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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) - McAuslan Brewing

St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

114 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 92
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 11.83%

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing visit their website
Quebec, Canada

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  9.80% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Viggo on 03-20-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 114 | Reviews: 92 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ksmi116


4.7/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

A - Hazy amber with a large off white head. Looks very good in a chalice.

S - Dark fruits and some spice are the main flavors here. Plums and raisins mainly.

T - Dark cherries, plums, sweet raisins, and alcohol. Wonderful flavor profile on this one! I really didn't expect the creaminess of this beer to come through, but I am impressed!

M - Creamy and not very carbonated. It works very well with the flavoring.

D - (overall) I am not a massive barleywine fan, but this could definitely turn me! The dark fruits work wonderfully with the mouthfeel and it makes for an overall fantastic sip! Very impressed!

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2011 23:27:23 | More by ksmi116
Photo of Lukie


4.6/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A stream of bubbles floats up as I pour out this delight. A rich bronze, with a big orange hue against the light. Clear as crystal, a solid 2 inch head, which slowly falls to a rocky lacing and a thin film.

Big sweet toffee and biscuity notes give way to more sweeter fruits. Cherry is quite dominant on the nose, sweet style, with candyish dark plums. Very interesting.

Big toffee flavours give way to a syrupy cherry and plum flavour. The plum is almost sugary, with the alcohol slowly coming through. Sweet toffee and dry, bitter caramel round out the flavours. There is a lot in this brew, and flavour wise, it really is something special. Many more will have to be consumed to get everything out of it.

A really beautiful smooth mouthfeel, slightly creamy. It's not a huge malt bomb like I expected, and has a nice hoppy character to it. Not overpowering though.
It is a bit too easy to drink for the alcohol though, and an amazing brew.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2009 16:04:35 | More by Lukie
Photo of LiquidAmber


4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in an Ommegang flute. Pours a dark somewhat cloudy orange amber. One finger fine light tan head and lacing. Very interesting aroma of fruit esters; light fruit, caramel malt. Very nice, well integrated flavor of caramel malt, dark fruit, plum and cherry. A very pleasant fruit finish dominated by dark cherry. Very well integrated. Nice creamy medium to heavy body. Very well done and distinctive English barlywine. I hope I can find some more of these on the store shelves. I will certainly put some of these in the cellar.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2012 04:20:18 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of megahurts4


4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

St. Ambroise Vintage 2009

Appearance: dark red-orange, small head, and some good lacing.

Smell: caramel and yeast.

Taste: hops, caramel, toffee, and a sweetness.

Mouthfeel: medium and smooth.

This is a very nice brew. The flavors mesh very well.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2011 05:45:32 | More by megahurts4
Photo of woosterbill


4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.5oz bottle into an oversized tulip. Big thanks to Delaney's for giving me this bottle after the one I wanted (NEBCO Wet Willy 2008) was out of stock. A lovely gesture, and a happy coincidence that it happened on my birthday (which was last week, as I'm reviewing this from my notes).

A: Hazy deep orange body beneath a thin cap of fine tan foam that recedes fairly quickly but reasserts itself nicely upon a solid snifter swirl. Light, spotty lace. Nice.

S: Rich malty goodness: toffee, caramel, bread, dark fruit, and a hint of cherry. Just the slightest bit of pleasant oxidation is present, highlighting the age with a touch of sherry character. Complex + rich without being overwhelming; very nice indeed.

T: Follows the nose, with rich toffee sweetness leading to a solid core of caramelized fruit. A bit of sherry fruitiness and toasted malt combine for a long, rich sweetness. Booze is present but always in the background. It tastes old, complex, balanced, and delicious.

M: Thick, viscous, and full of creamy carbonation. A bit too bubbly, perhaps but I'm a fan.

O: Just a couple years have really treated this one nicely, and I would be ecstatic if I could find a few to throw in the cellar for longer still. Tasty stuff.


Serving type: bottle

08-29-2011 15:09:33 | More by woosterbill
Photo of MAB

Alberta (Canada)

4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An awesome beer; one that purports to age well but I doubt that I could wait for it to do so.

Copper color with yellowish head, it is thicker than water and feels wonderful on the tongue. I thought the aroma was muted, slightly malty but my wife thought it was yeasty-- which I didn't get. It tastes sweet and smooth but has a bitter aftertaste that I just love.
It's near or at the top of my best five new beers bought in 2009 list (so far).

