Wednesday, December 3, 2014

St. Ambroise Oak Aged Pale Ale

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1231) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 3, 2014
St. Ambroise Oak Aged Pale Ale is another one of those beers that no one can decide what category it belongs to. It could be a pale ale, an amber ale, an old ale or an English strong ale. It is probably best described as a wood-aged strong English pale/amber ale as it has qualities of all these styles. I really enjoy the sweetness and the fact the woody character enhances the base brew rather than upstages it. I don’t encounter brews like this too often.

I poured an 11.5oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had an expiration date of 7/31/15. This was given to me by friends who brought it back from a trip to Canada (thanks, Alex & Marissa!).

Appearance: Deep shade of amber, not quite opaque but definitely not clear. Pours to a large, off-white, foamy head which retains and laces extremely well.

Smell: Sweet, British-style pale ale maltiness full of bread, brown sugar and light caramel/toffee notes.

Taste: Immediate sweetness of confectionery flavors as soon as the beer hits the tongue. Caramel, toffee, caramelized sugar (Turbinado sugar, especially) and what might be Ringwood yeast esters all envelope the palate right away. There’s a distinct, slightly sharp bitterness through the middle, but it’s reserved. Strong enough to balance the maltiness, but in no way would I describe this as a particularly hoppy brew. I don’t get much in the way of traditional wood or barrel character other than a slight vanilla note. I think it works well this way since stouts and porters tend to do better with oak-aging rather than pale and amber ales. There is perhaps a bit of a tang right on the finish that might be caused by the oak. Overall, it’s a tasty, slight complex, but well-made brew.

Drinkability: Sometimes, beers like St. Ambroise Oak Aged Pale Ale can be a challenge to drink. Though sweet, it is not cloying or sticky in any way. The mouthfeel is not quite full-bodied and sticky; there’s distinct crispness here. A slightly dry aftertaste, but it’s fine. Quite efficient for only 6% ABV – it’s quite tempting to put back a few of these in a row. 
Grade: 8/10

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