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Samael's Ale - Avery Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Samael's AleSamael's Ale

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

1,217 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,217
Reviews: 591
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 14.99%
Wants: 70
Gots: 293 | 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: 1,217 | Reviews: 591 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Shumista
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. While I have older beers in my cellar I have been saving I believe this is the oldest beer I have ever drank. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. As an aside, I really hate foil on bottles and it seems to be one of Avery's favorite things. The foil always gets everywhere and makes a mess. Wax on the top is the way to go for an added touch in my opinion, not foil.

A- The pour on this one made me apprehensive about it. Pours a clear dark brown with no head at all despite an aggressive pour. Poured like a beer that may have seen better days in the past.
S- Oak, caramel and booze.
T- More complex than I would have guessed from the smell, I was expecting an oak bomb. Tart dark candied fruits, caramel and brown sugar, oak, alcohol.
M- Syrupy but not in a thick way. Coats the mouth after each sip.
D- I see no circumstances under which drinking two of these in a sitting would be appropriate. One 12 oz bottle however is thoroughly enjoyable to the end.

This was a nice surprise. I expected a gimmicky "look how strong our beer is" kind of beer that was probably going to be a hot boozy mess. It was actually really quite good and something I would drink again. I think the 5 years of aging probably helped this out a lot.

Photo of AdamGarcia
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Long time "lurker" on BA, but this is my 1st real review.

2005 vintage in 12oz btl poured into my Fathead's/Construction Junction tasting glass.

A: even a forceful pour created just the thinnest of bit of head that dissapated almost immediately. color is a lovely copper with bright ruby highlights. not terribly dissimilar in appearance to home-made southern sweet tea.

S: not much to report here. vague smell of sweetness (raisins?) and a hint of booze. I've never had this beer fresh, but I'm sure that the years on this bottle have a lot to do with the lack of aroma.

T: a lot going on in this one. first i'm hit with the sweetness (dark rum-soaked raisins) and just a hint of warmth, then it finishes with the tiniest bit of hop bitterness to round it all out.

M: very little carbonation, which i would imagine is standard for a barleywine that has been laid down for this long. relatively thin mouthfeel, but my palate is left with a slick coating that makes me want another sip.

D: The label reads 14.5% abv but there is nowhere near that much heat. The 4 plus years have mellowed this beer beautifully. I almost want to drink another bottle immediately but i want to same the rest for special occasions. However, as i near the end of the bottle I can definitely feel the effects of the high ABV.

I'm really diggin this beer. I feel very lucky to have stumbled upon an entire sixer of this. Unfortunately i've never had this beer fresh so I can only speculate on the changes that have occured. I don't believe this is available in Pittsburgh anymore but I'm going to keep an eye out for a fresh bottle. Barleywines aren't my favorite, but if this is the norm for aged BW's then I will certainly be grabbing some more btls from time to time for cellaring purposes.

Photo of wangbruins
2.93/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- poured a deep bourbon-looking amber with a two inch head that broke to one and stayed

S- Cherries, grapes, raspberries, and flowers- all very strong

T- Very strong and tart with lots of cherry and sugary flavors

M- Light, thin, and oily, almost like drinking cognac

D- Difficult to get down, especially with the high ABV. I split the first bottle I had 4 ways and wound up finishing all 4 glasses myself.

Photo of dougofthefuture
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this 12 oz 2005 bottle poured into my tulip (I really need a snifter...)

A - There was definite pssst noise when I opened the bottle, and a .5 finger head showed up for a moment. In a few minutes this could have been mistaken for a watered down port. Color is an attractive mahogany that shows surprising clarity in the light.

S - If the carbonation faded, the smell makes up for it. The port/cognac smells are here in spades. Rich fruit with warm alcohol...

T & M - There aren't any hops present, and the oak is subtle. What is not subtle are the sweet fruit flavors. The trace of carbonation and alcohol burn under the sweetness try to compete, but they lose out to the intensity of these malts. It's a little watery at this point as well. All in all, a little unbalanced after 5 years, but the sweetness is more complex than I can describe, and quite a treat.

D - The alcohol is amazingly hidden, but the sweetness makes this 12 oz bottle a perfect dessert beer for a dinner party of 4, I'd say.

