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Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
631 Reviews
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Samael's AleSamael's Ale

Brewed by:
Avery Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

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.

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 631 | Ratings: 1,414
Photo of E-McFarden
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hazy brown amber in color. Head was course and minimal despite vigorous pouring and didn't last long. Lacing is minimal to none. Apples and caramel come through at the foreground of scent, followed by alcohol and white wine smells. Taste is immediately sweet on the palate with molasses and raison flavors. I also get strong caramel and apple-like flavors. This has a small amount of spiciness to it as well. Feel is understandably heavy with little carbonation and a wet finish. Overall its balanced well and hides the alcohol surprisingly well. A little too sweet for me even though its a barleywine style ale.

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Photo of emyers
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours cloudy amber with a one-inch off-white head. Great head retention for the abv and leaves a nice lacing down the glass.

Smell: Dominated by caramel malt and fruity yeast esters with just a whiff of hops. Definitely some alcohol there.

Taste: Tons of sweet caramel malt with a bit of oak presence. There is some dark fruit in there as well. Finish is quite sweet with some alcohol heat. Flavor profile is very in-your-face with the caramel malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Very full-bodied and viscous. Low carbonation level keeps it extremely smooth.

Overall: A very unique beer - the flavor profile does not make this extraordinarily drinkable, but as a slow-drinking sipper it's quite good.

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Photo of BWood
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Updated upon second taste around a year later.

L: reddish haze ale

S: sweet Carmel, dried fruit, maybe fig. Vanilla and the oak.

T: taste as it smells. Very sweet but not sugary.

F: smooth and tongue coating. Leaves a lasting mid tongue tingle. Probably from the alcohol.

O: much better this time. I'm not sure if my palate is expanding but I really enjoyed this.

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Photo of Hop_God
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A:Ruby reddish brown. Tan to white head that goes away quick. This looks like the amber cane with the insect in it from Jurassic Park that the old man has. Google it.
S: booze, caramel, more booze, bread, candied fruits. It smells like i broke into a candy factory being run by liquored up Oompa Loompas.
T: Sweet sweet sweet, boozy, but damn I like it. Caramel, burnt sugar, syrup. yes this is very sweet, but complex and fantastic. As it warms this beer takes you on a roller coaster of flavors. Very complex and tons of notes going on, Dates, vanilla, even some oak.
F: This bad boy coats your mouth like cough medicine, but with an awesome taste. creamy, basically no carbonation. Very thick and chewy.
O: This beer is fantastic. I know a lot of people will say too sweet or too boozy, but i love the high ABV. I also love liquor so that may play a role. Any while yes, this is quite sweet, it is done in a way that deserves appreciation and this will be a great beer to age to see how much more it can develop.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've had this in the past and did not enjoy it but decided to try it fresh and on draft. It's a tad sweet but bursting with oranges, honey, white wine, caramel and apricot. So easy to drink despite the high alcohol content. Maybe it was just the timing but I suggest you give it a second chance.

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Photo of scootny
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Murky and chestnut brown. Wispy head and not much lace. Sweet caramel and alcohol nose. High octane booze and sugars. Cherries, figs, and raisins. Oaken dryness offers the hops up to be a firm signature on the finish. Fusel alcohol is mild and nowhere near commensurate with the abv. Feel is thick and chewy with a syrupy smoothness. Carbonation is mild and well done. This is a brew that goes down easier than you would think and I went through this faster than I should.

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Photo of jamesmk48
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

This is the sweetest damn beer I've ever had. Its borderline undrinkable, but I refuse to abuse alcohol. All of that being said, It was very flat ( zero head), no alcohol flavor, super super sweet, and really thin like I was drinking cold spring water, but it wasnt the worst beer i've had. If you like meads or barley wines this might be up your alley. CHEERS

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Photo of sourwench429
3.22/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Flatish rum and coke is an apt description. Not necessarily a bad thing but it's a little thin and tremendously sweet. Doesn't have the mouth feel of a bourbon county BW. I would consider getting another to forget about it for probably at least 3 years. Don't drink this year's vintage it's just plain too hot.

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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 Stagga_Lee
5/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Initial notes include peat, caramel, toffee, and hazelnut.
Tastes deeper in the glass develop into fig, raisin, and stronger barrel notes. Another fine addition to the Avery legend series.

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Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage

Pours a hazy amber color with an almost one finger off white head. The aroma has caramel, toffee, oak, dark fruit, vanilla, coconut, and sugar. Smells very sweet.

Tastes exactly like it smells. Pleasantly sweet, no bitterness for balance, but I don't expect that with an English Barleywine. The amazing thing about this beer is that there is no alcohol taste for a 14.20 % abv beer.

full bodied with carbonation. A great sipping beer. I am glad I was able to try this beer, and I look forward to trying this years version too.

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Photo of bgold86
4.53/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle is a year old, purchased recently from a craft brew store. This is the problem, the beer has plenty of carbonation, great nose, and great taste, but the finish has a very clear and up-front sort of metallic/cardboard aftertaste. For a beer that's only a year old (and 14+%)to exhibit oxidation of this nature really doesn't bode well. Disappointing.

