Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
639 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.

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: 639 | Ratings: 1,446
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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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.31/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a semi-opaque ruby brown with a wispy one-finger head of off-white bubbles which dissipated quickly (expected at 14% abv). Leaves some lacing, but most of it oozes back into the glass.

S - Amazing aroma of toffee, candied sugars, caramel, molasses, and wood.

T - Hugely sweet malt bomb. Taste matches the nose, but with even more complexity as esters of plum, raisin, date, and fig join caramel, toffee, crème brulee, and French Oak. As rich as the most decadent of cakes. Many layers of (sweet) flavors going on here, almost no bitter elements present. 14% ABV?? Tastes like 7%. Delicious.

M - Full bodied and viscous. Silky feel. Extremely low carbonation. Syrupy.

O - I was shocked to see the low ratings for this brew. Don't let that sway you...this stuff is great. The almost complete lack of bitterness makes this somewhat unlike a beer, closer to a port wine or sherry. Like liquid candy in a glass (with a kick).

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Photo of Bone53
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Houghs

Appearance: Dark amber color with a red tent. Looks awesome

Smell: Caramel, cherry, plum, woody

Taste: Very sweet upfront, but not cloying to me. Caramel, toffee, dark fruits, vanilla, oak

Mouthfeel: Thick and oily body; Smooth with light carbonation and bitterness, especially approaching 17% abv.

Overall: As the guy before me mentioned, I find this one to be rated fairly low. I see how people could find this a little too sweet, but there are plenty flavors to be savored underneath the sweetness. This is the strongest beer I've had and expected it to be boozier. I had no problem finishing the 12 oz snifter. I was pleased with this one. Good job Avery!

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Photo of Abe_Froman
4.52/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dogfish head goblet.

Pours a deep amber with a reddish hint. Little head that dissipates quickly.

Smells sweet, with hints fruit and wood.

Tastes sweet with Caramel, fruit, plums notes. Hints of wood, and brandy flavors. It has a lite alcohol after bite.

Flows slightly slurpy across the pallet. Very light carbonation.

I really enjoyed this beer. I was actually surprised to see its ratings here as I think they are low. It is a sweet beer and that my be surprising for some, but along with the sweet it has strong and layered flavors.

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Photo of richj1970
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into tulip glass.

A: Pours a reddish brown with minimal one finger head.

S: Bourbon, caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla.

T: Follows the nose fairly closely. Very sweet with no hops to be found.

M: Thick with an almost syrup quality to it.

O: Tasty brew but tends a bit sweet for my palette. The addition of some more hops would be welcome here.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich red colour, fairly clear. Head is just a whispy cloud of bubbles, fairly large with small amount of lacing left behind. Not bad.

Smells weizeny. Fair banana to it with lots of nutmeg as well, cake dough and treacle. Smells possibly strong and rocky fuely, but some decent fruity sweetness as well.

Tastes strong, fairly boozey, with a big banana sweetness. Slight metallic edge on the back, touch of sweet spice with nutmeg and vanilla, but yeah, sweet boozey notes, some Calvados sweetness around the edge. Huge residual sugar, huge banana character. If I were a big banana fan I'd love this. I like the sweetness more than I do in most other overly sweet beers, but disenfranchised by the heavy banana leaning.

Sticky, syrupy sweet feel. Fairly smooth but a lick of booze heat. Not bad.

Bit sweet and more than a bit heavy. Feels a bit like malt liquor, but there's certainly more complex sugars there to be enjoyed.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep ruby mahogany snifter pour, lively bubbles, fairly clear, minimal head. Body appears thinner in appearance than I'd have expected.
Smells like oaky burn, and alcohol soaked cherries and plums.
Tastes sweet sweet sweet! Dark fruit dipped, or soaked I should say, in sugar. While the sweetest beer I've ever tasted, I do enjoy the way the caramel and oak work together. The alcohol stays more well hidden than I figured it would, as each sip brings mostly the sweet plummy oak flavors, while the hops are less prominent. Syrupy. You may enjoy this to a point, as an after dinner sipper, if you can get past the cloying aspect.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.76/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Small 12oz bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney. March 2014 release date.

