St-Ambroise Scotch Ale - McAuslan Brewing

Not Rated.
St-Ambroise Scotch AleSt-Ambroise Scotch Ale

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BA SCORE
83
good

72 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 72
Hads: 131
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 8.97%
Wants: 8
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing visit their website
Quebec, Canada

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-25-2002

Formerly known as McAuslan Scotch Ale
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 72 | Hads: 131
Photo of mactrail
2.64/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Coppery brown color with a brief foam in the snifter. Some alcohol fumes and whiff of burnt sugar. Medium body with average spritz.

Slightly sweet, but the malt is the main event. Perfumey caramel taste and maybe a little smoke. Bitter edge but no real hop flavor. Starts out mellow and ends with a back of the throat resiny sensation for the finish.

After a few sips I find I ma feeling kind of queasy. I"d never touch a Scotch Ale if they all had this fruity leaf mold dirtiness. From the 341 ml bottle purchased at the BC Liquor Store in Ladner, near Vancouver. (567 characters)

Photo of ChrisCage
4.28/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours a very nice clear ruby red/brown color with a caramel colored head that contains large bubbles and starts off about a half finger thick, before settling into a thick patchwork of foam. Lacing is very good, as there is large swaths of foam sticking to the side of my glass!

S- Beautiful rich caramel and blackstrap molasses aromas right up front. Heavily roasted malt sweetness and hints of smoke permeate my nostrils! Also, minor aromas of dark chocolate, sweet rum, and burnt toast. Simply awesome smells happening!

T- Full flavors of very toasty caramels, molasses and chocolate, tinges of smoke and char, burnt toast.....even woody and liqueur like to a point. I'm thinking there is a portion of black malt used to create this flavor profile! Right before the finish, there is an Earthy Sarsaparilla hint that lingers just slightly! Again....awesome!

M/O- Definitely full bodied and worthy of the 'wee-heavy' monkier! The carbonation is made up of 'wee' tight bubbles that greatly help with carrying the flavors all over the palate and this would be a great brew to enjoy with a stew & dumpling meal on a cold winters eve! I am greatly enjoying this one on its own however and think this is a great example of the style and highly recommend! (1,265 characters)

Photo of Bunman3
3.74/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I am a big fan of this style and I particularly appreciate this brewery. I've had a few runs at this particular beer and I keep wondering what I'm missing. There is a bit of head that disappears completely. There is almost no carbonation or beer-like appearance - perhaps I got a below average batch? The smell is pleasant enough - vanilla and some spice, plus the faintest hint of peat. This is not a bad beer, but there are plenty of better choices out there. (461 characters)

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.99/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I particularly love rich, sweet scotch ales and therefore came into this one with high expectations (doubly so in fact, considering that this brewery's oatmeal stout is excellent). Poured into an English pub glass, a dark reddish brown with two inches or so of light brown foam. Smells of sweet caramelized malts, brown bread, dark raisins, a cola-like brown spice, and a faint whiff of peaty smoke. However, the latter element is downplayed on the palate as compared to some other takes on the style, with toffee, dark dried fruit, and light molasses flavors taking center stage. Minimal to no hop flavor, as per the style. Moderately thick mouth-coating body and low level of carbonation, again hitting style targets. One can detect some booze on the palate but this is not overwhelming. Does have a subdued but detectable sourish campfire smoky "tang". Tasty and comes across like some uber-technical brewer had Ray Daniel's "Designing Great Beers" open to the scotch ales chapter in an endeavor to brew a Platonic ideal of the "wee heavy". Recommended. (1,056 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.93/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

St-Ambroise Scotch Ale may not be tartan, but this dense and dark candied cherry coloured beer looks hearty enough to withstand rain and windstorms and whatever else cool climate throws its way (it even manages some unlikely highlights). Its head, appropriately, stretches like a big grey cloud over the surface.

I like scotch in general, but I *love* Islay scotch specifically. Likewise, I like scotch ales, but my favourite examples of the style are those that capture the sea brine and peat notes that distinguish Islay single malts. This bouquet has just an inkling of those flavours but it's enough to add some additional depth (and make me that much happier).

