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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe - McAuslan Brewing

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe

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260 Ratings
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Ratings: 260
Reviews: 121
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 66
Gots: 75 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing visit their website
Quebec, Canada

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.10% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: papat444 on 12-05-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 260 | Reviews: 121
Photo of Sammy
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick black with lots of initial light brown head, that leaves lacing down the glass. A little smoke and expresso in the aroma. Above average and creamy mouthfeel, not the thickest of the style but very good. Bitter in a high proportion to sweet, this is a dangerously good drinker. Very very good, with expresso buffered by baker's chocolate.Bottle courtesy of Lubiere. Kudos to the brewery for pricing this properly for a limited edition ($6)

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep, deep brown with a nice dark tan head. A decent amount of lacing remains off of a two finger or so head.

S: Quite a bit of roast atop chocolate and hints of coffee.

T: Similar to the nose, with the roasted malt again taking the forefront. Hints of smoke along with chocolate and espresso.

M: Medium body. A bit too dry.

D: Pretty good all around. Glad I was able to try this, as the smoke character added a certain uniqueness to it.

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Espresso, cocoa, bourbon vanillans and caramels, and malted milk candies all play into this lush and viscous imperial stout with power and finess that'll satisfy the hardcore stout lovers but also win over some bourbon fans as well.

Imperiale Russe pours with a viscous pour that seems to crawl into the chalice. The thick black beer reluctantly gives up its carbonation for a developing creme of roast-stained foam that mimics well made espresso to the tee. While retaining surprisingly well, the lacing initially coats the sides of the glass but later drifts into the liquid. Do stouts carry a better appearance?

The aromas of malted milk, bourbon alcohol, bittersweet cocoa, espresso, and caramelized oak all fill the nose early on- seems like every reach with the nose brings about another scent that wasn't noticed before. Cherry like esters also introduce complimentary notes of anise, sherry, and red wine.

Succulent and savory flavors of Espresso, roasted grains, chocolate brownies, walnuts, licorice, and malted milk candies fill the mouth with even the most dainty of sips- a testiment to the strength of flavor and its lingering. Initial richness morphs at the mid point into a bourbony tanic-oaky taste that ushers in more caramel and vanilla earthy-sweetness.

The magic happens in the mouthfeel where an early robust textrue of cream, fullness, and viscocity turns quickly into a tanic dryness, alcoholic warmth, while still retaining a marshmallowy feel late despite the linger of roast and hop bitterness.

This beer demonstrates a plethera of characteristics that take place in a matter of a second or two. I think a hundred bottles would continue to reveal flavors that wouldn't have been detected in the 99th. But that's how it goes with the most complex of complex beers.

As a Kentuckian who knows bourbon, I often find bourbon aged beers to be far too timid in its bourbon influence. No such risk with Imperiale Russe- the bourbon character is alive and well in this formitable imperial stout.

Again- a serious shout out goes to flipper2gv for the generosity and patience.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: poured a pitch-black color stout with a super large deep brown foamy head with great retention and some great lacing. Aroma of bourbon and vanilla with some deep roasted malt notes. Taste is a nice and well balanced mix between some black chocolate with light coffee notes with lots of vanilla form the bourbon and a finish that is dominated by dry roasted malt notes (maybe a tad too dry even). Body is full with some creamy notes and great carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance between the different flavor thought maybe a tad too dry.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

what an absolutely fantastic beer. i had heard this was a doozy, but never imagined it was actually this good. serve cold and poured into a pint glass, the cardboard tubed bottle was consumed on 08/28/2010.

what a rich and decadent pour, just black as tar with a huge head that reached nearly three inches high and left a ton of lacing up and down the sides of the glass.

dark roasted malts and huge notes of coffee dominate this one to the point of sheer chaos. rich notes of chocolate and huge vanilla undertones start to come through. one of the fullest feels i have ever come across in my life, simply amazing. a huge and utterly intense expeirence as each sip just leaves me utterly amazed at the wealth of taste. smooth and decadent finish leaves cocoa and roasted coffee on the tongue and a smooth creamy and slightly sweet flavor.

better then i ever could have thought, amazing beer.

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for this long-time want, Barry. 2009 edition.

Appearance: Black, near opaque body. Dense and lasting brown head.

Smell: Roasted, borderline charred malt, dark chocolate, very faint whiskey and oak. A touch of tar-like acrid malt as it warms.

Taste & mouthfeel: The palate is heavy on dark chocolate and black licorice, with some burnt bread bitterness beneath. Subtle whiskey sweetness, very light oak. Medium bodied, and not terribly sweet or rich. Finishes with a lot of licorice and light tannins, charred/roasted bitterness. A smooth, dark chocolate heavy imperial stout that's light on the oak and whiskey flavors. Quite good.

