Samael's Ale - Avery Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Samael's AleSamael's Ale

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BA SCORE
87
very good

1,218 Ratings
THE BROS
78
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,218
Reviews: 592
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 14.99%
Wants: 70
Gots: 295 | 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: 1,218 | Reviews: 592 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jbphoto88
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sam pours blood orange in color with a tan head that starts out in a decent spot but fades quickly. The bottle claims 16.45% ABV... at that size I am surprised to have any head retention at all.

The smell is short of divine. Boozed soaked fruits like cantaloup and plum come through right off the bat. Following is a musty oak scent reminiscent to a scotch. There isn't a hint of the high ABV which is both incredible and alarming at the same time.

I am in love. The flavor of musty awesome oak leads this experience followed by semi sweet malts. Caramel mixed with a muted fruit flavor that the only thing ever to come close to this flavor before is the flavored tobacco passed through a hookah. Outstanding and potent. I can feel the warmth of the ABV but again there isn't a dominant boozy flavor. Well done.

Warm! The high ABV come through in the mouthfeel. As soon as it hits the tongue Sam warms every surface it touches. But a creamy coconut milk and vanilla softness soothes just as fast. All I can say is wow. This is a truly outstanding beer and a definite sipper. The warmer it gets the more distinct the flavors and the richer the experience. Well worth the $8 and the brain cells it kills. I can't wait to age some.

Photo of EPseja
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle in a brandy snifter at just below cellar temperature. Bottled in May 2006 and cellared properly.

A - Rusty amber color with bright orange highlights in the pour. Translucent medium brown in the glass, with a quick appearance and subsequent exit by the head. Some sediment flecks are visible at the bottom of the glass, but not much is in suspension. No lacing at all.

S - Very vinous, with notes of sherry, maple, dark fruits and holiday fruit-cake. Certainly alcoholic, but not overtly so. Good.

T - Brown sugary sweet with massive vanillin from the oak aging. Cream sherry soaked sugar-covered raisins. Alcohol warmth is forward, but well reined considering the massive ABV. Slightly tart on the back of the tongue with an odd confectionary or children's candy sweetness -- like Tart n' Tiny candies. Considerably powdery and drying in the back of the throat. Considering how sweet this is, I'm surprised it's not all that cloying.

M - Syrupy and thick on the way in. Tongue-coating with a wash of carbonation that gives a subtle boost in volume. Heavy cream body slides easily down the back of the throat like the hyperactively sugared liquid center of some diabolical candy.

D - In a field where most other competitors are half the alcoholic strength, this beer is tough to come to grips with when style is concerned. For what it is, Samael's is a very tasty and downright sugar-raped adult liquid candy of a beer. It has some complexities like a well developed sherry might, but in the end the crazy sweetness trumps pretty much every other aspect.

Photo of froghop
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pour is a dark amber-orange with a small light tan head, and good lacing.

smell first hits you with a whisky smell, then dark fruit, toasted toffee, and wood.

taste is strong, smooth, a little sweet, prune, burnt caramel, toasted nuts, some sour malt, cedar, a little sweet cherry juice, and licorice, ends dry and a little bitter.

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

Fairly light color for the boldness in taste. The head was more than I expected for a beer this strong too. I didn't really like the smell; I'm thinking it must be the oak barrel smell and I just finished an IPA which usually smell wonderful to me. The taste is delicious. Definitely on the sweet side. Not as much of an alcohol flavor for such a high ABV as I expected, but it does finish with a nice warm feeling. Cherry and caramel highlight the flavor. This is a royal beer with a smooth finish, nice aftertaste and fairly drinkable for such a strong beer. Reminds me a bit of Samiclaus but with more of an oak flavor.

Photo of koopa
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled MAY 06' Consumed May 09'

Appearance: Burnt orange with minimal head, retention, or lacing. Its hard to have them with a 14.5% abv though.

Smell: Like an English Barleywine to me. Booze and fruit coupled with caramel and leather.

Taste: Fuggle Hops, caramel malt, strawberry bubblegum, booze, etc. Melded fairly well at the 3 year point but I think this one would have been better at age 4 or 5.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a touch syrupy and undercarbonated. Savory but a bit much.

Drinkability: its going down well for 14.5% ABV but no beer of this strength is very drinkabile IMHO. Sip one bottle over a couple of hours and call it a night.

Photo of iuhophead87
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle at slightly cooler than room temperature.

A- a dark amber color with a cloudy texture. The head is thick and a light tan color.
S- Wow- Alcohol with a citrus aroma. Did I say alcohol? Is this an English Barley wine? Now I smell a little more citrus with some oak undertones.
T- Very sweet up front. Almost like a glazed grapefruit. Then bam! The oak and alcohol kick in. The heat of the alcohol overpowers the citrus flavors, but still leaves enough to get the flavor after the burn.
MF-Burn, Burn, and more Burn!
D- 1 is all I need, this beer would be better to share with others.

