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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

1,148 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,148
Reviews: 584
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.69%
Wants: 71
Gots: 278 | 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: 1,148 | Reviews: 584 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MisterClean
4.97/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle from tasting at Manderes.

A - Red-copper in color, medium head, dissipates slow.

S - Very wheaty, oak, pine, and yellow grapefruit.

T - Oak, wheat, corn, and pine. Superb.

M - Well balanced, easy to enjoy. Perfect with a cigar.

D - Possibly the best ESA I've had.

MisterClean, Jun 20, 2008
Photo of lightindarkness
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired in trade with vasdef42, thanks!

Batch 4 - Foiled cap pops with a loud pfft, releasing instant smells of caramelly malt and oak. Pours a deep orangey copper with a nice creamy, khaki head.

Nose has an individuality to it, with plenty of caramel and rich earthy tones, dark brown bread, and nice mellow smooth oak, not harsh or too old, but very round. I don't notice as much alcohol as I'd expect.

Taste is good, but a bit harsh. A lot of caramel, but not too sweet at all, with a rich warm depth. Oak really has a strong presence, with some mellow smooth flavors. What begins as smooth with a lot of nice depth kind of burns up in alcohol heat and bitterness at the finish, making the oak and other flavors a lot more harsh and seemingly less balanced. The overall flavor comes across as really well done, but it swallows with a taste and feel that are momentarily sharp. Once the alcohol burns off there's a softer caramel vanilla bready taste left over. When it warms it drinks a little like bourbon.

As for feel, the original fuller medium body holds little weight against the fumy alcohol finish. Some slickness left over, but I keep getting a lot of fumes.

I'm pretty torn over this one. I really like the nose, and I really like the overall flavor, but the alcohol and harsh finish detract a lot from my ability to really enjoy this beer. It's good in most respects, but kind of sharp. Interestingly, the more I drink, the more I enjoy it, but sip slowly!

lightindarkness, Jun 15, 2008
Photo of srandycarter
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Dark clear amber, small head leaves fast, thin sudsy, but persistent lacing.

S - Some malt, dried or cooked dark fruit, booze evident.

T- Big taste! Raisins, dark fruit, lots of booze, an explosion to the senses.

M - As with the taste, big fat coating mouth, big flavors that balance well, nice carb.

D - Even tasting the alcohol, this one is pretty drinkable, considering it makeup.

srandycarter, Jun 06, 2008
Photo of coldmeat23
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours a nice coppery/caramel color. Thick, creamy, 4-finger head that dpops down to a nice thin layer just covering the liquid in a solid fashion. Nice lacing on the glass. The only negative is that there is already quite a good amount of sediment.

Smells of sweet malty goodness, just begging to be tasted. Caramel, raisins and a touch of alcohol, not unlike a fine port.

Big sweet malts engulf the mouth. Very port-like in it's taste. The alcohol is not quite as prominent as I expected, which is nice. Light caramel taste on the back-end with a hint of cinnamon(?) or perhaps that's just the oak chips coming through.

Feels very smooth in the mouth with only a slight touch of alcohol burn. This breaks up the sweetness, so it works to it's own advantage.

Overall this is quite nice, but one that is a bit too sweet for me to consume much at one time. A definite sipper.

coldmeat23, May 27, 2008
Photo of johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says bottled in 2005.
Pours a beautifully clear amber, orange, reddish color without much head or lacing. Aroma is boozy, oakey, sweet caramel, some raisins. Taste is oak and bourbon but sweet, fruity, caramel malts. Carbonation is low, Mouthfeel is sweet and sticky. Good brew, definitely a sipper.

johnnnniee, May 21, 2008
Photo of ccrida
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle (May 2006 - Batch 2) poured into my meantime snifter, Samael's Oak-aged Ale is a hazy burnt orange with a large, olive tinged off-white head that fairly quickly settles to a thick, foamy skim, leaving light, scattered lace. I dig the bronzed, hazy glow to it, like an LA sunset, crowned with an attractive collar to the last sip, impressive for the size and age of this bottle (which was evidently cellared and/or capped better then some of the other reviewers, who had flat batch 2 bottles).

