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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,441 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,441
Hads: 3,000
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 168
Gots: 608 | FT: 23
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.80% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (26) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,441 | Hads: 3,000
Reviews by Guden:
Photo of Guden
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BrewsingBuffalo
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A fantastic Old Ale. It tastes like alcoholic, baked raisin bread. Taste: Raisins are very well pronounced as well as hints of other dark fruit. Alcohol is definitely noticeable, but it's still quite smooth for 11.8%. It also has some molasses and caramel flavors, some of which likely coming from the malts. It has an earthy presence to it, with slight herbal notes. This exceeded my expectations. As the first Old Ale I've tried, and I'm thrilled. Smooth and tasty with a nice punch at 11.8%

PS: Hopefully not a shabby review....my first try!

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Photo of oberon
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 on tap at the Comsumer Beverage in Orchard Park,NY.Great to see this highly anticipated annual offering at the growler station at Consumers,pours a rich deep amber with a thinner but well retained creamy-like off white head.One word to describe the nose would be rich just rich and almost warming dark fruit,caramel,brown sugar,and a real alcohol zip as it warms to the right temp,this beer is big and brash to say the least its fresh and nothin is holding this puppy back.Starting out a little sweet with raisin/prune and brown sugar notes up front with that warming alcohol always prevelant a nice drying earthiness shows up late and I thing really cuts thru the sweetness even now at such a very young age a touch of hoppy leafiness shows up as well.This growler is going to be drank slowly over a few days its warming,rich and ever so smooth but the alcohol keeps me from going overboard on it and I think its a good thing,I'll by a bottle and hold and see how it ages.Masterful.

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Photo of don1481
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 12 oz 2012 edition bottle of this. Let's see how this goes.

A: Pours, like others have said, a hazy brownish-red color. Around a half finger of head. Good amount of bubbles.

S: Definitely boozy, but raisin-y/molasses as well. Intriguing on the nose.

T: Holy wow. I did *not* expect this, even after reading the other reviews. Can't taste the alcohol really at all, which is surprising at this level of ABV. Definitely get the raisin, vanilla notes that others wrote about here. Very complex.

M: Slightly syrupy is an appropriate descriptor here. Definitely thicker than other beers, but not at all a negative. It's... different.

O: Spectacular. I'm going to get a few of these and cellar them and see what happens. I'm very glad that I pull up BA on my phone whenever I'm in the liquor store!

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Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Dark, thick, heavy brown with a beautiful tan head that almost stayed the night and left some cool lacing (I thought high ABV ale wasn’t supposed to lace?).

Smell – Big, strong aroma of dark, heavily-sweetened malt. The sweetness comes mostly from dark sugars. Everything is very strong, dark, and soaked in alcohol.

Taste – Amazingly, this is nowhere near as harsh as I thought it was going to be from the nose. The toasted malt is there, juicy and firm. The sugars are enormous. This is one of the most sugary, syrupy, ales that I’ve ever had. I can pick up some dark fruits, but mostly it’s brown sugar. Lots of alcohol, too, but not harshly so.

Mouthfeel – Chewy, gooey, and sticky. This almost full-bodied ale is a mouthfeel. It’s also a lot smoother than I thought from the sharp aroma.

Drinkability – At 11.5 ABV this one is a real sipper, although I’d be lying if I said it’ll last me the night. This is good stuff and belongs in the tummy. Hmm!

Update – I remember this being a gem when I first had it in 2003 and wanted to try an ’04 batch in ’05 to see if it still blew me away.

Boy, did it ever! This beer smells scary, like it’s going to kill your taste buds and burn your throat all to hell. But, after the first swig, trust ensues. You can still sense the strong ABV, but this ale is extremely smooth and flavorful. One of my all time favorites!

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Photo of Todd
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh my! This is some headache material just waiting to be consumed! Thick ruby colored beer, coffee colored foamy head that relaxes to nothing quickly, but there's plenty of carbonation going on. Steely caramel aroma, very sweet smelling and inviting. Mouthfeel is viscous, chewy and very full to the palate. Massively sweet and complex in the malt department. Loads of caramel, assertive raisin, notes of chocolate and plenty of coffee (two creams and sugar-like). Light bitter edge flows into an immense alcohol spice. And right about at this point you think "Oh my! ..." as the warming alcohol bathes your noodle in its sublime pool of numbness and brings some redness and heat to your cheeks. Finish is sweet and full of fumes from the alcohol.

A bit of expected oxidation in the form of wet paper, but other than that this 2002 vintage is a freagin' rockin' example of an olde school Old Ale!

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Photo of Jason
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz short brown bottle with the vintage date of 2002 and 11.4% abv … no need for a freshness date.

Appearance: Dark hazy amber brown in colour, thin lacing … a bit sticky yet again, thin.

