St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe | McAuslan Brewing

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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

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Ratings: 307 |  Reviews: 133
Photo of MattyV
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.

Pours a thick, black oil-like colour into a Duvel tulip yielding a big billowy dark mocha head with good retention and lacing. Smell is sweet and boozy, with the bourbon barrels subtly apparent, imparting woody/vanilla aromas. Bittersweet chocolate and coffee are apparent up front, leading into a slightly bitter/acrid finish. The boozy bourbon characteristics provide a warming, but not overpowering lingering finish. Full-bodied, slightly oily. A very complex RIS. Well-balanced and not too hot, but is definitely a slow sipper. Have a few of the 2009 vintage stashed away and will open one soon for comparison.

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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 Digimaika2
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Edition. Enjoyed in the same release year.

A: Pitch black with a noticeable oil-like thickness during the pour. Dark brown coloured foam head that recedes to a ring that clings around the glass.

S: Boozy hints of bourbon, dark roasted coffee, dark fruits (plums & dates), dark chocolate, toffee, and some underlying fruity hops. Very good and especially liking the noticeable bourbon presence.

T: Flashes of bourbon & dry woody elements- Very pleasing. Bittersweet dark chocolate and espresso beans compliment the bourbon & wood. Molasses-like malt serves as a great backbone, with a good balance of probing fruity hops. Delicious.

M: Full body with a moderate carbonation. Thick, oily, and syrupy, with a slightly chalky finish that's appealing.

D: Very drinkable RIS with noticeable bourbon and wood elements that integrates well with the overall flavour profile. Will be picking up a couple more to cellar and taste later.

2011 Edition. Enjoyed 2 years later (2013). Thought I would add this to my original review to see how it compares.

(4.0) A: Pitch black with a thin mocha head that dissipates to a ring rather promptly. Pours noticeably thick and oily and leaves attractive lacing.

(4.5) S: Bourbon-soaked raisins, rich dark chocolate, espresso, dark woods, vanilla, and solid caramel backbone. Incredibly boozy and rich with plenty of dark fruits with raisins most prevalent.

(4.25) T: Identical to aroma with a strong bourbon, dark fruit, and dark wood taste the main focus. Slightly herbal with strong roasted malt flavours. Bourbon-wood combination is very defined and one of the best I’ve tasted to-date. Not noticing as much the fruity hop elements evident back in 2011.

(3.75) M: Medium-thinner bodied with moderate carbonation. Tends to be a tad thin but with an appealing oily creaminess.

(4.0) D: Definitely a bit more boozy and perhaps somewhat of a slightly thinner body than when fresh, but still great with a couple years of age. Tough to say for sure not having them side-by-side to compare but I may be leaning to the fresher version of this. In hindsight, should’ve aged a third one for 1 year – that would’ve been interesting.

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Photo of mmurphy525
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of BBP
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage

This pours exactly how a stout should. It spreads a thick head even in the snifter I've chosen to drink it out of. Retention is top of the line, as the head has barely shrunk a bit. Lacing is also quite nice.

The aroma is excessively potent at first. It smelled very well rounded, and it was obvious that the hop base was sufficient. The malt is also quite rich as well. Cocoa played a good part. The bourbon was minimal but evident.

The taste was a little bit different than I expected. It was considerably more smoky than I imagined. The bourbon was quite minimal, but potent in a subtle way. Chocolate and coffee both balanced well with each other and filled in any blanks that the excess of flavor could have left. This beer is very well done, and nicely balanced, but it lost a bit of it's appeal with the cocoa and smoky dryness.

The body is medium full and medium heavy. Carbonation is more subtle than the head would suggest, and it fills the drink without interference to the mouthfeel. The finish is moderately dry and slightly sticky.

Overall, this was a very nice beer, and the serving size is generous enough that a single bottle should do most anyone. My only complaint was the excess of cocoa leaving a bit too much dryness around for me. If this was changed, it would easily be one of my favorite Canadian brews. Regardless, I'll be sure to grab a couple more while it's here to see how it handles some age.

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Photo of jegross2
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing.
Score: 91

2011 vintage bottle served in an oversized brandy snifter glass.

