St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe | McAuslan Brewing

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
314 Ratings
St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
St-Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout is our tribute to the brawny ink-black beers crafted for the Russian Imperial House in the 18th century. Made from a blend of barley malts infused with Cascade, Goldings and Willamette hops, it’s aged in bourbon oak, giving it seductive vanilla, espresso and chocolate notes.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 314 |  Reviews: 136
Reviews by ChrisCage:
Photo of ChrisCage
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: I have tried the 2012 vintage in Dec 2016 and the aromas and flavors and alcohol have mellowed substantially and I'd add that there are now oily coffee bean aromas and flavors throughout....the head has retreated a fair bit upon the pour but overall this still a well holding Imperial Stout that I believe would stand up for at least another couple of years....keep this in mind for any given vintage

A- I'm immediately impressed, as a liquid of motor oil consistency pours out of the bottle, and as black as well used oil would be as well. The head comes to fruition, very dense, and thick too, reminding me of something out of a nitro tap! It is caramel in color, retains very well, and leaves behind one of the best examples of lacing that I've seen from a bottled brew! Simply delightful to look upon!

S- There is a variety of rich and dark aromas happening here....dark chocolate, overripe fruit (think banana/plum/fig), vanilla bean, and some lingering smokey wood. There is also some muted smells of mocha/espresso coffee, but these are noticeable after a few whiffs. Booze is noticed, but I guess it should be, containing a heavier alcohol content.

T- This gives me a real kick in general! After the first sip, the booze factor becomes mellower, but it is definitely there on the palate! I taste much more strong coffee notes, along side blackstrap molasses, unsweetened cocoa, vanilla, and even some rich toffee. Notes of charred wood and dark fruit are noted. The finish, and subsequent aftertaste linger with highly roasted malt and some hop bitterness!

M- This is most definitely full bodied, with fine carbonation throughout as well as robust flavor during the entire tasting! Even though this is a little more boozy than I am used to, I feel that the fullness of the beer keeps it in check.

O- I think this is a marvelous beer, but with that said, the drinkability factor is short for me, as this is so rich....I couldn't handle more than a bottle in one sitting. Anyone who likes stouts will enjoy this one, like myself, and I think this could pair well with a beef stew, or as an after dinner drink shared with friends!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of thehyperduck
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

341 mL bottle-in-a-tube picked up at the LCBO. 2013 edition, listed at 9.2% and served at cellar temperature. This is one brewery that almost always manages to impress me, and I've probably heard more good stuff about this stout than any of their other offerings - so picking up this one was a quick decision.

Pours thick, black and totally opaque like old engine oil, topped with just under two fingers' worth of dense, creamy, dark tan-coloured head. Its recession is a gradual process lasting more than a few minutes, eventually culminating in a modest cap with a sheet of lacing around the edge of the glass. An impressive-looking stout, and the aroma ain't half bad either - bourbon and oak are noticeable contributors, in addition to roasted malts, molasses, vanilla extract, ethanol and smoke. Not bad, but I could use a bit more coffee/chocolate to entice me into a sip.

This is a delicious imperial stout, with the barrel ageing process bestowing upon it a number of interesting traits not typically found in this style. Toffee and molasses sweetness form much of the backbone, with big notes of bourbon, black coffee and charred wood to keep things interesting. Toward the finish, there is a brief but intense splash of licorice, with dark chocolate and roasted malts soon overtaking it. The aftertaste is quite bitter, with a smoky, char-like tannin astringency lingering on the palate for quite a while. The alcohol doesn't figure into the flavour strongly, but it's not exactly hidden, either. Full-bodied, with light carbonation that gently prickles the tongue, accenting the velvety-smooth mouthfeel nicely. A slow sipper if there ever was one; this is a brew to savour.

Final Grade: 4.45, an outstanding A grade. St. Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe is a fabulous barrel-aged stout that all fans of the style should actively seek out. While this fresh bottle is drinking rather nicely, this is the sort of beer that is just begging to be cellared for a year or two - frankly, my mouth is watering just thinking about a mellower, smoother version of this stout, a concept almost inconceivable to begin with. Hopefully I'll be able to procure another bottle before the stock runs out, although if history is any indicator this stuff will fly off the shelves (for good reason). Don't hesitate to grab a bottle of this if you spot it, because it's well worth a try and absolutely worth the 6-7 dollar price tag.

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Photo of FadetoBock
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of dobmaster
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of talbotjf99
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Having absolutely loved their Oatmeal Stout, I expected great things from this brew. Thankfully, from the get-go, McAuslan's RIS did not disappoint!

