby and brown in color, with a low amount of head.

S: Cherry and caramel with oak. Something almost a little acidic in there in the background.

T: Caramel and cherry all the way with some slight tartness. Earthy, sweet, and bold. As it warms the oak and the vanilla really comes out.

M: Syrupy with fairly light carbonation. The finish is molasses and booze.

O: An interesting beer for sure. Complex and something you can keep tasting and finding new flavors in.

 487 characters

Photo of Seanem44
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Rarely do I come across a beer I can't finish, but this was one of them. Maybe I just am not accustomed to this, but I couldn't do it. There were hints of Oak in the taste and smell, but sadly, the turbinado sugar is what I tasted mostly. In fact, the whole thing tasted like sugar. too much sugar. this could have been good if they would just have toned down the sugar. I finished maybe a quarter of it and could not go one further. In fairness, I am sure some will really like this. For me, no. Still, in fairness, I couldn't give a flat out horrible rating. This beer is better than that. But for my taste, it just didn't cut it.

 632 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 batch 4, thanks to someone for sharing.

A - Poured into a tulip cloudy copper hue with a thin had that fades quickly.

S - Aromas of caramel, toffee, alcohol, malts, faint cardboard.

T - Taste is light almost quiet malt heavy, very sweet and caramel. nicer toffee.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, not syrupy.

O - Overall this beer was pretty good considering that age. Very glad to try!

 400 characters

Photo of pkalix
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

wow. what a smell! pours a sediment-y golden honey with no head.
smell is like a wine-y banana bread, lighter and sweeter fruits, lots of malt, toffee and alcohol. other aromas in there too, with an almost synthetic flair on top.
taste is sweet with the expected alcohol burn. no bitterness, except for the alcohol, and a bit syrup-y. reading lots of different adjectives from everyone here and applying them to my experience. seems, though, the higher ratings are for bottles which have aged awhile. this one was produced only 9 months ago. I was wondering if it would mellow a bit sitting in the bottle for awhile?? otherwise, this is how I felt about it: appearance was standard without head but a pretty golden color. the aroma was fantastic but difficult to describe. the taste was not as fantastic, and was also difficult to describe aside from the alcohol. in a nutshell, this is a blast of alcohol and considering the taste of this young version, better to blast ya into buzzdom than to appreciate as a refined source of leisure. it definitely beats 4loco and I don't think there is a hangover associated with it like the 4loco...

 1,138 characters

Photo of superspak
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass; batch 1, bottled in 2005. Pours moderately hazy/cloudy dark ruby red color with a minimal wisp of a head that reduces to nothing. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, plum, apple, pear, molasses, toffee, caramel, toast, brown bread, oak, light chocolate, vanilla, light clove, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with big complexity and great balance of malt, oak, and yeast ester notes; with big strength. Taste of huge raisin, fig, plum, prune, apple, pear, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, light clove, toast, chocolate, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of raisin, prune, plum, fig, pear, apple, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, caramel, toffee, chocolate, toast, oak, vanilla, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of big dense malt, fruity yeast, and oak flavors; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and moderately syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome English barleywine. Big complexity and great balance of malt, yeast ester, and oak flavors; and quite smooth sip on slowly with no booziness. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,333 characters

Photo of ricknelson
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Our group of 4 Beer Advocate members did a recent small bottle tasting of high alcohol brews.
Among the 12 brews tasted was; 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head. The 120 Minute IPA received
our 3rd highest average score of the 12 brews tasted at 4.38. At 16.5% its was a very smooth beer.

 286 characters

Photo of charlzm
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Consumed January 25th, 2014 from a 2012 bottle.

Beer pours a very deep and very clear amber with minimal carbonation. Tiny crown encircles glass and leaves no sheeting or lace.

Aroma is boozy and strong: sherry, cherry, wood and very, very sweet.

Flavor is intense; same as nose but so, so strong and alcoholic.

Mouthfeel is slightly thick and prickly, despite the lack of carbonation. Did I mention it's warming? No? That's because it's not warming; it's HOT! The ABV is right in your face.

Similar to drinking a very nice bourbon in many ways, this beer pushes the envelope of drinkability. A small bottle like this is appropriate and even then may be too much for some.


May 2006, batch 2, consumed 11/7/07.

Pours a deep amber with very little carbonation. No head in trappist glass, just thin ring of white bubbles clinging to the sides for dear life.

Nose is massive, with oak and sherry aromas with a hint of spice (cinnamon?) and sweet candy.

Oddly, most of the flavor doesn't hit until the beer slides down the tongue, no matter how long it is held in the mouth. The powerful body is primarily sweet (cane sugar) with warming alcohol and smoothly bitter wood aftertatse. Ghostly flavor of white grapes lingers on the palate as well.

Good lord, this is a big beer.

APP - 3
SM - 4.5
T - 4
MF - 4

4.15 SCORE

 1,345 characters

Photo of Florida9
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 6 (2010)

A: Dark grayish-brown in color. Dark, but still somewhat translucent. Forms a minimal light tan colored head, but it goes as quickly as it comes. No lacing. Appears flat.

S: Aroma is interesting. Lightly sweet, caramel malts, tobacco, vanilla, and oak.

T: Taste is very sweet. Too sweet. Lots of sweet caramel and toffee, followed by a strong vanilla component that just adds to the sweetness. Oak, earth and an aggressive alcohol note finishes the beer.

M: Full bodied. Lower carbonation. Aggressively alcoholic. More tannic than bitter.

O: A decent brew. Nothing too exciting and not something I'd be willing to purchase again.

 654 characters

Photo of argock
3.86/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed a different vintage at a different age and enjoyed substantially more:
Poured from 12 oz brown bottle into a clear glass tulip. Bottled April 2012 (Batch #10) on label.

