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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Reviews: 133 | Ratings: 307
Photo of FrostBlast
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341mL bottle

2013 vintage

I never mention bitterness in my reviews, my bitterness taste buds are ridiculously under-

APPEARANCE : Deep dark brown colour, oily looks on pour. Mocha head that rises pretty high as far as bourbon aged stouts are concerned - then drops down leaving some average-heavy lacing. The head really got me enthusiastic about this brew.

SMELL : First nose is mostly roasted malts, coffee, mocha, with some molasses on the background. Second nose opens up the caramel/molasses profile a bit more. Third nose shows some smoke as well as expanding on the previous elements.

TASTE : Pitch black coffee, like espresso. Pitch black chocolate, I'm talking 95% cocoa. I know I never usually mention bitterness but this brew hits home for me, which means it must be VERY bitter for anyone with normal taste buds. Very nice complexity, yet pretty straightforward, nicely funnelled. Extremely coffee oriented.

MOUTHFEEL : Pretty much follows what the appearance seemed to predict - almost oily texture. Pretty high carbonation for a stout aged in bourbon barrels and this kinda cuts down on the oily factor, but since I like my bourbon aged stout on the oily side, I simply gave it a few more swirls in the glass and I got to something I really enjoy.

OVERALL : Yet another outstanding product from the McAuslan brewery. This is something very special to me since the brewery is 5 minutes walk from my place. I always taste everything they put out and their pale ale is my standard "everyday beer." I'm glad I have such a great brewery right next to my home and I'm glad they put out such an amazing bourbon barrel aged imperial stout.

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Photo of mmapes
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Mathieu for the trade of a 2011 bottle, opened in 2013. Hate to drink it so soon, but if it's excellent, I'll try to find some more to take home.

Pours black with a thin tan head.

Smells very rich -- malty molasses, brown sugar... smells like a great stout. Scent seems to fade quickly. It's probably too cold; it has been refrigerated. Rich grains on the nose as it warms up.

Unexpectedly smoky, a little sharp. Long malty sweet finish. Oily, fairly thick mouthfeel. Strong molasses flavor. Not cloyingly sweet like some Russians Imperials, but very flavorful with a long finish. I hate to admit that I'd like something a tad bit sweeter and a tad bit less smoky, but it's really very good. Might buy more if it's not too expensive.

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Photo of TerryW
3.61/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark walnut brew under a big head that coats the glass on the way down. Pretty impressive look.

Nose is dominated by unusual sweet dark fruit - prunes, currants and a whiff of alcohol - that all works together quite nicely. Appetizing.

Sweet, fruity to taste. Charcoal and coffee. Noticeable dry alcohol finish. You'll figure out in short order that it's 9%. Tasty, but strong and won't be to all tastes. Mouthfeel just a little too full and sugary for me.

Worth a drink, not my favorite style, but well made.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very, very black-reminiscent colour. Head is just stunning. Show-stoppingly thick, ochre in colour, with some impressive - if a little thin - lace left behind. Pretty close to amazing.

Smells sweet, and smokey, in equal measure. Weird bubblegum character with some banana and cherry notes, but also, on the other hand, smokey notes. It's completely separate in fact. Quite subtle, with wood smoke and a hint of bacon. The sweetness is a dominant thing though, which is unfortunate.

Taste is an interesting one. Lots of smoke and roast, with a touch of sweetness to it. Upfront there's cocoa, caramel and a hint of banana. Then gets roasty, smokey and burnt midway and to the back. Ends with a slight sweet note, boozey and vanilla, but it has a heaviness to the end. Quite dry on the back, but retaining lots of flavour.

Full body, a little bit sharp late, and yeah, dries up a lot.

Decent, doesn't quite reach the heights the flavours suggested. Not bad at all though.

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Photo of SebD
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It has a nice jet black color to it. It has a nice thick dark tan head that dies down slowly and leaves very nice lacing. I don't think I've ever seen a nicer looking RIS.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet roasty malts, dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, light bourbon, some sweet molasses and a touch of smokiness.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some sweet roasty malts bringing out notes of chocolate and coffee, along with a light roasty bitterness, some bourbon, a slight smokiness and some woodiness.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas.

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Photo of NoLeafClover44
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn goblet. Bottle neck says 2011.

A - Pours uncommonly thick. Tar black in color with a brief showing of Nesquick head. A complete coat of lacing paints the walls of the glass.

S - Overripe bananas, dark chocolate, raisins, and oak. Bourbon and bitters round out this uniquely aromatic brew.

T - Rich espresso, plum, and banana bread dominate. The finish is riddled with char, bourbon, and milk chocolate.

M - Viscous body with a suede-like feel.

O - This is a very good example of the style. Bold flavors of coffee, bourbon and char with a rich, luxorious mouthfeel. It has mellowed over the last few years, but I think I preferred it fresh. I rarely drink foreign beers, but I highly recommend this one.