Pours a wonderfully clear amber colour, with a lovely fine crest of white that looks overtly bright compared to the body. Specks of lace, but not much persistence. Body is thick and fine, and although there's not a lot of carbonation, it's quite fine and static when tilted. Looks really very good.

Nose is wonderful. Big porty sweetness laced with huge tropical fruit notes. Fragrant overripe banana, pineapple and mango, all linked wonderfully with a rich spice that connects somewhat to a suggestion of pepper and booze. I really love it a lot.

Taste is just sublime. Lovely sweet, luscious toffee character, laced with fragrant tropical fruits again: here mango is strong along with a clean vinous note of port or botrytis semillon. Beautiful finish with the wine characters gliding to a fragrant, fruity finish laced with crisp toffee aromatics. Aftertaste has remnants of banana, and a lilting residual pepper spice. Booze is there somewhere but never affects the flavour, which is balances throughout. It's phenomenal, gorgeous stuff.

Feel is thick and rich. Beautifully done.

This is a truly phenomenal beer. The complexity is there, and there's so much to explore. More: there's some really interesting characters that you don't expect even for this style of beer. Even more still: it manages to be phenomenally well balanced, meaning it's supremely drinkable despite the weight. I genuinely love this beer—it's at the very peak of the craft.

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Photo of spoony
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 355 ml bottle (Batch 10, March 2014 Release) into a tulip.

A-The beer is a pretty, reddish-hued brown color. It is clear and still in the glass. The head is short, but the cap of tan foam has pretty good retention for a beer without any visible carbonation.

S-The aroma is hugely sweet. There is a bit of overripe fruit, like apples and cherries, but sugar is the main flavor I smell. Like maple syrup and caramel. The alcohol is solventy and warming like fortified wine or port. It is pleasant if you're ready for the sweetness.

T-The taste is similar, i.e., massive sugary sweetness. There is the same suggestion of overripe fruit and syrup sweetness. The alcohol is somewhat buried beneath the sugar, but it pokes through every other sip to warm the palate. Hops are pretty much an afterthought. The oak flavor is mild and comes through as just a faint vanilla.

M-The feel is medium to full in body with a syrupy, coating flavor and below average strength carbonation.

O-I like sweet beers and this is definitely a sweet beer, so it gets decent marks from me. It drinks more like a fortified wine or port than perhaps any other beer I have ever had. Thus, it makes for a good dessert drink if you are ready for the sweetness and are into sipping and sharing, but I don't know when else I would drink this.

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Photo of maDUECEgunner
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 0z bottle poure into plastic cup because I'm still at work

Appearance: pure copper color with white head.

Aroma: fruity with a little of oak

Taste: really fruity and woody

Mouthfeel: really sticky and cloying.

Overall: I am glad it's only a 12 oz. it too sweet to drink too much. I enjoyed it though.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2014

Appearance: a golden reddish color. two fingers of a tan head that fade slowly and leave a strong lacing. very strong bright clarity

Smell: lots of sweetness, toffee, caramel, hints at maple or molasses. serious oak component. boozy alcohol.

Taste: strong super sweet caramel, lots of toffee, slightly astringent maple and harsh molasses. oak plays in nicely along with some strong booze.

Mouthfeel: thick, syrupy, hot, lots of sweet but balanced with some bitterness and astringency. slight creaminess to it. possibly the biggest sipper I have had in a while if not ever.

Overall: very strong and flavorful beer, on the edge of being harsh and astringent. would love to see this with some age on it. definitely plan on taking a while on this one. it is a big intense beer

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Photo of Kuaff
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The 2014 version, on tap at... the Avery tap-room! ABV is 14.2%. A 5 oz. pour served in a cute little mini-snifter.

The color is a bit on the lighter side for a barleywine... like a clear, bright red. A miniscule off-white head doesn't last long.

Aroma-wise, it's all about booze-soaked dark fruits. Raisins come out more as it warms up. I can't detect a whole lot else.

