St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
McAuslan Brewing

St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #99
Ranked #1,683
4.23 | pDev: 8.98%
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada
St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 136 | Ratings: 315 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by SammyMacAttack:
Photo of SammyMacAttack
4/5  rDev -5.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of thehyperduck
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
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 EgadBananas
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to TheSevenDuffs for sending this!


Black, sludge, and more black. 3 fingers of big mocha colored head forms, lacing monstrously.

Roast, chocolate, light coffee, slight dark fruits.

Huge roasted notes, chocolate, dark fruits, slight char.

Creamy and full. Not hugely coating, but it's good.

We get McAuslan here...but not this gem. Shame, cuz it's damn good.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
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 Seanstoppable
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Last year I heard that there were bottle of this available at a somewhat out of the way liquor store. By the time I got there, it was the last bottle on the shelves. 2009 markings.

Pours a jet black with two fingers worth of thick dark chocolate head. Head retention is quite high, as is the amount of lacing left on the glass.

Smell consists of dark chocolate, brown sugar, and maybe a bit of raisin.

Chocolate and raisins are the the first things I tasted. Initial taste is very sweet. A small amount of vanilla is present. Some roasted coffee flavoring is available near the end, but not overly so (which I appreciate). Very small hint of alcohol, which is surprising given the ABV. Minor bitterness in the finish, which lasts for a few seconds, along with the coffee and chocolate flavors. Somewhat dry finish.

This is very tasty. Very, very tasty. Shockingly tasty and drinkable given the ABV. I suppose I should be glad this was only produced in limited quantities, as this is one RIS I would have no problems consuming several glasses off in one sitting.

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Photo of kwjd
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black with tick brown head. Lacing all the way down the glass. Smells of roasted malt, coffee, vanilla and some chocolate. The taste has the same elements, but I think I'm getting some sweet toffee too. Quite smooth and very drinkable. I didn't think they could improve on their wonderful Oatmeal Stout, but I absolutely love this beer!

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Photo of RedAleMan
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of quadmad
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bauermj
4/5  rDev -5.4%

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

Photo of bylerteck
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Marche Omni. 2011 vintage.

A - Pours pitch black with a nice, big thick dark brown head. Fair bit of carbonation coming up. Giant rings of lace with good retention that won't go away at a full finger.

S - Giant coffee aroma. Vanilla. Some whisky. Chocolate. Lot's of roasted malts.

T - Lot's of coffee and a great woody/whisky note. Tons of roasty, coffee elements. No chocolate. This is not a sweet Impy Stout. The barrel has had a big impact on this. A great whisky note with the wood adds an element that I really find interesting. The huge coffee note is good too. Alcohol is there but inoffensive.

M - Nicely carbonated. Full body. A whisky finish too. Great bitterness.

O/D - I had heard this was good but didn't know what to expect. An Imperial Stout of this quality coming out of Canada, let alone Quebec (no offense) is a nice suprise. Well done. Very drinkable. Glad I got 2, and even gladder this will be in the LCBO.

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

Pours an oily black (literally), as dark as a stout can get with a beige-caramel coloured head. A thick three finger head settles down to a solid covering over the surface of the beer. Decent retention and nice lacing.

Smokey roasted malt, coffee, caramel, fresh chocolate chip cookies, subtle whiskey. A decent showing of hops appears as it warms. If the smell isn't jumping off the beer I don't ever rate it higher than 4. While this smells really nice, this isn't the case here.

I had already created a strong image in my mind of what this beer would taste like, which is, of course, a bad idea. So it's not what I was expecting. It's quite a lot subtler than I was thinking it would be (though not in a bad way at all) and is extremely well-balanced. Coffee blends seamlessly into a prominent hop profile, resulting in a lingering dry, bitter finish. Metallic and a touch astringent, with the high ABV blending into the whole, serving a purpose rather than just being strong. Everything is sitting on top of an awesome dark roasted malt. This is reminiscent of Peche Mortel although it's definitely a unique beer. It actually tastes something like a cross between Peche Mortel and Guinness Foreign Extra. This is an incredibly well-balanced stout, one of the best-balanced beers I can remember trying. Everything is right in proportion.

The feel is really great. I'm almost always left wanting more body, even in the best of stouts, but this one is just about up to my liking. Perfect light carbonation.

I was at first surprised by this one. I guess I expected it to be a little more similar to their oatmeal stout but it really isn't at all. This is a whole other beer. I'm always super impressed when a brewery can release two beers of similar style tasting nothing alike. So well-balanced, tasty and drinkable. The only bad thing about this beer is that it could be a one-off.

