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 DaftCaskBC
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/8" tan head that collected around the edges of the glass over murky deep amber liquid.

S: Sweet barley malt and honey. A second smell gives a hint of figs.

T: Figs, cherries, honey, caramel tasting barley malt and yeast. Sweet initially with a somewhat bitter finish. Quite nice.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and a low level of carbonation. Somewhat puckering in the back corners of the mouth.

O: One of the more memorable barleywines I have tried due to the useage of Belgian trappist yeast. Quite drinkable and pleasant.

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Photo of BoringBunny
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

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 papat444
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hoppypocket for this one.

Poured from a 341 ml. bottle into my St-Ambroise Millésimée 2006 snifter.

Appearance: The same bubbly thick foam with a look like swiss cheese on the sides of the glass. A dark red-amber body.

Smell: Raisins, dried cranberries and other assorted fruits.

Taste: Strong dark fruit with a hint of wood and some candied flavor. More candy than actual sugar.

Mouthfeel: Real low carbonation with a medium body and the feel is not greatly expansive.

Overall: ABV is upped from previous versions but it drinks just as well, if not better. Has more of a sweeter edge.

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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 irishkyle21
4/5  rDev +2.6%

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 JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of HopStoopid120
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of heygeebee
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber, with a short lived head that disspates to a film, and little lacing.

Aromas are wonderful, toffees, caramels, sherry.

Taste is sweet and complex. There are notes of raisin, toffee, sherry, brown sugar and alcohol warmth. Malts are there in the traditional sense, and whilst hops take a back step, it's not a non-hopped beer. Toffee and caramel get emphasised as it warms.

Mouthfeel is light for ABV, carbonation low..

Overall? A real find

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Photo of woosterbill
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.5oz bottle into an oversized tulip. Big thanks to Delaney's for giving me this bottle after the one I wanted (NEBCO Wet Willy 2008) was out of stock. A lovely gesture, and a happy coincidence that it happened on my birthday (which was last week, as I'm reviewing this from my notes).

A: Hazy deep orange body beneath a thin cap of fine tan foam that recedes fairly quickly but reasserts itself nicely upon a solid snifter swirl. Light, spotty lace. Nice.

S: Rich malty goodness: toffee, caramel, bread, dark fruit, and a hint of cherry. Just the slightest bit of pleasant oxidation is present, highlighting the age with a touch of sherry character. Complex + rich without being overwhelming; very nice indeed.

T: Follows the nose, with rich toffee sweetness leading to a solid core of caramelized fruit. A bit of sherry fruitiness and toasted malt combine for a long, rich sweetness. Booze is present but always in the background. It tastes old, complex, balanced, and delicious.

M: Thick, viscous, and full of creamy carbonation. A bit too bubbly, perhaps but I'm a fan.

O: Just a couple years have really treated this one nicely, and I would be ecstatic if I could find a few to throw in the cellar for longer still. Tasty stuff.


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Photo of Franz4
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.5oz bottle poured into a chalice

A- cloudy rusty color with a thin head that disappears quickly. Tea like color to it.

S- Toffee and apricot seem to be predominant, raisins in the background.

T- white grapes, a little heat still present, followed by toffee which fades to straw. Fruits are slightly tart which brings a nice balance to the brew.

M- light carbonation with a chewy feel to it, there's a lot going on here which makes this a sipper.

O- a solid brew that has some complexity to it, I think this could sit for a bit longer and could still improve. As this beer warms it does tend to mellow out a bit.

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Photo of juju7
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good, solid barleywine. Samll head, copper port body and good sticky lacing.

Aroma of dried fruits and maraschino cherries with a whiff of alcohol.
Sticky and sweet with a mild carbonation. Alcohol sits nicely with those dried, brambly fruit flavours.

Really pleasant on this coolish evening.

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Photo of megahurts4
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

St. Ambroise Vintage 2009

Appearance: dark red-orange, small head, and some good lacing.

Smell: caramel and yeast.

Taste: hops, caramel, toffee, and a sweetness.

Mouthfeel: medium and smooth.

This is a very nice brew. The flavors mesh very well.

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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 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 jampics2
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass. Easily the best tasting "new-to-me" beer I’ve had this year on the Winking Lizard World Tour. Purchased for around $7.

This beer doesn’t start off well. Yes, it has a caramel color with touches of amber and gold around the edges. The color isn’t brilliant and bright. Instead, it’s dingy and subdued. Clearly, there are some yeast in suspension, giving this a slightly dirty look overall. I swear I poured carefully. Little head and lace are observed, even when egged on.