It tastes like sweet, boozy sherry or bourbon in beer form. As it warms up I get more complexities, like red apple, cherry, and caramel flavors. It's kind of like maple syrup, too. The finish is of leathury oak.

The feel is pretty thick, but not as much as I'd expect from such a beastly barleywine.

Quite boozy, and exceptionally sweet, I can see why there's a relatively small amount of beer drinkers this appeals to. I do think it's pretty good, though.

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Photo of Beejay
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle

A: Ruby and brown in color, with a low amount of head.

S: Cherry and caramel with oak. Something almost a little acidic in there in the background.

T: Caramel and cherry all the way with some slight tartness. Earthy, sweet, and bold. As it warms the oak and the vanilla really comes out.

M: Syrupy with fairly light carbonation. The finish is molasses and booze.

O: An interesting beer for sure. Complex and something you can keep tasting and finding new flavors in.

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Photo of Seanem44
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Rarely do I come across a beer I can't finish, but this was one of them. Maybe I just am not accustomed to this, but I couldn't do it. There were hints of Oak in the taste and smell, but sadly, the turbinado sugar is what I tasted mostly. In fact, the whole thing tasted like sugar. too much sugar. this could have been good if they would just have toned down the sugar. I finished maybe a quarter of it and could not go one further. In fairness, I am sure some will really like this. For me, no. Still, in fairness, I couldn't give a flat out horrible rating. This beer is better than that. But for my taste, it just didn't cut it.

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Photo of rudzud
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 batch 4, thanks to someone for sharing.

A - Poured into a tulip cloudy copper hue with a thin had that fades quickly.

S - Aromas of caramel, toffee, alcohol, malts, faint cardboard.

T - Taste is light almost quiet malt heavy, very sweet and caramel. nicer toffee.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, not syrupy.

O - Overall this beer was pretty good considering that age. Very glad to try!

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Photo of pkalix
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

wow. what a smell! pours a sediment-y golden honey with no head.
smell is like a wine-y banana bread, lighter and sweeter fruits, lots of malt, toffee and alcohol. other aromas in there too, with an almost synthetic flair on top.
taste is sweet with the expected alcohol burn. no bitterness, except for the alcohol, and a bit syrup-y. reading lots of different adjectives from everyone here and applying them to my experience. seems, though, the higher ratings are for bottles which have aged awhile. this one was produced only 9 months ago. I was wondering if it would mellow a bit sitting in the bottle for awhile?? otherwise, this is how I felt about it: appearance was standard without head but a pretty golden color. the aroma was fantastic but difficult to describe. the taste was not as fantastic, and was also difficult to describe aside from the alcohol. in a nutshell, this is a blast of alcohol and considering the taste of this young version, better to blast ya into buzzdom than to appreciate as a refined source of leisure. it definitely beats 4loco and I don't think there is a hangover associated with it like the 4loco...

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Photo of superspak
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass; batch 1, bottled in 2005. Pours moderately hazy/cloudy dark ruby red color with a minimal wisp of a head that reduces to nothing. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, plum, apple, pear, molasses, toffee, caramel, toast, brown bread, oak, light chocolate, vanilla, light clove, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with big complexity and great balance of malt, oak, and yeast ester notes; with big strength. Taste of huge raisin, fig, plum, prune, apple, pear, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, light clove, toast, chocolate, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of raisin, prune, plum, fig, pear, apple, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, caramel, toffee, chocolate, toast, oak, vanilla, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of big dense malt, fruity yeast, and oak flavors; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and moderately syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome English barleywine. Big complexity and great balance of malt, yeast ester, and oak flavors; and quite smooth sip on slowly with no booziness. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ricknelson
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Our group of 4 Beer Advocate members did a recent small bottle tasting of high alcohol brews.
Among the 12 brews tasted was; 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head. The 120 Minute IPA received
our 3rd highest average score of the 12 brews tasted at 4.38. At 16.5% its was a very smooth beer.

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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 1,446 ratings.
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