Smell: Steely caramelized malts, juicy ripe fruit … raisins? A malty and alcoholic aroma.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, ripe fruit melds with the alcohol to produce a rum raisin like flavour. He steely caramel malt has a bite and rides with a faded hop character. Sweet caramel and toasted grain run throughout, again … lots of malt. Sweet yet pleasing finish.

Notes: One of the few old ales I have had from an American brewery and an excellent job they did. The maltiness hides some of the 11.4% abv and there seems to be a good bit of balance even after it has aged for a good while.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours with a great deal of effervescence that continually fuels a thick fizzy head. Great barley brown color.

Lots of strong aromas as I can smell it from three feet away. Barley malts, grainy, earthy, caramel, toffee, dates and light prune mix with a tinny alcohol.

The front end reveals dark fruits; prune, date and raisin. Mid palate has the malts and grains. It ends a little sweeter with caramel, molasses, sorghum and apricot.

The feel is a little hot but I served this at about 60F so that should have finished most of the booze.

Great beer, wonderful winter supper.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage
Cloudy dark Amber color. Thin head that dissipates quickly.
Dark fruit smell of raisins little banana flavor.
Taste of caramel brûléed sugar and sweet bread.

Overall a really excellent beer

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 release 12oz bottle with my FW snifter glass
Notes taken on 03/01/2015 – side by side with Bells Third Coast

A: The body is the color of a russet brown with some dark ruby tones. Showing off some bubble action there with a minor amount of clarity to it. A cautious pour produces a nice even layer of dark khaki cream across the top. Moderate holding strength to it with only a few dots of stick noted. More so has the alcohol legs going.

S: Caramelized fig and sugary vanilla bean meets rum soaked breads and spiced plum. I get notes of leather and tobacco signature of that Maillard reaction in an Old Ale. Has a molasses sweetness to it all throughout and a bit of stinging alcohol presence in the nose. Very nice and on point with the style.

T: Flavors comprise of vanilla toffee and caramelized fig, darkened breads, and nutty toasted malt grains. Not unlike a candied nougat here. Getting some tart plum like fruity esters noted. Subtle leather and molasses. Leafy bitterness as well with a dose of grassy alcohol spice. Seemingly hot in a way but not really in a detracting manner. Has an almost vinous note about it like a sherry wine. Really well balanced at near 12% ABV I would. Very tasty indeed.

M: Medium to full bodied. Lightly creamy on the palate with a lower perceived carbonation feel. Some modest hop bitterness there with a good amount of warming alcohol. Nice lighter drying effect to the finish.

D: A well groomed sipper. The perfect companion to your favorite lounge chair and a good read. One of the better takes on the Old Ale and exemplary of the style I would say. Often taken for granted here with its availability.

Very comparable with Bell’s Third Coast and both being solid renditions of the style. I am giving a slight nod to North Coast for a touch more depth and complexity in flavor and better overall balance here.

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Photo of 57md
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 version.

Brownish copper in color. Nose is malty and bready. Rich , sticky and full-bodied. Molasses sweetness is the highlight here. Alcohol esthers are a bit too tuned-up on the finish.

This offering would be an excellent candidate for aging.

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Photo of Bisco42
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 Vintage Otsuchi Commemorative Recovery Release - March 2012

Poured into a snifter at 55 degrees, had been cellared upright for exactly 3 years.

L - Pours a dark amber/brown color with a 1 inch head. Lacing remains down the side, but spotty. Bubbles forming up the snifter.

S - Very malt-y, boozy and earthy. Reminiscent of a proper Old Ale.

T - This is where the complexity begins. Getting a lot of different tastes here. Beginning with Marris Otter malt and finishing with the (seemingly) fresh Fuggles hops. The aftertaste bursts with caramel and booze, still burning after 3 years, could probably sit for another several years to allow things to set and combine. Still delicious though, but in small sips every now and again.

F - Thick, robust, full and carbonated. Nothing too overbowering, but enough to allow my palate to retain the entire flavor of the beer. Perhaps the highlight of this fine brew.

O - An excellent take on the easily obtainable Old Ale. Unfortunately, I think this style is lost, and I love how North Coast is continuing to make this extraordinary. Compared to the 2015 version, this is incredibly different but in a good way. Will probably pick up another bottle and allow it to age for longer. NC really got it right with this one.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Release 2011 (09/21/11)
Brown sugar, maple syrup, chocolate malt, and an underlying cherry-like alcohol/ester combo works to perfection with an alcohol culmination of rum and port wine. Malty throughout with a full and rounded start and an even fade to malty-dry finish of alcohol warmth with a linger of toffee and chocolate.