Strong aroma of rich caramel malt, fruity English ale and oak esters. As you get accustomed to it, the alcohol becomes more evident, although it's pretty light and clean.

Taste is very rich, more of the same sweetness and fruity notes from the nose, nice depth, and surprisingly smooth and balanced for the size, I'm sure the cellar time certainly helped. The oak character really provides a nice, fairly subtle counterbalance to the thick sugars and alcohol vapors. Very sherry/port like, but with carbonation. Lingering aftertaste with exceptional depth, spicy and smokey.

Mouth feel is very creamy and carbonated, with a dry, boozy finish leaving me with heavy hobo breath and tingling lips.

Drinkabilty was really high for me. In spite of the crippling ABV, the taste is smooth and the booze is clean, and my 12 ounces went down way to fast! I really like English style barleywines though, and am really digging this over the top take on the style by Avery. I happy to say they have another winner in their The Demons of Ale series, 3 for 3 with the extreme beers, love it! Part of my high scoring reflects the level of craftsmanship exhibited by pushing the envelope while still producing a very tasty, highly drinkable product.

ccrida, May 15, 2008
Photo of shbobdb
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Vertical tasting! Hell yeah! My score represents a composite of the experience. Date(s) of tasting: 05/08/08.

Older Bottle (Bottled May 2006, batch 2)

It pours looking like apple cider. I left it in the freezer to cool, so it is at proper Coors light serving temperature and incredibly cloudy. A very faint head forms, mostly just islands of soap-scummy bubbles.

Then I had to wait 30 minutes before I could really drink it. This beer really needs to either be at room temperature or pretty near it.

The beer is super-complex. My first impression is "port". This beer really tastes a lot like a nice tawny port. A nice balance of warming alcohol, excessive sweetness, and a huge blast of oak. The combination really works as long as you are in the mood for it. The 12oz bottle helps too, I've spent 3 hours on the first part of this vertical, so I can't imagine what choking down 22oz would be like.

In addition to the overall "port" character, the specific flavors that I can identify are: pineapple, lots of pineapple, toffee, bitter black tea, concord grape, caramel, and pinot noir.

Very nice. Very warming. The day is rainy and miserable, and the beer is a wonderful means of fighting off the weather.

Younger Bottle (Bottled April 2007, batch 3)

Very different from its older brother. More a ruby and less a tawny port, and since the carbonation still makes its presence known, this feels more like a "beer".

Adn it suffers for that. Chocolate, toffee, pineapple, and an excessive amount of oak. There is still a lot going for this beer, but it lacks the roundness of its more mature predecessor. The oak is too heavy and the rest sorta doesn't gel.

I'm not saying it is "bad" but, good lord, the '06 was just a pleasure to drink, whereas I'm 2/3rds of the way through the '07 and I am sick of it.

If you've got 'em, sit on 'em!

shbobdb, May 09, 2008
Photo of hrockefeller
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, bottled in May 2006. I had put off purchasing this beer due to the price, but after I found it for $5.99, I figured it was now or never. Poured into my glass with a two finger head that quickly dissipated, but clings to the glass.

Appearance: brownish red, somewhat cloudy.

Smell: Oak, raisins, general fruity smell that I can't quite put my finger on.

Taste: More of the same, with an emphasis on a very sweet (perhaps too sweet) fruity taste. Alcohol note is barely detectable, only there once the sample was swallowed a few seconds before. Oak at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thin, dry at moments, then finishes coating the mouth.

Drinkability: Good enough to consistently want another sip, once your taste buds get used to the initial surprise of the sweetness.

Overall: Very glad I decided to purchase and sample this beer. It's just a little too sweet for my general preferences, but could be good for pairing and special tasting occasions.

hrockefeller, May 08, 2008
Photo of aerozeppl
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

May 2006.

A: Nice deep amber color/ Decent amount of head for the abv and style. Really nice looking.

S: Booze, raisins, figs, sweetness, earthy mustiness, oak.

T: I had this bottling a while ago and it was MUCH rougher. This has really smoothed out. Sweetness and fruits hits you first. Tons of dark fruit and apples. Sweetness really dominates.

