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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

1,253 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,253
Reviews: 603
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.69%
Wants: 75
Gots: 327 | 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: 1,253 | Reviews: 603
Photo of rapidsequence
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
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
1.36/5  rDev -64.9%
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
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
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
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
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
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
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
2.87/5  rDev -26%
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 +0.5%
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 +0.5%
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
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
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
4.26/5  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%
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.

Photo of afausser
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 5, bottled April 2009.

Appearance: Pours a deep reddish copper with very little head, but with a lot of bubbles that keep it going. Lacing is pretty good for the ABV, as is retention of what little head there is.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, and heavy candy scents along with heavy fruits--raisins, apricots, apples. Oh, and the alcohol.

Taste: Like the smell, very heavy on sugar. Tons of candy taste, particularly toffee and caramel, and again, heavy fruit taste--I'm getting cherries out of the taste, which I didn't get from the smell. Vanilla, anise, and oak.

Mouthfeel: A lot of warming, and a lot of carbonation. Syrupy and thick.

Drinkability: The ABV in this one is high, and not easily overcome. It's a good beer, but will be difficult to make it through the bottle.

Photo of mikedashg
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 4, Bottled April 2008. Tasted September 2009.

A - very bright apricot copper orange with a thin tan/yellowy head and tons of yeast floaties. chuck full of em. I even left some in the bottle that was solid sediment.

S - very boozy, apricots, fruits, figs

T - very sweet (but also, really bitter) and boozy, vanilla, oak, apricots, fruits, figs, caramel, mayple syrup

M - very sticky, syrupy and viscous on the tongue, moderately high carbonation

D - not too drinkable, because it's a strong one. But very delicious at the same time. About what you'd expect for such high ABV. Sweet and boozy. Reminds of carbonated sherry.

Photo of MTNboy
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It has a deep red/brown body with a little cabonation. The head and lace are both very thick and off-white. This beer has a aged wood and candy like aroma. It has some very heavy fruit esters with a little bit of hops to it. The mouthfeel is buttery, full and has some alcohol presents. A lot warmth to it. There is a very rich and sweet aftertaste.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Per the label: Bottled in May 2006 - Batch 2. I don't quite recall the location of purchase, but apparently it was for $8.49.

Appearance: Pours out a lightly cloudy, pecan-colored body with a thin, ivory-hued head that settles into a small ring around the inner perimeter of the glass.

Smell: A sharp, highly sweet-smelling nose of sugars on top of sugars and, for a brief moment, I'd swear I saw the Spectre of Diabetes in the mirror nearby. The scent of candied goodness, abundant caramel, piquant American oak wood, and macerated dark fruits draws you in closer only to be nasally stabbed by some jutting, jabbing currents of fusel alcohol.

Taste: Incredibly sweet! In fact, I'll admit to outright grimacing like I missed the lottery by just one number. And on the second sip, and the third, and the fourth, and so on. It's like a good horror flick that can still make you 'jump' on multiple viewings years later. Caramel candy with pure sugar sweetness that never fully goes away, but merely allows fruity tastes of poached raisins, dried orange peel, and fig juice to arrive. Small pinch of acidity. Faint, long-dead hop character throwing off hints of citrus and spicy, but with no more than a little bitterness remaining at this point -- get real, like anything could really ever cut through this much sweetness. Woody, tannic oak taste with a stingy bit of vanilla, but, just like everything else, you need to get in line behind the sweetness. The only thing that seems to be able to cut through the sugars at all is the alcohol. Finishes sweet with plenty of heat.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: To call this one a slow sipper is a bit of an understatement. While I'd tout other beers for their keen drinkability, here I'd give myself a pat on the back for the ability to drink and endure the entire twelve ounces. Also, it may or may not have been the initial jaw-seizing grimace, but, either way, all this sweetness has caused one of my teeth to hurt. =(

Photo of thespaceman
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled in April of 2007 - Batch 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a DFH signature pint glass:

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany in color, huge billowing head sits atop this monster of a brew. Lacing and retention are above average with the lacing staying thick and soapy on the glass.

Smell: Aged chocolate cherries here, very potent to say the least. Lots of esters popping out all over the place with a huge alcohol whiff. Small amounts of oak can be smelled but overpowered big time by the alcohol aromas.

Taste: Wow, I get bits of oak alot here now, chocolate is still present but now as much as in the aroma. Woody elements, combined again with those cherries are very strong. Maltiness is thick and sweet, with bits of grain, syrup, and oats. The finish consits of a strong amount of dark fruit, spiciness from the malt, and a huge dose of some alcohol. Very different yet very enticing.

Mouthfeel: Very syrup like, thick on the tongue with lower carbonation. This one is very big bodied on the tongue from the malt yet it's smooth and very reserved.

Drinkability: What drinkability? There is none. This is a slow sipper that will kick you in the pants from beginning to end. I love how the oak elements really pop out of this after tasting it, it almost makes the aroma deceiving, since I got alot of cherries & chocolate in here. Overall these Avery beers are standout brews, although I liked the Grand Cru & Mephistopheles a bit better, this is one of the better barleywines I've had in quite some time. Take caution with this one, it's smooth and not too hard to drink but this one will catch up to you quickly. Highly Recommended!

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into New Belgium Globe Glass.

A. Poured a 1 finger head with lots of carbonation. Nice head retention, with little to no lacing. Orange/copper color.

S. Fruit, dark Fruit, malty sweetness, booze, molasses, caramel, cherries. Very complex smell.

T. Caramel, toffee, malt- all kinds of malt flavors, vanilla, oak, figs, maple syrup, brown sugar, booze.

M. Mouth coating sugary sweetness. Well carbonated. Full bodied. Quite a bit of burn.

D. A sipper. A big beer for sure. One I wouldn't mind having again. This beer is one to be enjoyed in front of a fire on a winter's night.