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

I had the bourbon wood aged version of this beer:

A: Thick black dark pour with 1 finger head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

S: Nice sweetness add by the bourban, molasses and black fruit

T: nice roasted malty coffee bitterness with woody tones throughout that drifts off slightly leaving a satisfying aftertaste. A little more carbonated then what I was expecting judging from the pour but still good.

M: The mouthfeel was medium textured at first but leaves a velvety and tingly after taste.

Overall: A complex premium stout with a little more carbonation then what I would have preferred but with a bourbon wood aged touch that adds so much to the nose and pallette. I'd love to try this beer on tap or cask!

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.95/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours pitch black with a large, creamy dark tan head.
Nose shows liqourice, alcohol, sweet coffee liqueur, heavy roast, bready malt and coconut.
Decadent flavour. Soft roasted malt, cocoa, sweet malt, coconut and oak with a little bourbon and booze as well.
Nice creamy carbonation and slick body.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks Seblp for the hook up, vintage 2012

The beer pours jet black with a generous inch of dark tan head that laces. The nose is a potent mix of roasted coffee and milk chocolate. The taste slaps you in the face with s'mores (caramelized marshmallow, chocolate, and hint of graham cracker) and brown bananas (?) that are both incredibly distinct and flavorful. The beer leaves a pleasant, slightly lingering burnt/bitter caramel aftertaste. I was not expecting such pungency in the flavor. It's full bodied, rich, milk chocolate forward, well carbonated, and leaves a slight bitterness that lingers. I can barely detect the 9.1%abv. I must say, this is an impressive RIS that's definitely worth trying.

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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 FondueVoodoo
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Black & tan, black brew that practically swallows light and an espresso creme tan head that's creamy like toothpaste. Some lacing and when swirled leaves a thin oily coating up the glass.

S: Big whiff of espresso followed by a chocolate with notes of lactose or milk chocolate, finishing with a big boozy brandy ester. Big whiffs of smoky wood, but smooth smokiness , rich and dark.

T: Darkest chocolate and molasses with cigar box smokiness and dry coco. Similar to a red wine that's been in American oak barrels. The lingering taste of smokiness and dark coco hangs on the tongue long after the last sip.

M: Velvety smooth and enough alcohol esters to warm the palette, just the barest minimum of carbonation. Oily and thick and coats the mouth leaving enough to enjoy well after the last sip.

O: A wonderful late night sipper that's smokiness compliments the chocolate and espresso offering a characteristic unique of a Russian Imperials. The boozy brandy esters suggest an after dinner aperitif, lending to a terrific paring with a late night snack of good chocolate and fresh fruits. Truly enjoyable.

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

St.Ambroise 'Stout Imperiale Russe' @ 9.2% , served from the 2012 edition , a 341 ml bottle purchased for $6 (ouch)

A-pour is dark brown/near black , with a small thin tan head that is quickly dissapating leaving some streaky lace film along the pint glass

S-smell is vanilla and chocolate , hints of coffee/espresso

T-no sweetness , taste some smoke and roasted barley , bit of a dry finish

MF-viscous full bodied , low carbonation , dry and bitter on the palate , with a boozy kick

Ov-good beer , ok/good RIS , one of St.Ambroise best

Sampled alongside Brooklyn 'Black Chocolate Stout' , Howe Sound 'Pothole Filler'

prost LampertLand

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Photo of CookstLiquor
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 341ml bottle. Pours a ridiculously blackened brown with an iodine-like head and lacing. This is a dense, hearty brew. The nose is a delightful blend of baking spcies, citrus and pine. Taste reveals spicy fruitcake, chocolate, molasses and smoke. Incredibly complex. Truly a unique tasting Russian imperial stout.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 1/4" brown head over black liquid.

S: Bourbon, alcohol, oak and smoke,

T: Heavily toasted malt, smoke, bitter hops, barley, coffee. Like a more bitter, dry and smoky version of the oatmeal stout.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, very dry, some alcohol burn and taste, a high level of fine carbonation.

O: Very dry, bitter, and toasted/smoky. If you like your beers that way, this is a must try.

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

This is a very challenging RIS that finishes very dry and has a distinct smoky note combined with the oaky flavours from the barrel aging. There is an intensity to the coffee and chocolate esters that dominate the midbody. Very well made and most suitable for aging this is a pleasure to find in BC>

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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 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 yourefragile
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341 mL screw top bottle in a cute cardboard tube. 2009 vintage.

Pours a thick, opaque, still near black, chocolate color with a thin, quickly fading mocha head. Nose of smoke, espresso, roast malt, ash, oak, mild bourbon sweetness and dark chocolate. Flavor has a mild dry, acrid bitterness thoughout, like an old cup of bad coffee. Not bad, just gives the stout a unique smokey dry finish. The smoke and dry wood provides a strong balance to the sweeter flavors, molasses and dark chocolate, light oat and brown sugar. Chewy, medium thick body with soft carbonation. A respectable, subtle BA RIS that would probably be better enjoyed fresh.