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Photo of Luk13
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of strang
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of berley31
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of pixieskid
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

Photo of jimctin
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of ADZA
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours the darkest black hue which leaves a chocolate laced two finger creamy head that stays and nice lacing,the smell is oak followed by the slightest tinge of bourbon but not much with also a touch of herbal hops and an inviting booziness,the mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy with tastes of dark chocolate,cocoa powder,a touch of milky coffee,an ever present hoppy bitterness to keep all that sweet perfectly balanced and finished with a slight warminess from the high ABV and overall i like it as it does hit most of the levels what make a nice RIS while still coming across that you could drink more than one of cheers will buy again.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.52/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341ml bottle into my Rodenbach tulip. Huge thanks to Freud for this rare bad boy...Black pour with a super thick and frothy tan head. Looks like a nitro poured tap, great retention and lacing...An awesomely complex and alluring aroma, sweet yet bitter with a tin hint of smoke. Malty to start, tons of sweet chocolate, very creamy, vanilla, and a really smooth bourbon. Smoke bite in the middle and hops on the finish, make it even better...As great as the aroma was, if it translated equally sweet on the taste it would be too much, thankfully it doesn't. The taste is a great roasted coffee that is so easy to drink. The mouthfeel is tannic, full, viscous. The finish is pretty hoppy bitterness that breaks up the coffee in the right amount. As the beer warms too much bourbon starts to creep on the finish, not terrible just distracting.

McAuslan nails another one. This is a must try if you can get it.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a dark black with a decent amount of caramal brown foam forming at the top of the glass. The taste is a little on the sweet side with hints of oak and dark chocolate coming through. The flavour didn't blow me away, but it is a good stout none the less. Very easy to drink, no hint of the 9.1% anywhere in this. Still got 10 bottles left in my case of 12. So I got time for my opinion to change on this. I probably have to stop setting my expectations so high for new beers I am looking forward to.

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Photo of Yoonisaykul
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Edition

Second time trying this. Poured into St-Ambroise glass.

A- Black. Absolutely no light coming through. No highlights whatsoever. Nice very dark brown head. Disappeared quick though. Thick bubbly ring around the glass. A bit of lacing.

S- Coffee, cocoa and alcohol are the main odors all mixed in with plenty of vanilla, molasses anise, as well as fruits such as prunes and blueberries. Warming up, a red wine smell gets more and more powerful.

T- Just like the smell. Wine tannins are very present. Taste like thick chocolaty red wine. Alcohol is definitely noticeable. Hops subtly adding both bitterness and flavor. Bitterness also similar to that of cocoa.

M- Surprising how thick this is. Tingly carbonation. Definitely a full mouthfeel. Make your lips sticky it's so concentrated.

D- Sipping material. Tastes good but a bit overwhelming. Wouldn't want to drink much more of this tonight.

One of the most satisfying 341ml bottles I've ever had.
A bit hot. Can't wait to taste an aged bottle. If I had to make a cheesy tagline for this: A taste of luxury.

2010 Edition:


A- Brown head has the texture of packing foam with a colour very similar to froth on top of an espresso. Pitch black liquid. No highlights whatsoever like last year. Whipped, lacy (!) lacing.

S- Smells like wine and cork. Alcohol came out second with a bit of lightly seasoned raw steak... strange, but that's what I smell. Black olives.

T- Man, this is pretty intense. So roasty it's almost like a smoked beer yet very different. It does taste a little green but it's to be expected with a beer that's almost created to be aged.

M- Not very dry. It leaves a whole lot of residue in the back of the throat. Very sticky. Possibly the thickest Quebec beer I've tried. Mikkeller BGB Weasel is the only one I remember being thicker and it was on tap with some special gas mix.
I'm not completely sold on the carbonation as I find it a bit to tingly but I don't really know how it could've been executed better.

D- This is drinking better than 2009. Maybe thanks to an evolving palate. Slight green taste is the only thing holding this back.
It is very good. I want to drink lots more. I'm having a hard time reviewing this because I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed by the awesomeness.

They must be pretty proud of this one over at McAuslan's. Pretty sure I'll be buying more next year.

2010 ratings:

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Photo of phatmasterc
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of 604growler
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of liamt07
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up from the LCBO last year, 2009 vintage. Into a snifter, split with Steve.

Pours pitch black, with several fingers of dirty brown head. Decent lace and persistent head. Nose has oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee and roasted qualities all with a milder bourbon note than I had expected, although it becomes more prevalent with warmth. Taste is warm brown sugar, espresso, oak and strong bitterness. The bourbon is subtler than I had guessed it would be, but is present throughout the duration of each sip. Alcohol is there but not substantial, with roastiness and bitterness prevailing long into the finish. A fair amount of oxidation is evident in the bottle as well at this point, and bumped the taste down from a 4.5 - easily attributable to the twist-off caps St. Ambroise uses, which I'm not really in favour of. Mouthfeel is pretty full with a bit of chewiness.

This was nice to finally dig into again (as I traded all of my bottles away except for the first which I had when this was released), but I felt like this declined throughout the duration of the serving. Something I wish I had drank sooner, but I can only hope St. Ambroise moves towards pry-offs for their cellarable offerings, as I remember this being much nicer when fresh.

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Photo of Long813
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Date: Sept 2009
From: liamt07

A: Pitch black body with two fingers of dark mocha head. Retention is decent and leaves little lacing.

S: Nice notes of roasted malts, chocolate, oak, vanilla with mild coffee beans.

T: Mild flavours of roasted malts, mixture of chocolate and caramel. There is some oak notes and some alcohol.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. The texture is smooth and is still a little hot. Alcohol comes through near the end.

D: Thanks again liam, this is a pretty well rounded brew. I do enjoy it, but don't see it as being the RIS it was hyped up to be.

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 315 ratings