Photo of Tone
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/2 inch head of a white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, slight sweet malt, oak/liquor, and slight hops. Fits the style of an English Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, sweet malt, dark citrus, oak/liquor, and slight hops. Overall, the alcohol clearly dominates, but still glad I tried.

Photo of notlob
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled May 2006, Batch 2. Consumed Jan. 2, 2010.

Aroma: Sweet alcohols and dark fruit in the nose. Slightly nutty I think.

Appearance: Pours with a very thin head. Copper-red in color. Turbid.

Flavor: Doh, I forgot that I just brushed my teeth! Hopefully the alcohol will wash any tooth-paste away! Let's see... I'm mostly getting tons of hot-alcohol with a little bit of cherries coming through in finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy, but dry.

Overall Impression: Everything I expected some such a beast.

Photo of rgrholmes168
2.85/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Typically I start a beer review with the appearance. However, this beer starts with the aroma. I cracked the top off the bottle and immediately smelled the oak the beer was aged with.
The aroma reminded me of black licorice and an almost a musky scent. The yeasty smell reminded me of a wine tour that I had been on.
The beer has a toffee color to it and it left only a trace of lace alongside the sides of the glass. There was a small amount of foam left on the top of the clear liquid that did some carbonation.
The taste is very (already used the word) licorice to me. Almost a cross between a brandy and a port. The beer was very harsh and the high ABV does not leave a lot to the imagination.
The beer has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Definitely not the Bud Light I drank in college.
The beer was fairly heavy on the palate and thick as it was swallowed.
Almost a dessert beer. I am not sure if I like or dislike this beer. I think it is more of the style of the beer that disagrees with me. Not so much the actual beer.
Not very drinkable, unless you have a companion to split the bottle. Mine is very adament that my review is a little rough, but it is my opinion.

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

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.

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

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).

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.

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

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 drpimento
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

oooohhh baby. this be one fine assed beer. mmm hmm. yessir. Pour was nothing special with just a so-so smallish off white head. Color is a lovely, rich, clear medium amber. Aroma is surprisingly mildly malty and hoppy. Flavor is where this sweet little dog knocks my socks off. Boom! Wild combination of characteristics: really hoppy, really malty sweet, lots of oak, and some spicy hot something or other. Body is luscious and carbonation in tune. Finish is sultry and leaves me with a come-on for another decadent sip. Have I sold my soul? who cares. good beer though. Can't hardly be a session.

Photo of JohnCLT
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter. Lamb roast for dinner.

A-beautiful amber color.
S-OAK and Alcohol in the nose.
T-Strong soy accented, some malt. cherry or raisin? Being a cognac drinker I was very surprised at the smell and appearance resemblance to a nice cognac.
M-Light on the pallet not a lot of carbo, may have something to do with the 18% ABV.
D-Stay away if you don't like boozy beers. This one's a sipper but none the less pretty good. Especially as a night cap. Is it possible a Cognac was born and nobody bother to tell it it was actually a beer?

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.78/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

(Served in a snifter) bottle April 2007 batch 3
A- This beer has a dense hazy brown body with a sticky beige head that is creamy. There was a sea of chunks swirling with the carbonation.
S- The rich sweet caramel aromas have a soft oak and wet wood aroma to support it.
T- The caramel sweetness is rich with some nice boozy support and an oak and woody notes to follow. The rich flavor of honey comb comes through and adds some nice depth.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with an alcohol heat that grows as the beer warms.
D- This beer has a delicious malt sweetness with some nice support from alcohol and oak that turns a bit to boozy as it is pretty warm. This beer is big and rich which is a great sipper to take the chill of winter.

Photo of traviserickson
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Thick amber, lack of head.

S: Whoa! tones of port with raisin and bourbon barrel oak. spicy and orange.

M: POW! sinuses cleared. Malty, similar to smell, very strong. Toffee fruity biscuit.

M: Not too carbonated, which is good on a beer like this

D: Needed to recap this beer after sharing half of it.

Photo of aeminter
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Amber brown with an off white head about one finger thick with good lacing

S - Alcohol (brandy or port), dried stone fruit, raisins, figs no noticeable hop presence.