A: Dark reddish amber with only a thin rim of head and quite a few floaties despite careful pouring. The beer is quite clear except for this though, brilliantly so.

S: Heavy heavy caramel and toffee, alcohol, light herbal note

T: Huge malt bomb but delicious with slightly buttery toffee, burnt caramel, light oak tannin note in the finish. A little cough syrup in the finish too is a bit of a downgrade. Some vanilla comes through as well. There are some earthy tobacco notes also. Definitely a sipper. Between some steely alcohol and that cough syrup, it is a tad boozy but what do you expect at > 15%. All in all very well done.

M: Lush mouthfeel, surprisingly not syrupy, full-bodied with low carbonation.

O: Big surprise as I did not like the previous iteration but it had 7 years from bottling versus 3 on this one. I'm sure there are some batch to batch differences. A huge array of flavors in a fairly drinkable package without overbearing oak character. Really good beer and really high price tag but not a bad once in a great while option from the cellar.

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. Bottled April 2007 (Batch #3) on label. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Not too appealing with dishwater brown hue and millions of floaties and no head.

S: Delicious sweet brown sugar, maple, and vanilla aroma with some tobacco and oak barrel notes. Good but not really far above many other barrel aged beers in any way, and behind many.

T: Flavor is very English and oaky with a lot of maple syrup and vanilla notes, dark caramel malt flavors like raisin and burnt sugar, with tobacco and earthy hops notes. A nice beer but it misses something, and maybe I should have drunk this sooner.

M: Very smooth and silky overall. Low carbonation and full-bodied for sure.

O: A nice beer but not really worth the price tag. I would actually rather try a fresher version near bottling to see if there is more zip -- this one seems on the way down and a little dead.

 2,201 characters

Photo of minterro
4.26/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A quick rating from a shared a 12oz with my buddy Brendan (I was feeling a little light headed after 6oz, so I would highly recommend splitting), poured into two snifters. Bought from Colorado Liquor Mart a few months ago. I believe it was from the May 2012 release, making it about 7/8 months aged.

A&S: I was surprised by the head on this beer considering the extremely high ABV. Murky dark orange colored beer. Initially oak was a major component of the aroma. Some other aromas as it develops are cherries, sugar candies, and maple syrup.

T&M: apple cider, dark rum alcohol tones (that aren't as strong as you would expect, very warming throughout your body), marshmallows like an old ale. Not much bitterness. Not very heavy on the palate in the finish. Heavy body and on the lower side of carbonation.

Overall: I was impressed and surprised to find that it was pretty low rated. It could be due to people not sitting on it for a little while causing it to be too hot. I think it could have benefited from another few months of aging. Hopefully there are some left somewhere from the May release because I would like to grab another, so I don't have to wait another 5 months and lose out on that aging time. Very unique. Brendan liked it more than me and would put it in his top 5, I would say its worth a try and would buy again, but not often due to the price.

 1,374 characters

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

A 12oz bottle dated April 2008, so aged almost 6 years.

A - Thick brown, cloudy, with no clarity. A touch of head and lace, but looks murky and thick!

S - Oak and booze!

T - Sweeter than sugar and boozy. Malty. Wow, sugar just keeps on keeping on in the aftertaste. Lots of oak, a touch of bourbon, and booze.

M - Thick and oily.

O - A good brew, but really too strong. A 12oz bottle ought to be split and slowly sipped.

 427 characters

Photo of Wompus
2.82/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Bottled on May 2006

This is pretty disgusting. Don't drink one that's 6 and a half years old. Smells like sugar-cane husks, salt, and soy sauce. Tastes kinda medicinal and annoyingly sweet. Don't do it. Please. Just don't. Stop. Now. Don't. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Don't.

 320 characters

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

This is from Batch 5, bottled in April 2009.

The pour reveals a brown and cloudy beverage with a moderate off-white head.

Unsurprisingly, this barrel-aged beer has a strong aroma...and that aroma is of bourbon. That's it. A whole ton of booze to the nostrils.

WOW! That feeling when you take a sip is...this is an intense beer. Like, "Why don't I invite 4 close friends by to split this 12 oz bottle" intense. I'm getting the sense that it's a beer that changes with every sip. There's a lot of heat from the alcohol.

Overall, this is the type of beer that pushes the envelope. It will probably take you out of your comfort zone. It's a quality experience, but know what you're getting yourself into.

 704 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

$9.99 for the 12 oz bottle bought at Star Liquor in Sheridan WY. May 2013 batch 9, 632 cases? Cool addition t the info on the label.

A deep golden brew with almost a one finger head of foam, nice lacing, I do see some floaties.

Caramel malt heavily soaked in booze is what I get from the smell. I'm almost getting tipsy from just taking some whiffs.

Beautiful flavour of caramel malt, one of the best I've had, and when the big woody notes move in, surprisingly to me, I think it enhances the flavour. Yes indeed..it is hot as heck, hotter than even the abv implies, but slow sips pay off, like what I experience with Sam Adams Utopias.

On the high end of medium bodied, low level of carbonation, this is going to take me some time to finish but when I do, I'll be satisfied, I'm sure. Nice.

 796 characters

Photo of Jjski
4.59/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

fresh, vintage 2013

a-copper, transparent, short fizzy head. beautiful, inviting

s- candied orange rind, grand marnier

t- carmel booze, grand marnier, booze and booze

m- syrupy

o- I'm as fan of huge beers. This bordering on a liqueur. It is not overly complex at the moment, but the potential for serious aging is there. Potent, one and you are done. Total sipper, bordering on leaving the realm of beer- sorta ice wine character. Very concentrated flavors. The ant-quaffable malt beverage.

in the category- as good as Olde School, I like Insanity a bit better due to the barrel flavor.

 592 characters

Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 630 ratings.