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2009 19:24:40 | More by MAB
Photo of drpimento


4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Whoa!! Heavy hitter. Delicious too. Poured with a great, cream colored, foamy, frothy, thick head that lasted a while and lots of lace. Color is a lovely, clear copper amber. Aroma is a fragrant mix of caramel, malt, taffy, fruit. Flavor is the same but with large sweetness tempered with a little bitterness. Full, round, and thick in body and great carbonation to cut the sweet. Finish is like flavor and slowly tapers in good length. Be nice to get some more and lay them by.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2010 02:59:39 | More by drpimento
Photo of Brent


4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the smoothest barleywines I've sampled. The cellaring smoothed all the rough edges off, leaving the brew almost silky. Predominant flavor is a moderately-sweet caramel, just a bit woody. Overall, there is not a ton of depth of the flavor, but the well-rounded drinkability makes up for lost ground in that respect.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2011 20:05:39 | More by Brent
Photo of DaftCaskBC

British Columbia (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/8" tan head that collected around the edges of the glass over murky deep amber liquid.

S: Sweet barley malt and honey. A second smell gives a hint of figs.

T: Figs, cherries, honey, caramel tasting barley malt and yeast. Sweet initially with a somewhat bitter finish. Quite nice.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and a low level of carbonation. Somewhat puckering in the back corners of the mouth.

O: One of the more memorable barleywines I have tried due to the useage of Belgian trappist yeast. Quite drinkable and pleasant.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2012 22:07:39 | More by DaftCaskBC
Photo of GodOfBeer

Ontario (Canada)

4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark red-amber with a nice white head, dies down to a thin layer, some decent lacing.

Smells of apple cider, pine needles, citrus hops, strawberries and other fresh fruit and some alcohol as it warms up.

This is a very tasty beer. Malty sweet upfront with slight fruity notes, molasses, caramel. A lot hoppier than I was expecting, very strong pine-like bitterness that brings the malt backbone into harmony. As it warms up the alcohol becomes more noticeable.

Thick, syrupy mouthfeel and pretty drinkable considering its 9.8%. I bet this would get a lot better and more rounded with a couple years under it's belt.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2009 00:49:41 | More by GodOfBeer
Photo of Tim2000

Quebec (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341 mL brown bottle.

Pours a crystal clear dark copper with a creamy off-white head.

Sweet aroma of rum and candied fruit.

Lots of caramel, some hazelnut and raisins. Alcohol is very present and slightly harsh. Finishes with mildly astringent, grassy hops. Full-bodied with moderate carbonation.

Very good, but some aging would probably smooth out the rough edges.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2009 00:31:42 | More by Tim2000
Photo of Brad007


4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy amber color into my glass with a one-finger head. Nice presentation thus far for something brewed in 2009.

Lots of plum/raisin character to greet the nose, followed by just a hint of alcohol. Seems rather muted.

Plum, raisin and a bit of alcohol warmth greet the mouth. It eventually warms up, taking on a caramel essence as well. It also loses some of the sweetness, taking up more of a balance.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering caramel, plum and raisin. Alcohol warmth is dialed down, which makes it more enjoyable.

A simple, interesting version of an english barleywine. It's aged well but I would put another year on it to see what else happens. Otherwise, you can't really go wrong here.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2011 04:28:32 | More by Brad007
Photo of cratez

Ontario (Canada)

4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from the York & Ridout LCBO in London, ON. To my knowledge, the Vintage Ale was not available in London last year, so I had to try it out! Once again, McAuslan delivered.

Appearance: pours a deep, amber-orange body with a thin layer of white film. Cloudy, thick, and inviting. Spots of sugary lacing speckle the glass while drinking.

Smell: huge aromas burst onto the nose, ranging from sweet caramelized fruits (oranges, pears, and apricots) to candy apples to piney, herbal hops. Toasted biscuit and alcohol are also evident. Rich, intriguing, and fruity.

Taste: sticky caramel and wheat malts, hints of toffee, juicy plum, raisin, and orange rind flavours, various spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Crisp and piney hops round out the aftertaste with a bold, herbal character. Boozy and warming, yet refreshing as well. Good god, this is one hell of a barley wine!

Mouthfeel: a smooth and luscious body, somewhat syrupy. The fruit and spice flavours produce a briefly 'tangy' mouthfeel. Finishes clean with some alcoholic heat, and a lingering hop bitterness.

Overall: I have to say, I'm a bit confused by the underwhelming reviews of this beer. I've only tried a few solid barley wines - SN, Rogue, Half Pints, Great Divide - but this measures up to all of them. Big flavours and aromas plus high drinkability (especially for 9.8% ABV). A superbly tasty brew - I plan to stock up before it runs out!

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2009 17:57:03 | More by cratez
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter a lighter amber shade with a very well defined tight one finger white head atop.Aromas are floral, and of dark fruit, a noticeable nutty port like note as well,they really seem to jump out at ya.Lighter on the palate than expected,light to medium mouthfeel for a beer with such heft.Flavors have the deep malt upfront with the dark fruit and caramel base,slightly leathery,but there is a spiciness in the finish that makes everything come together really well.I really liked this anniversary ale from a great long standing brewery in Quebec.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2010 00:58:52 | More by oberon
Photo of OldPenguinHunter


4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I didn't quite know what to expect upon purchasing this bottle, to say the least- I was surprised.

