Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Avery Brewing Samael's Oak Aged Ale Review - The Cotton Candy Beer


What a hoss!  I had been sitting on a 2012 bottle of Avery's Samael's Oak Aged Ale, part of their "Demons of Ale" series, and finally opened it last night.  It was massive.  The bottle lists it at 15.47% alcohol.  It's oak barreled.  So, this beer promised to be heavy on two things: vanilla flavor and alcohol.  It proved to be gigantic in every way.

Samael's color is a hazy reddish brown and it has a modest-to-minor-sized cream-colored head.  Bubbles in the head retain a tight, soda-like quality to them.  You can smell some fruit and caramel on the nose, plus a bit of vanilla from the oak.  Your first taste is of vanilla as you put the dense, syrupy beer on your tongue.   It's a bit sticky and makes you smack your lips.  The vanilla flavor quickly grows huge, and eventually overpowering. There's some fruit in it, and I can taste some peaches.  There's also a substantial amount of cotton candy and bubblegum in the flavor too.  It tastes of having been made in a confectionery shop.  The finish is strongly dominated by vanilla bubblegum.   Thankfully, some tight carbonation provides a nice nip to distract you from the sweetness.

This is an interesting brew.  I can see what Avery wants it to be.  They are a great brewer, and want this beer to make the follwing statement: "Give us a barrel and we can make a top notch, humongous barleywine in our sleep.  We're Avery, damnit."  Well, fair enough.  However, they forgot to balance this out with some earthier flavors, perhaps some additional dry hopping, to cut down on those pulverizing vanilla and candy flavors.  This was a very cool beer to try but this will be my last bottle of this $10 beer.  Nor will I be seeking it out on tap.

3.3 of 5 stars.

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