Appearance: Jet black and completely opaque. Pours three fingers of foamy chocolate-brown colored head that slowly recedes into a full finger of dense foamy heady. Amazing lacing. 5/5

Smell: Chocolate malts, coffee and hazelnut. Some toffee and dark fruit and maybe a hint of licorice. Light booziness in the aroma too. 4/5

Taste: Huge, consistent coffee-forward flavor throughout. Some dark fruit that gradually increases on the mid-palate as the beer layers. Light chocolate flavors weaved into the coffee. Lingering bitter coffee finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. Acidic bitter finish. 4/5

Overall: A lot more coffee flavors than expected in this Russian Imperial Stout. Very delicious, but very coffee-centric. I'd certainly try another bottle if I could easily get my hands on some.

Recommendation: If you do not like coffee and sharp bitterness, avoid this beer. Otherwise, enjoy!

Pairings: Chocolate cake? Maybe biscotti? How about a bagel with cream cheese!

Cost: $7.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

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Photo of spinrsx
4.11/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341ml Bottle - 2010 edition

Appearance - Black/brown colour with a huge size frothy brown coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some really good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for a very long time.

Smell - Chocolate, malts, hops, roasted/toasted nuts, coffee

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and its very thick and syrupy. I can taste chocolate/coffee mixed with malts and a roasted/toasted/burnt taste. I can also taste the hops and a bit of bourbon. It ends with a coffee and chocolate bitter aftertaste.

Overall – This is a pretty heavy duty beer. I was surprised by the amount of bitterness it had.. not only from the burnt coffee flavour but from the hops. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but it's still a way above average RIS.

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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 bigox420
5/5  rDev +18.8%

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

Pours jet black, reddish tan head with some lace lingering around the top of the glass. Smell is of roasted malt, bourbon, oak, vanilla, lightly smokey, coffee, milk and bittersweet chocolate, also scent that are a lot like fudge brownies. Taste is of roasted malt, oak, vanilla, bourbon, chocolatey finish with coffee and bourbon, so complex and delicious. Light-med carb, silky and lightly creamy, full body. This is absolutely fantastic far and away the best from St.Ambroise and probably the best RIS from Canada, maybe even better than Singularity, awesome stuff.

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Photo of jsnoek
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of Stocean1
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a near black impenetrable body with a two finger dark chocolate head, lots of patchy lacing, slowly going down to a nice thick collar of foam.

Lots going on in the scent, licorice, smoke, tobacco, coffee, goldings hops, leather, really something.

Taste is tobacco, coffee, lots of floral hops, dark fruit (raisin), leathery, with only a slight bit of ethanol lingering in the finish. Really well balanced and not overly boozy and rich which can sometimes be a turn off for the style.

This is a full bodied smooth nicely bitter brew with plenty of carbonation. It is nearly chewy and has a pleasant lingering bitter finish.

This is definitely the best St. Ambroise brew I have had and likely the best RIS I have had to date. It is beautiful, complex, smooth, and oh so drinakable.

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Photo of RedAleMan
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of crashingthrough
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of uno99
4.36/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from the LCBO. $5.50 I think they were.

A: Poured into a Tripel Kameliet glass. Looks delicious. whats amazing is how dark the head is. Not Tan, but dark like dark chocolate, especially when you swirl the glass a bit.

S: I'm not going to bother mentioning the obvious RIS scents, but pretty strong in the fruit department. Leather, smoke, ash, tobacco, oak, soap.... all present here. Quite inviting but not huge.

T: This stuff is no joke. hugely powerful flavor. finish is long... Very long...(episode of Mama's Family long!) Everything is well balanced here. The bourbon isn't a big player but is present most in the finish.

M: Might be the thickest beer I've ever had, Although it has been a long time since I've had an barrel aged stout of this strength.

Overall: this is fantastic stuff, and I hear it ages well so I'll set some aside and come back in a year or two and re-review.

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Photo of Arcanor
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of rjacobs6
5/5  rDev +18.8%

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

2011 Vintage. "J 15 11" printed on the back label. Bottled in June or July? Not sure.

Beer is jet black. A fairly vigorous pour results in a very large cocoa coloured head. Fantastic retention- head just sits there, very slowly dissipating, leaving a moderate amount of lacing.

Lots of chocolate in the nose, and the bourbon is quite noticeable. Vanilla and oak are present. Alcohol is noticeable, but the bourbon probably plays a role in that. Very deep smell, very nice.

Taste is great. The bourbon flavours are very well integrated with the base beer, which is full of chocolate and roasted malt. Moderately bitter for the style, though I don't pick up a lot of hop flavours beside the bitterness. Vanilla is strong and very nice.

