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Samael's Ale - Avery Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Samael's AleSamael's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,251 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,251
Reviews: 602
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.69%
Wants: 75
Gots: 326 | FT: 23
Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  16.90% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ommegangpbr on 06-24-2005

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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,251 | Reviews: 602
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Avery Samael on tap at The Pony Bar in Hell's Kitchen, NY, part of an Avery "tap takeover" event.

Appearance: Served in an eight-ounce glass, comes with a beautiful one-finger head of a virginal white color. Lots of bubbles. Poor retention, though, as head dies and only those bubbles linger. Lacing is remarkably great, and color is classic barleywine, rusty copper like a high-quality pan or pot hanging in a classy kitchen.

Smell: Intense! Good indeed but too extreme, with lots of sweetness, mashed prunes, raisins and cherry. Booze, caramel, butterscotch.

Taste: The first sip delivers wood, then vanilla and lots of barrel! I like. Sugars, caramel, syrup. Extreme sweetness again. A lil' cloying. More dry-fruit puree, cream sherry, and even some smoke. This is like a meal! Booze in heat at the end.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth, compared to the extreme smell and taste. Not as boozy as the nose. Woodsy and dry at the end, feels like licking a barrel (but I love it!). Too boozy and hot at the end, though.

Overall: Good, but way too sweet. Sip, even the eight ounces I got (which, by the way, are just about the perfect serving for this crazy brew).

I am on the fence with Samael: I love it, but it is SO cloying. Hard to finish, but still enjoyable. In the old drinkability, it would be a "2.5". In the new overall, it is a 3.5 because it really is a good beer but the sweetness hurts it significantly.

Photo of keith712
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep amber, very little to no head. Thick pouring and somewhat syrupy. Low carbonation. As in really low. Absolutely no lacing as the glass drains, and it takes a bit of time to finish one.

Nose: Spicy, hot, boozy, and sweet. Spicy roasted fruits, dark caramel, burnt brown sugars, and dark sweet cherries. Bourbonish in the nose and I smell no hops character at all, if it's there, it is overpowered by the rest!

Taste: Initially sweet and syrupy, followed by a warming all the way down into the chest. The oak barrel/bourbon tones immediately come out in the middle, and the finish is hot/spicy. Dark burnt spicy caramels and hot cherry flavors abound, and I swear it has some real bourbon in it, boozy. 15.8% abv is apparent as heat but not bitter at all.

Mouthfeel: Thick, hot, bready, and powerful presence, seriously warms everything it touches. Some sweet lingering in the tastebuds along with the heat.

Drinkability: A sipper ONLY. You could easily share one bottle of this with a friend, or three. The high abv is apparent but not abusive, but don't quaff this one, it would be wasted. I got a nice buzz off this single 12oz bottle. Nice conversation piece but not something I will buy very often. As a rare treat it's fun and interesting but not even a semi-often brew.

Overall: As noted, this is good to sample and discuss. As a novelty craft beer (to me at least), it's quite an item and stands out as an extreme of the style. 6.5 of 10 in my book.

Photo of NorCalYeti
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

taste- sweet caramel, toffee, oak, red wine, cinnamon, sugary, alcohol in the finish, especially as it warms

color- deep amber

clarity- clear but opaque in the glass

smell- lovely sweet oak, mesquite, cedar, toast

body- prickly hop bite at the front of the mouth transitioning into a long warming spicy finish, subtle bitterness

appearance- small white ring around the glass with no lace or carbonation half way through the drink

overall impression- tastes like it smells, strong aroma, this beer is holding up fine after three years although i wouldn't go much beyond it to be guaranteed a "fresh" experience. this is a high alcohol sipper, less enjoyable as it warms...alcohol is more present and a bit tougher to get down

notes and comments- bottled in 2008/batch 4, 15.53% abv, spent yeast in the bottle, beware. would characterize this beer as a strong ale, not a barleywine, smell and taste remind me of sonoma wine country...good times. drinkability and taste only receive "good" remarks because of the strong alcohol presence

glassware: tulip

Photo of greenmonstah
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled April 2007, Batch 3.

A - Pours a cloudy brown with a wisp of head. Opaque. Head doesn't last, but there's a wisp that stays on the border for the entire experience. Looks good for such an extreme beer.

S - Picking up lots of various dark fruits. Plum. Dark Cherry. Very sweet with a hint of the oak.

T - Very strong flavor. Alcohol is extremely mellow. It has the dark fruits of the nose, the plum, the cherry, etc. There's a lot of chocolate coated cherry. I love it. Very very sweet. A heck of a lot more chocolate than I ever expected to be tasting, it's really a very impressive flavor profile.