Photo of biboergosum
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle, 2011 edition. The encasing cardboard tube has a little blurb displaying the Cyrillic, French, and English versions of 'cheers'. Awesome!

This beer pours a solid black abyss, with ever so slight cola-hued basal edges, and a teeming amount of dense, foamy, pillowy chocolate milk head, which sticks around like the nagging sniffles, before giving way to the clarity of some broad Joshua tree lace around the glass.

It smells of mildly caramelized malt, baker's chocolate, dark drupe fruit, an acrid vanilla woodiness, bitter citrus and leafy hops, and a boozy, nose-twitching twinge. The taste is bitter chocolate malt, a bit of weird saltiness, woody bourbon cask essences, softened west coast pine and citrus hops, and a skulking alcohol edginess.

The bubbles are as soft as you could really want them to be, the body a near-full weight, smooth, and almost unobstructed in its silky smoothness. It finishes mostly sweet, in a tempered manner, however, as the wood influence and hop bill continue to assert themselves in the sanity-keeping dance that is this beer.

Well, I would imagine that demanding ol' Kate would have appreciated this offering - lots and lots of stuff going on - sweet, bitter, salty, floral, tangy, fruity - you name it, it's here. The booze, at this point, makes things a little iffy as far as outright drinkability is concerned, but that's a minor piffle for the regal imbibers amongst us.

Photo of emerge077
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle, 12 oz. twist off, Quebec sticker on the bottle.

Pours like motor oil into a tulip glass, black with brownish edges. A good amount of creamy mocha foam on the surface, that fades to a swirling skim after a few minutes in the glass, with spotty lace around the edges.

Aromas of chocolate and light soy at first, autolysed yeast. Flavors of creamy smooth chocolate, hints of vanilla and barrel in the aftertaste. Full bodied with a light sweetness at first, segueing into dry roast and light bitterness in the middle. Overall it's drinkable and remarkably smooth. Thanks for sharing Chris!

Photo of Kegatron
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of jlindros
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So I originally had this picked for number 3500 review, but it was decent not great, and another surprise beer blew us away so I switched. Still super limited beer, and thanks to grub for this one a couple years ago. Shared with rudzud. 2010 vintage

Light fizzy head, pitch black thick heavy beer.

Big dark malts, choc and cocoa, little fudgey and faint roasty, some caramel and chewy dark malts, dark fruits, fig paste, mild booze, some coffee, etc.

Taste big roast dark malts and fudgey choc, dark choc, cocoa, bitter roast and mild coffee, little creamy. Then bitterness, toasty dark malt charred roasty malt bitterness, lots of fudgey cocoa, and chewy like, mild dark fruits, a bit creamy too. Bitter earthy almost spicy hops, etc. Sticky finish, semi sweet cocoa fudgey, little creamy, thIck mouth coating, etc.

Mouth fuller bod, thick creamy, mild booze.

Overall pretty good, but doesn't really hit as well as many other RIS these days. Perhaps it's better fresh, maybe we'll find out next week when we visit the brewery. Still a nice beer that was enjoyable.

Photo of MasterSki
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to papat444 for sending a bottle of this my way. Served in a FoBAB '08 taster pint glass. The 2009, and so far only, vintage.

A - Pours with a voluminous mocha foam that dissipates slowly and leaves glass-coating lacework. Eventually settles to a thick cap. The body is black, with no color to be found, even at the fringes.

S - Lots of wood, some peaty smokiness, light whiskey, chocolate fudge, vanilla, coffee & cream. Reminds me of barrel-aged Speedway, but "pops" a bit more. There's some light hop character when it warms up - you can tell this is still fairly fresh.

T - The taste is a step down, with more astringent bitterness and less sweetness to keep things in balance. The most obvious flavors are wood, smoke, and bitter espresso, with more of the dark fruits and chocolate happening in the background. It's good, but could be better. Other than the whiskey notes it's not particularly boozy. Aftertaste is also quite bitter.

M - Sticky, chewy, medium body. Sufficiently hefty for 9.1%. Lower carbonation, goes down pretty smoothly. Not much heat.

D - As with most barrel-aged stouts, it's a sipper and not something I'd be looking to slam. That being said, I'm glad I have a few bottles waiting for me in Canada, as sharing this 341ml bottle with Sean left me with tragically little.

Glad to see a Canadian brewery other than DDC running with the big boys. I liked this more than Black OPS.

Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by yourefragile, thanks Michael. Another long time want for me. At the time of this review, this is the #39 beer on the "Top Beers - Russian Imperial Stout" list on beeradvocate.com.

Beer is black with almost no head, tan bubbles, low carbonation.

Aroma is oaky and boozy with this great sweetness to it.

Beer is medium to full in body, quite sweet up front, mixture of booze and malt, a nice roundness to the whole thing, finishes a bit bitter and dry but overall a really nice beer. I'd have it again if that were possible.

