Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
644 Reviews
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Samael's AleSamael's Ale

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 16.90%

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.

2006: 14.50% (Batch #2)
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)
2015: 14.60% (Batch #11)

Added by ommegangpbr on 06-24-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 644 | Ratings: 1,457
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.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
1.64/5  rDev -57.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Pours a dark golden amber colorwith a dense off-white head. Smells syrupy sweet, like caramel or honey, with a hint of lemony citrus and maybe apple. Taste is too sweet and it feels thick on the tongue, almost like mead. Definately oaky, some smoke flavors, caramel, and again a hint of apple. Very slick mouthfeel, I think from the sugar. Alcohol burn is mildly apparent. Overall I'm quite disappointed.

Update: dumped this down the sink, couldn't finish. Bleh!

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Photo of CRichardsMN
1.68/5  rDev -56.7%
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.

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Photo of pibbxtrasucks
1.81/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Beer pours dark amber with a thin bubbly cream colored head. Smells sweet and strong, you can tell by the smell it is going to be a big beer. No hop aroma. First taste is incredibly sweet. Cloying sweet. The sweetness leads into a slight oak taste (Note: as this is my first "oak" beer I am only assuming that is the flavor I am picking up) Just before the finish you taste the 14.5% alcohol. Leaves you mouth feeling sticky and sweet. Mouthfeel if very thick, almost like syrup. I'll try my best to finish this since I payed 7 bucks for a 12oz, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Overall, I say this beer is far to sweet and unbalanced. I recommend tasting this with a friend or two, perhaps 4 or 6oz would be the perfect amount.But 12oz alone is just to much to drink of this strong ale... flavored with oak chips?

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Photo of AtrumAnimus
2/5  rDev -48.5%

This one pours a very dark orangish tint with a very thick, very long lived head that is off white and settles very slowly leaving a nice complex lacing down the glass.

The nose is buttery spice, alcohol with some earthy notes, pine, bread al floating on sweet fruity malt and apples.

The taste is very strong and dominated by the alcohol and a very strong malt base that has notes of bourbon. The flavors are rather overwhelming to the palate and not balanced. The finish is dirty and not that good. The flavors are a jumble of bourbon, hops, fructose and alcohol with a tinge of breadiness.

The mouthfeel is the best part of the beer. There is a nice silky mouth coating experience to this beer.

Overall the texture is very rich and satisfying, just the fact that the flavors are a mess and a jumble detracts from the overall experience. This beer is not drinkable and very disappointing as I am a huge fan of Avery and love many of their beers immensely. I highly recommend avoiding this one.

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Photo of meathookjones
2.01/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Dark cherry red body with a small cap of white foam. Big fruit sweetness with plenty of sugar coming through as well to the point of being cloying. Alcohol was also pretty much in your face after this warmed a bit. Taste was more sugary syrup coated fruits with not much else to provide any sort of balance. Through the syrupy sticky sweetness the strong alcohol still manages to come through and provide a burn on the way down. Too much sweetness with only boozy notes to counter it. Pretty damn thick as expected but way to sticky and too much burning warmth. Drinkability was just about non existent as I slowly drank the 12 once bottled over a few hours. Easily the sweetest beer I have ever had I don’t think I’ll touch my other bottle for 5+ years.

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Photo of Offa
2.03/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Cloudy deep red with a medium-small tan head soon thinning to a ring and no lace.

Aroma is fermented toffee, very meaty with hint of old steak sauce, very strong but simple and one-dimensional. It has a faint woody hint hiding underneath.

Taste is strong, bad fermented toffee with a hint of woody whisky quality. It is soon evident that it is sickly sweet yet with a hot, strong alcoholic boozy character, rough, sharp, one-dimensional, and unpleasant. This has a couple traits that are really intense, without anything else, and goes for sheer strength over any semblance of quality, complexity, or the like. I know the ABV is high, but I've had several that are very close to this and are far smoother, less obviously boozy, and have complexixty and character, rather than simply hot, sweet, rough alcohol. It is a total dud.

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Photo of Sephiroth
2.12/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Bottled in May of 2006, Batch 2. Pours with decent head, no lacing, color is orangeish red, or reddish orange if you prefer. Aroma of cherries and strawberries soaked in rum.

Whoa. This is a big beer. There is a sharp sweetness that I don't care for. Various sugary flavors running rampant. This is simply not ready to drink. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. To say that it is coating doesn't come close to explaining it. Not drinkable by a long shot.