Then, things get way better. The nose is to die for, full of notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit. This is so expressive and awesome, it’s like the perfect Barleywine base. There’s even a hint of chocolate lurking in the nose. Notes of sherry and earthy hops round out an excellent sensory experience.

So, the appearance turned me off, but the smell won me back Thank god, as this is simply an amazing beer. Oranges from the hops sit submerged in toffee and caramel. Some raisin and fig join the party, grooving with some brown sugar. Sure, there’s some booze, but this is a party, right? For what it’s worth, I think the booze is well hidden in that it’s not distracting. I wish all beers I rolled the dice on turned out this wonderful.

The mouthfeel was a bit lacking in terms of carbonation, which made the viscous, hefty body seem a bit syrupy. That being said, the beer was still an overall success and a pleasure to consume. It really is too bad it looked so bad, this was great!

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage
Saw the cardboard holder at a shop I don't normally patronize and couldn't resist pulling the trigger on the purchase. Pours a deep dark copper color with a big fluffy beige head that recedes slowly but leaves lots of sticky lace in its wake. Smell is sweet with aromas of caramel, dark fruit, sweet brown sugar, and slight earthy tones in there as well. Taste is sweet, filled with caramel and hints of dark fruits. The alcohol bite is there to keep the sweetness in check. Smooth silky creamy mouthfeel, medium level of carbonation, medium to heavy body. Not a bad barleywine, but seems like it could have been a bit more complex. It has aged well, I wish I had bought two.

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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 Brent
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the smoothest barleywines I've sampled. The cellaring smoothed all the rough edges off, leaving the brew almost silky. Predominant flavor is a moderately-sweet caramel, just a bit woody. Overall, there is not a ton of depth of the flavor, but the well-rounded drinkability makes up for lost ground in that respect.

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Photo of ksmi116
4.67/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a St. Bernardus chalice

A - Hazy amber with a large off white head. Looks very good in a chalice.

S - Dark fruits and some spice are the main flavors here. Plums and raisins mainly.

T - Dark cherries, plums, sweet raisins, and alcohol. Wonderful flavor profile on this one! I really didn't expect the creaminess of this beer to come through, but I am impressed!

M - Creamy and not very carbonated. It works very well with the flavoring.

D - (overall) I am not a massive barleywine fan, but this could definitely turn me! The dark fruits work wonderfully with the mouthfeel and it makes for an overall fantastic sip! Very impressed!

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Photo of Brad007
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy amber color into my glass with a one-finger head. Nice presentation thus far for something brewed in 2009.

Lots of plum/raisin character to greet the nose, followed by just a hint of alcohol. Seems rather muted.

Plum, raisin and a bit of alcohol warmth greet the mouth. It eventually warms up, taking on a caramel essence as well. It also loses some of the sweetness, taking up more of a balance.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering caramel, plum and raisin. Alcohol warmth is dialed down, which makes it more enjoyable.

A simple, interesting version of an english barleywine. It's aged well but I would put another year on it to see what else happens. Otherwise, you can't really go wrong here.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"A man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger one."

--George Bernard Shaw

Darkest persimmon with a blizzard of yeast that adds tremendous visual character. The upper third of the sniffer is filled with a creamy crown of ecru hued foam that is pebbly (not quite rocky) as it descends. A smattering of bubble bath lace looks good too.

The nose is modestly caramel-like, earthy, apricot fruity and hides its alcohol pretty well. More power and more definition would have earned it the next highest score. Warming helps, just not enough.

McAuslan St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale is tasty stuff that appears to have aged well. It still has a fair amount of countering bitterness and the alcohol delivers the light punch to the palate that is the reason why many of us love higher ABV beer. No heat or harshness whatsoever.

The barley tastes mostly pale with an assist from English toffee and a sugared nuttiness that adds yet another dimension. The fruitiness is akin to apricots and peaches, nothing darker than that. Again, earthy-herbal-citric hops keep the malt sugars in line and do a little tongue scrubbing too, which is amazing given more than one year in the bottle.

The mouthfeel isn't big and burly, nor does it have the laid back carbonation that I usually prefer. No matter. The medium weight silky creaminess and lightly stinging bubbles work beautifully from a sensory standpoint.

Last year's edition of St-Ambroise Vintage Ale is more than worthy. It was disappointing to see a 341 ml bottle exit the cylindrical box rather than a 500 ml bottle. It's even more disappointing now that I've tasted it. Thanks to biegaman for the opportunity.

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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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