Moderate carbonation, full bodied. Fairly silky.

Overall, just a terrific beer. Lived up to my expectations for sure. Really glad the LCBO brought this one in, and look forward to seeing how it ages.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.46/5  rDev +5.9%
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 EgadBananas
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
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 lacqueredmouse
4.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage, bought for me by @epiclurk. Thanks =)

Pours a deep, black opaque colour, gorgeously thick, and with a lovely chunky head of deep, dark-chocolate brown. Awesome solid and crunchy lacing. But it's the depth, the heaviness, the amazing dark carbonation as it's tilted; amazing. Such an awesome deep and incredibly rich beer.

Nose is a really wonderfully interesting. It actually straddles the divide between a big, sweet American Impy Stout and a dark, heavy, almost smoky and more hardcore Russian Impy Stout. It has the sweetness, the caress, the slight oak characters and the suppleness of the American variety, but with the rawness, the stark almost austere primality of a Russian. It's gorgeous. And better than that, it's *interesting*. It's a new take on the RIS, almost a hybrid.

Taste is also gorgeous, and again it has that lovely blend of suppleness, sweetness and raw, dark bitterness. Mouthfeel is a little lacking, but it doesn't matter—the flavour itself supplies all the smoothness that is required. There's lovely touches of oak, almost a creaminess in the taste. It's a RIS with the sensuous, gorgeous intrigue of a barrel-aged AIS.

Wow, wow, wow. I did not expect this from St Ambroise. I've had many from them now, and nothing, *nothing*, close to this. No wonder this is a special release. This is truly one of the best Imperial Stouts I've ever had, and because it manages to blend and integrate the two disparate genres, making a synergistic whole. After 1400 reviews, to find a beer that excites me like this? It's just amazing.

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Photo of gford217
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Aaron, 2010 vintage.

Pours pitch black underneath a thick mocha head that doesn't stick around long and leaves only a small collar.

Aroma is really rich with lots of bakers chocolate, espresso, hints of smoke and tar. Hints of bourbon and oak, maybe some vanilla as well.

Taste is seriously roasty and brings the black malts to the forefront with some oak and bourbon complimenting. I's really bittersweet if that makes sense, tons of roasty bitterness but with some vanilla and licorice to balance it out, semi-sweet chocolate as well.

Mouthfeel is smooth with low carbonation with an astringent bitterness after each sip.

This is a really hefty impy stout, especially clocking in under 10%. Massive roast character with barrel character to even things out. Very nice.

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Photo of nbree00
3.5/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottling

A: Pours a deep dark black color, like crude motor oil. Has a nice 1 inch chocolate brown head that dissipates quickly.

S: Love the nose hear, notes of bourbon, oak, chocolate chip cookies, espresso and earth.

T: On the palate flavors of bitter chocolate, day old coffee, cream, and baking spices. I really dig the nose and mouthfeel but the taste isn't super well balanced. It's a little to bitter and roasty for me. Some may find this balances out the sweetness but I actually think it's to dry, and I'd like a little more richness.

O: Overall a solid beer, I'm curious if I would like a fresh one better.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jeffo for this trade extra.
Vintage 2009

A-Deep brown, almost black, with a fizzy mocha colored head. Fades quickly, no lacing.

S-Mature, soft bourbon and vanilla aromas, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, hot cocoa.

T/M-Tastes like really good hot chocolate with a splash of bourbon. Very smooth and creamy until the very back end, where some dry, roasty flavors present themselves. Very simple, to the point bourbon RIS. Well done. Full bodied with a soft, yielding mouthfeel and low carbonation.

O-This is excellent.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours ink black with incredible viscosity. Light doesnt even penetrate the edges of the glass. The head is compact but very long lasting, and drapes the glass in tan lace. The aroma is a heady mix of fresh roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate. The taste is a wall of yummy RIS flavors - roasted dark malts, cocoa, espresso and some light berry notes. Hops provide a good bitterness and a bit of leafy flavor. The mouthfeel is eminently thick with a very fine, creamy carbonation. The finish is pretty dry with a bit of booze heat.

This is a fantastic RIS from a very high quality Canadian brewery. Packed with intense flavor, this will please any stout fan.

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St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe from McAuslan Brewing
4.21 out of 5 based on 307 ratings.
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