Photo of stakem
3.58/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane or sharing this one. 12oz bottle into a snifter. The brew appears black with a brown head. Some spotty lace sticks to the glass as the cap fades. Some lighter brown coloring is seen around the edges when held to the light.

The aroma is roasty with coffee and bitter black chocolate upfront. A spicy oak inclusion like cinnamon or cedar reminescent of incense is present along with some earthy tones. Not bad smelling, just a bit different.

The flavor includes some herbal hops. Roast and bitter chocolate and coffee come out from the level of char to the grain. A hint of fruity hops and alcohol blend into leather and earth. The finish is a bit drying.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is interesting and enjoyable but the barrel character has an awkward spiciness about it instead of a blended smoothness. Still worth a try if you get the chance.

Photo of mothman
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Alex for sharing this one! Definitely had no idea what this was, but it was a treat.

Pours a tan beige head. Color is black.

Aroma: Almonds, chocolate syrup, cocoa, caramel, and roasted malts. Very malty and very sweet. Some oak shows. Not very much barrel flavors in the nose.

Taste: Almonds, toffee, molasses, syrup, chocolate, and cocoa. Roasted malts. Some dark fruits. A little more oak and bourbon show here with a touch of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and roasty. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and roasted.

Overall, this was a great beer, but a little too much roast and I was hoping for a touch more barrel aged flavors. Very solid though. Something I would like to drink more of.

Photo of yourefragile
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341 mL screw top bottle in a cute cardboard tube. 2009 vintage.

Pours a thick, opaque, still near black, chocolate color with a thin, quickly fading mocha head. Nose of smoke, espresso, roast malt, ash, oak, mild bourbon sweetness and dark chocolate. Flavor has a mild dry, acrid bitterness thoughout, like an old cup of bad coffee. Not bad, just gives the stout a unique smokey dry finish. The smoke and dry wood provides a strong balance to the sweeter flavors, molasses and dark chocolate, light oat and brown sugar. Chewy, medium thick body with soft carbonation. A respectable, subtle BA RIS that would probably be better enjoyed fresh.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.95/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage, bought for me by @epiclurk. Thanks =)

Pours a deep, black opaque colour, gorgeously thick, and with a lovely chunky head of deep, dark-chocolate brown. Awesome solid and crunchy lacing. But it's the depth, the heaviness, the amazing dark carbonation as it's tilted; amazing. Such an awesome deep and incredibly rich beer.

Nose is a really wonderfully interesting. It actually straddles the divide between a big, sweet American Impy Stout and a dark, heavy, almost smoky and more hardcore Russian Impy Stout. It has the sweetness, the caress, the slight oak characters and the suppleness of the American variety, but with the rawness, the stark almost austere primality of a Russian. It's gorgeous. And better than that, it's *interesting*. It's a new take on the RIS, almost a hybrid.

Taste is also gorgeous, and again it has that lovely blend of suppleness, sweetness and raw, dark bitterness. Mouthfeel is a little lacking, but it doesn't matter—the flavour itself supplies all the smoothness that is required. There's lovely touches of oak, almost a creaminess in the taste. It's a RIS with the sensuous, gorgeous intrigue of a barrel-aged AIS.

Wow, wow, wow. I did not expect this from St Ambroise. I've had many from them now, and nothing, *nothing*, close to this. No wonder this is a special release. This is truly one of the best Imperial Stouts I've ever had, and because it manages to blend and integrate the two disparate genres, making a synergistic whole. After 1400 reviews, to find a beer that excites me like this? It's just amazing.

Photo of smakawhat
3.05/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Special reserve bourbon wood aged 2013 poured into a tumbler.

Good looking and forming head. Creamy dark coffee tan and three fingers deep. Huge lacing while drinking on a classic dark walnut brown to black body. Very nice looking.

Bouquet is a lot of husky grain, and that classic tobacco like smoke I remember from their oatmeal stout. Some bitterness is coming off of this with a bit of red fruit. Not much oak or whiskey sensing hints here.

First sip while somewhat drinkable is shocking. Mid palate brings some red fruit angles which quickly disappear. To replace with lots of bitterness. Some dry tannic wood and huge tobacco mix with a somewhat cherry bitterness and slick but wet oils. The aftertaste is horribly bitter. Unbalanced. A hopped pine sort of earth indistinct quaity that really clashes with everything. Classic barrel aging notes arent even here. Oak round character isnt even present.

Where is the coffee, chocolate, slight roast sweetness and mellow oak feeling? This beer is just a bitter mess of clashing fruit and hop bitterness with a horrid tobacco smoke that doesnt go away. I certainly hope Canada does better examples of barrel aging than this.

Photo of HopHead84
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Bottle shared by Javier, thanks! 2010 batch poured into a Hill Farmstead glass.