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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.65/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2010 vintage. I consider myself lucky to have found this at a store only several months ago. I can imagine this being too hot when fresh, but nearly five years of aging have given this beer wow factor.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap, 2013 version:
Pours amber with loads if tiny bubble carbonation, feeding a decent film on the surface. Edge head is fairly thick and lacing is pretty significant. Nose is very nicely sweet: coconut, vanilla, oak, raisin, caramel, a definite hint of booze, but not much for 16%.

Taste starts fruity and sweet, more the latter. Brown sugar (maybe even a tad burnt), caramel, vanilla, raisin, and raspberry-chocolate (light on the chocolate). The coconut mostly missing, but comes in a bit with a lime-coconut/oak/alcohol taste that leads to the end. This transition barely puts a dent in the sweetness. The end taste leaves hints of dark fruit, and still some dark sugar. Feel on a year is quite smooth, medium body but coating flavors make it seem heavier.

This seems like a fortified wine, which might work for some and du finitely not for others. I liked the complex flavors, but did grow weary of the sweetness eventually. A half pour or sharing may be the way to go. I assume a newer release would show its alcohol more, maybe a bit less sweet, also.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.8/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2014 vintage 12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color, with a quarter of a finger of off-white or oatmeal-colored head that slowly dissolved away into a lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic, with lots of bready, toasted malt up front, followed by lots of dried stone fruit aromas, such as prunes, raisins, dates and apricots. There are also some big aromas of candied sugar, some vanilla, oak and boozy alcohol. Smells great! Honestly, these are the aromas that I was expecting, but didn’t get, from The Beast.

Taste: Oh. My. God! What a spectacularly, exceptionally, fantastically, incredibly, awesome beer! Tons of toasted malt up front, followed immediately by tons of balanced brown sugar, caramel and maple syrup-like sweetness, and dried stone fruit, such as prunes, raisins, dates and apricots. I also get flavors of burnt-orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, a touch of woody oak, and some faint, piney, hoppy, bitterness. Outstanding!

Mouthfeel: Chewy, creamy, yet slightly viscous, and smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 14.2%, there is quite a bit of pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Words like spectacular, exceptional, fantastic, incredible, awesome, outstanding, etc., don’t do this beer justice! It is quite simply, one of the best beers I’ve ever had! I definitely need to pick up a few more bottles to age.

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Photo of Brob245
3.02/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I'm a big fan of barleywines but his beer is way too sweet. It completly overpowers any other flavors and makes the beer hard to enjoy. A couple of sips and you are done.

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Photo of Joestradamus91
3.19/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Way too sweet in order for me to fully enjoy. The nose was amazing with hints of oak and caramel but the taste was a let down. The alcohol was well hidden though as it did not overwhelm the drinker for such a huge beer with the March 2014 release.

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Photo of RobinLee
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with a thin white head. Smells like butterscotch and caramel, perhaps some apple-y oak. Taste is very sweet, almost Creme Brulee sweet. Buttery apples and cranberries, caramel, brown sugar, hint of oak. Perhaps this is par for the course for an English barleywine (doubt it after experiencing BCBBW), but it was very sweet with not enough bitterness to balance it out.

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Photo of JDW4195
2.88/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I was extremely excited to get this beer. I was extremely let down when I drank this beer. This should be some sort of flavored malt, or gimmick drink. It is not a beer, and no way in hell is this a barley wine. It tastes like half the bottle is pancake syrup, it is so sweet. I split half a 12 oz. bottle with a friend and we both struggled to finish it. The 2014 brew clocks in at 14.8%, and for the exuberant amount of money they charge for this beer it is a huge let down. Don't let curiosity kill your wallet, IT IS NOT WORTH IT

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bottle of Avery's Samael's Ale a month and half ago for $8.49 at Holiday Market. I've been meaning to try this beer and it's the first time I've seen it in a long time and I knew I had to get it, so lets see how it goes. bottled March 2014 Batch #10 14.2% abv. Poured from a brown foiled 12oz bottled into a snifter.

A- The label looks good, it's got a nice design to it and i think it's a little eye catching. It poured a nice hazy caramel color that took on more of a ruby and crimson color when held to the light with one fingers worth of tan head quickly died down to a thin ring that eventually faded away and it left some patchy lacing behind. This is a really nice looking beer, I have no complaints at all, the head was better than expected.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of sweetness that has a molasses like aroma to it with the oak being the first to show up and it imparts a nice and big oak aroma with the vanilla really coming through nicely and some nice woody aromas showing up in the background with just a little bit of toasted coconut aromas. Up next comes the alcohol which is very noticeable and it's followed by the malts which impart a nice caramel, toffee, caramel malt, barley, slight fudge and sweet malt aromas with the caramel really sticking out the most and it goes well with the oak aromas. This beer had a very nice aroma, I really liked it but's it is very sweet smelling.