2009 Vintage:
Looks good in the glass, fizzy carbonation, minimal lacing. Brown opaque color, burnt looking.

Smells funky, you get some smoked malts in there, tobacco, scotch, wood, then there's the fruit: tart cherry, date, and plum. it's kinda all over the place there...

Taste is as equally interesting. It feels like my mouth is doing cartwheels and somersaults. The beer is really everywhere as far as flavor goes. I do get a very dry mouthfeel, the carbonation is really champagne-like. As the same with the nose there's an abundance of flavors from savory to tart. There's also a flavor of barrel, but it's not vanilla-rather burnt oak, I like it.

Mouthfeel wise, I get a very dry smokey-tart puckering that reminds me of a sour ale. I am inclined to think that this beer is innoculated with some brett (maybe from the barrels?)

Overall, this beer is a very weird, but intriguing beer. I do feel like the beer is somewhat tiring to drink (there's just alot going on). But I would be very happy with a 6oz serving though!

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2013 16:46:40 | More by OldPenguinHunter
Photo of mintjellie

Ontario (Canada)

4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep copper in colour with a reddish tinge. It's creamy, frothy, off-white head leaves behind a spotty lace. Rich toffee and fruit aroma also provides whiffs of dried apricot, ice cider, and alcohol. Rich flavours of sweet toffee, apricot, spice, raisin, and a little bit of nuttiness transition into an earthy bitterness that lingers on into the aftertaste. Hot and boozy last summer, it's noticecable alcohol presence has mellowed a little and become a bit more integrated with the whole. Put succintly, this Barleywine really tastes like fruitcake. Booze soaked fruitcake. Medium-heavy and lightly, finely carbonated. Smooth and sticky. Lovely ale. It might even improve further given a bit more time, though I'm really not sure. This is really the first beer I've sampled both fresh and with a bit of age on it. What a difference it can make!

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2010 20:55:52 | More by mintjellie
Photo of heygeebee


4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber, with a short lived head that disspates to a film, and little lacing.

Aromas are wonderful, toffees, caramels, sherry.

Taste is sweet and complex. There are notes of raisin, toffee, sherry, brown sugar and alcohol warmth. Malts are there in the traditional sense, and whilst hops take a back step, it's not a non-hopped beer. Toffee and caramel get emphasised as it warms.

Mouthfeel is light for ABV, carbonation low..

Overall? A real find

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2011 11:11:38 | More by heygeebee
Photo of merlin48


4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Canadian friend brought me a couple of these attractively packaged bottles(as pictured above) about a month ago. Time to sample one. The 341 ml bottle pours a radiantly clear, reddish amber body with a small offwhite head. Head retains surprisingly well and deposits some sheets and curtains of lace on the snifter.

Aroma has buttery toffee and a floral hops aspect that seems to be orange blossoms. Nice!

Medium body with a soft carbonation and slight alcohol burn.

Taste has caramel and toffee, balanced by a dry and bitter floral hoppiness. A hint of ripe red plums and prunes midway through. A bit of heat from the alcohol seems right at home here. Finishes dry and bitter, with a lasting floral hops aftertaste.

Quite good, and definitely to style. Glad there's an extra bottle to age.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2009 22:49:23 | More by merlin48
Photo of mntlover


4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty bright hazy amber color with a small cream colored head that falls to a ring. Some light lace left on glass here or there. Color of beer just beautiful.

Aroma is sweet caramel sprinkled with brown sugar some fruit notes blend right in sugar coated figs. Some soft floral notes from hops blends right into the sweetness.

Taste is sweet also caramel with hints of brown sugar, figs show up also. Some alcohol notes showing up in the finish little fossil fuel like but its the only negative going. While sometimes alcohol seems to blend right in on this one it seems to distract.

Mouthfeel is big medium with god mellow carbonation.

Drinkability is good an enjoyable beer would be perfect if little less hot. Thanks to merlin48 for this sample.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2010 11:27:47 | More by mntlover
Photo of jampics2


4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass. Easily the best tasting "new-to-me" beer I’ve had this year on the Winking Lizard World Tour. Purchased for around $7.

This beer doesn’t start off well. Yes, it has a caramel color with touches of amber and gold around the edges. The color isn’t brilliant and bright. Instead, it’s dingy and subdued. Clearly, there are some yeast in suspension, giving this a slightly dirty look overall. I swear I poured carefully. Little head and lace are observed, even when egged on.

Then, things get way better. The nose is to die for, full of notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit. This is so expressive and awesome, it’s like the perfect Barleywine base. There’s even a hint of chocolate lurking in the nose. Notes of sherry and earthy hops round out an excellent sensory experience.

