St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe | McAuslan Brewing

St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
Liked This Beer
4.21 w/ 307 ratings
St-Ambroise Stout Impériale RusseSt-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by papat444 on 12-05-2009

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 307 |  Reviews: 133
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 acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of jaydoc
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

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

Espresso, cocoa, bourbon vanillans and caramels, and malted milk candies all play into this lush and viscous imperial stout with power and finess that'll satisfy the hardcore stout lovers but also win over some bourbon fans as well.

Imperiale Russe pours with a viscous pour that seems to crawl into the chalice. The thick black beer reluctantly gives up its carbonation for a developing creme of roast-stained foam that mimics well made espresso to the tee. While retaining surprisingly well, the lacing initially coats the sides of the glass but later drifts into the liquid. Do stouts carry a better appearance?

The aromas of malted milk, bourbon alcohol, bittersweet cocoa, espresso, and caramelized oak all fill the nose early on- seems like every reach with the nose brings about another scent that wasn't noticed before. Cherry like esters also introduce complimentary notes of anise, sherry, and red wine.

Succulent and savory flavors of Espresso, roasted grains, chocolate brownies, walnuts, licorice, and malted milk candies fill the mouth with even the most dainty of sips- a testiment to the strength of flavor and its lingering. Initial richness morphs at the mid point into a bourbony tanic-oaky taste that ushers in more caramel and vanilla earthy-sweetness.

The magic happens in the mouthfeel where an early robust textrue of cream, fullness, and viscocity turns quickly into a tanic dryness, alcoholic warmth, while still retaining a marshmallowy feel late despite the linger of roast and hop bitterness.

This beer demonstrates a plethera of characteristics that take place in a matter of a second or two. I think a hundred bottles would continue to reveal flavors that wouldn't have been detected in the 99th. But that's how it goes with the most complex of complex beers.

As a Kentuckian who knows bourbon, I often find bourbon aged beers to be far too timid in its bourbon influence. No such risk with Imperiale Russe- the bourbon character is alive and well in this formitable imperial stout.

Again- a serious shout out goes to flipper2gv for the generosity and patience.

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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 emerge077
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle, 12 oz. twist off, Quebec sticker on the bottle.

Pours like motor oil into a tulip glass, black with brownish edges. A good amount of creamy mocha foam on the surface, that fades to a swirling skim after a few minutes in the glass, with spotty lace around the edges.

Aromas of chocolate and light soy at first, autolysed yeast. Flavors of creamy smooth chocolate, hints of vanilla and barrel in the aftertaste. Full bodied with a light sweetness at first, segueing into dry roast and light bitterness in the middle. Overall it's drinkable and remarkably smooth. Thanks for sharing Chris!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: poured a pitch-black color stout with a super large deep brown foamy head with great retention and some great lacing. Aroma of bourbon and vanilla with some deep roasted malt notes. Taste is a nice and well balanced mix between some black chocolate with light coffee notes with lots of vanilla form the bourbon and a finish that is dominated by dry roasted malt notes (maybe a tad too dry even). Body is full with some creamy notes and great carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance between the different flavor thought maybe a tad too dry.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for this long-time want, Barry. 2009 edition.

Appearance: Black, near opaque body. Dense and lasting brown head.

Smell: Roasted, borderline charred malt, dark chocolate, very faint whiskey and oak. A touch of tar-like acrid malt as it warms.

Taste & mouthfeel: The palate is heavy on dark chocolate and black licorice, with some burnt bread bitterness beneath. Subtle whiskey sweetness, very light oak. Medium bodied, and not terribly sweet or rich. Finishes with a lot of licorice and light tannins, charred/roasted bitterness. A smooth, dark chocolate heavy imperial stout that's light on the oak and whiskey flavors. Quite good.

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Photo of mothman
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Alex for sharing this one! Definitely had no idea what this was, but it was a treat.

Pours a tan beige head. Color is black.

Aroma: Almonds, chocolate syrup, cocoa, caramel, and roasted malts. Very malty and very sweet. Some oak shows. Not very much barrel flavors in the nose.

