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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
134 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: 134 |  Reviews: 97
Photo of craytonic
1.72/5  rDev -55.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Appearace: Cloudy amber pour with an enormous head, good amounts of lacing.

Smell: toffee, hops, grain alcohol, robitussen

Taste: Essence of cough syrup mixed with grain alcohol. I actually almost gagged.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, decent carbonation

Overall: Rarely do I actually spit a beer out. In causing me to do so, this beer achieved its sole notoriety.

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Photo of jrallen34
2.6/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle consumed for our Canadian tasting...The beer pours a watery and clear light brown with only a bit of head...A light aroma of toffe, hops and grain alcohol does not have me excited to taste...The taste is more of the aroma, a super light and watery barleywine that tastes mostly of alcohol. This beer is garbage and should be avoided.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.63/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Copper colored beer with a white head that had minimal retention and no real stick.

S - I got a lot of burnt sugar on this one as well as caramel malts. A bit of english hops add the "English" to this barley wine, but it kind of stinks actually.

T - I don't really like this one, mostly roasted, and overly burnt sugar, caramel malts, a bit of alcohol. The hops bitter it up a bit, but I can easily never drink this again.

M - Medium bodied and a lot of carbonation.

D - I don't want to drink this again, tastes bad, and that made it merely average in drinkability. It's only average due to the relatively high ABV.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.74/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 11/28/2009. 2009 bottle. Pours a clear orange with a small white head. Aroma of alcohol, prunes, caramel malt. Flavor of sweet malt, vanilla with a alcoholic finish and some bitterness. Meh, not very complex and a little too boozy. I didn't really care for this.

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Photo of brystmar
3.07/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


Good looking barleywine -- orange and copper hues emit from the body, surprisingly good head and lace for the style. Aroma is strangely absent, though, showing a hint of booze and nothing else. Strange.

Malty base tastes a touch stale somehow, sweetness in support cannot cover this up. Booze shines through like a pro, minimal age-y qualities. Nice creamy body.

This is the example of an average barleywine. Entirely forgettable.

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Photo of Tommy9898
3.16/5  rDev -19%

Photo of Viggo
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

355 ml bottle in an attractive cardboard sleeve.

Pours a clear amber/orange, light golden in the edges, very thick off white head forms, slowly drops to a thin ring, leaves some lace spirals on the glass, good retention as it settles to a thin ring. Smell is nice, very fruity and raisiny, caramel and honey malts, biscuit, alcohol, melons and apricots, slightly musty, some grapes, pretty rich and malty but a little rough. Taste is intense, very malty and alcohol, caramel, honey, corn syrup, fruit, grape juice, raisins and apricots, peach, whole gamut of fruit flavour, very malty though, lots of toast and biscuit, balanced in the finish, but the alcohol is a little rough. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation, pretty hot going down. Not enjoying this one as much as previous vintage ales, but it can only improve from here. Might just be young, so I'd recommend holding onto it for a while

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Leffe glass. Burnt orange colour, sandy-tan head hovered but not for too long. It left a starry, milky way on the surface with a multitude of minute suspended spots like so much space dust. Smells of hard candy, candy apple, sweet caramel, brandy or similar. Big citrus, marmalade, grapefruit, citrusy hops, malty earthy finish drops off, like brandied cherries without the sweetness. Unfortunately, the alcohol is not well hidden but rather front and centre, whether it is an "extra strong ale" as it says on the bottle or a barleywine like it says here on BA, it's not a good example of either. Previous editions have been enjoyed much more than this one, I have my doubts that this is worth buying in bulk and cellaring, although I might put one away just to find out.

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Photo of brewtal
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a St-Ambroise Millésimée 2007 Snifter.

Looking good with a deep orange robe and a vivid reddish brilliance. Very decent and consistent beige head.

Smells mostly consists of huge barley candy and subtle ripe papaya. There is also a cake-like quality to the nose somewhat.

Malty and cloying at first. Early alcohol bite. Very warming. Seems a tad heavy at first, but a good dose of english hops makes this work and it's pretty dry in the end. Still, it does stay on the sweet side too. The exotic fruit aromas are very much in the overripe spectrum and they kind of reminds me of late harvest sauvignon or maybe Sauternes, wich is very nice, but doesn't seems to keep up with the bitter tea-like hops.

Carbonation contributes to a good texture, but i ultimately find myself unsure about the balance of it all.

Well, i like this, but i don't love it as much as previous vintages. Is it a bad night for such a brew? Is my traditional/english-style barleywine lore rusty? Those are all possibilities and i'll see the end of it when i sample it again in a year or so.

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Photo of peensteen
3.24/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky orange-brown colour, light film of white head with no lace left behind. Smell is fruity, cherry and raisin, alcohol, sweet brown sugar, sherry with nutty almond like scents coming off of this. Taste is of cherry and quite fruity with sherry up front, oxidized flavours show up with some cardboard like flavours, nutty in the aftertaste, incredibly boozy throughout. Light carbonation, full body, moderately syrupy, full weight. I think this was past its prime but still incredibly boozy, the pleasant flavours here were not enough to combat the cardboard and alcohol that is present, will probably drink my 2010 soon to avoid a repeat of this.

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Photo of beermanbrian
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.32/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly turbid golden brown topped by a thick film of head that retains wonderfully, a sort of signature of St-Ambroise's beers in my experience.

Some nice English hops and fruitiness, honeydew, and sweet caramel on the nose.

