In January 2009 I was presented with a cylindrical object, a “tube” you might call it, from a Canadian gentleman of my acquaintance. This fine fellow went out of his way to procure for me a bottle of ST-AMBROISE 20TH ANNIVERSARY VINTAGE ALE, 2009, a product of McAUSLAN BREWING from Quebec. I’d had their APRICOT WHEAT ALE (6.5/10) and their OATMEAL STOUT (6/10) – hmm, some very middling scores there – but this one, now this one was going to special. I was asked to “age” it, a concept very foreign to me. “Age” a beer instead of drink it right away with extreme prejudice? Por quoi? Well, I did as I was told, and tucked VINTAGE ALE 2009 into the dark recesses of my garage for a year. When the clock struck 12 and 2010 began, I brushed the dust off the never-completely-forgotten cyclinder, carefully unpacked the twelve-ounce bottle inside, and I commenced to drinking. This was going to be a very, very special evening.
…..Or was it? ST-AMBROISE 20TH ANNIVERSARY VINTAGE ALE 2009 is a reddish-brown strong ale, with somewhat-defined “notes”, you might say, of sugar, rum and dates. That said, these tastes are not defined nor bold enough to be particularly interesting. Malts rule the day here. In fact the word on the street for this one is that it’s actually an “English Barleywine”, which, given my Amero-centric barleywine biases, means that it’s probably a bit “watered down” compared to my imperial assumptions. That turns out to be the case here, though by no means is this a bad beer or even a less-than-good beer. It’s just not complex enough to be worth the grandiose packaging & the whole “aging” hoo-hah. 6.5/10.