The palate, however, is much closer to a Highlands scotch in its makeup. Peated malts fall by the wayside and in their place there's plenty of dark honey, dried fruits, butterscotch, vanilla, toffee, and roasted nut flavours. It's not a bad little ensemble, especially when you factor in the gritty earthiness contributed by the hops. Very well put together.

The mouthfeel is a tricky thing - syrupy on some sips, rich and malty on others with just the right amount of sweetness and campfire smoke. I don't know where I stand on it. One thing's for sure: 7.5% is a hard fact to believe. The beer is far heartier and more satiating than your average ale but is far from the heaviest hitter in the 'wee heavy' category.

It's hard to go wrong with anything that has 'St-Ambroise' on the label. While not all their brands live up to the world-class Oatmeal Stout, they are all solid, serviceable, and widely agreeable beers in their own right. Most of them - this Scotch Ale perhaps chief among them - are also great examples of their respective styles. (1,734 characters)

Photo of IdeaSpeeder
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - 341ml bottle, poured into a small pint glass

Appearance - Pours an amber/light brown colour. When held to the light it takes on a deep red. On top sits a finger of off white head which dissipates quickly into a light foamy residue. No carbonation is visible.

Smell - Vanilla and butterscotch right away. Very sweet.

Taste - Vanilla is here as well up front. A strong malt backbone with a lingering biscuit-y taste towards the end and pleasant but subtle hop bitterness. There is also notes of alcohol here and there.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth, fairly low carbonation, fairly heavy body. (604 characters)

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up as part of the St. Ambroise taster's pack at LCBO. Reviewed second bottle of two in the pack. Served fairly cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - Reddish / copper color. 3/4 of a finger of white head is poured but expires quickly leving a soapy residue on top. Tons of bubbles give the illusion of high carbonation.

Smell - Caramel and vanilla are present some underlying oakiness, if you're looking for it.

Taste - Sweet vanilla and toffee and caramel smack you in the mouth almost at the point of being cloyingly sweet, then the hop presence (bitterness) just cuts through like a hot knife through butter to removing and tracing of cloying sweetness. While this wasn't my particular point of enjoyment, I think it creates a better balance which is reflected in the overall score to some extent.

Mouthfeel - Low-medium carbonation. Mild dryness on the finish. Booziness is subtle until the end once the beers warms a bit and then becomes quite noticeable.

Overall - Not my favorite scotch ale, I think the palate cutting bitterness keeps this a very balanced brew and not one that is extreme. (1,108 characters)

Photo of 1sophrosyne1
4.06/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tasted on tap in a a weizen glass over 25 minutes.
The pour is a red cordovan with an ample tan head of which most falls quickly, but some residual head stays around a bit. Essentially no lacing.
It has a candy nose with cherry, some booze and brandy and a touch of orange. Toffee is prominent early, and folds into more muted earth and peat with warming.
Sweet and toasty in flavor, and not quite enough hop bitter to balance all the red fruit, but very drinkable. Butterscotch and vanilla are almost soothing before an astringent phase stops them short 2/3 through each gulp. This brightens up the end, but then leaves this otherwise savory brew lacking on length.
A few more bubbles would help the light-medium body and the flavor profile, both. It's fine in the mouth, but without more hop oils, it's thin. Based on what I'm reading, though, I think a draught pour is better in this regard than a bottle…especially one that has been on the shelf.
This is a nice twist on the style, but as noted, I'd expect more heft…especially with 7.5 percent booze. On the flip side, it's easy to quaff, so you can reach the level of full attitude adjustment in just a single happy hour. And, it's pretty good with the food of northern Europe and related cooler climes. (1,263 characters)

Photo of Haydn-Juby
4.06/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 341ml bottle

A: Nice dark brown with red hues coming through when up against light. Pretty small, maybe half finger head with some lacing.

S: Candied dark fruits. Very sweet candy like smell.

