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

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)
Very Good
135 Ratings
St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Viggo on 03-20-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 135 |  Reviews: 98
Reviews by Voonder:
Photo of Voonder
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to bobsy for this Vintage bottle.
Great looking beer! Pours deep dark amber with huge off-white head. Retention is very good. Smell - some fruity notes upfront (apple, pear), alcohol is noticeable, hops, slightly malty. Taste - slight bitterness upfront, mostly from hops, but citrusy notes are there as well. Alcohol is definitely there, but fruity sweetness helps to cover it a bit. Complex beer - for sure, but if feels slightly off balance, mostly because of alcohol. I would give it another try, it's very interesting stuff. I think though it is still pretty successful. Drinkability is decent, especially for a big brew like this one.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.54/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(purchased at Binny's on Marcey - carefully poured into a tulip)

A: a fucking twist-off?! seriously?... poured out, lil bubbles on the lip of the bottle... dark, rose-tinted amber liquid... pretty cloudy/hazy... short rise of foam that sinks back into a very thin collar

S: the smell shot out of the bottle as soon as the cap was removed... old yeast dregs, plum wine... a touch of caramel in the far back... the kind of oxidized, broken-down alcohol sweetened malt character I often get with Hitachino Nest bottles... hint of the smoky phenolics associated with Scottish ales

T: mellow flash of acetic acid, pushed along by a port wine-tinged, citrusy booze, all whooshed away with a long, lightly-luscious caramel, mildly chocolaty malty finish... kind of a pyramid or kiss-shaped flavor-stacking - the fat, dull, dumpy malt base tapering lemon-acidy inward up into a acid-bitter crest

M: thickish, medium-full body holds up front, but is immediately held back upon passing the middle of the palate, attenuated out by the back rush of a soft-burning booze

O: kind of reminds me of older, shelf-dusty bottles of strong English ales... this one was pretty oxidized - in an unfortunate transitional stage? soy sauce on the horizon?... not really bad, but would've been nice to have some Stilton or anything creamy and funky to pair (and temper) it with

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Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of imperialstout27
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Stone IRS tulip.

A: Very hazy, ruddy caramel color. Thin head that dissipated quickly (the bottle poured very smoothly, so perhaps it wasn't agitated enough).

S: Aromas burst out as soon as the pour began. Sweet, and even suggesting of tartness. Pear, apple, grape, raisin, rum, and a nice spicey profile, kind of like gingerbread or nutmeg or something along those lines. Notes of sparkling apple cider. Whiff of alcohol. A LOT going on here.

T: Malty sweetness overlayed with huge complexity. Spicey profile with luscious fruits. Hard fruit candies. Maraschino cherries. It's almost like I can find hints of any fruit flavor I can think of in this beer. Vinous, with a flavor similar in ways to sherry. Boozy, which I expect and enjoy. Hop bitterness and flavor definitely comes to the fore with warmth. Lots going on here too.

M: Carbonation is light and the beer is thick and luscious.

D: This is absolutely a sipper, but quite nice. I found it much more enjoyable cooler as opposed to warmer.

Overall, a very nice beer and a great change of pace. Keep it cool (not cold). Too much warmth just made it out of balance for me - the hop profile didn't work right, the sweetness seemed overbearing, and the alcohol became livelier. I cooled it back down for a couple minutes and everything melded back into proper balance.

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Photo of R_Kole
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

Photo of merlin48
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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Photo of Brenden
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice packaging, suitable for the big 2-0.

This beer pours a hazy copper-orange colour, with a finger or so of creamy light beige head, which leaves solid lace around the glass as it recedes. It smells mildly of candy caramel, molasses, raisins, and alcohol. The taste is edgy alcohol, and then more of the candied dark fruits evident in the nose, and some mild noble hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body a bit lightweight for the style, and it finishes dry and fruity, the warmth and the malt coating the palate.

The booze in this anniversary ale is pretty prominent, but not off-putting or overwhelming, it just seems young, and makes it seem like I'm drinking it too soon, which is likely the case. However, there is still enough sweet malt and some balancing dry earthy hops, to make it enjoyable at this juncture, once I've grown accustomed to the heat.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
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!

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Photo of BennyL1
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this one sitting for a couple of years now, figured why not tonight? Poured into a globe glass.

This Barleywine pours a dark and stormy amber with a slim off white head that quickly dissipates back into the brew. Streaky lacing is left along the glass which makes it a solid looking brew.