I still don't know how I feel about this beer. Very complex with many flavors but yet extremely high ABV. Very good sipping beer, but the flavor wants me to drink it quicker than just sipping.???

Photo of LaPeste
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle $8.69 from Vendome. Bottled in April, 2009 Batch 5. 16.45% ABV!!!

A: Transparent dark reddish brown, little to no head

S: Booze, vanilla, hops, more booze

T: Whiskey, overpowering hard alcohol, oranges, oak

M: Low carbonation, burning alcohol

D: Drink more, get drunk more. More of a pounder than a sipper

I love that Avery is doing this experimental barrel aged series. I think this one and Brabant (the other one I've had) would benefit from some aging for sure. I will keep buying these and apreciate the fact that Avery is on the cutting edge.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange highlights around a dark brown brew. Served with a foam of tight, medium-sized bubbles about one inch in height and off-white in color. Not much as far as lacing - no surprise there.

The aroma is malty-sweet with prevalent alcohol notes. Dark, over-ripe fruits, caramel, even some herbal notes like tobacco and hints of pine resin.

The flavor is hot, full, and sweet. The hops are definitely present, but are overshadowed by the bourbon-like notes of booze, vanilla, oak, and spice. Rich flavors of toffee, caramel, and brown sugar, along with cherry, plum, and a hint of chocolate.

Full, sticky mouthfeel. A bit light on the carbonation and ends up a little syrupy. But damn if I didn't enjoy that snifter.

Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brewed in April 2008 Batch 4

A- I've never seen such interesting carbonation streams. What looks like hundreds of streams of near-microscopic bubbles. The head is sort of filmy looking but the rim along the edge of the glass has a hypnotizing color to it. Lace is too thick and heavy to stick. Color is on the darker side of orange/amber/copper.

S- Multiple big aromas all mesh together to make something that is all at once caramel, oak, honey, butterscotch, buttered rum, rose, lemon, and orange. Mellifluous to say the least.

T- Sweet, warm, and complex. Oaken flavors of vanilla and, of course, wood. Lightly bitter, citric, and floral but otherwise devoid of hops. The malt flavor is a very dark, sweet caramel and makes for the backbone of this ale.

M- Delivers all over. Well-carbonated and not thick like sludge.

D- Surprisingly good for beer with 3x the regular alcohol, but don't look to this beer for a session. And the 12oz bottle is more than enough for one serving.

Another solid "experimental" brew from Avery.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage. Autumn leaves russet with an infusion of Sunkist orange. A spirited pour results in almost no head, just a slim slice of ecru colored creaminess that is now all but gone. The snifter is essentially bare as well. It's hard to fault the appearance too much given the ABV and the style.

The nose is classic English strong ale. Of course, English barleywine works just as well (maybe better) given the overlap between those two styles. Each sniff delivers musky caramel, boozy fruit, scented pipe tobacco and newly tanned leather. It's amazing how little alcohol is evident since this bad boy is almost 30-proof.

Four years in the bottle has tamed this beast (not 'The Beast', that's a different Avery brew). I'm glad I chose a snifter because Samael's is a sipper par excellence. It's sweet and rich and warming, with a muffled explosion of flavor each time the taste buds are bathed. Barely above room temperature is the only way to go.

With nothing but pale and caramel malt, it's not surprising that sticky toffee pudding holds down the bottom end. Versions from 2007 onward add roasted malt for additional flavor and bitterness, but I like this recipe just fine. Who cares if the Columbus and Fuggles hops have long since faded?

Other flavors include cherries and oranges soaked in bourbon whiskey, vanilla and brown sugar syrup, part of which is the result of aging on American oak chips. It works here as well as it does in Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale. That is to say... very well. If I had any idea this beer was this good, I would have cracked the crown years ago.

The mouthfeel is right up my big beer lovin' alley. There isn't enough carbonation for it to be mouthfilling, but it's sappy and sticky and is a pleasure to sip. I wouldn't change a thing.

Samael is the Angel of Death and resides in Seventh Heaven. Avery Samael's Ale makes me glad to be alive and is a truly heavenly brew. Never mind the $7.99 price tag for 12 ounces (4 years ago), this is exceptional beer that I will now add to my cellar whenever the opportunity presents itself. Bottom line: devilishly good.

Photo of jgasparine
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I am drinking their most recent batch - April 2009, Batch #5

A: Beautiful orange-amber, with almost no head.

S: Orange-blossom honey and dried apricots, and a moderate oakiness.

T: Medicinal with prominent honey and heavy oaky notes, followed by an astringent alcohol burn. This stuff tastes more like hard alcohol than beer.