Taste: Almonds, toffee, molasses, syrup, chocolate, and cocoa. Roasted malts. Some dark fruits. A little more oak and bourbon show here with a touch of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and roasty. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and roasted.

Overall, this was a great beer, but a little too much roast and I was hoping for a touch more barrel aged flavors. Very solid though. Something I would like to drink more of.

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Photo of jlindros
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

So I originally had this picked for number 3500 review, but it was decent not great, and another surprise beer blew us away so I switched. Still super limited beer, and thanks to grub for this one a couple years ago. Shared with rudzud. 2010 vintage

Light fizzy head, pitch black thick heavy beer.

Big dark malts, choc and cocoa, little fudgey and faint roasty, some caramel and chewy dark malts, dark fruits, fig paste, mild booze, some coffee, etc.

Taste big roast dark malts and fudgey choc, dark choc, cocoa, bitter roast and mild coffee, little creamy. Then bitterness, toasty dark malt charred roasty malt bitterness, lots of fudgey cocoa, and chewy like, mild dark fruits, a bit creamy too. Bitter earthy almost spicy hops, etc. Sticky finish, semi sweet cocoa fudgey, little creamy, thIck mouth coating, etc.

Mouth fuller bod, thick creamy, mild booze.

Overall pretty good, but doesn't really hit as well as many other RIS these days. Perhaps it's better fresh, maybe we'll find out next week when we visit the brewery. Still a nice beer that was enjoyable.

 1,073 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.95/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep, deep brown with a nice dark tan head. A decent amount of lacing remains off of a two finger or so head.

S: Quite a bit of roast atop chocolate and hints of coffee.

T: Similar to the nose, with the roasted malt again taking the forefront. Hints of smoke along with chocolate and espresso.

M: Medium body. A bit too dry.

D: Pretty good all around. Glad I was able to try this, as the smoke character added a certain uniqueness to it.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Kegatron
4.25/5  rDev +1%

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

what an absolutely fantastic beer. i had heard this was a doozy, but never imagined it was actually this good. serve cold and poured into a pint glass, the cardboard tubed bottle was consumed on 08/28/2010.

what a rich and decadent pour, just black as tar with a huge head that reached nearly three inches high and left a ton of lacing up and down the sides of the glass.

dark roasted malts and huge notes of coffee dominate this one to the point of sheer chaos. rich notes of chocolate and huge vanilla undertones start to come through. one of the fullest feels i have ever come across in my life, simply amazing. a huge and utterly intense expeirence as each sip just leaves me utterly amazed at the wealth of taste. smooth and decadent finish leaves cocoa and roasted coffee on the tongue and a smooth creamy and slightly sweet flavor.

better then i ever could have thought, amazing beer.

 895 characters

Photo of dfhhead25
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BMart
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of stakem
3.58/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane or sharing this one. 12oz bottle into a snifter. The brew appears black with a brown head. Some spotty lace sticks to the glass as the cap fades. Some lighter brown coloring is seen around the edges when held to the light.

The aroma is roasty with coffee and bitter black chocolate upfront. A spicy oak inclusion like cinnamon or cedar reminescent of incense is present along with some earthy tones. Not bad smelling, just a bit different.

The flavor includes some herbal hops. Roast and bitter chocolate and coffee come out from the level of char to the grain. A hint of fruity hops and alcohol blend into leather and earth. The finish is a bit drying.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is interesting and enjoyable but the barrel character has an awkward spiciness about it instead of a blended smoothness. Still worth a try if you get the chance.

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Photo of imbibehour
3.05/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Special reserve bourbon wood aged 2013 poured into a tumbler.

Good looking and forming head. Creamy dark coffee tan and three fingers deep. Huge lacing while drinking on a classic dark walnut brown to black body. Very nice looking.

Bouquet is a lot of husky grain, and that classic tobacco like smoke I remember from their oatmeal stout. Some bitterness is coming off of this with a bit of red fruit. Not much oak or whiskey sensing hints here.