I let this one warm up a few degrees in the bottle before pouring into a snifter. Impenetrable dark mocha hue, with about an inch of thick, tan head. Lots of sticky and sheeted lacing to boot. Looks fantastic.

The nose is potent and sweet, but very enjoyable. Dark chocolate, bourbon and brandy, marshmallow, caramel and roasted malt.

Wow; this is truly great stuff. The oak does wonders for this brew, evening out the sweet caramel and chocolate and letting the hop bitterness provide a late kick. Similar flavours as in the nose. The alcohol is covered fairly well, but it is evident in the finish.

Mouthfeel is velvety and sticky, with the carbonation providing a good spritz on the back of the tongue.

A stellar RIS. Definitely going back for a couple others to let them age a bit. Man, I love this brewery...

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Photo of ImFlyerThanYou
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of Swedes21
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

341 ml served in a chilled glass

Apperance - WOW - this beer comes to life right from the pour. Beer pours a black colour and the head is gorgeously cascading in my glass. The head is a thick brown that is about 3 fingers high, really holds its volume. It is impossible to tell carbonation due to the colour of the beer.

Smell - You do not have to get your nose close to the glass to smell this one. Can pick up some serious dark, deep tones of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. One would almost say expresso like is the smell. You can also smell the alcohol a bit.

Taste - exactly what you smell is what you taste, a full bodied and well developed beer. What a punch this packs, the aftertaste lingers around for a good few minutes. The beer hits you hard with the dark undertones of chocolate, coffee and vanilla then lingers around in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - rich and thick is how i would describe the mouthfeel, the added carbonation brings more flavour and a richness to this beer.

Drinkability - This is a beer i am glad i tried and enjoyed it! What a full tasting bodied beer and brings everything u can imagine to the table. Not truly my style, but I can appreciate this beer for what it is!

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a super black thats tick and oily. Slowly a very dark brown head forms and then slowly fades back down. Nose is light, a bit boozy, dark malts and some oaky bourbon notes.

Wow, the bourbon is strong in this! It's mice and sharp with a light burning taste. Very creamy, rich and malty with some woody/oaky flavors rounding it out very well. Great surprise to find this!

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Photo of chickenm
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, 12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Thanks to Viggo for hooking me up with this. Pours jet black with a huge brown head that leaves lots of lacing. Really nice looking! Aroma of wood, bourbon, and light smoke. Tastes great, it has vanilla, bourbon, coffee, and chocolate. Rich, smooth mouthfeel; the alcohol in this is well integrated and not at all overpowering. Great drinkability, I really enjoyed this one!

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Photo of nikolav1990
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look:Very dark brown color, almost no head about .5cm,
Smell: has a smell of coffee, wood and bourbon, a little bit off tobacco/cigar smell, some fruit like cherry.
Taste: very good taste of hops and coffee, chocolate, bourbon, old wood, vanilla. Taste comes on a little sweet with a bitter finish, very well balanced stout
Feel: very thick and creamy feel with a good alcohol throat feel. Very warming on a cold winter day.

Loved it!

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Photo of BGDrock
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours sinfully dark, and thick; probably the darkest head I've seen, like a milk chocolate bar; fine suds but not full head
- just read an earlier review, motor oil is a spot on descriptor!

Aroma: pleasant chocolate, not overly bitter; even getting some rough wood which is remarkable

Taste & Mouthfeel: like an espresso shot, rich and creamy ending with just a mild bitterness (not the intense, acidic bitterness of a poorly pulled shot); there's something sweeter at the start, dates or maybe the vanilla - the bourbon ageing has an impact, but then the espresso flavour takes control again and lingers

Overall: could double as a coffee porter/stout, the flavour is so reminiscent of it; very well-managed, with none of the acidic bitterness that is common in similar dark beers; would absolutely drink this again, the bourbon wood ageing is a great addition

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Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of JonnyBeers
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of biboergosum
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341ml bottle, 2011 edition. The encasing cardboard tube has a little blurb displaying the Cyrillic, French, and English versions of 'cheers'. Awesome!

This beer pours a solid black abyss, with ever so slight cola-hued basal edges, and a teeming amount of dense, foamy, pillowy chocolate milk head, which sticks around like the nagging sniffles, before giving way to the clarity of some broad Joshua tree lace around the glass.

