St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – Beer Review

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Okay – I know, yet another alcohol-related review. I want to be sorry, but I’m not because but at least I’m providing new content. Also, another plug for my novel: Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. It’s a good summer read and summer is very nearly over!

Before saying anything else, I need to apologize for the picture. I didn’t have the appropriate glass, all of my proper pint glasses were in the dishwasher, and I totally over-poured and had to clean it all up before I could snap the picture. The beer I chose today comes from my wife. She loves the sorts of heavy beers that could have a fist-fight with a stiff bowl of oatmeal and win with one hand tied behind it’s back. She cracked this one open and couldn’t finish it because it’s too bloody hot here for this kind of beer just now.

What we have here is the St-Ambroise Oatmeal stout from Mcaulslan Brewing in Montreal, Quebec. The can advertises 45IBUs and 5%ABV with cascade, Willamette, and Kent Goldings hops. As a home-brewer, these are my favorite go-to hop choices with the exception that I typically add Chinook for aroma. Naturally, this beer had me excited, even though it wasn’t for me.

Before getting into my review, I want to come clean. When I was first learning how to enjoy beer, I got my hands on some French-Canadian beers, and I absolutely hated them, they were heavy and sweet and had unusual flavors. Now I’ve gotten older, lazier, fatter, and generally more exposed to lots of beers, I really like the occasional Quebec beer. I find them to be a lot like Belgians in the sense that they’re bigger than life and having more than one every now and then is just too much.

I’m going to take this one from the angle of a home-brewer. This beer is like sucking on a mouthful of chocolate malt and roasted barley. It’s also surprisingly bitter, not IPA bitter, but not sickly sweet like an imperial stout. The roasted barley adds an interesting bitter note. The nose on this thing is all sweetness and malt –coffee, chocolate, and molasses. You don’t even get a hint of hops until you drink it. The flavor is the same with mild and well-balanced hops. As the name suggests, it’s a heavy beer with a huge foamy head. This beer reminds me of a Guiness, but about 3x as heavy with a lot more punch in the flavor department. Unlike a lot of dark beers, this one is less sweet. Normally, after drinking a beer like this, I’m pretty much over it –I just get overwhelmed by the sweetness. This one, however, I’m finding that getting to the bottom of the glass doesn’t make me feel as though I’ve just had six candy bars.

On the whole, this is an excellent beer. It’s not really the sort of thing you’re going to want to stock in your fridge, and it’s absolutely not a great summer drink, but this is one you should have in your fridge come winter holidays.

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