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Photo of 4ster
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a large red wine glass (for lack of any snifter or decent beer glass for this style)
Vintage: Bottled Jan15, 2011

A: Black, black like your heart! No light is passing through this one, is a beautiful motor oil black, can't tell if there is carbonation, and finally, with a very light chocolate milk head that slowly dies off working its way towards the edge of your glass. I think you get the point...

S: Aroma of roasted bitter sweet malt, of dark berries/cherries, some light chocolate and coffee/espresso with a kick of underlying booze/alcohol wafting up.

T: Starts off wonderfully and keeps on going till it's down. First hit is very roasted, dark smooth chocolate (like a 70% dark cocoa chocolate milk). You then move more into the vanilla/bourbon flavours intertwined with now more espresso, roasty coffee tastes, finally finishes with more bitter chocolate/slightly sour espresso with a tinge of alcohol....not much more I can add that the other 90 haven't already echoed....

M: Smooth, very smooth.... flavours and alcohol really well balanced and if it didn't taste so good swirling it around in your mouth, it would good down really easy. Light carbonation and hints of the sense of alcohol to remind you want you're drinking... other reviews of the perfect espresso shot is a great description....

O: Overall a fantastic RIS from a brewery that is just down the street from me :D From the moment you open it the room starts to fill with coffee flavours though it's nice to find it not a over powering coffee stout.... all the flavours are nicely balanced with the alcohol and it is interesting enough to make you savour the entire bottle. The bourbon aging adds a nice character and nearly a year on the bottle hasn't hurt it at all. A perfect one to end the night with as you won't be able to taste anything more after, and you probably won't want to drink more than one at a time... was nicely surprised and would have it again, now to just find a bottle from the 2012 release!

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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 Jeffo
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have had this beer several times, bottles being provided by several people. Cheers to everyone who's helped over the years. We put this one up against Half Pint's $ellout $tout and Driftwood's Singularity in The Great Canadian BA RIS Showdown. Always good times.

From a bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2011

Note: This is a re-review. I reviewd the 2009 a couple years back at 4.75

APPEARANCE: A black pour yields a two finger, tight, thick looking, dark tan head with great retention. Black body with no carbonation evident. Really good retention on this one. Head slowly fades to a good cap and coats the top of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains and leaves some great lacing down the glass. Really good looking beer.

SMELL: Roasted malts, charred, burnt malts, dark chocolate, then some bourbon, oak, and light mint aromas. Minty gum and light vanilla in there as well. Bold enough and very well balanced between the base and barrel.

TASTE: Roasted malts, plenty of charred and burnt malts as well, and some dark chocolate up front. The swallow bring some bourbon, oak, vanilla and mint notes in the milder yet lingering finish. Aftertaste also bring some charred malts and bitter, dark chocolate as balance to the barrels. A touch milder than I remember, but the balance between the base beer and barrels works really well.

PALATE: Medium, slightly fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Quite creamy on the palate, goes down smooth with a bit of a burn at the swallow and finishes slightly sticky. Some heat lingers. Solid, though a touch hotter than I recall.

OVERALL: Really good beer that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don't think this one impressed me as much at the 2009 did way back when, but it is still a top class BA Imperial Stout and I'm happy to have been able to drink a couple bottles this past summer. Cheers to everyone who's made that happen. This one also finishes top spot in The Great Canadian Showdown, though all the beers were really close. Cheers to Canadian brewers pushing the envelope a little.

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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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Photo of Rutager
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks wordemupg for getting this big want to me! 2011

Appearance. Pours thick and black with a finger of thick brown head that doesn't hang out for long.

Smell. Chocolaty roasty malts, a little vanilla, cherry and some dark fruitiness, a bit of coffee and smoky wood and sweet booze.

Taste. Huge roasty dark malts, dark coffee and dark, bitter chocolate. A little vanilla, booze and wood is there. The flavours are all in really nice proportions.

Mouthfeel. Full body, but not over the top and low+ carbonation.

Overall. A really well done barrel aged big ris. Easy drinking and has everything you like in the style. Nothing really stands out to make this especially unique, but that's part of the beauty. Just a really well put together beer.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a thick Black oily colour with a dark tanned head that sits very nicely without reducing all that much.

S - Bourbon, malt, slight smokeyness and brown sugar.

T - Up front some nice vanilla notes followed by some nice smokey meat flavours. The finish is licorice follwed by more vanilla. The bourbon is nicely present in the background.

M - Full body with an oily mouthfeel. The carbonation is low.

O - Outstanding stout and will keep for a few years with cellaring.

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