Monthly Archives: August 2011

Review of St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale Millesimee 2009

Today I have another Barleywine to review.  This one comes to us from the McAuslan Brewery located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and it’s called the St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale Millesimee 2009.

It’s always exciting to experience a beer from a brewery I’ve never tried before, so here’s to good findings.

First, the description from the website,

Made with a blend of wheat and barley malts, including Munich malt, this unfiltered ale has a lovely deep-orange colour, rich maltiness, hints of caramelized fruit that recall plum pudding, and a surprisingly crisp, balanced finish provided by classic Goldings hops.

Serve St-Ambroise Vintage between 13 degrees and 15 degrees Celsius, preferably in a port glass or brandy snifter.  Also, this vintage ale will improve with age for a number of years.  Store in a cool, dark place….

Well, my snifter wasn’t clean, so I’m using my tulip glass.

This beer came in an 11.5 oz. bottle and had an ABV of 9.8%.  (Sweet container with it also!!!)

The appearance was a dark amber to burgundy color with an off white head.  It poured to an enormous size with a relatively easy pour right down the middle.  It was soapy, smooth and soft.  Very nice retention time and the lacing was slightly above average.  It became more clear as it warmed.  Not bad to start.

The aroma revealed a very nice caramel fragrance.  Like those caramel “square” candies.  It also relinquished hints of sugar, toffee, dark fruits of raisins and plums along with minor hints of vanilla.  Like many others of this style, I started to detect background notes molasses, biscuits and an ever present alcohol tone.  The overall aroma is strong and robust, however it’s not nearly as prevalent as some other Barleywines I’ve had in the past.  It does seem to be balanced well though.

In the taste I found decent dark fruit flavors of raisins, plums and figs.  A very small amount of bitterness tickled the sides of the tongue.  A definitive boozy overtone was not to be denied.  More of the sweet caramel and toffee sugars with a vanilla bean subtlety.  It sort of reminded me of a very thin maple syrup.  A relish of toasted biscuits and bread finished off the profile.  Like the aroma, it seemed to be balanced fairly well.

The mouthfeel was medium, dry and smooth.  It wasn’t as sticky or thick as some other Barleywines I didn’t think.  It left plenty of flavor behind though.  A good burn on the initial swallow, which fades to a welcomed warmth.  It’s not too intense, but it’s worthy.  The carbonation may be lacking just a little, however it still has an above average mouthfeel.

Overall, I thought this was a good, solid Barleywine.  It represents the style very well.  Again, not the best Barleywine on the market, but still a worthy and worthwhile drink.  Like most, I could enjoy this as a late evening sipper with no problem.  Seems like a brew for the Fall season, of which is fast approaching.  If you see a bottle and favor the style, pick it up, give it a go and let me know what you thought of it.

Do you guys favor Barleywines?

Thanks to everyone out there.  I appreciate the support.


Score:  3.95 out of 5
Grade:  B+

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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Country: Canada, McAuslan


Review of Ichtegem’s Grand Cru Flemish Red Ale

Today’s craft beer review comes to us from Brouwerij Strubbe located in Ichtegem, Belgium.  It’s the Ichtegem’s Grand Cru Flemish Red Ale (matured in oak barrels).

I can’t say that I know much about this beer or this brewery and the website,, had no description, so we are going to have to find out about this one on our own by tasting it.

I do know that it is categorized as a Sour/Wild Ale, so let’s get it poured.  

This brew came in an 11.2 oz. bottle and had an ABV of 6.5%.

The beer poured a burgundy to deep ruby red color with some orange highlights around the edges.  A very thick, frothy, fluffy, soft, creamy textured, light tan head was formed from an easy pour.  It had very nice size and retention, however the lacing was just “ok.”  The head eventually settled to a smooth film on top that lasted the duration of the drink. 

The aroma brought forth a distinct sourness combined with a little bit of “funk.”  A slight cherry note caught my attention as well as some nice “woody” and “oaky” undertones.  A light yeasty fragrance was noticed along with some astringent vinegar redolence.