T/M - Thick, malty sweet and intense. Wow. Very complex with port like characteristics...dried fruit and slight licorice flavors are most noticeable. Very nice alcohol warming effect. This beer needs to be sipped and chewed.

Photo of BierFan
3.08/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a cervoise. 15.53% abv. Bottled in April 2008, batch 4.

Appearance: Tan head doesn't rise more than a couple fingers. Settles to nearly nothing within a minute. Dark amber/brownish body.

Smell: Cherries, oak, and alcohol. Nothing really mouth watering about it at first. It took me awhile to warm up to this beer.

Taste: The taste really doesn't do anything for me either. Cherry and raisin? The finish is of mainly alcohol and a little bit of bitterness and oak.

I suppose this is pretty much just an alcohol heavy oaked barleywine. If you're not into huge boozy beers than stay away from this one at all costs.

Photo of rapidsequence
2.55/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This 12oz bottle has a $8.29 sticker on it. Dont remember where I bought it.

Appearance: A viscous looking pour of clear copper-orange into a snifter. Short lived white head and a little lacing, but it gets pulled back into the beer by the legs.

Smell: When you smell this after its been sitting for a few minutes, it smells like fusels/solvent. A little swirl though brings out huge sweet, fruity malt dominance. A deep whiff however, burns the nose a little. Not too different from cognac or brandy-- boozy.

Taste: Whoa. Damn. Lots of ethanol and solvent flavors. While it smells like an insane barley wine, it tastes like poison... at least up front. Once you get it down though, the aftertaste is that of an overly sweet, malty, and boozy barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Very syrupy and slick.

Drinkability: Its not really that drinkable. Its not really meant to be. Its OK as a sipper, and its a fun thing to try. I would never buy it again, but I will buy their next experiment.

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 MOB210SA
4.43/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just had this amazing beer.

Bottled April 2009 Batch 5.

Poured thin 1/2 finger head that dissipates very quickly to a small ring. Redish-Honey amber that just looks fantastic in color. Some sediment through out but not too much, just adds to the already great appearance.

Amazing alcoholic wine like sweet honey, really reminds me of something ive had before. Reminds me of something like Crown or Southern Comfort the sweet caramel is intoxicating.

Sweet tingly woody-oak like taste that is very present. Woody, and dark fruits. Finishes with a strong bite but Im really impressed. I read on the bottle it was brewed with oak chips and it really comes through. It tastes outstanding.

My mom tried it and said it was one of the best beers shes tried in a while.

This is a step above The Beast, IMO.
But I think both are very good. Just one left to try- Mephistopheles.

Photo of bonsreeb85
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - dark but still see through reddish color. thin head but forgiveable given the whopping 14.9 percent abv.

S - bourbon(and lots of it)grand marnier, heavy caramel, wood chips, vanilla syrup, cherries. to sum up: boozy and sweet.

T - huge brandy like flavor with a ton of sweetness that comes in the form of cherries and tangerines.the oak chips are really pronounced too.
again: incredibly sweet and boozy flavor that mirrors the nose and brings a lot of heat from the alcohol. this is one sinister beer, i love the heavy bourbon and vanilla flavors. i can feel my cheeks redden w/ each sip.

MF - syrupy and too heavy

D - this one is tasty as all hell, but way to sweet and rich to actually enjoy more than 12 oz. in a sitting. interesting to see how this one mellows out over time. can't wait to try it again in a year or 3.

Photo of gabemasiulis
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured in a brandy glass from a 12 oz bottle.
Batch 3, april 2007

A) Amber in color, but with low translucency (is that a word?). Fine straw colored bubbles with moderate retention. There was some floculent yeast at the bottom of the bottle, some of which managed to get poured in, despte my care. It seems to have settled quickly.

S) Oak, oak so strong I can tell it to be american, as opposed to french, and I'm not that good with oak. High alcohol notes sting the nose, while you can really pick up the roast in the grain malt.

T) The oak is not quite as strong as I would have expected it to be based on the smell. The oak is a pleasant background to the roasted sweetness up front. I can pick apart the bitterness from hops vs roast malts. Very balanced in taste, I definitely like the way this one is going, especially compared to their other "demon series" ales.

