St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
by Darcy O'Neil on November 2010
In the world of beer there is a huge selection of beers that can meet most drinkers taste. You have the light beers like Bud Lite and Coors Light, which are fairly tasteless “training” beers. Then you move into the beers that have slightly more flavour like ales (Labatt 50 & Molson Export) and modern pale ales (Kieths). Next are your darker beers like porters. Then you hit the big time with stout. It’s jet black and bitter with a smooth mouth feel and thick creamy head. Well, most people associate stout with Guinness, but there are many more stout styled beers on the market. One of my preferred stouts is McAuslan St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout from Montreal.
On those days when I don’t feel like shaking up a cocktail I opt for beer instead of wine. Wine I find best with food and beer best on its own. Beer is handy for those days when I don’t feel like thinking, just pop the top and drink. Like the world of beer, I drink just about anything, except for the “training” beers which I graduated from about the same time I graduated from college. The days of college introduced me to beer, but a good paying job introduced me to good beer.
One nice thing about college was that there was a forced introduction to stout. When my friends and I purchased beer, we generally drank Blue of Blue Light. They were pretty common, unoffensive beers for a group of young students. But the problem was that if you bought a two-four, the group of five guys could devour it in relatively short order. A costly issue for a student. So, being in science, I tried an experiment. I bought Guinness. The result was that I’d be the only one drinking the stuff and someone else’s beer supplies got raided. But, Guinness isn’t something that you drink a lot of, especially before you go out to the bar, so it was a short lived experiment, but one that got my taste buds interested in better, more flavourful beers.
The St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is jet black in colour, I would say that it’s darker than Guinness. The head is a light brownish colour (mocha) and has a nice stable head, but nowhere near as stable as Guinness. The head stability on Guinness is rumoured to be encouraged by the addition of additives (possibly calves foot jelly). The aroma is reminiscent of hops, chocolate and heavily roasted malt. The chocolate aroma is closer to milk chocolate than dark chocolate. When you taste the beer, the first thing you notice is the silky smoothness, followed by some subtle carbonation, which makes it lighter in body than a traditional stout, like Guinness. It’s not as smooth as a Caffrey’s Irish Ale, but it is still smooth. The taste is easy with a good background of malt, coffee, bitterness and subtle sweetness. I don’t find it as bitter as Guinness and it is slightly sweeter. The finish is long with the malt and bitterness replaying, but not in a bad way.
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is a great beer, especially if you find Guinness to be a bit too pedestrian. Variety is good and I just wish more places carried unique, flavourful beers.
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout Description
At the World Beer Championship in 1994, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout received the second highest rating of the over 200 beers in the competition and won one of only nine platinum medals awarded. Brewed from 40 percent dark malts and roasted barley, this intensely black ale carries strong hints of espresso and chocolate. Oatmeal contributes body and a long-lasting mocha-coloured head to this well-hopped beer.