Again another brew that I picked up at my run to the Big Spec's Superstore. I have mentioned the Colorado brewer Avery in other posts. So I will skip my usual review of the brewer.
The Style: This is an American Barley Wine. Traditionally Barley Wines are high alcohol wines that are incredibly complex. Full of malt flavors it was originally called Malt Wine in London. They have been called everything from October Beers to Malt liquor (no its not what you think), however by the early 1800's the term Barley wine stuck. In the old world sense a barley wine is top fermented ale with an alcohol content somewhere between 8 and 14%. These are age worthy beers, beers that can be laid down in the cellar for a few years. Of course American Barley wines are slightly different than their old world counterparts. Usually Barely wine is made as a special brew (think Winter Warmer). Most American Barely Wine is not as age worthy as their British counterparts, but instead are much more drinkable at an early age.
The Beer: On to the good stuff. The beer is packaged in a single 12 oz bottle (no six pack here) with a black label and a menacing winged demon on the front after all as the label says Samael is the prince of Demons. The beer weighs in at a very HEFTY 14.5% alcohol. It pours a goldenish brown in the glass with a thin line of foam that quickly dissipates and minimal lacing. Little carbonation as is traditional. There is some floral scents and some malty sweetness in the nose along with some oak as this beer is aged with oak chips. In the mouth there is plenty of alcohol (maybe too much). Not a lot of balancing bitterness, just a lot of malty sweetness and alcohol. The fruitiness of the malt adds some complexity though. As it warmed it reminded me of a cognac in its complexity. While not my favorite beer due to the incredible sense of alcohol in the mouth, I can appreciate the art of the brewer in the making of this beer. This is what the folks over at BA had to say.