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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 BigDank
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium hazy red orange color with a large white head that decreases by half and stays for a while with decent lacing. Smell is of rich malt and slight alcohol. Taste is moderate and the ABV does not stand out greatly which is good. Not overpowering anyway. Being able to taste the alcohol is not always bad but this one is fairly mellow and easy going. Medium carbonation with a smooth flow make the mouth a nice follow through. Drinkability is up there in that the flavor is good but the higher alcohol make it one not to be taken too lightly. Enjoy in a mix of others would be my recommendation.

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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 champ103
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a slightly hazy copper/orange color. A two finger white head gently rises to two fingers. Plenty of sticky lace is left behind.
S: Lightly toasted malt. Sweet candy aromas. A great fruit medley of plums, melons, peaches, and even some apple skins. Lots of subtle aromas that are great.
T: A bit more reserved than the nose. Toasted malt and sweet candy flavors. Some fruity flavors as well. Though not nearly as subtle, and it becomes a little cloying as this warms up. Some alcohol as well. Still an enjoyable beer.
M/D: A full body that is sticky and syrupy. There is a little to much carbonation for me though. The alcohol shows, but this is a good beer to sip on.

I really enjoyed this. I can see this aging really well. After a few years the alcohol and carbonation should mellow. As is, this is still very good. Something I would recommend.

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Photo of Tim2000
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
4.25/5  rDev +9%
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.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sep 26, 2009
12oz bottle, 2009 edition. Pours a dark amber clear colour, wth the slightest of haze to it. Alc.% is well hidden, fairly easy to drink. More of a malty taste then the hops. Pretty solid beer overall, considering the 9.8%. Very solid indeed.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle poured into corsendonk chalice oct14 2009

A clear amber with lots of carbonation, rough pour gives me a massive head that hangs around for a little while before falling into a 1/4in film leaving some nice patches of lace along the way

S caramel, booze and fruit cherry maybe

T a little to much booze but nice burnt sugar flavors and some dark fruit

M good and thick, nice and creamy, best part of the beer for me

D needs some time under the stairs, a little rough still. this should be a great beer in a few years

love the little tube this beer comes in, worth a try for sure but better off in a cellar for a while
cheers to wittaker for this one

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Photo of cratez
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
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!

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Photo of Shadman
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice packaging!

Rich bright colour, like a polished copper. Slightl hazy. I thought the head and lacing were a disappoinment, but then the ABV may have something to do with that.

Some floral, yet oily hop aroma with some pale malt as well. Nice, but again I was expecting more.

Fairly hoppy up front. Sweet candy and some smooth maltiness. Bitterness returns and I found the back of my tongue detected a slight citrus ( lemon) taste.

Quite thick and chewy.

Decent. Would agree with others that I needs some seasoning.

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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 brentk56
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a bountiful head that persists atop the liquid and streaks the glass

Smell: Caramel malt and a range of fruit liqueur essence - pear and fig, perhaps, maybe others, too

Taste: After a strong blast of caramel, a lot of complexity develops both of the fruity and bitter kinds - pear, apricot and figs, but bitter, herbal pith, too; after the swallow, the fruity flavors dominate along with some pithy pine and citrus, while the herbal elements take a back seat; boozy aspects develop in mid-palate and linger through the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate, but prickly carbonation; lots of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Quite a bit unbalanced right now, but I suspect this will improve with some age

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Photo of MAB
4.38/5  rDev +12.3%
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).

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Photo of THEMGG
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer looks great in its scotch whiskey style bottle jacket. Poured into a Triple Moine Goblet, pours up a single finger head, nice tight bubbles and good hangtime on the lace.

S - I'm getting toffee, floral/medicinal smells, and a hint of alcohol hanging out. The aroma may be a bit singlular for an English Barleywine.

T - Nice! Big toffee/butterscotch at the start, then fruits and medicinal notes come through, plums, berries, clove like flavours. Bitterness comes through at the end to round it all up nicely. A hint of alcohol persists at the end.

M - Mouthfeel is rich and clings to palate nicely.

D - I could certainly drink a few of these in front of an open fire with a pipe full of the finest tobacco. I think this beer could benefit from more ageing and I would love to try one in a year or twos time and re-review it.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer comes in an attractive packaging, which makes it very inviting to both purchase and crack open to drink. The beer contained within is pretty standard for the style, however. A bit of a slightly deeper bronze hue, quite clean looking. Some decent patching of lace remains behind.

S: Delicate aromas, as far as a barleywine goes. Malts, something with a scent similar to that of honey, and a somewhat floral/herbal hop note.

T: Flavour has a little more oomph to it. Sweet and sugary, slightly burnt toffee taste with an herbal hop note and a kick of alcohol. There's a very, very light fruitiness to it that adds some mellow characters that I find rather pleasing.

M + D: Rich, even a bit syrupy, with a softer - but sufficient - amount of carbonation. A pleasant evening sipper, and a decent 'celebratory beer' for McAuslan. It has a lot of potential for positive aging results, and I may attempt to do so.

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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 klewis
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear red, with a moderate frothy head. Light lacing.

S: Light fruity smell with caramel and soft oak aromas.

T: A prominent fruity character with notes of vanilla and oak. Quite a bit of alcohol burn.

M: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation.

T: Tasty, but a bit hot. This one needs some time.

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.5 oz. into Duvel tulip. American distribution.

