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)

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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 134 |  Reviews: 97
Photo of bylerteck
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice amber colour. Medium carbonation. Two finger off white, fluffy head. Lot's of sediment floating around.

S - Lot's of dark fruit with raisins, dates, and prunes coming out. Nice dark malts there too.

T - Most of the dark fruits come through from the aroma with a slight boozy finish.

M - Smooth. Mild carbonation is appropriate for the style.

D - Pretty high considering the abv. I could have a few more. Took a year for this to come around but I like it. I wasn't blown away by any means but I was impressed.

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Photo of DrJay
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, burnt orange in colour with a short cap of beige foam. Good head retention with a bit of lacing. Malty aroma, raisins and prunes, honey and biscuits, a bit bready, all pulled together with light alcohol. Low bitterness up front, but showing more in the finish. Caramel sweetness, toffee, raisins and prune juice, alcohol throughout. Hint of grassy hop flavour towards the end. Full bodied, but short of heavy, fine carbonation with alcohol dryness and warmth. Not as hot as I expected based on earlier reviews -- time must have helped this one out a little. Overall, pretty tasty and not overly complex.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
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 jrallen34
2.6/5  rDev -33%
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 drpimento
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Whoa!! Heavy hitter. Delicious too. Poured with a great, cream colored, foamy, frothy, thick head that lasted a while and lots of lace. Color is a lovely, clear copper amber. Aroma is a fragrant mix of caramel, malt, taffy, fruit. Flavor is the same but with large sweetness tempered with a little bitterness. Full, round, and thick in body and great carbonation to cut the sweet. Finish is like flavor and slowly tapers in good length. Be nice to get some more and lay them by.

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Photo of spointon
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I snagged this from a local Binnys, with bottle packaged in cardboard tube. Poured from an 11.2 oz brown bottle into a DFH stemmed tulip.

A= This ale poured an amber color that was sort of a balance between dark copper and light orange. Odd to note it that way but this was a real chameleon of a beer. The off-white head poured a full inch and then took a long time to settle into a solid 1/8" cap. A bit of minor lacing down my glass.

S= By my calculations this beer has a bit of age on it. Comparing that to some early reviews and I'd say this has mellowed a bit. I found aromas of sweet caramelly malt, toffee, fruity esters, some pie spice I could not place, and of course a bit of alcohol. I didn't find the aroma to be overly hot or solventy though.

T= Less sweet than I predicted, but the malt threw enough caramel and toffee to keep this balanced. Lots of estery fruit flavors combined with a fleeting spice note to make this fairly complex. I also found a bit of wood and vanilla in there as well. Hop bitterness was mild and added just the right oomph to balance everything. Finish was pretty dry with a long bit of warming alcohol after each sip.

MF= Medium bodied with a fairly high carbonation level for the style.

D= I liked this beer a lot. Its no J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, but it is interesting and certainly well made. The spice note in there was a real curveball (is it nutmeg???) but it is slight enough that it doesn't take anything away from the rest of the flavor profile. All in all a tasty and interesting beer.

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Photo of Walken
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

McAuslan: St. Ambroise Vintage Ale (2009) (Tasted 07/19/10)
11.5 oz. twist-off, poured into a flute.

Appearance: Hazed medium amber beer with a thin, frothy film over the top, ring of soapy bubbles around the edges.
Odor: Butterscotch, currant, apricot, solvent alcohol, reminiscent of various clear liquors.
Consistency: Medium bodied base with a very inconsistent overall feel. There is a certain level of heft from the alcohol and malt, but it doesn't hold it down, thinning out in spots.
Taste: It is almost like an English barleywine with some influence from a strong Scotch ale. Initially, this beer shows flavors of caramel and ripe red fruit, shifting gears in the middle and diving into a much darker territory, burnt sugar, currant and chocolate.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.37/5  rDev -13.1%
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 ritzkiss
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.5oz bottle in the fancy cardboard tube. Pours a dark caramel-orange, two fingers of super creamy off-white head which has amazing staying power and as I drink, leaves sheets of lace which cover the glass. Very nice.

Nose is rich caramel and burnt brown sugar, a pleasant grassy hop profile yet. Taste follows, plenty of toast and caramel, burnt brown sugar, quite a bitter hop finish yet, alcohol showing in the finish but not dominating, could still be toned down a bit. Slightly thin mouthfeel, carbonation could be toned down a nudge as well.

Surprisingly nice though, glad to have a couple more. Will probably mellow a bit more yet.

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Photo of mntlover
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty bright hazy amber color with a small cream colored head that falls to a ring. Some light lace left on glass here or there. Color of beer just beautiful.

Aroma is sweet caramel sprinkled with brown sugar some fruit notes blend right in sugar coated figs. Some soft floral notes from hops blends right into the sweetness.

Taste is sweet also caramel with hints of brown sugar, figs show up also. Some alcohol notes showing up in the finish little fossil fuel like but its the only negative going. While sometimes alcohol seems to blend right in on this one it seems to distract.

Mouthfeel is big medium with god mellow carbonation.

Drinkability is good an enjoyable beer would be perfect if little less hot. Thanks to merlin48 for this sample.