M - Full bodied, somewhat sticky. Wet throughout. Finish remains wet and sticky.

D - So drinkable for ~15%. I can down it easily and I just love to drink it. Have yet to find an Avery beer that's not wonderful. At 4 years old this beer is amazing.

Photo of GarrettMD
4.57/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Deep ruby, almost black color. Not much head, just a thin layer of bubbles that fades quickly.

S - Aroma is all dark fruits, figs, raisins, brown sugar, plum, dark cherries, all of that. Not much else other than the dark fruits though.

T - Same as the aroma. The dark fruits absolutely dominate. There's some residual sweetness from the malt base. Chocolate seems to appear as well. There's a little bit of smokiness in there as well. This has a fantastic taste, everything blends really well.

M - Medium bodied, low carbonation which is perfect. Small amounts of warmth from the alcohol. Finish is slightly drying with a lot of sweetness.

D - This is quite possibly the most drinkable beer I have ever had. It's nearly 15% and I can't taste a hint of alcohol other than the slight warmth from the finish. This is overall a fantastic beer. An absurd amount of aromas and flavors balance out perfectly. I had described this during the taste as "a quad that isn't restricted to 4 ingredients" and that gives it so much more to work with.

Batch 3 from April 2007.

Photo of justintcoons
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours dark ruby red with a purple tint. Small head that dissipates quickly. Moderate carbonation.

N: Oak, vanilla, toffee and a hint of medicinal cherry.

T: Very heavy oak throughout (in danger of being over-oaked), vanilla, hot booze, sugar, cough syrup, cola, burnt toffee and charcoal with a hint of cherry.

M: Sticky and very warming.

D: Definite sipper because of booziness but has more drinkability than most 15%+ beers.

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is boozy and rich with fruit, yeast, oak. A ring of lace otherwise almost no head on peachy coloured unfiltered body. Taste is coconut from the barrel ageing.
Pineapple, apricot, peach. Above average mouthfeel. Pretty drinkable for such high alcohol. Bottle at Beerbistro with Todd B.

Photo of Fenris244
4.57/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

Pours deep red, thin head, obviously low carbonation, great clarity in the beer, after the head quickly dissipated a thin lace ring stayed around the outside of the glass

Very powerfully aromatic beer, intense raisin sweetness, brown sugar notes as dates and an almost cake like aroma. Cherry aroma comes through as well almost port like.

Pleasant sweetness in the flavors, cherry, raisin and dates come through strongly. Slight bitterness follows the sweetness and a rich cake like flavor lingers into the finish. The sweetness in this beer almost makes it suitable for a dessert. A warming effect from alcohol lingers but the alcohol is masked by the flavors of the beer.

Mouthfeel is heavy and syrupy, coats the palate, samael is certainly a sipping beer, the sweetness is great and keeps from becoming cloying. Great find and I'll be looking for more of it in the future.

Photo of depechemode1983
4.31/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy reddish brown in color. Head is lacking and there is no lacing at all. I like the color though.

S - The nose is very smoke with some sweet bourbon characters. They come together and i can help but think coconut. Lots of caramel with vanilla and a bit of alcohol. Very sweet.

T - Sweet slightly toasted brown sugar with alcohol being noticeable. Vanilla and caramel again. Taste like it smells but more robust.

M - Medium bodied and syrupy. Carbonation is lacking but i don't mind that in an English Barley Wine.

D - A very flavorful and robust beer. I love it. One will be last me through at least the hour.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a plastic tumbler.

Back in the day, this beer kicked my sorry ass. Let's see how things have progressed, eh? It pours a hazy russet-amber topped by a half-finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises buttery toffee, vanilla, oak, caramel, and a small touch of booze in the back, though that remains decidedly demure. The taste holds notes of harshly sweet toffee, light whiskey, caramel, and maple syrup. The sweetness is a bit annoying, but at least it's not o'erwhelming. The body is lightly hefty, with a very light moderate carbonation and a syrupy feel. Overall, a pretty decent b-wine, but too sweet for my liking. Other than that, though, not too bad.

Photo of Vdubb86
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Sam Adam's Perfect Pint Glass

Thanks to GraniteSkunk for sending a beer I probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger on.