First sip while somewhat drinkable is shocking. Mid palate brings some red fruit angles which quickly disappear. To replace with lots of bitterness. Some dry tannic wood and huge tobacco mix with a somewhat cherry bitterness and slick but wet oils. The aftertaste is horribly bitter. Unbalanced. A hopped pine sort of earth indistinct quaity that really clashes with everything. Classic barrel aging notes arent even here. Oak round character isnt even present.

Where is the coffee, chocolate, slight roast sweetness and mellow oak feeling? This beer is just a bitter mess of clashing fruit and hop bitterness with a horrid tobacco smoke that doesnt go away. I certainly hope Canada does better examples of barrel aging than this.

 1,179 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

 1,264 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to papat444 for sending a bottle of this my way. Served in a FoBAB '08 taster pint glass. The 2009, and so far only, vintage.

A - Pours with a voluminous mocha foam that dissipates slowly and leaves glass-coating lacework. Eventually settles to a thick cap. The body is black, with no color to be found, even at the fringes.

S - Lots of wood, some peaty smokiness, light whiskey, chocolate fudge, vanilla, coffee & cream. Reminds me of barrel-aged Speedway, but "pops" a bit more. There's some light hop character when it warms up - you can tell this is still fairly fresh.

T - The taste is a step down, with more astringent bitterness and less sweetness to keep things in balance. The most obvious flavors are wood, smoke, and bitter espresso, with more of the dark fruits and chocolate happening in the background. It's good, but could be better. Other than the whiskey notes it's not particularly boozy. Aftertaste is also quite bitter.

M - Sticky, chewy, medium body. Sufficiently hefty for 9.1%. Lower carbonation, goes down pretty smoothly. Not much heat.

D - As with most barrel-aged stouts, it's a sipper and not something I'd be looking to slam. That being said, I'm glad I have a few bottles waiting for me in Canada, as sharing this 341ml bottle with Sean left me with tragically little.

Glad to see a Canadian brewery other than DDC running with the big boys. I liked this more than Black OPS.

 1,418 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by yourefragile, thanks Michael. Another long time want for me. At the time of this review, this is the #39 beer on the "Top Beers - Russian Imperial Stout" list on

Beer is black with almost no head, tan bubbles, low carbonation.

Aroma is oaky and boozy with this great sweetness to it.

Beer is medium to full in body, quite sweet up front, mixture of booze and malt, a nice roundness to the whole thing, finishes a bit bitter and dry but overall a really nice beer. I'd have it again if that were possible.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to a Duvel tulip

A - Dark black, inky with two fingers of thick, bubbly coffee-coloured head.

S - Dark chocolate with some coffee and licorice in the background. Traces of sweet vanilla. Very complex.

T - Initially the alcohol has a slight bite up front, but that disappears after a few sips. Roasted malts, bourbon, coffee and chocolate. There is sweet caramel and vanilla in the aftertaste with a touch of bitterness from the hops. Also some licorice and oak. VERY complex palate. The bourbon becomes more and more noticeable as I continue to drink this beer and it is in a great proportion.

M - Not quite as silky and thick as I expected, especially after the pour. Still a nice medium body with a somewhat silky finish. Slightly too much carbonation for my liking but not enough that it bothers me or hinders the taste at all.

D - An excellent RIS. Looking forward to aging this one.

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Photo of LoveStout
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

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

Big thanks to 'eat' for this one... I think I owe you a beer!

A: Black with a tan head, thin ring of retention, slight leg.

S: Espresso, treacle, licorice, bakers chocolate, tobacco and alcohol.

T: Espresso, licorice, java, bakers chocolate, woodsy, pleasant underlying smoky whiskey, dark caramel is overcome with plenty of bitterness, warming alcohol, but its got the weighty malt to back it up.

M: Really thick body has some roasted acidity and a drying alcohol finish

D: A great drinker, despite its strength.

I've loved their oatmeal stout for many years, so I was afraid this might be a disappointment... not at all... this is definitely one of best Imperials in Canada.

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing
Beer rating: 94.1% out of 100 with 307 ratings
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