T: The candied fruit in the aroma is not so present in the taste it is still there however. Caramel and sweet malts are the most present flavor in this. Some nice hops that help simmer down the sweetness of the malts. Nicely balance. Its malty but at the same time its not cloyingly sweet. Some of the alcohol is noticeable but that is not out of key for the style.

M: Smooth going down. Leaves a nice caramel after taste.

O: I could picture my self besides a fire sipping this after a cold winters day or paring it with a deeply marinated roast. It was enjoyable. (775 characters)

Photo of thehyperduck
3.56/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

341 mL bottle from the LCBO, care of the brewery's winter sampler pack. Bottled Sept. 27 2012. I tend to love McAuslan's offerings, so I've got high hopes for this one - which happens to be the only brew in this pack I haven't tried previously. Served only slightly chilled.

Pours a beautiful deep translucent copper-ruby colour, topped with about one finger's worth of foamy, fizzy, light beige-coloured head. It fades away rather quickly, with only a thin film on the surface remaining a few minutes later. The aroma is pleasant and very malt-forward, with lots of toffee and molasses sweetness, as well as some raisins and black cherry. The peat becomes a bit more noticeable as the glass warms to room temperature.

The taste is alright, but not especially interesting. Sweet malt notes are in the forefront at first, with lots of butterscotch/toffee accompanied by vanilla, figs and raisins. These flavours are abruptly interrupted with a solid dose of bitter dryness - a little leafy, with hints of dark chocolate, molasses and rum. On the light side of medium-bodied... too thin for something that is supposed to be a winter sipper. The carbonation seems high at first, but settles as I sip my way through the glass. Not something I'd want to drink large quantities of, but this bottle is fine for a cold afternoon.

Final Grade: 3.56, a respectable B grade. St-Ambroise Scotch Ale isn't one of McAuslan's best beers, not by a longshot. That being said, it makes for a decent warmer during the cold winter months, reminding me of some of the heavier I&G offerings (e.g. the rum cask). I doubt I'd go out of my way to try this again (perhaps on-tap), but to be fair its presence is no reason to avoid the sampler, because the oatmeal stout and pale ale are both excellent.

[Updated Jan. 1 2014]

I grabbed another sampler pack for last night's festivities and never got around to opening this one, so I figured I'd give it another comment on a slow afternoon. This is still my least-favourite McAuslan brew, but that's not a huge criticism because I love most of their other beers - this one's just not for me. Something about the combination of thin body, fizziness, sweet flavour and booze rubs me wrong, but beyond those gripes it does taste pretty darn good. Not a bad beer, and worth a try if you're into sturdy Scottish-style ales. (2,346 characters)

Photo of TerryW
3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A lightweight compared to other beers of the same style.

Pours a decent head the disappears pretty much immediately. No head, no film, no ring, no lace. Chestnut coloured brew, not as dark as a cola. Aroma is primarily malt and a whiff of smoke.

Drinks fairly sweet, surprisingly little smoke and the high alcohol is generally well hidden. Thin bodied, rather high carbonation. Doesn't have the earthiness you'd expect. Alcohol raises its head in the finish.

Nothing really special about this, subdued character, just a faceless macro brew. (543 characters)

Photo of rappmann
3.77/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into St-Ambroise nonic pint glass after work. Reviewed from notes.

A - Deep brown almost burgundy in colour, reminiscent of caramel. Barely any noticeable mocha head that disappears instantly.

S - Dark fruits, figs, plums, raisons, and rum. Lots of sweetness.

T - Really sweet malt, a lot of the same dark fruits from the nose. A little too sweet but not a deal breaker.

M - Nice carbonation, and rather easy drinking for such a heavy beer.

O - A nice change to the regular all McAuslan lineup at my job. Glad I got to try it, but won't be missing it too much until next year. (588 characters)

Photo of TheHammer
3.71/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is SPARTA!!!! This is review #300 for me! I was saving La Fin Du Monde for this one, but I figured it would be more appropriate to save it till December 21st and see if the Mayans were right.

Appearance: Produced a finger of head that did not lace and quickly evaporated. The body is a fine dark ruby with deep brown and bronze highlights with low carbonation.