This beer pours a tawny amber color with an ecru foam covering the surface. The beer needs to be allowed to warm up before enjoying due to the fact that it's repugnant until at correct temperatures. The smell is strongly of figs, plums, butterscotch and rum. There is really no alcohol aroma behind the beer, but that doesn't mean that this beer isn't strong. The taste of this beer greatly follows the nose in almost every way except there is a residual vanilla taste that comes from the oak. The mouthfeel is sticky and cloying along with the buttery mouthfeel I could honestly do without. This beer I sipped and still got buzzed, so it's drinkability is highly questionable. A good beer overall, but for the love of God, let the thing warm up!

Photo of despainmakesbeer
4.04/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled April 2007, batch 3.

Murky opaque mahagony brown color. Thick syrupy appearance at pour and swirl. 1/2" light tan head at pour settles to dense, frothy-like bubbled ring at edge of glass with some covering to the face. Decent lacing on the glass. Very rich aroma. Heavy caramel smell to aroma, along with some undecided dark fruit notes and even some aromatics reminiscent of smoked pete. THe oak smell of this very much like a lagvulin J.W. Lees. No hops present in this one. Maybe even some small hints of chocolate malt to this. Overall an aroma leaning towards some dark nutty, earthy notes. Very thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Sits very heavy. Low carbonation. Rich in flavor as well, packed with caramel, pete notes, dark fruit, some chocolate. Finish with warmth leans towards the alcohol content, slightly medicinal. Aftertaste brings more of the pete and nutty flavor with a big caramel and alcohol kick. Definitely one to sip on. A very complex and tasty drink to say the absolute least.

Photo of gueuzer
4.43/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. 2005 vintage. 14.5%

App- thick syrupy pour. Copper colored with little head. Long legs on the glass.

Sm- Caramel, oak and booze. The alcohol burn was surprising given the age.

Ta- Everything an english barleywine should be. Toffee, raisins, bread pudding, marmalade, vanilla, toast, sherry. There was a slight alcohol presence , but very subdued.

Mouthfeel. Syrupy sweet. Had with chocolate cherry bread from the Denver bread company. A magnificent desert.

Overall, this aged exceptionally well and i am hard pressed to think of an american brewer with a better barleywine given proper cellaring. I would say that this will continue to improve and I will sit on my remaining ones for a few more years.

Photo of turboge
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in March of 2010, batch 6, ABV 15.82%

A: Dark amber with small head that doesn't fully disappear and a lacing left over throughout the glass.

S: Sweet fermented apricot

T: Very sweet oaky with a strong alcohol presense

M: Not as heavy as anticipated but full of flavor

D: Very hot; must be sipped and very much enjoyed

Not recommended to drink with spicy foods because this beer is hot. Great beer for sipping and when it is cold out. This would probably be most enjoyed around the campfire in early spring/late fall. Glad I have 3 left to enjoy.

Photo of rrski198
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Done from brie notes taken at a beer festival.

A: Amber and red colored. Translucent and looks thick and syrupy. SMall tan head.

S: earthy wood sherry port smell. Sweat molasses and cherries.

T: Holy sweetness. This is similar to an old ale or barley wine (i didn't kow what type of beer it was when I was drinking it) Big time sweet fruit. Alcohol kicks at the end and is spicy. Dirty earth aftertaste.

M: Thick and sweet with a big time malt/fruit sweetness. Gums on fire.

O: This beer is a little to sweet for me but it is complex and a big time beer. Interesting offering from Avery.

Photo of JMforman
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3


A- Deep Amber with good head and good retention

S- Oak, toffee, alcohol, and oh yes, a pet store.

T- Toffee (very strong upfront and throughout), caramel, liquorish, alcohol, butter

M- Heavy, smooth, buttery (maybe that was in the taste?)

D- Dude, not a session beer.

Photo of jbartlett89
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

pours a a deep orange almost burnt pumpkin pie color really nice.

smells sweet and malty with alot of alcohol.

taste alot of alcohol with some sweet hints of caramel but mainly alcohol.

the mouthfeel is thick and some what sticky with a slight alcohol burn not too bad but its definitly there. has a sweet almost cider like after taste in way.

this is not a very drinkable beer not cause of the taste but because of the amount of alcohol.

Photo of chilly460
3.1/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Nice orange to amber color with a medium tan head, not much lacing.

S - Trouble picking up anything up anything else but the alcohol, some bread malt smell.

T - A flamethrower, big alcohol burn on the tip of the tongue. Nice caramel malt after the initial hit, big earthy hops to balance at the end.

M - Nice chewy mouthfeel, what I'd expect for the style.

D - Nice warming barleywine, but the burn from the booze slows down drinking.