Slightly boozy brandy like oak, very fruity and raisiny, like a boozed up spicy Fuller's ESB. Boozy booze booze booze. Orange pith. Grassiness. Chalky bitterness in the finish. More booze.

The alcohol is hot but this was made for cellaring and I assume will mellow out with age. Right now it's not quite a hot mess. It's drinkable. But it lacks finesse. Really wish I'd cellared this.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.37/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to freud for picking these up for me. Comparative tasting with 2007 & 2009 vintages.

341mL brown glass twist-top bottle in cardboard tube with white tape across cap. 2009 Vintage.

Appearance: Crystal clear with tiny bubbles and some creamy off-white head, but not much of it. Color is a solid medium amber, darker than the 2007.

Nose: Much brighter than the 2007 with lots of zippy hops. Caramel malt and new leather dominate the aromas. Fresh figs, dried dates and autumn leaves round things out. A little more simple, but much more inviting than 07.

Palate: Bright and alive with some herbal hops and prickly alcohol right up front. Flavors are somewhat thin, like the '07, but are not oxidized. Simple caramelized cane sugar, rawhide, lime oil, and toasted macadamia nut flavors. The flavor is cut off by sharp alcohol that makes the finish too "hot" and unpleasant.

Notes: Much better than the 2007, but still not an epic beer experience. The nose is phenomenal, but the palate does not deliver. I think the real problem with both beers is that there is not enough malt body and not enough residual sugar to make these beers pleasurable. The increased alcohol in the 2009 is an improvement, now they just need to up the RS and they should be all set. Don't think this one is going to improve with age past 6 more months.

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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 vancurly
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

a) Attractive burnt orange / amber. Haze-free, and bubble free also. Beige head, that leaves good lacing.
s) Biscuity malt, reminiscent of irish reds and vienna lagers. Toffee, floral.
t) Initially alcohol/thinner, toffee, macerated fruits, molasses/licorice, floral hoppiness, and a firm bitterness.
m) Smooth, slightly oily/syrupy.
d) Needs time. Approachable but angular, and not as luscious as I expect it will become.

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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 kdahnke123
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper with a thin foamy cover. Nose has some fruit, light floral tones and herbal hints. Not an overly aromatic beer. Flavour is apples, some fruit and malt, fairly mild bitterness all things considered. Somewhat chewy body is mildly carbonationed and fairly heavy. Getting some anise and very light citrus now as well as an astringent mouthfeel. Very warming brew. Overall, an accessible barleywine, as far as barleywine's go anyway. Good balance, not overly huge and fairly clean flavour.

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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 laituegonflable
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber colour, slightly orange-tinged, with beige coloured head, modest but sinks fairly quickly, leaving a thin crown of dense-ish foam. Lacing is pretty delightful - nice, thick and sticky. Looks like it should.

Nose - yeah, quite malty. A lot of brown sugar and treacle, along with a healthy dose of methyl alcohol. Smells quite like brandy, but with a distinct sweetness, and a noticeable - if not prominent - hint of American-style hops for some fruitiness. Bit of peppery spice as well, pretty nice. But not sensational.

Taste has malt all over that. Lots of overcooked toffee, brown sugar, rum, even, but yeah, one of the most prominent things is a boozey warmth from the mid-palate onwards that becomes a sting towards the end. Good malty flavours overall - tastes like a barleywine, with sweet brandy, pecans, even some cola, and of course, toffee. The main problem I have is that it's so obviously meant to be a barleywine, and the flavour lacks nuance, giving way to a barley-malt-into-methanol profile with no subtlety. Not bad, but it just doesn't scream brilliantly crafted.

Mouthfeel is harsh from the get go. Obviously alcoholic, with the full stickiness merely a sidenote. Points off for the obvious alcohol, no points "for" for lack of anything else interesting.

Enjoyable enough, just lacks subtlety and nuance.

 1,347 characters

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 CAMRAhardliner
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright, chill-hazed orange color with a with a small ring for a head that sticks around tenaciously. Marmalade, cookie dough and prunes fill the aroma. An alcohol kick hints at this beer's potency. The taste is malty with lots of orangey and lemon zest flavor. Booze flavor is very strong with a medicinal character. Cedary hops mingle with the wall of malty, estery flavors. The finish is sweet and hot. Smooth carbonation makes me think this is bottle conditioned, very nice mouthfeel despite the alcohol prickling.

An OK barleywine, but lacks some malt depth. I dont pick up much of the robust doughy malt I enjoy in this style, its mostly an estery, fruity affair. The alcohol is also very strong tasting. Some cellaring would surely do this beer good.

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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 IronDjinn
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazed yet translucent nut brown in appearance, tall thick creamy off-white head that eventually settles to a thick cap.

Lots of sweet brown sugar and dried fruit up front in the aroma, raisins and cherries, more floral fruit beneath, poundcake malt. An underlying candy drop sweetness as well.

The flavour is very reminiscient of some of Anchor's annual Xmas ale, lots of sweet fruit and candy sugar notes, some dried fruit, brown sugar, sweet sticky malt seems to pull up on the finish.

Mouthfeel is a fuller medium-body, some stickiness, smooth in places. A bit all over the place similar to the flavour profile.

Lots of flavours here, but a bit of a mish-mash, perhaps needs to age longer to settle into more cohesion. Although the flavour is pretty in your face I have to comment that the alcohol content is masked very well, it sort of catches up and reminds you about it well after the glass is empty.

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
Beer rating: 3.9 out of 5 with 134 ratings
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