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Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

1,469 Reviews
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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001

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Reviews: 1,469 | Ratings: 3,093
Photo of Slatetank
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this one up at Julio's -2008 vintage -poured from the stubby 12ozer into a snifter

A - A caramel brown colored liquid w/ translucent clarity and quick to settle beige cap w/ ultra fine bead. The lace clings is a haphazard streamer/spotted appearance

S - Vanilla spice and caramel aroma w/ a slight creamy almost custard-like aroma of subtle oxidation

M - The feel is surprisingly crisp w/ relatively full carbonation and a mild warmth of alcohol w/ sweet textures from mid taste into a semi-dry toasted finish

T - A taste of nut and mild caramel malt sweetness w/ a mild pine flavor in the hop dept is followed by a light pepper and subtle note of coffee w/ toffee-like buttery edge and mild brown sugar flavor w/ a light vanilla bean accent and mild molasses quality w/ more pine from the hops and sweet malted caramel notes into the long finish. As it warms it brings more of an alcohol warming and caramel tootsie roll from the malt emerges

D - I really wasn't sure what to expect other than good mentions of this brew - a really solid old ale w/ substantial malt body - what this style is all about. The alcohol is very well hidden for a brew upwards of 11% abv

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Photo of chinchill
4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz 2015 bottle allowed to warm for about 25 minutes then served in a Porter Bar goblet.

Aroma: complex mix of various dark dried fruits, fruitcake, and hints of toffee.

Flavor: similar to the aroma; good complexity and balance. Sweet for style, leaning a bit towards a barleywine.

Feel: full and smooth but with more alcohol heat than optimal. Light but appropriate carbonation.

Overall: excellent.

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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 russpowell
4.51/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2004 version Pours a murky caramel with a tiny/filmy white head. Head retention and lacing minimal

Smell: Bourbon-like oakiness hits you up front, then raisin and leather comes to the fore.

Taste: Big malt presence coupled with toffee/treacle- like sweetness and Bourbon. Warming alcohol burn on the finish

Mouthfeel: Chewy and well balaced. Carbonation is understated but appropriate

Despite it's heft, this goes down too smoothly. This will take the chill out of the winter night

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Photo of mothman
3.32/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Finally getting around to reviewing this one. Doing a side-by-side with an 07-08.

Poured into a pair of snifters.

Both pour a light layer of fizzy beige head. Color is a murky caramel brown with a peach hue to it.

Aroma: Both are similar but the 07 sticks out more and is more flavorful. Caramel, dark fruits, plums, raisins, licorice, toffee, and malts. It has cereal grains as well.

Taste: More cereal grains and malts. Toffee and some caramel. The malts come out more in the 07. The 08 has a little more of the dark fruits, licorice, plums, and molasses showing. There is some red apples here and raisins.

Mouthfeel: Warm, smooth, and dry. Medium bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends dry with grains.

Overall, I enjoyed the -bal aged version way more. This is a rather boring old ale. It is decent, but fairly average. Drinking 24 oz of this might be a challenge..

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Photo of orangesol
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on nitro-tap into a Bell's tulip at Al's of Hampden.

A - Pours nut brown with a very spotty tan head leaving no lacing down the glass.

S - Tons of rich caramel malt up front with a touch of booze. Some dark fruits like raisins and figs mix well with a bit of spice and strong brandy flavor from the booze. A very complex nose.

T - Lots of caramel sweetness up front from the malt giving way quickly to lots of dark fruit flavors similar to the nose, toffee, and vanilla. Finish is strong booze that lingers on the pallet for some time. I liked this one a lot but I don't think I could drink more than one at a time. It is a very heavy beer.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. A good amount of booze burn lingers for some time. I think the nitro hurt this one a bit.

D - Not too bad. I like this one out of the bottle better. I think if it was on co2 it would have been a bit better. Still one of my favorites for the style.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear garnet red in color. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that reduces to a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate lacing is observed.

S: There are lots of aromas in this beer with a nice complexity. I get notes of vanilla, caramel malts, and some dark fruit (fig). Overall a fairly sweet smelling beer with some light hint of alcohol.

T: The taste follows the smell with an almost cloying sweetness to this beer. There is a definite presence of caramel malts along with some brown sugar and molasses. After that the dark fruit is very noticeable with fig being most dominant of the dark fruits. There is a light hint of vanilla and some wood. Light lingering presence of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Some alcohol heat is present. Smooth.

O: Overall, there is just a little too much alcohol presence in this beer (in the taste, smell, and mouthfeel) for it to be easy to drink. While it is not the easiest to drink, it is not unenjoyable. This is definitely a sipping beer.