Photo of mjforres
4.29/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into two goblets

bottled April 2009, batch 5
labels says 16.45% ABV

A - muddy brown with a head that collapses quickly.

S - very strong nose with dark fruit, caramel, oak, and alcohol

T - the same notes come through in the taste as on the nose -- there is sweetness, dark fruit, caramel, and a noticeable alcohol bite

M - thick and complex

D - this is a sipping beer and one that would probably benefit from more aging.

Photo of bboelens
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the bottle states that my particular batch is 15.06%.

A-Red-orange with a slim off-white head that dissipates rather quickly.

S-Alcohol, vanilla, toffee, caramel, coffee undertones.

T-The alcohol is present but not as much as one would expect, oak muddled vanilla, surprising fruity taste with accompanied sweetness.

M-Thick, rather syrupy, little carbonation.

D-Although the alcohol is incredibly high, that's not what brings down the drinkability here, it's actually the sweetness that makes it difficult to do anything but sip.

Photo of perrymarcus
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

bottled april '08 (batch 4)
15.53% ABV

pours a murky brown tone with some ruddy hues to it; a half finger of beige/tan head quickly lapses into a collar around the glass - not surprising given how big this beer is. body clears after settling.

aroma is outstanding, probably one of the better barleywines i've smelled in some time. sweet and toasted malts, dark fruits, oak, and booze dominate a fragrant nose.

flavor is likewise fantastic. follows the nose perfectly, from the malts to the oak to the dark fruits. nice buttery quality to it... a touch of molasses in the finish... complex and well-balanced. the alcohol is there but not as overpowering as i assumed it would be.

creamy, medium-full bodied mouth feel with just the right carbonation level; dangerously drinkable for a brew this potent.

Photo of buschbeer
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle
Bottled April 2007, Batch 3
14.9% ABV

A - Served in snifter. Beautiful dark honey color. Three quarters of an inch of beige head. Well, it was beautiful until I emptied the remainder of the contents, yeast included, making it murky.

S - As I poured I immediately got ripe, dark fruit. I get plum, fig, molasses.

T - Very similar to the aroma, fig and molasses, but I get some alcohol in the flavor. Also lots of dark fruit.

M - Thick but not syrupy. I love it.

D - This is a sipper and it's great. It has a little stronger alcohol taste than I expected considering it's been bottled over three and a half years ago. I really enjoy it. It's amazing to see what some time can do to beers.

Photo of sjccmd
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 2 from 2006.

Pours slightly murky dark amber with a tiny sparkling collection of bubbles that fades almost instantly. It does leave a spotty ring around the beer that sticks pretty firmly to the glass.

Smells of sweet spice cookies. Toasted malts, molasses, raisins, figs, and some oak. Surprisingly little burn from the alcohol.

Taste goes along with the smell, but dark fruits dominate. It's really sweet. Almost cloying. As I work my way through this beer it just becomes really sweet and it's hard to taste much else. There's a nice warming in the finish though. The alcohol was probably more harsh when it was fresh, but I wonder what the hop character would have been like because it's certainly not present now.

Drinkability is a bit low because of the sweetness. Of course it's nearly 15% ABV, but I've had beers with comparable ABV's that are more drinkable.

A very interesting, intense beer. It's a bit of a struggle to finish though.

Photo of movingtrain
3.37/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle sampled from a 12 ounce snifter.

Pours a ruby/amber color...lots of sediment from the bottom of the bottle. No head at all.

Smells of strong alcohol, tart cherries, caramel, clove, dried fruit, vanilla, oak...some heavy whiskey aroma in the glass, and similar in color, too.

Wow...strong in flavor, very spicy...almost like a heavy, heavy cider. There are elements of hard cinnamon candy, apples, vanilla, wood...almost like a liquor flavor, heavy alcohol and dried fruit.

This is a hard beer to drink...it has some interesting flavors in it, but there is something stale tasting in the finish. It is such a strong ale, perhaps it is the dried fruit flavors, but while this is a very complex beer, it may be a little to much.

Photo of jsh420
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottled march 2010 batch 6

pours cloudy copper amber orange with a 2 finger head that coated the glass with lacing

smell is rather faint past the booze - some fruity vanilla oak

taste was great - love the how the oak and the rich boozy fruity nutty malt mix - this beer is not as hot as i thought it would be and i think in a couple years you would never know this is 15+abv

mouthfeel medium with lots of carbonation and rather sticky

drinkability - while i loved the flavor - i needed almost 2 hours to drink the entire 12oz bottle - man vs booze

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,251 ratings.