M: Damn this is heavy. Very glad we split this. Nice syrupy tone to the body that coats everything.

D: Again age does this beer wonders. Still a sipper though. The ABV cuts down the drinkability for me but I would not have minded drinking the whole 12oz myself. Never drink this fresh.

aerozeppl, May 04, 2008
Photo of Avryle
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled May 2006

A- Slightly hazy brown-orange. Small tan head

S- Sweet, sweet malts with fruity undertones

T- Sweet malts dominate with tones of apples and raisins. Mellow tones of oak has mellowed this out. Good, but not complex.

M- Thick & syrupy. Leaves a nice warmth down the throat.

D- This is what is meant by "sipper." Mouthfeel is way too heavy for easy drinking and the ABV is such that its a good idea to split a 12oz bottle if you have any desire to do anything else during the day.

Avryle, May 04, 2008
Photo of paco1029384756
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in May 2006, Batch 2. Drank in May 2008. Dark orange/brown appearance with almost no head. Scent is heavy on caramel with strong oak and malts. Strong sweetness with caramel, dark fruits, oak, malts and alcohol. Tart mouthfeel with slight thickness. High drinkability for a beer of this strength.

A very quality barleywine, and worth a purchase, but may be a bit too expensive.

paco1029384756, May 02, 2008
Photo of Scrumtralecent
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Bottled in May of '06 and drank in May of '08 in a tulip glass. It pours with a copper/amber color and very little head after initial pour. No lacing or head retention after settling.

S - Hits the nose strong with a very bourbon and liquor smell. The oak and some spices linger in the background. The smell itself is intoxicating.

T - Hits the tongue just as hard as the smell. The bourbon has definitely made its way to the forefront and the burn of alcohol creates an almost spice that makes you not able to take large doses of it. The taste of bourbon and alcohol linger long after swallowing. Very heavy beer.

M - A warm beer both in the feel of the mouth and after swallowing just from the alcohol being so present in the taste. It may be a little sharp for those sensitive to such a taste.

D - Overall, this beer feels more like a liquor on ice than beer. This beer is not for a session or even part of a session really, but a quiet night with a relaxing drink that you'd just like to sip and enjoy would probably be the best setting. The aging of it probably helped, bringing some of the bourbon to the forefront which I enjoyed. With proper aging again and another beautiful night, I would have again.

Scrumtralecent, Apr 30, 2008
Photo of ebit
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

First barleywine ever so I'm going to review with as open of a mind as possible.

Huge 4 finger tan head off of a straight pour. Body is a crystal clear red amber.

Huge fruity raisin boquet with definite notes of oak. Nutmeg. Slightest hint of grainy malts.

This will be hard to decipher so I'll write down the flavors as they hit me. Raisins. Cinnamon. Sweet and sour. Buttery malts leading up to a detectable alcohol presence. As the more intense flavors subside there is an ever so slightly bitter finish. There isn't much balance here. It's a very rich and sweet beer.

Medium heavy body. Viscosity lingers even after the swallow. Little carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall Impression
This is the definition of a sipper. Intense flavors run rampant on the palate and the thickness of the body allows them to stay beyond expected. While most beers rush straight to the aftertaste, this one lingers on the tongue. Unless you've paired this beer with something along the lines of sourdough bread it will be some time before you reach for the glass again simply because your tastebuds won't be fully recovered yet. Additionally, while alcohol is highly present in the beer the abv still manages to sneak up on you. Overall while I'm not too thrilled about the lack of balance, it still manages complexity and is definitely a unique, albeit overwhelming, beer.

ebit, Apr 14, 2008
Photo of humanawho
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I enjoy a good smooth single malt scotch and this beer to me is a like a single malt scotch mixed with a exceptionally sweet barley wine.

The color reminds me of a glass of scotch, nice carmel color.

The smell starts out strong of scotch in this case oak and as it breaths it balances to the smelly i would expect from a oaky sweet barley wine.

It tastes like a sweet barley wine and a smooth scotch combined, interesting and I like it.