A: Pours black and viscous with a big mocha head. Nice retention and a decent amount of lacing. The head is a lingering froth after the initial recession.

S: Dark chocolate and a strong smoke profile that’s redolent of bacon. Coffee melds with roasted malt, wood, dark chocolate, and very faint bourbon. Cocoa and vanilla are evident. On the whole, this seems like a smoked imperial stout with secondary barrel characteristics. It definitely improves when it opens up. I’m really digging the aroma.

T: Smoked bacon with dark chocolate, roast, and wood. Bourbon is faint. Blackstrap molasses surfaces midpalate and roasted malt turns to char. Finishes with dark chocolate, wood, ash, and a little astringency.

M: Full in body with upper moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is full, sticky, and very dry.

Overall: A pretty good smoked barrel aged stout. It’s a bit harsh in the flavor at times, but pretty good overall. It reminds me of some powerful bourbon barrel beer smoked bacon I've been enjoying lately.

Photo of Kelp
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of biegaman
4.36/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Vintage - slowly sipped 02/12/2010.

There is beauty in simplicity, and this beer is simply black. Staunchly, resolutely, definitively black. And, yes, in a way, it is beautiful. Any head generated at this high a gravity is impressive, but for it to be so colourful and so fine, like an early December morning frost, is truly impressive. Lacing seems as though it was scorched to the sides of the glass; with the sepia colour it appears like crumpled, singed edges of parchment paper.

It doesn't take much bourbon to compile lush notes of vanilla, oak and spices. In fact, too much bourbon and you lose the outline of those distinct and complex features to an obnoxious and overbearing alcohol. Fortunately, restraint was exercised when experimenting with the bourbon-barrel. As result, we are treated to that rich vanilla, those exotic spices and the dry oak, but not at the expense of the coffee-ish, roasty malts.

I should disclose that I'm rather sensitive to bourbon; I'm half of the belief that if it were thrown on me I would melt like the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz. But if done right - which is to say done in moderation - I'll concede that there's nothing that quite compares with regards to complexity or richness. And this is point in case.

The finest cigar, the smoke of a cackling camp fire, a dark cocoa infused with chilies and cinnamon, a dollop of creme fraiche, a day old espresso, and, almost expectantly, a shot of expensive single-malt whiskey. The beer is hardly sweet but not overtly bitter neither; it is grounded in that smoky, dry, vanilla-y character of the oak. There's sparsely a snippet of alcohol; it's rare to find this gnarly of a bark without at least some bite!

St. Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe is a gentle giant. It has all the strength and every excuse to be a brute, to push its weight around and be unfriendly, but it's not. Instead it's more like a certified masseuse, a friendly neighbor who'd lend you a pot of sugar, it's more of a warm blanket or comforting, open-armed friend. A best friend as a matter of fact. One that is certainly welcome in my house anytime.

Photo of liamt07
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up from the LCBO last year, 2009 vintage. Into a snifter, split with Steve.

Pours pitch black, with several fingers of dirty brown head. Decent lace and persistent head. Nose has oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee and roasted qualities all with a milder bourbon note than I had expected, although it becomes more prevalent with warmth. Taste is warm brown sugar, espresso, oak and strong bitterness. The bourbon is subtler than I had guessed it would be, but is present throughout the duration of each sip. Alcohol is there but not substantial, with roastiness and bitterness prevailing long into the finish. A fair amount of oxidation is evident in the bottle as well at this point, and bumped the taste down from a 4.5 - easily attributable to the twist-off caps St. Ambroise uses, which I'm not really in favour of. Mouthfeel is pretty full with a bit of chewiness.

This was nice to finally dig into again (as I traded all of my bottles away except for the first which I had when this was released), but I felt like this declined throughout the duration of the serving. Something I wish I had drank sooner, but I can only hope St. Ambroise moves towards pry-offs for their cellarable offerings, as I remember this being much nicer when fresh.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to a Duvel tulip

A - Dark black, inky with two fingers of thick, bubbly coffee-coloured head.

S - Dark chocolate with some coffee and licorice in the background. Traces of sweet vanilla. Very complex.

T - Initially the alcohol has a slight bite up front, but that disappears after a few sips. Roasted malts, bourbon, coffee and chocolate. There is sweet caramel and vanilla in the aftertaste with a touch of bitterness from the hops. Also some licorice and oak. VERY complex palate. The bourbon becomes more and more noticeable as I continue to drink this beer and it is in a great proportion.

M - Not quite as silky and thick as I expected, especially after the pour. Still a nice medium body with a somewhat silky finish. Slightly too much carbonation for my liking but not enough that it bothers me or hinders the taste at all.

D - An excellent RIS. Looking forward to aging this one.

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing
94 out of 100 based on 260 ratings.