McAuslan is another one of those breweries, that if you read here enough, you know I’ve got a bit of a thing for. A big bit of a thing. Their Pale Ale is just amazing, their Oatmeal stout is one of my favourite stouts, their Citrouille is probably my favourite pumpkin beer; the list goes on. Needless to say, I was more than happy to receive a selection of their current line-up, including this, their India Pale Ale, as well as their Scotch Ale and new Russian Imperial Stout. Now, I know that McAuslan makes some very authentic English-style ales, despite being located in Montreal (okay, in a suburb, whatever). Despite the explosive (dare I say “unlikley”) rise of IPAs in the United States, I suspect that this will be a much more British IPA, and I’m well excited.
From a 341ml ISB with what I think is a made-on date on the back label, St Ambroise India Pale Ale pours a hazy orange colour, like nice medium wildflower honey, with about 1″ of fluffy head that drops a bit, but stays fairly thick all the way to the bottom. Aroma is lovely, a little fruity and hoppy, with a nice evergreen scent. I would normally say pine, but at risk of entering wine-tasting territory, I would honestly say it was closer to cedar. Malts are clear and just slightly bready. As Stephen Beaumont noted (I think, though I can’t find where…), already not at all like an amped up version of their iconic Pale Ale. This is a different beer, and it’s exciting. Taste is marvellous, immediately sweet on the palate, hinting at apricots in a way that almost makes you think you got a way over-hopped, higher proof take on their apricot wheat beer. It’s even got some carmelly notes a bit of spice, all of which is nice but nearly immediately whisked away by a thoroughly British hop profile. Dry and again, evergreen-like hinting more towards cedar than pine, but not sticky like an American IPA. There’s a nice astringency to the hops that does a great job keeping the sweetness in check. Speaking of which, some of that initial delicate sweetness reappears towards the back of the palate, and you realize that the beer is actually on the heavy side of medium-bodied. But the clean hop keeps it well balanced. There is a nice boozy warmth on your throat, which a lot of modern IPAs seem to stay away from, despite being north of 6%. But I kind of like it in this example. With that apricot-like fruitiness and a notable yet not aggressive hop, it makes for a nicely complex beer. I suspect that this would be a bit closer in historical accuracy, to the IPAs that got boated around Africa to the monocled and moustachioed officers in Bombay. A really great beer, and a bit more of a sipping beer than I’m used to from McAuslan, who’s main line of beers have played pivotal roles in more than a few good session nights. Awesome beer, though I seem to have lost the info sheet I got with it, so I’m not sure of it’s availability. There is a decent list of deps in Quebec where you can get it; regardless of your geography, if you see it, buy it. It’s quite a lovely beer. Perhaps we should pressure McAuslan to send a cask of it to next year’s Cask Days?
About the Brewery
The brewery launched its first beer in February 1989. St-Ambroise Pale Ale was an immediate success. Its distinctive hoppy-ness and clear reddish hue set it apart and gained it an instant following. Shortly after, McAuslan Brewing became the first micro-brewery to offer its product in bottles.