The drinkability is what i would expected from a beer like this, one is enough and i could see most people wanting to share one with a friend or two.

humanawho, Apr 12, 2008
Photo of Floydster
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 ounce bottle purchased from Beverage Warehuse over a year ago for seven dollars, May 2006 bottling, split with two friends last night, poured into my Chimay goblet

A-Dark brown with some amber highlights, small 1/2 creamy off white head that disappeared quickly, no real retention or lacing

S-Oak, booze including brandy and cognac, figs, faint cocoa, peaches, berries, bananas, lots of fruit, sweet malt, caramel, toffee, and vanilla

T-Started off with an agressive boozy flavor, faded into some sweet fruit and chocolate, more alcohol in the finish, warming going down, burned the tongue a little bit as well, got some vanilla shortly after with some sweeter malt accents, still too much booze for me, as it warmed it became harder to drink and felt stronger, this brew would have been better if it had half the ABV in my opinion, not bad for it is though

M-Boozy and sweet mouthfeel, also dry at times because of the hot finish, medium to full body, not much carbonation, taste lingered, bit syrupy

D-Could never finish an entire bottle of this, so strong at fifteen percent, heavy on the stomach, far from smooth, alcohol was not hidden, gives new definition to sipper

First experience with this beer and probably my last, could age for another two to three years probably, certainly not my favorite from Avery, not recommended

Floydster, Apr 10, 2008
Photo of John_M
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this monstrously huge beer at the HardLiver festival recently.

The beer pours a darkish tawny amber color with very little head retention and lacing. It looks the way many beers do that have spent a considerable amount of time in wood. On the palate this beer is impressive, with the bourbon barrel aroma very noticeable. There is plenty of cherry and vanilla in this bad boy, and one wonders if Avery forgot to drain all the bourbon out of the barrel before putting the barleywine in it. On the palate this beer is nothing short of magnificent. It is incredibly rich and long, and is wonderful smooth and soft on the palate. My notes refer to this beer as almost drambuie/cognac like. The beer is so rich and sweet it's almost cloying, but there's just enough hops to keep that from happening. The abv. is noticeable (at 14.9%, how could it not be), but is not intrusive or obtrusive.

A little bit of this would go a long way. Impressive, but a single glass would be all I could ever drink.

John_M, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of Kendo
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled May 2006. Purchased 2-2-07. Consumed 2-1-08.

A: Poured into a Piraat tulip, the body is a murky orangey-amber with a small, quickly-disappearing head. No lace.

S: Cognac and candied sugar. Boozy. Not unpleasant, however.

T: First impression is "wow - booze." There's sugary malt and oaky wood as well. Tastes a little like bourbon. And like bourbon, it finishes hot -- on the back of the mouth and in the belly.

M: Syrupy and thick. Definitely full-bodied.

D: I am probably being generous giving this a "3" -- it's definitely a sipper. In fact, in my opinion this is closer to a cognac or bourbon -- i.e., liquor -- than it is to a beer. Slow going at this strength (unmasked strength at that) is a necessity.

Kendo, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of champ103
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very rich and deep orange color that is a bit cloudy. A fair head forms that recedes to a rim and leaves a good coat of lace.
S: Lots of wonderful fruit aromas. Peach, cherry, banana, orange, ect. Warming alcohol is present as well. Maybe a bit of oak and vanilla, but not as much as I was expecting considering it is oak aged.
T: Delicious sweet fruit flavors that I detected in the nose. Follows the nose to a T. A bit more oak flavor and plenty of warming alcohol.
M/D: A full body beer that is rich, creamy, and perfectly carbonated for my tastes. I could not drink more than one at a time, but it is a great sipping beer.

So this is what a good barleywine tastes like. It took me a while while to get used to this style, but I really enjoy this. Something that I will savor.

champ103, Mar 21, 2008
Photo of irishkyle21
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am really starting to like these oak aged beers. Samael's pours with a nice cap, high score in the lacing sector and pretty good retention. This beer just looks cool, when held to the light you can see the sediment just sitting there like its stuck in suspended animation. Has a deep ruby color.

The nose is bursting with a sweet boozy fruitiness that also lingers on the palate. Also smells of Scotch, vanilla and malts.