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Photo of smcolw
4.02/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Decent head and pleasant lace. Pours a dirty (read cloudy) light brown.

Rich warm malty smell: lots of alcohol; caramel candy aroma.

Stronger hop bite than expected. The rich aroma comes through in the sweet, malty flavor. Full bodied as would be expected; relatively low carbonation.

This is a deceptively easy-to-drink barley wine. At 13.25% ABV, this is like having three beers in one. This is an excellent beer if your having only one.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2002 Old Stock Ale, yeah baby. Appearance: Deep ruby mahogany with a nice sized cream head leaves a nice pattern of scattered lacing. Aroma: Rich alcoholic brandy tone with rich overly ripened fruit soaked in alcohol, very compex and strong smelling. Taste: Malts slightly burnt orangepeel tone with a plums simmered in brown sugar tone a finishing bitter note but the hops don't play a vital role here this is one malty alcoholic tasting beer. Mouthfeel: Full bodied chewy texture medium carbonation big beer weighs in at 11.4, wow. Drinkability: It's a winter warmer chill and enjoy with a beer over the course of at least 45 minutes let this one warm up a bit, you won't be sorry.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Pours a fully fogged in very slightly orange touched brown. Nose is caramel, chalky, and dark fruits. Flavor is extremely smooth and brings just enough complexities. I get an alcohol burn, but it's more of a warming thing. Chalky almost strawberry flavorthing is there. Bourbon tones. Sweet tones abide, but it's not overdone. Carbonation still nips at the tongue quite a bit. Liquid is slick and smooth. Well this is quite good. A firm example of why you should buy some beers and never touch them for years.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a deep brown color with 2 inches of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells very very sweet. Smells of sugar, molasses, dark fruits, and caramel malts.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, sugar, and fruity malts. Also a decent amount of alcohol in the taste.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Little bit of heat.

d - A decent dark ale, but I thought it smelled and tasted too sweet, and I thought the alcohol was too prevelant in the taste. Might give another shot.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A: Poured a hazy ruby red/amber color. A small head forms upon pouring and dissipates to a smattering of bubbles. Decent lacing.

S: A little bit of alcohol, but overall it is rather sweet smelling. A little bit of fruit and an earthiness.

T: Again a little bit of alcohol, but a lot less than I thought there would be since this bottle is rather fresh. Overly malty, no hops to speak of at all. Some caramel, plums, and brown sugar.

M: Medium to full bodied, and a bit high on the carbonation for the style.

O: Pretty good, even with the hints of alcohol (which weren't entirely unexpected at 11.7%). Good flavor, but the high carbonation was a bit strange.

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Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle. It poured a darker, murky, caramel brown color with a thin white head sticking to the edges of the glass.

The aroma has a brown sugar, caramel and toffee presence in it. I also get some sweeter, dark fruit, fig and cherry flavors as well as some boozy alcohol notes. Very appealing and inviting aroma on this cold evening.

The taste has more of the caramel, toffee and malty notes to it at first. In the finish I get some yeast spices mixing with some of the fig and cherry dark fruit notes. A nice balancing bitterness is there in the finish as well, which really helps keep all those sweet, malty flavors in check. Decent amount of alcohol present, but fitting for the style and size of the beer.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being low. Overall it was a very nice beer. It had some big and flavorful malty flavors but managed to balance them out very well. Great beer to sip on this evening.

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Photo of jwc215
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2007 edition:

Pours hazed dark brown with an off-white head that thins and stays around. Good head retention for style and abv level.

The smell is rum-like - boozy with prunes and raisins. Some woody earthiness comes through.

The taste is of caramel and booze. Some muted prune-like fruitiness is there as well as woody/earthy notes. Sweet alcohol dominates.

The feel is almost syrupy. Raw and a bit sticky.

Interesting - very hot (which was expected). A slow-sipper to be sure. Maybe this would be better after having mellowed with age, though not bad as it is.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by jayhawk73. Thanks Jeff!

The beer is dark ruby hued, with a thin, wispy tan head that leaves faint lacing on the snifter. The aroma brings malt, toffee, alcohol. The flavor is sweet, with notes of toffee, caramel candies, malt. The feel is medium bodied on the palate. The sweetness is present throughout, but not cloying. The beer actually reminds me of Samichlaus. Good stuff. This will certainly age well. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage.
Appearance: a brilliantly ruby reddish hue, with a darkish head that dies down immediately.
Aroma: dazzling! full of dark fruits (cherries, berries, grapes), and wine, port, cognac... a very evident alcoholic component!
Big hops, big malt, big booze: that's the basic lineup, but when it all tastes so good, who could want anything else
A sweet, syrupy characteristic shines through the mouthfeel...the fruit and the booze (brandyish) totally dominates the overall texture.
One thoroughly decadent ale, and a truly stand-out examples of a barleywine.
thanks to weefishheads.