Smell: A deep well roasted malt backed by vanilla and tea notes hides a complex note of peat and smoke. It didn't require a lot of warming to come out.

Taste: Start with a smoky dose of toffee malt with a backing of raisins that turns into a sweeter butterscotch, vanilla and rounds out with a slight hint of peat to a thick molasses and plum end.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation on this one falls flat quick and the complete lack of head is disappointing. However it gains ground by leaving a nice mixed aftertaste that doesn't cling at all, which is surprising given the molasses taste.

Drinkability: A little bit on the sweet side, but all in all entirely easy to get down and medium bodied. The low carbonation gives it a degree of smoothness and it certainly keeps you interested from start to finish, although doesn't quite have that wow factor.

Final Thoughts: All in all a solid offering, which I think would go very well with cabbage for some reason. I wouldn't say this is the cream of McAuslan's crop by any means, but I enjoyed it all the same. (1,423 characters)

Photo of CookstLiquor
4.23/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful chestnut brown colour, with a nice beige head. Not a ton of aroma, but what's there--hints of vanilla, nuts, caramelly malt--is nice. The nose really doesn't prepare you for the amazing smoothness and flavour on the palate. The vanilla is definitely present, along with some sweet, cooked malt notes. The mouthfeel is amazingly creamy and round, and there's just the right amount of bitterness at the end to tie it all together. Very easy drinking wee heavy. Totally delicious. (495 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.16/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of pushkinwow. Poured in to Founders tulip.

A - Dark amber. One finger of bubbly light brown head that reduced to a thin layer.

S - Very weak nose. Some bready malts with very light dark caramel and toffee notes.

T - Smoke up front, giving way to toffee, whiskey and light maple syrup flavours. Bready malts are present too but not dominant as they were in the nose.

M - Medium body, light to moderate carbonation. (437 characters)

Photo of NightINgale
3.76/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle

A - Pours a very nice ruby red/medium brown body, with a nice caramel-coloured head. Very good head retention and decent lacing. Looks just like the great Scottish examples of the style.

S - Not a particularly strong aroma, but it is aromatic enough nonetheless (caramel, vanilla, chocolate and some peat).

T - Tastes very malty, with strong notes of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla. Also hints of peat and raisins. The finish is quite bitter and a little bit dry. After this beer warms up, the finish becomes more complex and even more enjoyable; I started tasting cherries and dark chocolate.

M - Medium body and carbonation. A little bit boozy, with some noticeable heat. There is also a slight sourness to it. Nevertheless, it goes down quite smoothly.

O - Another interesting beer from McAuslan I'm glad I've finally tried. Not the best wee heavy out there, but this is definitely a solid example of the style. Could also be a good beer to get into the style with. (990 characters)

Photo of MrKennedy
3.14/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from Warners at the Bay, poured into a Mikkeller tulip.

Has a dark colour with ruby tinged around the edges that are exacerbated when held up to light. Cool looking, yellow-orange-tan coloured foam that sits atop. Turns to film pretty soon.

Smells of vanilla, toffee, caramel. Quite good,

Tastes of dark fruit, booze and little else. Could be nice, but the booze damages it.

A bit boozy, some heat. Otherwise smooth, consistent and drinkable.

The booze hurts this, otherwise an ok scotch ale with a nice smooth and consistent fruitiness. (556 characters)

Photo of leaddog
3.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a medium copper brown with a thin, bubbly off-white head. Bubbles are present.

Smell- Vanilla, butterscotch, dark fruits, sweet malts, buttered rum.

Taste- Predominant flavours are the fruits and vanilla. Hint of butterscotch comes through. Sweetness remains as you drink this with no bitterness coming through in the aftertaste. Very, very minimal hops flavour.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with light carbonation and good smoothness.

Overall- Good representation of the style by St Ambroise. There are some unique sweet flavours that I quite enjoy. Worth a try for those looking to get into the style. (621 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pint at Sir John A in Ottawa. From notes.

