St Ambroise Vintage Ale 2010. 10% Alc. 341 ml bottle.
Brasserie McAuslan, Montreal, Quebec
Notes – Please. Please. PLEASE. Serve cool or lightly chilled -- bottle says 13-15 C but you can go a little lower to start out. Use any glass that will help you smell this better. Bottle recommends a brandy snifter, but you can use a wine glass if you had to.
A beer like this is best enjoyed with food. I tried some spicy shrimp and grilled peppers as a bit of an experiment and it wasn’t half bad. But I set that aside quickly knowing that I had a can’t fail backup snack. Sesame seeds, goat cheese, blueberries, blackberries, crackers and jam are the perfect midnight snack. This beer was a holiday release, meant to be given and enjoyed in good times. Rather than keeping it in uncertain conditions I will try mine young and seek out a 2010 that has been stored away to compare one day. That is one great advantage beer bars have. They can cellar vintage beers like nobody’s business. Not to say that you can’t too, but it’s nice knowing there’s places out there doing a good job of it so you don’t have to.
A cracker is a good way to ease through the first sips of this beer, cleaning your mouth out for a fresh go at this beer each time. One word for this beer is ‘classy’. It sets a nice bar for winter-release beers and would be a nice way to get acquainted with the flavours you’d see in stronger barleywines. It is not a punch-in-the-face level of flavours like some barleywines or big/extreme beers can be.
There is a nice almond and dried apricot flavour and a microscopic drop of dates. These are thrust forward by the alcohol, with the sweetness and bitterness following along. Long adding finish. Vanilla, nut, oak as this warms up.
The bits of fruitiness from the wheat and yeast and the lipsmacking quality brought by the Munich malt are perfect together. The relatively youthful hops play a part here too. The deceptive warmth of the alcohol is gentle but also the guiding force for this whole beer. Even in the mouthfeel and finish: The CO2 here is so very downplayed the beer is in no rush to do its work. If the alcohol had been, say, 6.5 % the beer may have felt heavier, more bitter, less in balance. The level alcohol lightens up the body to an extremely sippable consistency. The youth of the beer is on display. It is excited and vibrant but still delicious and in balance.
This beer is Awesome.
Lesson >> Barleywines and high alcohol beers aren’t that way for no reason. The alcohol is the secret story of this beer. It is the ribbon that ties together all of the pieces in play as this beer matures. The fun of trying one of these later is that I now have a reference point for the future beer against these young flavours. Hopefully I can track down a 2010 next year to compare notes.
I tried an older McAuslan vintage on New Year’s Eve 2010 while @GambrinusBistro, but I doubt those notes survived. If I do find and decipher them I will post them up to see how the different years compare. Until then, a picture of both these fine glasses will have to do for comparative purposes :) Cheers.
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|2010 Vintage Ale|