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Photo of stakem
4.54/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at TJ's, I really should have inquired about the vintage of this as it will haunt me until I have it again and/or find out.

Pours a cloudy amber orange color with an off white creamy head. Nose is full of caramel notes, maltiness and suggestions of oak and vanilla. Mostly sweet aroma is strikingly similar to cotton candy and floral hops. Taste is malty sweet with vanilla, caramel and a little bit of hops in the finish blend with the warmth of the alcohol and some faint astringency. Medium feel and mild amount of carbonation. This is one extremely smooth and drinkable ale. Absoslutely an unexpected awesome surprise.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. 2010 bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Reddish brown body with a minimal head, which is gone in a flash. The body is pretty clear and it hardly sticks to the glass with a swirl.

Smell - Booze! It's a lot of booze. Behind that is a lot of dark fruits and some caramel malt. Smells good, but very boozy.

Taste - Pretty well follows the taste. Booze and dark fruits with a slight caramel sweetness. It finishes with a slight earthiness that I expect from an old ale.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation and high alcohol, but it isn't a problem. It's also quite dry, which is surprising. The flavors don't linger a whole lot, which might be nice. Makes it feel somewhat light for an 11.7% ABV beer.

Overall - Just my style. I love giant, boozy old ales. I have a bunch of these in the cellar and I like to crack one open when I feel like zonking out on the couch. A little harsh on the booze, but its within the style.

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Photo of tdm168
3.31/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber color with a thin layer of bubbly, soft, loose, off white head that has little retention. The nose has an odd medicinal, cherry aroma. The flavor is malty and caramelly up front followed by some cherry notes and finishes warm with some alcohol coming through. The flavor is a little medicinal as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth, and well carbonated.

This is an unusual beer. The medicinal characteristics detract from what appears to be a great underlying beer. Overall, I'm disappointed.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.72/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle poured into a Chimay chalice. Beer is brown with a lot of haze and a thin brown head of small bubbles that breaks super quickly and pulls back to a halo. Carbonation appears low.

Aroma is super sweet and molasses. Lots of malt sugar.

Beer is way thinner than I expected, the lead off is almost entirely alcohol, the midpalate is mild sweetness with some roasted candies like caramel or darker molasses. The finish is a little dry.

I reviewed this tonight because it was the new vintage, I realized I had never reviewed it before but I'm currently setting up quite a vertical that I will replace this review with in the future. This beer is pretty hot young.

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

Bottle vintage 2011 poured into a shaker pint at Quarry House tavern Silver Spring MD.

A two finger head is produced, with a very creamy looking light caramel brown head uniform throughout. Dig that head color. A gorgeous clear red copper body is present with rust like hues. Fantastic staying power on the head, while drinking the body disappears into cherry red on the end. There is no visible lacing or stickyness.

Very malty on the nose, but also something very unexpected. Sweet and earthy, dirt, almost manure even. I am shocked.

Giant malt borderline feeling like a wee heavy Scotch Ale. Sweet and big bodied but not syrupy either. Chocolate sense slightly in the mid palate and the finish with giant malt feeling gives a sense of Ovaltine chocolate bar. More sips and drink bring more thickness it seems and the feel gets a little more syrupy.

Overall pretty darn tasty and one unique smelling brew.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark copper with ruby highlights, and has a big fluffy mostly white head that impales itself to the glass on the way down. The Aroma is wonderful, caramel, raisins, dried fruits, slight bit of citrus hops, but mostly sweet smelling malt. Taste hits with the sweet malt and caramel up front, some hop twang in the middle, giving way to an alcohol burn at the end. Mouthfeel is sweet and sticky, ample carbonation. Great sipping beer. Tastes a little sweet, but that just made me drink it quicker.

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Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz botle, 2003 vintage. Pours a dark ruby, mohogany color. Minimal head, leaves lace and settles down to a tiny bubble sheen. Alcohol, flowers and vanilla in the nose. Rich malt notes, alcohol present. Creamy smooth, notes of butter, honey, vanilla, brandy, and caramel and then piney, citrusy hops. Lovely balance and complexity. Clearly a finely crafted product, seek out, and enjoy. Would be great with some stinky cheese, nuts and apples.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/25/09- Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA.

Vinatge 2008, 12.5% abv.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, 12.5% abv. Poured into my Old Stock glass.

Appearance- Nice congac hued color (light caramel color with an orange tint). About a 1/4 inch head upon pour. Leaves some light spotty lace and a few short lived streaks. Perfectly fine for a high abv brew.

