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Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

1,470 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: 1,470 | Ratings: 3,096
Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Edition

Poured into a tulip a very nice hazy brown/reddish color, very nice carbonation, and a very nice fizzy light tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight hop, and some spice. The taste is sweet, malty, slight hop, nice warming effect. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well, but it's there. Drinkable, still a very nice/tasty brew.

2007 Edition

Poured into a tulip a very nice hazy brown/reddish color, very nice carbonation, and a very nice fizzy light tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight hop, and some spice. The taste is sweet, malty, slight hop, nice warming effect. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well, but it's there. Drinkable, still a very nice/tasty brew.

2005 Edition

Not sure of the date of this vintage, Pours a nice dark brown/red color, some carbonation, small head, some lacing. Scents of malt, alcohol, spices, and caramel. Nice taste, sweet with a hint of alcohol. Medium body. Very drinkable at 11.4% ABV, this is one of the strongest barley's I've have, the alcohol is hidden very well for the style. Would highly recommend.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A buddy gave me a couple bottles of the 2004

Pours a dark ruby red. Very pretty purple highlights. Nice foamy tan head that disapears very fast. Nice little carination bubbles scattered in the brew.

Very strong malt aroma I can smell it far away, a little fruity. I can smell the sweetness and the alcohol in this brew. What am I getting myself into?

Very sweet, huge amounts of malts in this brew. Nice little raisin fruitiness. The bitter spiciness comes from the 11.4 ABV. I can feel it in my nose like bourbon as I sip. Nice warming factor. After taste like as if I was drinking fruit juice.

Very drinkable despit ABV. But I wouldn't try taking on more than one at a time.


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Photo of RedDiamond
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002. With just the slightest, and I do mean the slightest crack of this bottle – the bottle cap itself not even fully removed – the aroma of this strong ale rushes forth to greet the drinker with a profound resilience. Before most beers would even knock on your door, the aroma of Old Stock is already stretched out on your sofa and reaching for the remote. This potent and complex fragrance, so relaxed and eager to please, provides an elegant introduction to a great beer.

Plush tawny gold with a deep sentimental haze, Old Stock glows like the embers of an ancient flame. Carbonation is still crazy after all these years though the hops have long fled the scene. Bubbles are infinitesimally small. The head is on vacation.

Old Stock’s aroma is an exquisite basket of candied fruits, with melon, brown sugar and a broad sweep of caramel. Raisin and plum abound, as does an edgy spice I can’t name.

The flavor is equally complex and rides upon a warm alcoholic glow. It has more in common with port wine than it does with common ales though it compares favorably to a good barleywine.

This strong ale from the Redwood Coast makes for a rich aperitif of enduring quality. Two years after bottling the beer was superb. A year after that it was even more of a treasure.

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Photo of Starchild
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2001 Vintage

Poured this four year old in a glass and got a top head of foam. Carbonation was fine and the beer was a red amber color. In the nose, sugar, ripe fruit, a scents of alcohol. In terms of taste, this is one smooth old ale. In terms of the aging, the 11.4% is so smooth and takes like maybe 6%.... so without knowing the actual percentage this could easily be a winter session beer. A little bit of cherries, oak, and a dash of spice. Its good.

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

2002 vinatage

appearance: a ruby/mahogany pour...very full appearance. light creamy beige head and minimal lacing

smell: sweet and fruity...apple, cherry, plum. a full nose of alcohol is present, bitter hops behind sweet malt. pretty potent aroma

taste: plenty of dark fruit dominates especially plum, apple, cherry, raisin. alcohol is very evident. bitter hoppy finish. sweet malty body....light caramel

mouthfeel: smooth and full, bitter aftertaste, alcohol burn

drinkability: slightly above average

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Photo of faernt
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So I broke out the old stock and opened a 2001. It is well. The cap came off with a little pop. It wasn't much but it made a noise. The pour was quiet with a little head which settled into a ring. The nose is what I'd hoped for...spicy and caramelly. The taste is smooth and silky. I look for old ale to taste this way. The 2001 is ready now. It is 11.22.05 and I couldn't be more satisfied. If you have any in your cellar try one. My cellar is not one of the 55F constant types so it may accellerate the aging. Nonetheless. it is ready to be a smoother. I'm glad to have the space and patience to have let this one sit. It is a praise for aging.