Pours a thin eggshell-head - about 1.2 finger. Leaves thick wispy trails that would be bready if bigger. Body is pure butterscotch with solid carbonation and good viscosity.

Copious butterscotch and caramel malt. Floral hops increase exponentially with warmth. Slight tinge of booze in there.

Nicely balanced with solid floral hops and a touch of citrus, it's rather even keeled and brings a whole lot of caramelized malt to the table. Sweet viscosity tempers a slight bourbon burn.

Hops really bite down hard on the palate, especially with a little warmth. Viscosity tempers it well, though, leaving an even-keeled finish with a bit of heft.

This is just shy of 10% ABV and it's drinking verrry quickly. That's an endorsement, but keep it as slow as possible. This one has a kick. Nicely constructed.

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Photo of brendan13
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a snifter glass a fairly clear dark orange hued amber colour with a centimetre of so of off white head that falls to a thin whisp fairly quickly. Bit of lacing is left down the glass.
S - Initially dark fruit comes through quite strongly with a berry quality taking precedence. Following this is some sweet toasted bread maltiness as well as quite a strong alcohol kick.
T - Taste is dominated by sweet stewed fruit character along with some breadiness. Again quite noticeable alcohol character.
M - Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation. Quite a strong bitterness.
D - A nice beer but one which I think will improve with a year or two in the cellar.

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Photo of Lukie
4.6/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

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Photo of beachbum1975
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mjohnston threw one of these in for out Dadrk Lord Day 09 in-person trade - thanks man! I was going to leave this one in the cellar for a year or two, but couldn't resist trying it sooner.

Presented in a classy cardboard sleeve with a nice description of the beer.

Poured into my over-sized Duvel tulip an attractive, clear amber to orange with a very thick and creamy white head. After settling, it leaves a nice halo of foam.

The nose is light, but inviting. A pleasant mix of moderately complex malts that bring raisins, light vanilla and light fig. There's also traces of light alcohol and earthy hops in there, as well.

Tastes follows suit with the nose... Surprisingly light bodied and lighter flavored then I was expecting. Raisin, caramel, light honey and slight mustiness on the palate. Very nice, but I was a little underwhelmed. As the beer warmed, the heat from the alcohol became more evident, as well as the base flavors (mentioned above).

I liked this beer and agree that with a couple more years on it, it would be light, yet complex and very enjoyable.

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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 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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Photo of seand
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a clearish deep amber, with a finger or so of light tan head. Pretty good retention and not bad lacing, as it keeps a layer on the surface for a while. It looks very nice.

S: Fruits, malt, and a bit of alcohol burn.

T: Sweet and thick up front. The alcohol doesn't carry through from the nose as much as I expected. Certainly rich and complex. It finishes a little dry.

M: Very smooth, carbonation is light.

D: This is one to sip, both for the flavors and the ABV.

This review is for a relatively fresh bottle, I'm interested to see what happens as it ages.

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Photo of biegaman
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A beautiful swatch of persimmon that ignites like a flare when held into the light. Clarity is unimpeded however transparency is unattainable due to a thorough shading in. Constantly peppered with a fresh onslaught of bubbles, its head remains thick and creamy, its white tone pure as innocence. This orange-red colour is among the most luscious I recall witnessing in some time - this brewer must also be a painter.

Millésimée 2009 doesn't smell quite as divine as the best examples out there but it does smell pretty darn nice. Sweet, floral, vinous and fruity notes abound. Candied figs and brandy-soaked cherries contribute foremost and a little shot of alcohol is noted with almost every breath. But it's the potency of this potpourri like bouquet of rose hips and hibiscus that really makes this pleasant to the senses.

To my delight, much of those flavours carry over into the taste. The flavours of rose hip and hibiscus are still extremely prevalent, imparting tremendous herbal and floral qualities to the beer. In fact, it seems these elements substitute in for the more customary sticky, pine syrupy hoppiness. Toasty and caramelized malts also come to the fore offering notes of plum, cherry, figs, citrus peel and toffee-laced biscuits.

English style barleywines don't depend on the aggressive hoppiness like the American renditions because they use overly forward, strongly caramelized malts as the focal point of flavour. Although St. Ambroise has presented a decent bill of flavour, they leave much to be desired as far as mouthfeel and texture go. This doesn't really have either the resiny bitterness nor the heavy, sticky-sweet maltiness.

Unlike the first few Millésimée offerings of the early 2000's, I wouldn't think this is likely to age well; it simply doesn't seem to have the depth in body nor the complexity in flavour to stand the test of time. It's doubtful this 20th anniversary vintage will see the 25th, and highly unlikely that it could survive long enough to experience the brewery's 30th. But so what? It's tasting pretty good right now.

A 20th anniversary is a special milestone and as much as the beer is worth celebrating something with, I'm not sure it quite lives up to this occasion. Granted, this is far improved from those of more recent anniversaries, although it still pales in comparison to the original batches of earlier years'. Still, I think I'm convinced on a re-purchase, this is something I wouldn't mind having again and next year is a long wait.

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Photo of germanbeer1
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a bottle of this at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA for a decent price of about $9. It pours a copper color with a very insignificant head. Like most barleywines, there was almost no lacing at all. It has an interesting taste with a combination of some spices such as ginger and cinnamon, with the obvious of barley in the taste and smell, but not as strong a presence compared to other barleywines. Overall, the taste is very smooth, although the alcohol content is a little high. Not a bad beer.

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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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