In the taste, the sweet cherries were noticed first followed by a moderate sourness.  It became a touch tart the longer I let the beer wander my palate.  Deeper in the profile I detected some sugared yeast, some sour grapes and a tickle of bitterness.  The “woody” and “oaky” flavors were modest, but completely complimented the taste.  As the brew warmed it started to develop similarities comparable to a red wine.

The mouthfeel was a very solid medium.  It’s dry, a little sharp, but with good carbonation.  Leaves a ton of flavor behind on the palate.

I can’t say that I’ve had much experience with this style of brew in the past.  With that being said, I still enjoyed it and enjoyed myself.  I’m not so sure that I would want this on a regular basis, but it was a nice change of pace for me.  I’ll try to find some other brews similar to this in the future and see if I can learn to detect the different subtleties.  This beer is worth a try in my opinion and I would be interested to hear from others who have already tried it to hear their take.

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  It’s most appreciated.


Score:  3.7 out of 5
Grade:  B 

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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Country: Belgium, Strubbe


Review of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

For today’s review I have a very unique beer to share with you.  It’s called the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (Smokebeer) Marzen from the Brauerie Heller-Trum/Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany.
I have never had this brew and I’ve read mixed reviews, so I’m a little skeptical in trying it.  Some love it and some absolutely hate it.
The website,, has a very extensive write-up concerning this Rauchbier, so I’m just going to post a small excerpt.
Smokebeer from Schlenkerla is a dark, aromatic, bottom fermented beer with 13.5 percent original extract, which is equivalent to an alcohol content of 5.1 percent.  No doubt:  there are stronger beers, but nevertheless, one should not underestimate Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier…. it can make you “schlenker” quite a bit.  
Well, here we go.
This beer came in a 16.9 oz. bottle and has an ABV of 5.1%.
It poured a very deep burgundy color that teeters on brown.  It’s pretty clear in that I can see through it when held directly toward a light source.  It has some ruby highlights through the middle with some burnt orange highlights at the bottom.  The crown was very large, creamy, mostly smooth and light tan in color.  It had wonderful retention, but the lacing was hit and miss.  Rather patchy all along the sides.
As I stuck my nose in I was greeted with a very pungent, but wonderful aroma of smokiness.  It smells like salty, smoked country ham and fried bacon fat.  I love that smell!!!  It completely dominated the nose so much that I had a hard time distinguishing anything else.  I could kind of detect a hint of “earthiness” underlying the malt.  Very nice aroma here.
The taste definitely bring out the smoke, but it doesn’t seem as strong as the aroma.  Don’t get me wrong it’s still very potent, but easily bearable.  I found that it had a “woody” taste mixed in with the salty ham flavorings.  Some minute hints of bread.  It had little-to-no bitterness or sweetness.  Again, I like what I’m experiencing here.  
The mouthfeel was medium, however it leans ever so slightly to the light/thin side without ever being light or thin.  Does that even make sense???  It’s super smooth, very creamy, somewhat chewy and very dry.  Not much flavor was left on the palate after the swallow.  I was expecting quite a bit more to tell the truth. 
Overall, this was one smokey son-of-a-gun!!!!  I have to say that I liked it.  I could easily see how some would not find this too agreeable however.  With that being said, I, myself, would probably only want 1 or 2 during a sitting.  I don’t think I could make this my primary beer for the evening.  It may become a bit distracting after a while.  It’s still a very good brew and it’s a welcome change for me.  A very unique beer that is not stumbled upon everyday.  It reminds me of being around a campfire while roasting a hog or something.  Good times!!!  
Have any of you guys ever tried the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen?  Did you find it enjoyable or maybe not so much?  I would love to hear about your experience with it.  
Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  Have a great and safe weekend.
Score:  4.0 out of 5
Grade:  B+  

Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Country: Germany, Schlenkerla

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