Update: 2010 Old Stock Ale
This one just came into Chicago. It's a little hot, but worthy of drinking now. As you might gather by my dates, the 2002,2003,2004, and 2005 are history. Good history...this beer ages well and I'm now committed to aging it longer. The alcohol content is rising...now 11.7% abv. This is nightcap beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(Vintage 2004)

Appearance: Marvelous color; a stunning mosaic of reds, browns, and golds. Even when poured a wee bit aggressively, the head quickly seperated, stretched thinly across the surface of the beer.

Smell: Mammoth malts weigh heavily in the nose. Thick molasses, brandy, vanilla, dried raisins, and alcohol are all very prominent.

Taste: "Hands up" on this malt rollercoaster, please! The vibrant flavors are varied and plentiful. Richly textured caramel and sweetened molasses up front. Sweet, ripened fruits roll by the palate, followed with sugar-coated bread. All of these flavors are punctuated by a zippy spiciness. The 11.4% alcohol is, at first, cumbersome on the palate, but eventually mellows to a relaxing hotness.

Mouthfeel: Medium. Considerably lighter than I remember it being, although its alcohol, syrupiness, and colossal range of flavors help it to seem a bit hardier.

Drinkability: Such an excellent example of balance within a beer. Its all so very impressive. Drinkable? Definitely, but the alcohol can really shake you up, so take it easy, friends. I'll certainly be returning to the store to grab more to cellar.

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

I had a North Coast Old Stock Ale 2002 a few months ago and was so impressed I absolutely had to check out. I knew I couldn't be as lucky to have that vintage again, but the 2004 blew my mind as well. It is a dark brown, hazy, creamy pour, with almost no head whatsoever. And the bouquet..It was very strong, with hints of raisin, roasted malt, sugars, hops.
The taste kicks you in the face; it is strong but somehow not overpowering. You can certainly taste the 9% alcohol, but also raisins, plum, hops, roasty malts. This was a very powerful and complex beer and done excellently.It was a little harsh at times in the mouthfeel, but always made up for it with a wonderful aftertaste. Hats off to North Coast, yet again.

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Photo of dnrobert24
3.86/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This was a 2005 vintage consumed in 2005 in a snifter. I am positive that this beer will get better with some cellaring, I simply had to try a "fresh" bottle to get an idea of what I was starting with. While this is defined as an "old ale," I think it better qualifies as an English Style Barleywine. In fact, I paired this with a blue cheese meal, as if it were a barleywine.

The color was an orange rust. Also, it had some chill haze and was a little murky. When I popped it open, I didn't even have to pour it to get the aroma, immediately I smelled a floral bouquet (rose?) and dried fruits. I am hoping the aroma was a portent of the taste once this ages a bit.

I grilled some filet mignon topped with Maytag Blue Cheese. On the side I had a baked potato with sour cream and butter and a salad with basalmic vinagrette, dried cranberries, and more blue cheese. As soon as I took a bite of the blue cheese, the aroma of the beer changed to a juicy vinous scent. The beer was initially candy sweet with hints of prunes or raisins, which complemented the blue cheese. The aftertast was actually a little tart. The alcohol stood out, although it was not "hot." It merely punched in at the end of every sip and was very recognizable. This may mellow out with time. The carbonation was great and the body smooth. Nevertheless, the beer seemed to actually get more bitter towards the end, making it a little difficult to drink up. All in all, it was a very pleasant dinner combination, one that I hope to repeat perhaps a year or two down the road.