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Photo of PatronWizard
2.19/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Picked up a 12 oz and felt it was time with my lunch today.

Pours a right proper ruby amber with a decent head.

Smell is FRUITAAAY. And glue? Some sort of plastic adhesive fo sho.

Intensely strong flavor, and sadly enough, not to my liking. Some caramel, apple, other fruits, wood, elmers school glue, and a healthy dose of good old fashioned alcohol. Big alcohol burn. So I looked at the ABV: bottle says 15.53%. Are they fucking kiddin me? I like liquor and when I drink liquor I drink it straight, but not to wash down my lunch!

Feel is very thick, syrupy, suffocating. Could've been a little better if not for the alcohol sting.

Drinkability is nil.

So I don't know if I can make it through this beast, which pisses me off and I decide to take (6) 2 oz drinks to polish this off and keep my manhood intact. And I did.

Been typing the above from notes, and now have to say that a bottle of this noise will result in increased joy directly afterward, even if it is hard to take down.

Overall: only once baby

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Photo of blakelive784
2.23/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a pint glass, reviewed live:

A - Pours a nearly transparent copper amber color with no discernible head. The lack of head is excusable given the ABV, though it's pretty mundane overall.

S - Heavy oaky syrup dominates the nose. Maple and ass. Heavily imbalanced. Light floral and spicy hops notes. Imbalanced and uninviting.

T - Off oak dominates the palate. Alcohol is apparent throughout. Caramel is overwhelming. No hops notes are apparent at all. Cloyingly sweet.

M - Thicky and syrupy. Alcohol bite on the finish.

D - Definitely a sipper (if you want to endure it). Bordering undrinkable on account of how sweet and alcoholic it is. I'd never have it again.

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Photo of neonbrown82
2.36/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This is one of the worst brews I've ever tried. It pours very light with a thin wispy head that dissolves to nothing in an instant. The carbonation is very minimal, expectedly. Doesn't look too terribly bad, but it doesn't look to particularly great either.

The smell is bad. Like vinegar and grapes and cider. With the acidity and tartness and whatnot, it almost reminds me of a sweet white wine. Only in the smell can I even detect the slightest hint of oak chips (which by the way is a pet peeve of mine when a brewery mentions their beer is oak aged when it is actually just soaked in oak chips for a short while).

The taste is just as bad as the smell, and much more cloyingly sweet. The alcohol is surprisingly smooth, but that is too much to say for every other detail of this beer. Tastes like green grapes, apple cider, and vinegar. Only a slight bit of hoppiness and no oak flavor.

The body is thick, syrupy and very puckery. Not very good. Disgustingly sweet and vinegary, and coats to the mouth. Pretty much everybody I sampled this beer with ended up pouring out most of it (and I sampled it with two independent groups of people).

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Photo of marct13
2.43/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

2015 12 oz bottle into a teku. It's a nice color in the glass and actually looks more like wine than beer. The nose is pretty much non existent which gives you no warning for the taste. We like English style barleywines, so sweet isn't generally a bad thing for us, but this was over the top. It almost reminds me of the syrup you would use to make a flavored soda. The alcohol is well hidden, but the sweetness makes it kinda hard to finish the glass. The mouth feel is thin for a barleywine as well. In this case, again, it's more like wine. Overall it just isn't something I'd go for if I wanted a beer. If you were looking for a dessert wine, this might be for you.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
2.45/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

i believe that during my last review of this beer, my palate was suffering from a severe lack of flavor reception, or perhaps i had an intense sinus cold. or maybe this beer has just turned foul.

fiery glowing orange, clear with slight blur haze. creamy ring and more head than i'd imagine on a 15% beer. lacing is preserved in sheets as the beer moves about the chalice.

aroma of sugary-ripe cherries soaked in everclear. brown sugar-infused vodka gives way to a mildly soapy character. smells rather off and extremely boozy.

holy sweetness! big malts and unfermented sugar greet me immediately, and some sickly sweet fruit puree shows up mid-swallow. the alcohol and intense fruit combine for the perfect grapey triaminic flavor that reviews clutch at so desperately. i actually cough every other sip due to the extreme aggressiveness of this brew. the finish isn't awful, as it leaves some red berry pulp and gingerbread notes behind.

also, on a positive note, the mouthfeel is perfect (slightly fizzy, yet thick- however not too sticky.. kinda creamy) and drinkability, for this abv, is decent.. although i think that's due to the sweetness here. not sure that heaps of turbinado sugar is a proper way to skillfully mask abv, but whatever. probably won't revisit a third time, twice was puh-lenty.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.45/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Batch #8 15.47%. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with foiled over pressure cap served into a New Belgium pilsner glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high, though I fear it'll be too hoppy.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of beige colour, hardly any cream, okay thickness, and pretty good retention considering the ABV. Colour is a clear copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Somewhat vibrant, but not horribly appealing.