So, the appearance turned me off, but the smell won me back Thank god, as this is simply an amazing beer. Oranges from the hops sit submerged in toffee and caramel. Some raisin and fig join the party, grooving with some brown sugar. Sure, there’s some booze, but this is a party, right? For what it’s worth, I think the booze is well hidden in that it’s not distracting. I wish all beers I rolled the dice on turned out this wonderful.

The mouthfeel was a bit lacking in terms of carbonation, which made the viscous, hefty body seem a bit syrupy. That being said, the beer was still an overall success and a pleasure to consume. It really is too bad it looked so bad, this was great!

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2011 13:05:07 | More by jampics2
Photo of Brenden


4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The only problem is that I had this beer fresh (knowing that it would be better aged) and then had it just recently (aged 2 years). I chose to review the more recent tasting because the consumer is informed on the packaging that this beer is better aged and is advised to let it sit for some years for best results.

With age, it doesn't bubble quite as nicely and have a big, tall, sticky head that left lacing everywhere like it did fresh; that said, the whitish head on this beer still forms over a finger tall and is still plenty sticky. Fresh, the appearance is this beer's best aspect; now, it's good and the rest is better.
Alcohol is tamed on the nose, and what comes through is a less sweet, more balanced blend of fruits, spiciness and malty breadiness with floral and a bit herbal hops notes. It could use a bit more, and this may be the aspect most affected by time, but it's pretty good otherwise.
The flavor is excellent, mostly because of a balance rarely seen in a barleywine. Hops make a show here while taking nothing away from a big, strong malt backbone. Alcohol and dark fruits are here but tamed to a tolerable heat and sweetness, blending sweetness, earthiness, yeast, spiciness, floral and herbal aspects all together without clashing. Let this age and enjoy.
Carbonation is a bit heavy when this beer is younger, but aged properly it drops without flattening out and reaches good levels. Crispness is still here, but the medium body with its malts makes for smooth sipping.
Fresh, I'd have given this a B: a little too hot, a little too sweet, and slightly overcarbonated; but, given the brewery's expectation that the consumer will age this and thus brewing this beer to be aged, it's definitely improved.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2011 20:26:37 | More by Brenden
Photo of ONovoMexicano

New Mexico

4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Belgian tulip.

On the pour, a finger thick head is produced and sticky lacing hits the side of the glass. The beer is cloudy and unfiltered and there is some residue at the bottom. Color-wise, the beer is copper brown and mostly opaque.

My nose detects sweet malt, raisins, spicy hops, bread, and port or sherry. These same notes carry into the flavor, as the beer tastes raisiny, slightly spiced up and boozy, and port, vanilla and oak work around my tongue.

The booze is there and gives a slight burn, but it is not overbearing, as is the spiciness from the hops. The beer is moderately carbonated and thus feels somewhat light, although it is still creamy and has a good mouthfeel.

I'm glad I tried this beer and feel it's a good representation of an English barleywine. It's somewhat intense to drink, but there's plenty to enjoy, especially as the beer warms up.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 17:57:35 | More by ONovoMexicano
Photo of jbowers56


4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1-2 fingers of white head. Amber-red colouring. Slightly hazy.

Sweet candy smell is predominant. Get hints of caramel, dried fruits. Really beautiful nose.

Initial taste lives up to nose. Very much a candied kind of fruit taste. Fairly dry hoppy aftertaste attempts to lap up the big malty sweetness which develops. A little cloying, and some alcohol in the aftertaste.

Hard to say objectively, as I really like this kind of verging on syruppy, lowish carbonation mouthfeel.

Probably not the best balanced beer going around. However, it is definitely not a run of the mill anything. Very interesting, extremely well made and ultimately, I think, despite the very high abv, i could drink more than one of these. Though, one would want to drink them fairly slowly.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2009 12:00:07 | More by jbowers56
Photo of kwjd

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper colour with white head. Lots of lacing, leaves a ring of head along the surface of the beer. Smells of raisins and burnt toffee. Taste has a lot of sweetness, but I get some hop bitterness in there too. I tasted a lot more hops in this last year when it was fresh, but maybe that is just my imagination. Alcohol is really well hidden in this. Delicious.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2010 02:03:13 | More by kwjd
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice amber colour. Medium carbonation. Two finger off white, fluffy head. Lot's of sediment floating around.

S - Lot's of dark fruit with raisins, dates, and prunes coming out. Nice dark malts there too.

T - Most of the dark fruits come through from the aroma with a slight boozy finish.

M - Smooth. Mild carbonation is appropriate for the style.

D - Pretty high considering the abv. I could have a few more. Took a year for this to come around but I like it. I wasn't blown away by any means but I was impressed.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 01:30:09 | More by tbeckett
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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.