This beer falls into the slow sipper category (for me at least). Has a huge warming alcohol presence on the tongue, fruity and sweet.

irishkyle21, Mar 15, 2008
Photo of smcolw
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Modest light beige head that leaves spotty lace. Very cloudy! Orange amber color.

Sweet, port aromas. I believe that this will be better as it warms. Lots of alcohol in the nose. I suspect that this will be a very big beer.

Extremely sweet beer, lots of molasses and honey flavors. It has the mouthfeel of a fortified wine. This is very unbalanced; if there is hop it is completely overwhelmed by coy malt.

This is too much for me--I believe that it is sweeter than a port and the alcohol is three beers worth. I will have trouble finishing it.

smcolw, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of ruckzuck
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Woo here we go. Bought this while at home.

A - thin white head, nice mahogany color

S - syrupy sweet, this really dominates, really floral as well

T - sweet and floral (big shocker); bit of alcohol, but they do a fairly good job hiding it beneath the sweet

M - very solid bodied, bit of carbonation

D - well, this is quite the beer! Very solid and very heavy. Not sure I could rock more than 1 of these, but I'm glad to say I've had it. Not life-changing, but still quite interesting and worth a shot I'd say. Keep it up, Avery.

ruckzuck, Feb 24, 2008
Photo of nkurz129
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once again, Avery has hit the nail on the head for me. This one is a beer to savor. Poured with a surprising amount of head for a 14% barley wine. I love the oak aroma, which mingles perfectly with the slightly toasty malt aroma that I get out of it. Dangerously drinkable, not at all syrupy (the way some beers of this strength seem to coat your mouth), no warming sensation on the way down like you might expect, perfect level of bitterness, seemingly more from the roast on the malt rather than a pronounced hop presence. Some Braunschweiger and toasted rye would be fantastic with this.

nkurz129, Feb 09, 2008
Photo of jeffmonarch
2.95/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle in a pint glass.

A - Cloudy amber brown color with little head but what is there lingers for a while.

S - Sweet but faint. Slight smell of alcohol.

T - Really sweet but smooth with a good alcohol burn. Slight mediciny taste.

M - Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D - It's ok. I'm not totally impressed with this. I've had better.

jeffmonarch, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of Traquairlover
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12-oz bottle poured into a Shiraz-style Reidel glass. This was a May 2006 Batch 2 bottling.

A = Translucent amber, almost no head, lacing and medium sized bubbles rest on the surface, carbonation is steady made up of very tiny bubbles.

S = Deep malty smells of molasses, maple syrup, butter, with slight plastic or medicinal smells perhaps from the alcohol.

T = Wow, based on the smell I was worried there would be too much of a straight alcohol flavor mixed into the malt and floral hops flavors. That is not a problem. This is a really good ale (I'd call it a barleywine), the molasses tastes are there, there is also a tart floral taste, with a long finish, bitter on the middle of my tongue and back of my throat but sweet on the sides of the tongue.

M = Heavy bodied, thick with pleasantly tickling carbonation, very good mouthcoating.

D = I was a little worried about this one when I smelled it and there seemed to be somewhat of an alcohol kick in the nose, but the taste and mouthfeel was excellent. A very strong brew that you may only want occasionally but this is an excellent beer. Now I need to go get more for cellaring.

Traquairlover, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of jasonjlewis
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice 2 finger head with ver nice lacing and retention. Clear amber/brown in color.

Smell is of caramel malts and candy sugar. I smell other fruits in their such as orange. I also spearmint and a lemony grass twang. A hint of vanilla comes through as the beer warms.

The taste is thick on sugar and is somewhat cloying. The malt bill is also very sweet. I know this beer is between 45-50 ibus, but the bitterness is very much hidden under the sweetness of the sugar. Hints of tofee and molasses and syrup are present. This beer gains a vanilla overtone as it warms. Bitterness is very dry. This beer could be much better, but they put way too much candy sugar in.

The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy.

I had no trouble drinking this beer, but I must take points away for the excess of candy sugar.

jasonjlewis, Jan 25, 2008
Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,148 ratings.