Sm: Alcohol, pale hops, heavy caramel, toffee, and clean malts. Heavy oak. A strong aroma.

T: Clean malts with some light indistinct pale hops. Some alcohol heat, but it's rather understated for how high the ABV truly is. Caramelized malts. A muddy oak tone. There's little going on here considering the style and oak aging. It doesn't seem worth the effort to age. Some layering. Not particularly complex or subtle. No yeast comes through. A bit boring - especially for the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet - thankfully, because the flavours would do worse if brought out by the mouthfeel. Adequately carbonated. Far too thick and syrupy (its biggest problem by far). Fairly heavy on the palate.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV, but you wouldn't want to quaff it. Not quite a sipper. I don't much care for it. I certainly wouldn't get it again. I wouldn't recommend it to friends either. A disappointing brew from Avery. They should free up the aging space for a better beer. A very poor example of a barleywine.

High D+

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Photo of quasimoto
2.48/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Deep reddish amber color, with absolutely no head on this beer. Very disappointing.

S - Strong aromas of cherries, nail polish remover, wood stripper and that is about it.

T - there is tons of alcohol. Super heavy sweet cloying body that is just overpowering.

M - Heavy body, and super sweet. The bitterness is barely there.

D - I wont look for this again, and I should have drank only half. Way too sweet.

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Photo of ArrogantB
2.49/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle that I purchased six months ago and paid an arm and a leg for (well, not really but $7 is a lot to me for one beer). The color is a really nice cloudy orange with a small 2 cm off-white head. The smell is of hi-octane alcohol and not much else; as Papa Burgundy would say “stings the nostrils”. The taste is very close to whiskey with a little sweetness. This is not quite as bad as Mephistopheles but it isn’t great. This really isn’t a beer to me but more an after-dinner liqueur like a cognac or bourbon. This is way too big for me and not recommended unless you like liquor-beers. The only reason I cracked this was because I spent four hours in traffic due to a blizzard and my belly needed warming. This beer is good for that.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.5/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of Boboski: Poured a clear dark amber color ale with a small foamy head with little retention and no lacing. Aroma of brown sugar is domination with some subtle alcohol signs. Taste is dominated by some very sweet malt with very little hops and also very little signs of oak. Alcohol was way too predominant and the beer was way too sweet for my personal taste. It seems that Avery big beers series are either hit or miss and this one would be a miss.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.51/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Clear light orange to amber hue, limited head. Sweet highly phenolic and ethanol fuel nose. Heavy licorice and cane sugar essences, greenish young oak feels rough around the edges. Extreme level of sweetness, chocolatey and brown sugar in a most concentrated way. Strong oaky alcohol presence, little burn grapsing the tongue. Limited goldings presence, vegetal finish, gently hoppy, but not enough to provide anything resembling balance. Rather heavy carbonation, syrupy palate, not cloying, but agressively sweet. Still, there are some rather pleasant flavors in there. I would not count on it, but maybe it is even that with some age, this would become palatable.

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Photo of trancefishy
2.52/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I think I've had this bottle sitting stored properly for a year or so.

Poured it a bit violently to get a nice head, but it just ran away. The beer is a nice amber colour. Looks nice.

The smell is about what I expected, sweet and alcoholy.

I was waiting for a taste-wallop. Something deep and well blended. What I got was a mouthfull of sweet and I actually said "yuck!" after my first sip. It's just sugar and alcohol.

I really am not sure I even want to finish this beer. It's just not that good. I actually felt inclined to write this solely because this beer was so poor.

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Photo of uawildcat
2.54/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a glass. 2007 vintage.

Poured a clear dark color until I let a little bit too much into the glass and the yeast got decanted as well. Opps.

It smells pretty good like berries, booze, and brown sugar. Awesome smell.

Taste is overwhelmingly like nail polish remover, artificial strawberry, and fire. Not acceptable. Even after 4 years of aging it still is too hot.