Smell- Roasted sweet caramel. A good amount of alcohol. Pretty deep malt, some burnt sugar. Maybe a dried date scent. A bit more outgoing this would be phenomonal.

Taste- First thing that comes to mind is a bit watery, After that the caramel malts come in, then the light alcohol burn. Malt is heavily roasted with a decent and suprising hoppy bitterness. Some dark fruit flavors, but a bit more alcohol flavor than needed.

Mouthfeel- Too carbonated for an old ale. Also a bit watery as stated above. Where is this hoppy aftertaste coming from? Old Stock and hops?

Drinkability- Still a good job and flavorful. I've had many Old Stocks through the years and am finally going to do a vertical from 2003 to present and rate them. I have had many bottles better than this one, and this one is fairly good. Will update as I do the years and will be complete by Sunday I am hoping. Looking for an average of 4.3 or so if the bottles held up.


Vintage 2007, 11.7%

Appearance- Better head retention, fairly thick rim remains for the entire consumption of beer. Lacing is also a bit more. Possibly a bit darker in color.

Smell- Relatively similar. Has a slight odd chlorine scent to it. Otherwise very aeromatic. Lots of dark malts and some dark fruits. Alcohol is here as well.

Taste- Very malty, lots of caramel. Alcohol is a bit more hidden. Fairly bready and more of an intesne flavor than the '08. Hops are much less detectable than the '08.

Mouthfeel- Much more smoother, though still a bit more carbonation than desired. Slightly creamy and a bit thicker than the '08. Has a slightly odd aftertaste when waiting a minute bewteen sips.

Drinkability- Already much better than the '08. As long as the rest of them taste this good, I'll be happy. A bit smoother would make for a top notch old ale though.


Vintage 2006, 13.25% version.

Appearance- Leaning towards the '08 version. Larger bubbled quick receeding head, lighter lace markings and a nice brandy-cognac looking color.

Smell- Quite different in the nose. Still has the dark fruits with much more alcohol and a medicinal-plastic nose...phenols? Stong nose, but not as nice of a scent as the other years.

Taste- Fuller flavor for sure. Lots of super roasted caramel. Much more alcohol burn in the flavor. Hops are back, but not as much as in the '08. Probably more raisin flavor among the dark fruits detected.

Mouthfeel- Higher carbonation is back. Alcohol literally leaves a light tongue burn. Alcohol is detectable in the aftertaste as well. As is a nice hoppy bitterness.

Drinkability- I wish I had purchased the second running version with a lower abv level to compare. Stronger, a bit more flavor, but a bit weird in the nose and brisk in the mouthfeel. So far '07 is the winner. I do like it a bit better than the '08 though.


Vintage 2005, 11.4% abv

Appearance- No major differences. The color seems a bit more hued towards a ruby red rather than a brown caramel tint. Nice light ring of haed throughout the beer. Some light lace sheeting.

Smell- Pretty much roasted caramel and some alcohol soaked furits. Odd that when the beer was first opened it bursted with aroma. I could smell it from several feet away. After about 5 minutes I really had to sink my nose into the glass to get a scent. Some definite leather notes as well. Would probably pair very well with some pipe tobacco.

Taste- The most flavorful per abv level one so far. Nothing flavor really takes over one another. Some nice deep roasted caramel, a touch of hoppy goodness, some dried fig, date and grape notes. A bit of an earthy leathery flavor.

Mouthfeel- The smoothest of them all so far. Flavor lasts a bit after the swallow. Caramel burnt malt aftertaste with the slightest of alcohol burn and slight hop bite. Carbonation is near perfect level. Just a touch too high.

Drinkability- Probably tied with the '07 for my favorite. You can tell it has aged nicely and probably will continue to do so. Going to raise the mouthfeel and drinkability a notch. I will need an outstanding one in the next two to raise the taste a notch.


Vintage 2004, 11.4% abv.

Only can type limited words due to length. Basically it's all alcohol in this year. Hops held up good, but still my least liked tied with the '08.

Vintage 2003, 11.4% abv.

Appears this one is just as good as the '05 and '07. Very nice roasted caramel taste and lower on the abv spectrum. Pretty smooth as well. Call it a three way tie.

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Photo of WesWes
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a very warm/alcohol scent that is rich in malts. It has a complex array of smells. It's sweet and warm, but also with a dry feel. The taste is great. It has an intensely rich, malty flavor that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with some roasted barley. It has a mildly bitter hop flavor that goes down slow and smooth and finishes warm. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great beer. It has nice complexity and an overall good taste; a good drinker.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,469 ratings.