Many different aromas including caramel, brown sugar, and some dark fruits. The nose on this brew is simply great. It seems that every time I inhale I'm getting a new smell. Very nice.

The taste is on par with the nose. Complex and layered, you can get a few different tastes up front. Malty sweetness is the first thing you notice. Some of the same notes that were in the nose definitely come through in the taste. Also getting a hint of vanilla and a tad of bitterness which rounds it out very nicely.

Full bodied with carbonation on the lower side. This beer has a nice feel to it and still has a nice warming effect from the alcohol.

Glad I decided to try this one out tonight. A very solid beer that I'm glad I aged until now. No complaints here, wish I had another.

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Photo of Sammy
3.44/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Edition initially did not smell great, some malt came through as it settled. Substantially Above average mouthfeel. Golden yellow with some white head. Taste is like a young old ale, a mild barleywine.Decent though moderate hops.Siginificant though not onerous carbonation.

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Photo of jbowers56
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

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Photo of Tommy9898
3.16/5  rDev -19%

Photo of Kegatron
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of Infamous7100
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a hazy light brown with hints of orange into my snifter. Thin head, no lacing.
S: very intriguing and very sweet. All kinds of fruits and malts melding together.
T: loads of malts, carmel notes and hints of the fruits,perhaps plums and figs. However, i get a ton of boozy notes throughout.
M: Thick and creamy with a low to medium carbonation level. A pleasant boozy, sweet hang at the back.
O: nice brew. Walks the line between and Belgian dark and a barleywine. The dark fruit notes and sweet malt on the nose are more prevalent than in the taste. The booze overshadows what i feel is the best quality of this type of beer, the flavor. Its aggressive in taste, yet a smooth sipper. Nice pick up.

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Photo of Gmann
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy honey brown color with a tight creamy egg-shell colored head. The smell is big and boozy. The aroma is big on honey, bready malt and a candied butterscotch. The taste is of toffee, buttery but not in a cloying/gross sort of way. It has like a candied-malt flavor, odd description but that is what it tastes like. There is some vanilla and a peppery spice. Some earthy and light citrus hops to keep the big sweetness in some balance. The feel is quite thick, almost syrupy but not cloying sweet. Sweet overall but balanced to a degree. Probably a bit too thick for the flavor profile. A big brew for sure. Quite thick and malty. Just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of frontalot
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.61/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 Vintage.
Pours deep amber, almost orange, with a large, persistent head.
Nose shows lashings of rich sweet malt mixing in with resinous hops, dried pineapple and sultanas. Malt profile includes golden syrup, caramel and bready notes. Some alcohol is noticeable but blends in exceptionally well with the malt.
Very rich flavours, with loads more malt showing more bready notes and caramel, before an assertive bitterness enters which, along with some very harsh alcohol, makes for a formidable finish.
Very syrupy body, but the carbonation is to lively. The alcohol provides a fair bit of heat on the palate and tongue.
I'm guessing the alcohol and carbonation issues would settle with some age.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.5 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a murky copper/orange color with about a half inch off-white head. Head retention is OK, and there's a good amount of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is nice and malty, the brew smells like caramel malt, dark fruit, brown sugar, toffee and honey. Taste is pretty much just like the aroma, but there's a bit of booze that I can taste along with some earthy hops noticable in the finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a bit creamy and coating and is well carbonated. Drinkability is good, I think it's smooth and easy enough to drink. Not a bad overall brew, although I probably could have aged this another year or 2.

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Photo of jaydoc
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of enelson
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.5 oz, 9.8% abv. Pours a hazy copper color, with lots of sediment. Thin white head disappears very quickly, leaving a very thin collar.

Nose full of candied fruits up front. Berries, and pears come to mind. Some fig and toffee notes. A fair whiff of alcohol. Seems to also have a floral and citrusy edge, kind of hinting at American hops.

Lots of caramel and toffee malt up front. A suggestion of fruit, but not as much berry as the nose suggested. Warming alcohol. An odd peppery, spicy note at the middle. Finishes with more suggestions of fruit, and a bit drier than the beginning.

Medium body, carbonation is ok. Good warmth from the alcohol, suggesting some age could work wonders. Pretty good, although some of the flavor is not quite what I would expect.

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Photo of irishkyle21
4/5  rDev +2.6%

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
Beer rating: 3.9 out of 5 with 135 ratings