M: Medium body - oily with moderate carbonation. The pungent boozy taste lingers long after swallowing.

D: It will take me all night to get through this beer - it must be consumed slowly, and would make a great nightcap!

Photo of HeyItsChili
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours clear copper with a very dense creamy ecru head.

S - Light fruits, grapes, malt, sugar, alcohol.

T - Up front is brown sugar syrupy sweet, with some warm spices, malt, grains, and alcohol. There's a warm alcohol finish that lingers for a while.

M - Just under medium bodied yet creamy and smooth.

Notes - I wouldn't want more than one of these in a sitting.

Photo of flexabull
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch 4 - April 2008

Pours a cloudy orange color with a faint white head.

Aromas are of sweet grains, grape nuts, earthy pine hops, and a bit of caramel. Nice nose on this one.

Taste is sweet, with a mineral hop bite. Some grainy flavors, light caramel malts, a bit of cream, and a general nuttiness. Lots of booze, and a huge hot alcohol note on the finish.

Mouthfeel is really prickly and hot. Too much alcohol here, it just seems to overpower everything else.

Drinkability is like the mouthfeel. There is too much booze and alcohol to make this very drinkable. It's just kind of messy and needs more focus. I personally would like more malty sweetness to balance out the big booze flavors.

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

batch 2 - 2006 - $8.99/12oz bottle @ deciccio's in ardsley
poured into a dfh snifter it put up a 1 finger head that dissipated
really quickly - no lacing - aroma of alcohol comes up with scent of oak and dried/candied fruits - tastes like sweet syrupy dried fruit
with the oak/ woody finish - one sip away from empty i feel like i'm hittin' the hard stuff - coats the mouth thoroughly, syrupy, not in a bad way - this has warmed my stomach, and my brain - i enjoyed this bottle tonight.

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

Picked up a bottle of this in Oklahoma in July 2008. Beer was bottled in April 2008. Pours an amber color with ruby hues. No head or lacing. Smell is sweet and somewhat fruity. Taste is much more complex than I thought it would be. Sweet candy/caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and booze. VERY alcoholic. Limits its drinkability. Good brew. Glad I picked it up.

Photo of UA8
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Pours a syrupy orange/ amber with well lets just say no head.

S- Caramel malts, and burnable alcohol.

T- Fruit nectar of peach and apricot, honey. Backs with warming alcohol.

M- This dam near syrup. Barely any carbonation on this one.

D- I do like this in an odd self punishing way, however this is a niche product. It is damn near fermented fruit nectar and not something your going to finish quickly or have more than one of hence the score.

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

Nose is highly malty with nice oak notes and a splash of alcohol. Smells quite good.

Pours a deep orange butterscotch color, moderate clarity, mild head. Looks good.

Nicely sweet with lots of alcohol, malt, and gusto. This is a real beer. Complex malt/sweetness/alcohol profile. Quaint tartness that might be from hops. Some deep roasted flavors - wood, caramelized sugar, earth, and faint notes of char (to the degree a blackened cedar plank lends flavor to a fish cooked on it). Note of maple syrup. Finishes oaky, nutty, alcoholic, and dry. Tastes quite good. Feels good too.

Nice drinkability for 15.53%. I remember having one of these when I was newly 21 and loving it right up to the point when it hit me upside the head with its hidden potential. Very good.

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.05/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle, 2005.

Pours brown-amber, with the faintest whispy hint of white head.

Aroma is vanilla, oak, rich, sweet toffee, alcohol.

Taste starts off with a huge cloying sweetness, toffee and caramel, raisins, goes down with a hint of oak and and a big hit of alcohol warmth.

Finish is a syrupy sweetness, mouthfeel is pure syrup, sticky, with a very mild, tingly carbonation.

Just too much, ends up being a sweet, syrupy mess. Maybe a better palate than mine can take the blows from this one and still stand up to it, just felt utterly unbalanced. This one felt a bit young - let it sit for another 3-5 years. 12 oz may be a bit much as well.

Photo of cvstrickland
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

800th BA review
Batch 2, bottled May 2006

The devilish demon the label refers to has languished in the bottle for nearly three years, mercifully separated from the most fainthearted members of human-kind, crowned-and-brown-glass bound in the unholy purgatory of a dark, dank cellar corner. Exhumed from the void and lightly chilled, Samael's Oak-Aged Ale is unleashed with a vigorous pour into my glass....

Hmm. Well, no winged devils, Hell-fire, nor brimstone come shooting out of the bottle, but what does arrive in my Duvel tulip is quite clear, reddish-copper in color, and when held to the lamplight, the liquid glitters golden-amber with a glowing crimson-tinted heart that twinkles like the flickering fires of Hades. A thin cap of off-white foam crowns the brew briefly, retreating as if pursued by demons. Settling quickly, the timid bubbles huddle together in a creamy collar that rings the glass. No lacing sticks, but given the evil-edged ABV, that's no surprise and no problem for me.