T- The taste seems to be very similar to the aroma and it starts of with high amount of sweetness that has more of brown sugar and slight molasses aspect this time with the malts being the first to show up this time and they impart all those nice aspects that they did in the aroma with the caramel still sticking out the most and it's followed by a somewhat lighter dark fruit flavor. Up next comes the oak which imparts the same nice aspects that it did in the aroma with the vanilla still sticking out the most and the combination with the caramel flavors makes it feel like a sweet ans sticky dessert. On the finish comes the alcohol that's pretty noticeable and warming with just a light burn to it that goes into the aftertaste along with a lot of sweetness and some caramel and vanilla flavors. This was a nice tasting beer I enjoyed the caramel and oak flavors, but the sweetness was a little too much for me.

M- Not the smoothest, warming, not crisp, syrupy, sticky, fairly cloying, full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. This beer had a decent mouthfeel, but it was too sweet and sticky for me.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and a nice example of the style, it had some pretty nice flavors going on, but it seemed like for every good aspect there was a bad one and that just held this beer back from being a standout for the style. This beer didn't have good drinkability, it wasn't the smoothest, it was warming, not crisp, syrupy, sticky, fairly cloying, filling and the taste did a nice job of holding my attention, but the sweetness didn't, half the bottle is the perfect amount for me, I might struggle to make it through a whole one just because of the sweetness. What I like the most about this beer was the malty caramel flavors and the nice flavors and aromas that oak imparted. What I liked the least about this beer was the sweetness it was just way to sweet for me. I might buy this beer again and i think I would attempt to cellar one to see how it ages and if any of that sweetness fades away over time. I would only recommend this to people who enjoy really sweet and really strong beers. All in all I'm glad I tried this beer, but I didn't love it, I just found it to be pretty rough around the edges, but it did have some really nice flavors and aromas to it. This isn't my favorite beer from or Avery or my favorite of the style, it falls in the middle in both aspects. I appreciate the effort it took to make a big beer like this, but the super high sweetness just isn't for me, better luck next time guys.

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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 biboergosum
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz, red-foil capped bottle, 2014 edition (batch #10), and 14.2% ABV, this time around.

This beer pours a clear, medium red-brick amber hue, with two healthy (huh) fingers of loosely foamy, and mildly bubbly beige head, which leaves a few instances of splotchy snow rime lace around the glass as things very slowly sink away.

It smells of sharp, wooden alcohol straight off the bat, followed by some dense bready caramel and toffee sweetness, heady pale orchard fruit, bruised banana, brown sugar, a separate leafy, perfumed alcohol essence, and a relatively subtle - which only means so much here - savoury, almost current seasonal spiciness. The taste is boozy banana right away, before the rest of the alcoholic's bread recipe comes crashing through - thick, almost gooey caramel, bread pudding, and soused cinnamon and nutmeg spice esters - with some vanillan wood, muddled black fruit vinous port notes, and rather sedate earthy, leafy hop bitters.

The bubbles are quite understated in their low-key frothiness, the body a viscous medium-full weight, and smooth and creamy and boozy and smooth and creamy and boozy, and well, you get the idea. It finishes sweet, sweaty (me, not the beer), well warm, ethereally woody, and complex in its fruitiness, but not really anywhere else.

While this Hades-tempting offering may be a bit young (all the better, eh, Beelzebub?) at this point in time, it's still a pungent, palate-punching mouthful. The thing is, other than the lurking, erupting alcohol heat, I can't imagine the rest of this changing all that much after any amount of long-term aging. And that's why I don't feel bad about having opened it now.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

2012 vintage consumed autumn 2012
Nose: sherry, sweet, some oxidation - slight wet cardboard
Pours copper to reddish amber, some haze and floaties, 1/2" off-white foam cap
Palate: Sherry, anise, coriander, very rich, rich malt.
Medium full body, medium low carbonation, warming with some hot to solventy fusel alcohols on the finish.

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Photo of chinchill
4/5  rDev +3.1%

12 oz 2009 bottle.
First time trying this beer so I don't know if it is past it's peak but it is certainly a great beer. I gotta suspect it is near its prime.
Slightly sweet, slightly oaky, and fabulously rich, this brew has an excellent balance of flavors. High ABV is nicely hidden -- drinks like a 9-11% ale.

(fresh bottle sampled in Oct. 2014 was too sweet and significantly less enjoyable, especially in quantity).

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Photo of Stevedore
2.66/5  rDev -31.4%

12oz bottle of the 2014 release. Poured into a Bell's snifter 8/15/2014.

A- Medium caramel-brown body, half finger white head that is very short-lived. No lacing. Sort of looks like whiskey at this point.

S- Booze, caramel, brown sugar and more booze. No complexity to this at all.

F- Booze, caramel, toffee, brown sugar. The booze is very strong in this one, with a heavy burn on the back end. It's not particularly sweet, it just has a lot of fusel to it.

M- Thicker bodied, almost syrupy. Low in carbonation. If you couldn't tell from F, the booziness takes over almost completely from beginning to end, with a hot finish.

O- You might as well buy a fifth of spirits, because this is not a very interesting beer to try. Way too much booziness and not a whole lot else adding to any complexity. My guess is that this would improve with a LOT of time, so it may very well need to be cellared.

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 631 ratings.
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