M) Definitely syrupy, look at the alcohol content, but neatly counterpointed by the gently fizzing bubbles. It seems to me that the bubbles bring up some malty bitterness, to rise over the syrupy quality, and I think that's grand.

D) Last time I had one of these, I woke up sprawled on the couch with a third of a glass left. Way smoother this time around, definitely delicious, and if my body was capable of pounding back a few, I'd do it.

Photo of sweemzander
2.88/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. Bottled April 2008 Batch #4

(A)- Pours a cloudy brown amber color that did not produce any foam; just some off-white bubbles.

(S)- Not much on the nose; A little roasted caramel-ish toffee with bits of honey.

(T)- Syrupy sweet caramel-ish toffee with loads of barley. Has a rather hot boozy finish.

(M)- A rather weird mouthfeel that is hot from the massive 15.53%abv. Has a good carbonation level despite its initial appearance. Its just really thick and syrupy sweet roasted caramel/toffee.

(D)- Not a big fan of this one. It just might be showing its age, or it just needs half a decade to balance out, I cant decide. Either way, this is one robust, thick, and really sweet barleywine that warms you up with a sweet alchoholic feel, while at the same time absolutely kicking you to the floor withough apologizing. Despite my poor rating, I really want to see what additional aging would do to one of these.

Photo of ReDave
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this several months ago up in Sequoia National Park. Just found the notes....
Shared this with my Brother-in-Law.
Thanks Steve!

He got this at the wonderful Hollingshead in Orange.

Poured a brownish amber.
Light head that settles to a ring. Not much lace.

First sip, rather sweet. Not the hoppy kind of barley wine.. Lots of fruit here. spice. maybe a tich of the anchor barley wine? at least an old one i had some time ago....
Very sweet. I'd try this again, but only as a share. desert beer.

Photo of kmurray8621
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a Portsmouth Brewery snifter.

A: cloudy, deep orange-bronze color. 1/2 finger head initially after the pour, which dissipates quickly to a ring of tiny, fine, foamy bubbles with some slightly larger ones sprinkled in.

S: oaky, malty aroma with medicinal undertones and a bit of coconut mixed in.

T: super sweet and rich, with toffee and brown sugar flavors, combined with a strong alcohol burn.

M: full, syrupy body. you can feel the sweetness as you drink, expecially the residual stickiness left on the lips after each sip.

D: the combination of the very sweet taste and high alcohol content make it difficult to drink more than one. I'm having a hard enough time just finishing this bottle.

Photo of glid02
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

Pours a hazy brownish-copper color with a half-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of thick caramel malts with good amounts of toffee. Also present are hints of vanilla, sweet cherries, and apricots.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lots of caramel, toffee, and butterscotch flavors up front are joined shortly by vanilla, milk chocolate, and various fruit flavors. As it warms the chocolate and fruit flavors intensify a bit. The ending is on the sweeter side with light bitter undertones.

Mouthfeel is very good. It has a very smooth thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this was a very impressive big ABV beer and the bold flavors do their job in covering up the alcohol. Certainly worth a shot.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 1 consumed Aug. '06. Crystal clear copper color with zero head. Fairly strong aroma of sweet malt, cherries, alcohol and then hops. The flavor starts out with sweet cherries and plums then the warm alcohol hits. There's also some hop flavor and bitterness that slowly build toward the finish. Hops still take a back seat to the sweet malts. I sense a bit of the smoke in the finish.

I need to re visit this batch soon.

Photo of Viggo
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Coles, served in a 5 oz snifter.

Pours a clear bright orange, some neat tangerine highlights, thick off white head forms, pretty admirable for a brew of this strength, lace chunks stick to the side of the glass as it settles to a thin ring. Smell is intense, big alcohol, very woody, citrus, vanilla, a bit harsh, fruit, raisins, toffee, brown sugar, very rough and intense. Taste is similar, but nice, big alcohol and toffee, rich, vanilla, oak, sweet and sugary, butterscotch, toasted wood, sherry, a bit rough. Mouthfeel is full bodied, syrupy with low carbonation, some big warmth going down. A little rough going down, but I was surprised I enjoyed this one, a sipper for sure and wouldn't want more than 5 oz.

Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.