Release 2010 (02/23/11)
North Coast continues to develop the recipe for much more sultry flavor and cleaner alcohol taste. Brown sugar and cherry-like esters give the impression of port wines and brandies. Bold toffee flavor dominates early with a follow of ripe grapes, cherries, sherry, dates, and raisons. Syrupy textures give a sticky feel, and with a follow of warming, if not hot alcohols. Seemingly a Barleywine, except for a lightened body and drier finish.

Release 2003 - 3.8 (3/26/07)
These vintage ales turn out as beauties after a few years of age. Still strong flavored with malts and very warm with alcohols, but a lot smoother and more appreciable than the 'fresh' releases. This has all the flavors aromas and textures needed in an Old Ale, but must be respected as a brandy.

Release 1005 - 4.2 (4/27/07)
The regular 11% version with over a years worth of cellering. The beer matures wonderfully in about that time's span. Not nearly as alcoholically intense or fusal as it was last year. Sweetness dominates and the hops have fallen out, leaving a well balanced, quite clean, characterful, fruity, syrupy joy to drink. I do beleive that this beer can handle another year of maturing before tiring. Great way to close the evening.

Release 2006 - 4.1 (1/28/06)
Is the sanctity and purity of Old Ales no longer respected. 13%? What's next. The beer is as flavorful and strong as ever. Very syrupy, malty, thick, and alcoholically harsh. More age will definately mellow the brew and meld the flavors, but for now, it's just tough to drink. The hops are too fresh. The alcohols are too hot and abrasive. The malts are too sugary. Still, a wonderful beer, but one that must be babied and approached with caution.

Release 2005 - 4.1 (1/28/06)
Surprised to have never rated an Old Stock. These are one of my favorite 1-off resease beers. This '05 abounds from the bottle and into the glass with big syrupy, brown sugar, molassas barley flavors with as spicy, hoppy, and bready scent. Alcoholic aroma promises strength to accompany the sweetness. Tastes of strong malts that hinge on dates, molassas, walnuts, and dried cherries. Hop bitterness and flavor round out the sweetness and all boldness without getting too harsh. Strong alcohols boarder on hot fusals and sweet thinning. Moderately heavy, thick, and smooth on the palate. Weakens a bit into the finish to become more easily drank. Another winner for North Coast.

Release 2003 - 3.8 (3/26/06)
Found a 4 pack stocked away at a local beer store. As I remembered, this beer had all of the right ingredients, but quite hot and fusal. Hoping that a couple of years would have mellowed it out. Not so. There are big plumb, fig, and prune flavors with an unneccesarily fusal hot character; too much to ignore. Light chocolate and cherry flavors help, but the heat and hops combine for a tough drinking beer. A heartburn just waiting to happen. Otherwise, a solid brew.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.59/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a 2013 & 2015 back-to-back. Nose brings lots of oak, dark fig, raisin, a little honey and cherry. Taste has an easy heft from the barrel, a little peaty and smokey but very smooth. The '13 gave me more of the dark cherry and fig flavor, the '15 had much more of the woody oak, obviously. Both had excellent mouthfeel, very slight carbonation giving in to a silkiness, but not oily or viscous. Preferred the '15 a little more but a fantastic beer either way.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle opened April 2015

A - Murky mahogany brown. Fine dark bone white head pours a quarter finger high but hangs around with nice retention. Low lace.

S - Sweet and surprisingly bright. Butter scotch, lemon, maple syrup, amaretto, and bread crust.

T - Smooth caramel, fruitcake and butterscotch with a toasty amaretto backdrop. The impression is net sweet, but the boozy warmth and bright carbonation bring a really nice balance to the beer.

M - Silky smooth with a medium light frame. Warm finish. Really nice carbonation.

O - A really nice example of the style. The 2013 is drinking really well.

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Photo of Wobbly
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of the rare barley wines/old ales made in the US that can compete with the English classics.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

2012 Old Stock Ale consumed on 4/16/15. Very hazy body. Looks sort of like a barleywine. Big aroma of dark fruits. Lots of raisin and plum flavor. Has the mouthfeel and maltiness of a barleywine. Pretty darn good with a few years on it.

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Photo of guityler83
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Large foamy head poured from the bottle. The fine, off white / khaki colored head had great persistence and left a layer atop the beer that stayed for even longer. Alcohol legs kick up when swirled and slowly glide down the edge of the mini-snifter. The beer is a dark mahogany / rosewood color with excellent clarity.

S: Tons of big malt character. Sweet toffee, raisins, caramel and dates. Melenoidin character comes through prominently along with toasty bread sweetness. Medium earthy / herbal hop aroma and a slight alcohol bite.