It smells of mildly caramelized malt, baker's chocolate, dark drupe fruit, an acrid vanilla woodiness, bitter citrus and leafy hops, and a boozy, nose-twitching twinge. The taste is bitter chocolate malt, a bit of weird saltiness, woody bourbon cask essences, softened west coast pine and citrus hops, and a skulking alcohol edginess.

The bubbles are as soft as you could really want them to be, the body a near-full weight, smooth, and almost unobstructed in its silky smoothness. It finishes mostly sweet, in a tempered manner, however, as the wood influence and hop bill continue to assert themselves in the sanity-keeping dance that is this beer.

Well, I would imagine that demanding ol' Kate would have appreciated this offering - lots and lots of stuff going on - sweet, bitter, salty, floral, tangy, fruity - you name it, it's here. The booze, at this point, makes things a little iffy as far as outright drinkability is concerned, but that's a minor piffle for the regal imbibers amongst us.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as crude, with not a trace of a colourful highlight to be found. It's black depth is abyssal. Crowned by a thin layer of relatively well retained mocha head. Really nice lace. Aroma of black licorice, dark chocolate, coffee, and whiskey. Also smells of vanilla, smoke, and wood. Palette of french roast coffee and dark fruit. A hint of smoke in the background. It's charred, roasty bitterness is intense and lingers long. You can taste the bourbon, but even as it warms it never becomes boozy and alcoholic. Very dry with almost no residual sweetness. Almost full bodied with low carbonation. Not quite chewy, but very smooth and silky feeling. You look forward to the next mouthful between each mouthful. Delicious.

2009 bottling

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Photo of Tmappin
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Griffith
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of ipc2000
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Sammy
3.96/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick black with lots of initial light brown head, that leaves lacing down the glass. A little smoke and expresso in the aroma. Above average and creamy mouthfeel, not the thickest of the style but very good. Bitter in a high proportion to sweet, this is a dangerously good drinker. Very very good, with expresso buffered by baker's chocolate.Bottle courtesy of Lubiere. Kudos to the brewery for pricing this properly for a limited edition ($6)

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Photo of augustgarage
3.96/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy northyorksammy (thanks!). 2009 vintage. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip.

Opaque seal brown liquid topped by two fingers of dense creamy somewhat active fawn colored foam. Rich creamy layers of lacing with the appearance of mocha. Light glassy legs.

Roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, clove, cinnamon, and barrel aromas (vanilla, coconut, vague char) combine to good effect in the nose. Slightly plum-y as well from the alcohol esters.

The hops are notable upon first sip, contributing a spicy moderate bitterness, but they are quickly consumed by the rich malt character which is toasty, smokey, and offset by treacle and dark fruit. The finish suggests tobacco, spice, along with an earthy clay-like quality. Very well balanced and full of flavor.

Medium-heavy bodied, with a cakey velvety feel (rather than oily). Well carbonated. Warming but not hot.

The barrel aging adds a subtle complexity to a rich forward base - I imagine this will continue to age well if you have some cellared, but it is drinking well now.

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Photo of blaje
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours really black with an oily look.
Treadmendous head forming immediatly. Creamy, thick, surprisingly dark moccha in colour. Terrific look! Head comes down leaving patchy lacing. Wow!
N: Coffee, Moccha, herbal notes of fresh tobacco. dark fruits and maybe animal touch like wet leather! Brown sugar faintly coming up
M: Bitter! Bitterness is up-front and fantastik. I realy enjoy this since I'm an IPA lover. Carbonnation is medium and suits very well this beer. Flavours of coffee, alcohol and smoke flavors comes up after rewarming a bit, just like with the nose. Very complex in flavour.
Aftertaste is neverending, tremendous!
Almost perfect for a RIS.
Will age very well...

2013 edition: still tremendous beer!

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Photo of CanuckRover
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

A 2011 bottle put aside for a couple years.

What a pour. Thick (in the best way) black liquid pours into a snifter and sends up a lively mocha head. Pretty much opaque. Glass covering lacings right to the finish. A 5 on appearance.

Dark red fruit on the nose with a hit of alcohol. Slightly smokey and roasty, but really it's all about big fruity malt flavours in the aroma.

Deep and dark. Loads going on with this. Bitterest chocolate. Vinous. Boozey wood. Ever-present dark red fruit. Even after a couple years I get significant hop bitterness.

Another 5 for mouthfeel. Incredibly satisfying imperial stout. Thick and chewy while being shockingly easy drinking.

Glad I laid this down for awhile. Well rounded and quite tasty. Great stuff.

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Photo of traumaqueen
4.25/5  rDev +1%

Photo of jcubz
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 314 ratings