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Photo of Derek
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Original review:

This could really use some more age... the alcohol is quite 'hot'.

A4: Copper-bronze with a tarnished head, very thin ring of retention, leaves a hint of leg.

S3.5: Plenty of alcohol (almost like rubbing alcohol). Tropical fruit, phenolic spicing, raisins, figs & sponge toffee.

T3.5: Phenolic spicing, figs, raisins, candied pineapple, orange-rind, wood, mango, vanilla, hint of earthy mineral, balanced bitterness, plenty of alcohol warmth.

M3.5: Well-attenuated, moderate body has a drying alcohol finish.

D3: A bit of a brute.

After some age... Nov 30, 2011...

Less carbonated (too bad it's a twist off bottle), with very little head. Aroma is much nicer, sherry & christmas cake, without the burn & spice. Taste echos the aroma, light residual sweetness with a good bitterness. This has become a divine sipper.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling this bottle with Stopper. Poured at cellar temp into a snifter. THe beer pours a deep mahogany color with some light passing through. An edge layer of eggshell white head remains and clings to the sides of my glass.
Aroma is rich malt and carameland brown sugar with a bit of fusol alcohol mixed in for good measure.
First sip reveals average body and carbonation with a little sticky texture. Flavor is brown sugar and caramel with a bit of dark fruit. Definitely hits of booze and heat as I drink this beer. Could definitely be laid down for a year or two. Not bad now, just a sipper, will mellow nicely over time in my humble opinion.

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Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
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 mintjellie
4.19/5  rDev +8%
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 kwjd
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper colour with white head. Lots of lacing, leaves a ring of head along the surface of the beer. Smells of raisins and burnt toffee. Taste has a lot of sweetness, but I get some hop bitterness in there too. I tasted a lot more hops in this last year when it was fresh, but maybe that is just my imagination. Alcohol is really well hidden in this. Delicious.

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Photo of imperialstout27
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
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 LittleCreature
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: taken from a 30 degree celcius room and refridgerated at about 4 degrees for half an hour. I'm hoping this puts the beer in the suggested 13-15 degree recommended temperature range. Upon tasting, it seems a tad too warm (although the hot Australian summer doesn't help).

Appearance - 4.0
Pours into a brandy snifter with two fingers of cream coloured head over a clear copper body with fine suspended sediment. Head reduces to a thin layer, leaving a little lace.

Smell - 4.0
My favourite aspect of this beer and nearing a 4.5. Rich, sweet maltiness is immediately apparent, alongside spicy English hops, piney American hops and a slightly fruity esters.

Taste - 4.0
Rich toffeeish malt upfront moves onto earthy, spicy and piney hops, finishing with rummy alcoholic warmth. Tastes of dried fruit, liquor soaked spongecake with a little fresh apricot and pine in the boozy finish. Bitterness becomes more apparent with continued drinking - for me this falls somewhere between the English and American styles.

Mouthfeel 4.0
Delightfully light in the mouth for an ale so rich, with very fine carbonation and plenty of warming alcohol.

Drinkability - 4.0
Not so good for me on this hot summer's day, but would be brilliant on a cold winter's night.

As it gets warmer, the hops start taking over this brew. Very good, but I preferred it cooler, when the resiny hop character was more in balance with the malt. All in all, a tasty, reasonably balanced, big, boozy barleywine - what's not to like!

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.92/5  rDev +1%
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 laituegonflable
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to my bro @laituegonflable for the sample.

Pours a burnished copper colour, almost turning pink at the edges, with a filmy but very fine head of creamy white. Lacing is very good, and there's some static carbonation in the glass, which is excellent. The colour is very bright and very appealing. Looks good.

Crisp and sharp, slightly tannic notes on the nose, with residual sweetness, like cranberries and cinnamon. Even a hint of vanilla and marzipan coming in. It's not huge, but the notes are unusual and quite pleasant. Spice is noticeable, and apart from the lack of strength, so is a slightly boozy note. Overall, a very pleasantly different nose.

Smooth on the palate, with some sharp phenols on the front, with a long, languous unravelling of vanilla sweetness as it continues. Very sweet finish, nothing dry or sharp. All the booze notes are saved for the fore. Comes across as rich, languous and engulfing, almost sensuous as it rolls across the tongue. Mouthfeel helps, with a rich creamy thickness accentuated by a slight alcohol tingle.

A very smooth and very drinkable brew, quite rich and with a lot of caressing complexity. It's perhaps a tad too heavy to drink easily, but to sip, relax, and enjoy, this is a winner.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.74/5  rDev -29.4%
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 CrazyDavros
3.61/5  rDev -7%
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 Gmann
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
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 biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
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 ericj551
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

St-Ambroise 20th pours a hazy dark orange with a thin, almost non existent head. The aroma is dark fruits, sweet malt, some boozy alcohol and earthy, herbal hops. The flavor is sharp upfront, followed by more dark fruits, with some sweetness, but less than the aroma indicated. Bitterness comes through next, and lingers along with plenty of slightly astringent alcohol flavor. There is plenty of carbonation despite the lack of head. This one tastes like it already has some age, but could use some more.

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
3.88 out of 5 based on 134 ratings.
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