T: Moderate bitterness with herbal hop flavors blending into the middle then dropping off in the end. The super complex malt bill is the star of this beer Mellenoidins for days, toasted bread crust, raisins, caramel, dark cherry and other bready bakery flavors. The sweetness is high in the middle and end where the hops drop off and there is a slight hottness to the alcohol. In a weired way it reminds me of a cough syrup beer.

M: Big alcohol warming in the chest warms you right up - good winter beer. Low carbonation with a substantially big body and viscous mouthfeel.

O: A big beer that drinks like one. The great malt character in this beer reminded me of a few barley wines I’ve had. I would be interested in doing a side by side with a fresh vs aged (2yr+) to see how this develops, I have a feeling I’d like the aged more

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Photo of bcsbeer
4.46/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 edition. 12 Oz bottle that I pulled from the cellar
(cardboard box in my closet )

Poured a dirty looking amber, cleared up with time and temperature.
Head was surprisingly active for a 3yr old high gravity ale. Produced a one finger head that slowly reduced to a thin layer, but would respond on command. The inhale was intoxicating, I was getting a light alcohol warmth with candy like notes of cherries, bubblegum and caramel. Almost like a tamed down cough syrup with out the medicine. Flavors were complex and rich, evolving as it warmed up. Picking up sweet boozy malts best described as rum cake. The one problem with this beer is that I could not keep the glass on the table, as soon as the aftertaste receded, I found my arm reaching for another taste. It went by too quick. Everything improved on this towards the end. I would love to have a do over and drink this at room temperature start to finish.

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Photo of IowaBiertrinker
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Just did a vertical of the 2010, 2013, and 2014. 2010 was more fruit and plumb flavor. 2013 was a nice balance of malt, fruit and hop, and 2014 was more brash and hop flavor. A nice ale regardless of the year!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage at 55 degrees into hand washed and dried snifter
Aroma of malt and wood, some alcohol but not overpowering
Head small (2 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, fizzy, rapidly diminishing to 3 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing poor – few small gravitationally elongated circular islands of tiny bubbles
Body dark amber, clear, effervescent
Flavor very subdued, sweet, dates, warming alcohol; no hops, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4.25, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4.5, Overall 4.25

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Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of tectactoe
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of ricke
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2008. Serving date: 2009-01-18. Served in snifter.

Presentation: 355 ml bottle. Freshness date on label (Best before August 2010). The label says "limited release", but i don't know what it's supposed to mean.

Appearance: Dark, ruby-colored with a cappuccino-colored small head that dissipates quickly. No actual lacings - just a minimal ring of foam around the edges.

Smell: Primarily sweet caramel malts coupled with ripe fruits and raisins. Some notes of chocolate, and perhaps faint notes of saffron. Alcohol becomes present with deeper breaths. The smell is really appealing. Nice.

Taste: Again, sweet caramel malts are up-front. Then pleasant fruity flavors - ripe apples and raisins - appear, coupled with chocolate and nougat. Coffee flavors are also present, which creates a sensation of chocolate coated coffee beans together with the taste of chocolate. The finish is slightly bitter, and perhaps even a bit tart. The well hidden alcohol provides a nice warming feeling. The aftertaste of this one is very long. It leaves a nice, sweet and sticky film in the mouth that lingers on way after the beer is finished. This beer tastes amazing; it's heavy and bold with big and rich flavors balanced very nicely. Very complex. If I would mention something on the negative side, I would have to say that it maybe is a little too sweet and therefor becomes a bit too heavy to handle (at least in larger quantities)

Mouthfeel: Smooth and chewy, medium-bodied leaning towards full. Medium carbonation. The alcohol is certainly present, but hides nicely between the rich flavors.

Drinkability: This is a really good beer, with lots or aromas and nicely balanced flavors. Definitely a sipper. It's actually reminiscent of a brandy, with its rich and balanced - almost luxurious - overall character. One bottle is enough for one night, though. However, I would definitely like to have it again.

NOTE 1: Will probably by some bottle to cellar for a few years. Really think that it will be good past its freshness date (which was attached on my sample by the importers of the beer, not the brewery itself).

NOTE 2: ABV-level is 12,5% according to the label.


2009 vintage. ABV: 11,5%

A: Brownish amber with a minimal off-white head that quickly fades away. Minimal lacings.

S: Malty with note of caramel, fudge and vinous fruits (currants, blackberries, plums and raisins).

T: The taste is sweet with a whole range of malty flavors - caramel, fudge and dark bread. Hints of coffee and leather. Quite a lot of vinous fruits. The finish is mildly bitter with a leafy hop note, wood and sweet and warming alcohol.

M: Medium body, semi-smooth texture (could have been smoother). Gentle carbonation.

D: Good, but will probably get better with age. Not as good as the 2008 vintage.

Grades: A 3,5; S 4; T 3,5; 3,5; D 4. Overall: 3,65 (B).

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Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,441 ratings.