The smell is quite fruity, with notes of fresh red apple, fermenting orange, and a splash of tart lemon zest with dark caramel. The aroma of oak languishes under the fruit, presenting itself as seasoned wood-- dry, solid, earthy, and cool.

The taste is sweet and fruity... a splash of apple, a spritz of lime... but just where in the Hell did the coconut come from??!?! Silky-smooth, creamy, sugary, rich Malibu-rum flavored coconut sticks onto my palate, and for the first few swigs I have a hard time noticing anything else. A fine juicy red-apple note cuts through the syrupy tropical fruit, accompanied by liquory caramel and a note of fermented canteloupe. The alcohol factor is pleasantly draped in fruit and poorly-hidden in the flavor profile, and the internal warming effect the drink has on my body feels like some techies pulled the control rods all the way out of an atomic reactor pile, leaving runaway critical mass chain reactions generating spikes of intense nuclear heat in my belly-- and on a chilly evening I'm spending inside, I like it.

The drink is silky, medium-bodied, and surprisingly drinkable-- meaning I think I'll be able to finish the whole 12-ouncer before the core degenerates into the China Syndrome from Hell. 3 years of aging did this beer a real service, and I wouldn't hesitate to throw another case in the cellar except for the arm/leg price point of this truly excellent brew. Worth trying, actually only a little evil, damned tasty and truly superb with a little age on it.

Photo of getkrunkhoe
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This bottle I acquired in Early '07;
Poured into A snifter.

App- was a dark, yet bright red. No haze what so ever. No head present.

Ar- WHOA! Fig, raisin or prune, Oak, ethanol was def. there. Maybe cherries(sour).

T- was an oaky,pungent, and boozy taste. pleasant for its style. Some dark fruit characters...

MF- was smooth, the near two years I had it maturing really smoothed it out. much more drinkable than a recent batch. felt a little light, but with a harshness to remind you what it is.

definitely worth saving for future enjoyment!

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed at Pagago's
Poured a burnt orange with a small white one head. Nose is big malt, hops and booze. Taste is sugary and hot. Lots of caramel, malts, wood chips and vanilla. Mouthfeel is nice thick and chewy. This is one massive beer that can bring down even the heaviest hitters. I could not consume another one of these but the one I did drink was awesome.

Photo of shivtim
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Mmm, some-what satanic beer. Love the bottle design. Looks evil. Poured into a pint glass. Deep clear blood orange. Nice tan head. Slow bubbles rising.

Nose is a burst of pungent sweet ethanol, grains and oak

Taste is syrupy sweet malts, oak, lingering toasted flavors, ethanol. Well balanced but intense.

Great mouthfeel. Foamy and full.

Not very drinkable. It's a great beer, but the ABV and strong flavors cut down on one's ability to drink even a full bottle.

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

Small capped bottle poured into a snifter.

Copper colored, reddish highlights, thin white head that does not hold very well, certainly due to the high ABV.
The rich aroma overflows from the glass, malty and sweet, with a generous caramel serving, fruitiness, alcohol related notes quite similar to port wine, and a contribution from oak and vanilla that is quite restrained, which makes it interesting without overwhelming all the other notes.
Minimal carbonation adds to the velvety sensation on the palate. Full, sweetish malts with loads of caramel and an intense sweet fruitiness, some oaky and buttery notes, relatively balanced by some alcohol heat, again port wine like and some mild bitter bite.
Certainly a sipper, a good nightcap but limited drinkability, as expected, due to intense sweetness and high ABV.

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

Appearance: Murky brown, chunks of yeast (I think), good head for a strong beer.

Smell: Big wood smell, vanilla, booze.

Taste: Very tasty, big sweetness, vanilla, lots of caramel, bourbon flavors. Hides the alcohol.

Drinkability: Definitely a special occasion beer since it is so expensive per 12oz.

2007 bottling, picked it up for half price to give it a try. Glad I did, it was a powerful blast of flavor. I'm starting to understand why the barrel-aged beers are so popular!

Photo of grayburn
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a nice burnt orange into the glass with surprisingly heavy head, decent retention, and heavy lacing.
Smelled strongly of oak, with a sharp, almost acidic phenolic character. Followed by some dried fruit that may have come from the yeast.
The taste is very yeasty, it has a sharp character that is only slightly calmed by the oak. There is a lack of hop presence, and I feel that it is missed. I realize the idea behind this beer, to take the showcase away from the hops, I just feel they got a little left out.
The mouth is good, reasonable carbonation, slightly acidic.
I could hardly finish a 12 oz split between two people, this beer is a sipper, but it is worth trying if you enjoy oaky and yeasty characters.

Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,218 ratings.