Photo of BigDank
5/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nothing like a good oak-aged barleywine. This one pours a nice medium brown / amber color with a medium head and a strong smell. Warming alcohol burn from beginning to end but worth it all the while. This one was Batch 4 (April 2008) with an ABV sitting at 15.53%. Drank from a snifter slightly cold (my mistake) but would probably have been even better just at cellar temperature. I really wish we could get Avery here because they make some of the best beers around. Samael's I would have to say though is near the top of the list along with The Beast and Maharaja. May not be something you can drink all night but I wouldn't mind being the one to try. Will have to make sure to grab a few of these the next chance I get. A+

Photo of CHADMC3
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky, almost mud-like brown with just a thin tan head that sticks around for a while.

The big, sweet, port-like aroma wafts from the glass. Additional aromas consist of oak, sherry, roasted malt, and possibly caramel and sweet nut.

Heavy sherry and dried fruit flavor, again featuring oak, but this time with hints of vanilla. Much like the aroma, there is a port-like quality, nut sweetness, and roasted malt.

Thin to medium in body, medium carbonation, aggressive flavor character, and a slight, dry abv burn to finish.

This is a tasty brew for certain, but I am not putting down more than one because of both the high abv, and also the aggressive palate. If you enjoy an antagonistic, high gravity beer, this is a must try.

Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a wonderful burnt toffee aroma along with a kick ass wood aged scent. It lends a nice vanilla character to the beer. The taste is good as well. It has a wicked oak flavor that wraps itself up with the caramel notes and burnt toffee flavors. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. It's a sipper for sure, but damn is it tastey.

Photo of almychristopher
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this beer pours a crystal clear color with an off white head. the aroma speaks largely of the caramel malts, and dried fruit, maybe a bit of raisin in there, but the oak mellows it all out with the vanilla and earthiness. the taste follows with the fruity esters up front with a lot of sweet roasted malt, little in the way of hops to speak of. the full body is nice but for a beer of this maginitude I could use a bit less co2. a nice barley wine none the less

Photo of Westsidebuddha
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought at Beverage Warehouse Los Angeles, Calif. Bottled in April 2009, Batch 5.

The smell off the bottle was oaky and maybe a bit brandy. I poured it into a pint glass and had it sit for 10 minutes. Wow. Definitely can smell a strong slighty burnt oak aroma. Poured a dark golden color. No head and slight bubbles. First taste is strong but not overly strong with a slight roasted flavor and an alcohol back end. Good mouthfeel as it doesn't overwhelm it as I expected it being 16.45%. Drinkability is a strong ale with a strong alcohol back end. Would be a good winter beer on a cold day or night. This is a take your time and drink beer. Drinking off a pint glass, I'm getting the smell and taste of this and it's a grabber. Back end taste a little like candy? Overall, a good beer that I'm glad I finally tried.

Photo of charlesw
3.05/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It's beautiful. I worship this beer. Omm. Etc. A deep light brown with hints of amber. Nice sized head lasts a while. Lace? 10 minutes later, man. Longer. It's nice. Very nice.

Smell? Well, it smells like an English barleywine. What? This is in the same category as HSA? Not even. Someone is smoking crack. Sweet, prunes, huge alcohol, sour prunes, rotten prunes? Baloney and rotten prunes? What?

Oh. Well it's an English barleywine. Duh. Who put it in English Strong Ale? Lame. They have no idea what they're talking about. Tastes of prunes, huge alcohol, the fake cherry flavor of childhood medicines, some astringency. The wife, I would not shit you, spat it out in the sink and said that it was disgusting - medicine soaked in oak. I guess... Out of the mouths of babes, and all... So, yeah. Maybe with another 10 years on it...

Pretty close for an English barleywine. Mostly. Other than the medicinal bit (and the burps - whoa!).

Photo of gford217
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, batch 4 bottled in 2008 and clocking in at a hefty 15.53%.

Pours a dark, clear amber with a small beige head that leaves a soapy film and a small collar on the top with little lacing.

The aroma is very sweet with tons of caramel and a slight sherry character. There is plenty of wood in the nose as well with the oak and vanilla coming out especially. Overall a sweet boozy nose.

The taste is more boozy than the aroma for sure. The caramel, vanilla and oak are there in the beginning but they give way to a serious burn in the finish. There are some fruits in the taste as well, with some grapes and figs...soaked in booze of course.

The mouthfeel is fairly well carbonated for a beer of this ABV, though it's still extremely slick on the palate. Very little doubt about that high ABV though - it definitely makes itself and warms you up after each sip.

This is definitely a sipper as it shows the alcohol (and the wood character) very prominently. It's very sweet as well and overall has a pretty limited drinkability.

Photo of GRG1313
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16.45% abv. April 2009, Batch 5. Pours a very dark red amber with thick tan head.

Nose of rich cooked fruit, maple/toffee and ripe pears.

Mouthfeel is rich, bold and creamy.

Flavors are of big sweet cream sherry with bold oak undertones. Rich brown sugar, maple/toffee with coffee and hints of bittersweet dark chocolate. A strong sherry - sherry coffee finish with some oak character and some bitter coffee/chocolate and bitter maple. A bit of ripe/old raisins, as well.

The more one consumes the harder and harder it is to go back because of high sugar/sweetness. Liquid dessert but not as rich and inviting as the two others in the series.

A sipper but also good with dessert. Drink with care. The alcohol really creeps up on you!

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,253 ratings.