The mouthfeel is unimpressive. Too thick, too hot, too sticky.

Overall, a poorly done big beer. I can barely tolerate sips. Drain pour.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
2.59/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

Bottle is marked as batch 11, released in May, 2015

Appearance - Pours a relatively clear, bright copper red with an off-white, finger width head. Fair carbonation, then dissipates to thin, consistent layer of suds with a fair ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell - Notes of caramel, raisin and a bit of sweetness and tartness, like sugary lemon cake.

Taste - Caramel and an overload of honey and cane sugar. A bit of fig and wooden oaky notes come through in the finish, but are muted by the domineering sugary sweetness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied and sticky as hell, coating the mouth and leaving syrupy residue on the lips.

Overall - Overtly sweet; cloyingly so. Not my preference. Tastes like drinking a blend of vodka, honey and cane sugar. Ugh. Sorry Avery, this is horrible.

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Photo of grub
2.59/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

pours a light red color, with a slight head that dissappears almost instantly. no lacing.

aroma is dominated by alcohol. smells like acetone or nail polish remover. slight bubblegum smell.

taste is a blast of alcohol. sticky sweetness. bubblegum again. no hops, no real "maltyness".

body is big. sweet and alcohol.

to me, this beer is not very drinkable. the sticky sweetness and high alcohol don't make for a very enjoyable combo. needs some hops or something to balance it out. interesting, but not to my taste.

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Photo of dsa7783
2.62/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

As one of the eccentric samples from Avery's "big beer series", copped this single 12oz bottle for about $8.99 from Wine and Beverage Depot in Totowa... Picture of a dark angel with wings with the logo "Ale flavored with oak chips". "Bottled in May 2006 - Batch 2" on the side-sticker. At a very hefty 14.9% ABV, wasn't quite sure what to expect... upon opening the cap, I was greeted with an ultra-powerful caramel, honey, and dark-sugar aroma that was strong and noticeable... The taste is extremely powerful, rich, thick, creamy, cloying and really sweet... Strangely, I didn't taste the alcohol that I was anticipating - just an extremely sweet - to the point of being unbearable - flavor that stuck to the mouth... this one is certainly a sipper - one that should be sampled over a period of time... it's so strong that you could probably split this 12oz bottle with two or three people... In terms of flavor, this beer is really extreme... the mouthfeel was very thick and ultra-sweet... With respect to appearance, this pours a dark, copper color with minimal head... For the heavy price I paid for this brew and the extreme flavor, I wouldn't purchase this one again, but it was worth a try... Overall, way too sweet and thick to be truly enjoyable...

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Photo of hammer09
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I have to admit that I expected a lot from this beer, having previously tried Avery's the Beast Grand Cru. However, Samael's Oak Aged Ale left something to be desired. This is not a bad beer; it just didn't live up to my expectations.

Samael poured a medium, cloudy amber with a thick and foamy head. The cloudiness tends to detract from this beer's appeal and visible carbonation appeared lazy. Lacing was thick and clinging. Smell is sweet and very alcoholic with vanilla and acetone aromas. In fact, the aroma of this beer is much like that from a bottle of scotch. Hop character, if any, was overpowered by the aromatics wafting from my pint glass. Taste was (grimace) very, very sweet and alcoholic. Almost bourbon-like, which makes sense given this beer's style. Definitely overpowering for a first quaff, but not bad if the beer is sipped. Mouthfeel is warming and alcoholic with a smooth, creamy character. Carbonation is minimal.

It's not that I wasn't impressed with Samael's drinkability, but there's simply too much going on in this beer. The alcohol and aromatics overpower the aroma and flavor of the beer. Was it worth the $7.95 that I paid? I don't believe so. Is it a bad beer? No. But next time, I think I'll reach for a bottle of scotch instead.

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Photo of Yesac
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Semi cloud amber with a small head that fades quickly.

S - After the first whiff, it's difficult for my to even word what the smell is. Whatever this smell is, its very strong and sweet/sour. Like a burbony cherry.. it's very complex.

T - This thing has some bite, a pretty strong alcohol taste with this complex cherry and burbon like taste. It's similar to a mead. Unique, but not for me.

M/D - The mouthfeel is pretty thin and not much is left to linger. The strong sour smell and the taste of strong alcohol and the fact of this brew being 14.9% makes it hard to finish.

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 1,457 ratings.
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