A - Poured a very dark brown. Half finger of light brown head faded fast to a film. No visible carbonation. Spotty lace and a tiny island of retention.

S - Light. Raisins with dark malt. Very tame.

T - Lot's of raisins, dark fruit, some booze, rich malts, and a nice spirit note.

M - Nice gentle carbonation, medium to full body and a sweet finish.

O/D - Flavourful and warming. A nice drinkable Scotch ale that, while not being overly complex, is tasty and worth a shot. (518 characters)

Photo of GodOfBeer
3.48/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown with a small off-white head. not much carbonation.

Smells of cinnamon, rum, cherries, dark fruit,caramel malts and various spices.

Tastes similar, not very complex, a lot on the sweet side, not too much hop action going on here. A lot of dark fruits and spices, not a very strong body or complex beer.

Thin mouthfeel, overall a decent beer, but nothing wonderful, certainly not their best beer ever. (429 characters)

Photo of SebD
4.13/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It has a nice dark brown/amber color to it with nice ruby hues coming through. It has a nice thick tan head that dies down slowly and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of caramely malts, molasses, nuts, cherries and dark fruit.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a sweet caramely/maple syrup character to it, molasses and toffee, nice earthy bitterness, with cherries and dark fruit. Delicious

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice sweet balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas. Another great from Mcauslan. (629 characters)

Photo of danieelol
3.44/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours black brown with good head and lacing.

Smell is whiteboard marker crazy. Insane amounts of banana and phenols. Banana ice cream. Bit of smoked malt. Cherry cordial.

Taste is smoky malt. Quite light but flavourful. Hides alcohol well. Bit sweet.

Mouthfeel is thinnish with medium carb, enhancing drinkability.

Overall an enjoyable beer initially which loses drinkability and head as time goes on. (405 characters)

Photo of Rijtjeshuis
3.62/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

look - very dark brown, almost black in color. Head is a little disappointing, it doesn't come up as high as I would like on this style (maybe one finger on a hard pour). It is off white and falls rather quickly to a cap that lasts a while without any real lacing. It's pretty high abv, so I guess that's forgivable. Clarity is very good when held to the light.

smell - definitely a lot of malt on the nose and almost no hop, as one would expect from this style. Malt is strongly caramel. A little hint of darker malts or kettle carmelization comes in, just a bit of roasted and chocolate in there. This give a character more like molasses than caramel. A very light note of fruitiness (esters?) and alcohol, but was minimal. No hops.

taste - similar to aroma. definitely dominated by malts with the same molasses-like blend of caramel malt, dark malts, and kettle carmelization. A tiny bit of smokiness (though no real peat) and a bit of nut round out he finishes. I get the esters of prunes on the finish as well. No hops, no alcohol.

feel - medium-full body and medium carbonation. Definitely really sweet (a tad port-like) and a tad cloying, but the higher carbonation cuts through that okay. No real alcohol in there.

I'm not too experienced with scotch ales (I think I've had like five different types). I appreciated the darker notes in it, that I though added complexity and depth. Maybe a stand-alone desert. Drinkability was low: more of a sipper. (1,461 characters)

Photo of papat444
3.82/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 341ml. bottle, bottled Mar. 1, 2011.

Appearance: A nice dark red body with a good-sized light tan head. Too bad it shrinks rather rapidly.

Smell: Traces of vanilla, peat, light smoke and BBQ.

Taste: Caramel and vanilla at first but then a taste reminiscent of BBQ sauce. Meaty and interesting.

Mouthfeel: Creamy in the palate with a carbonation a tad high but not overly. Quite full though loses some as it warms.

Overall: Better than expected though don't let it warm up too much as it falls a bit apart by then. (532 characters)

Photo of kwjd
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber/copper colour with a finger of off-white head. Some lingering lacing lasts around the glass. Smells of caramel, vanilla, some fruit and earthy hops. Flavour has a nice sweet malt to it, alcohol does come through a bit. Fairly large carbonation level. A nice scotch ale. (288 characters)

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St-Ambroise Scotch Ale from McAuslan Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.