Tuesday, August 21, 2012

St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout



4.2
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (712) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 19, 2012
I received an 11.5oz bottle in a trade with a beer blogger in Quebec (thanks, Marc-Oliver!). I paid the equivalent of $33 for this bottle. I poured it into a tulip glass.

Appearance: One of the darkest beers I’ve ever seen. Absolutely midnight black body and a huge, dark brown frothy head which laces and retains wonderfully.

Smell: Sweet red grape, black licorice, roasted malt and a hint of alcohol.

Taste: It begins with a remarkably sweet red grape taste, which a unique flavor since some beers of the style tend to have a sour grape component to their palate. Black licorice and a general confectionery sweetness come rushing in through the middle and the palate ends with a strong, dry bitter note. It’s actually one of the most bitter beers of the style I can recall, which certainly makes it unique. There’s a subtle alcohol warmth and accompanying dry flavor in the aftertaste, too. The roasted malt has a very unique dark chocolate and almost peanut butter taste to it.

I’ve had many rare, exclusive, hyped Russian Imperial Stouts and there’s definitely a difference between them. St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout is a very tasty beer for sure, but nothing I’d consider a Hall of Fame brew (or a contender for such). Although I’d be hard pressed to point a flaw in the palate other than it not having an obvious bourbon barrel character to it.

Drinkability: For a pretty hefty beer, St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout is a cinch to drink. In fact it might almost be too drinkable because the mouthfeel is so soft and comfortable, the finish is so smooth, the texture is so soft and the aftertaste is so pleasant. Sure there’s a touch of alcohol warmth and dryness, but it’s very easily overlooked. It seemed to sit heavier on my system than most 9.2% ABV would, though. Still, it made for a perfect dessert brew and if this were readily available and reasonably priced I’d buy it all the time.

Grade: 9/10

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