Samael's Ale | Avery Brewing Company

very good
645 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.

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Reviews: 645 | Ratings: 1,460
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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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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Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 1,460 ratings.
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