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Photo of jaluria
3.27/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a medium-brown, translucent color with white head that doesn't stay and leaves behind only minimal lacing. Some carbonation is present, but not very much. Aromas of malt, alcohol, dried fruit, and oak-wood seem to come out all at once. Very interesting and appealing. The taste, however, is a different story. The alcohol dominates the taste buds with only a slight sugar/malt backbone. In light of the aromas present, this is a disappointing beer. Not much complexity in this beer. The sweetness turns sour in the back of my throat leaving an unpleasant, dry aftertaste that only gets worse over time. I sipped this beer slowly but could only finish 3/4 of it. An interesting style that I wanted to try, but I won't be having this again. I imagine that if you are really in the mood for this, it would be an enjoyable brew...but, I don't see such an event occuring for me. The high ABV and the alcohol taste prevent this from having a higher drinkability score.

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

Evacuating this bottle reveals a rich caramel/copper/amber hued brew. Head is fleeting, but a thin khaki ring remains. Aroma is a potent conglomeration of alcohol, overripe fruits, and an impressive malt bill. Caramel and molasses assist in the olfactory assault. Similar to the aroma, the flavor takes no prisoners. Heavy and oily, this is truly delightful. Big malts present bready flavors with strong caramel sweetness. Slightly burning alcohol is warming and enjoyable without being too overpowering. Ripe apples and grapes provide a sweetness and acidity at the same time. Some darker fruits are hinted at, but escape my conscious. Hops provide a hint of pine and the slightest whisper of citrous, but are mostly present in their spiciness. Even a little saltiness from the bold hops. The hops blend well with the sticky sweet malts and alcohol. Finishes sweet and alcoholicly potent. Mouthfeel is very full and thick, massively satisfying. Extremely enjoyable old ale, full of complexities, and devilishly drinkable.

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Photo of yoyo
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So the local stores finally started getting serious about stocking North Coast products. This one took me by suprise. All of a sudden there I see Old Rasputin and Old Stock Ale side by side. What the ??@#$! IS that a 2003 vintage of Old Stock Ale? I'll happily grab three mispriced 4-packs. Yes, a fine reddish, high alcohol sweet ale pre-aged just for me. I promptly packed away 8 of them in the closet for the future. Boy that feels good. Love having great beer hanging out in the closet. This beer rates with some of the better ales from Canada and Belgium. Rock on North Coast, I'll make it to see you someday!

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Photo of ddellarocca
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thankfully Old Stock Ale was my last beer of the night. It is the perfect cap, especially if you want to slow down. Yes, it has a high ABV, but I promise you, it will take you longer than you think to drink this. It took me about an hour to an hour and a half to finish this heavy ale with a surprisingly mellow mouthfeel. As another reviewer commented, as it sat, it did not "skunk" at all. The taste and smell remained just as strong (good odors!) as when I first popped the cap.

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Photo of 1whiskey
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, v.2004. This pours out a beautiful reddish maple color, very clear. Near yellow head dissappears in seconds. Pretty beer.

Huge aromatics on this one. Complex and very sweet. Noticable alcohol fumes, brandy soaked cherries, licorice, raisins, pineapple(?). Some herbal notes also detectable.

Taste closely mirrors the nose, but doesn't overwhelm. Suprisingly smooth and just a bit of a dry hop finish to balance all the sugar up front. Also more of a molasses taste as it warms up. Smooth, syrupy mouthfeel with little carbonation.

This has a very high alcohol content (11.4%ABV) and drinks like a dessert wine. But considering the style and the high ABV, this is exceptionally easy to drink. I wouldn't want to drink this all the time, but it makes for a nice treat once in a while. Great beer to break out for company. This is yet another fine offering from North Coast Brewing Co.

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Photo of MrNuggets
4.26/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A chilly Saturday evening I sit and study this old ale. A beautiful ale, beauty broken down and represented to you in the following verse:

Set sail
Please these buds
Prepared for gail

Slowly cut a

Spirituous trough
Cherrywood dark
The ebbing soft

Gallant ship
You never fail
Bringing wheat
And prized Old Ale

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says 2004 behind the label. Pours a murky brown, like a heavy apple cider. Smells of cherries and alcohol with a little malt. Tastes like a port with a dry hop finish that obscures the alcohol. Very nice considering its 11.4%. Mouth feel is heavy, but slippery. Good Beer.

P.S. Took a half hour to drink. When I finished, the color had turned crystal clear. Also, When this beer warmed up, the noxious alcohol smell and taste never showed up. This is another finely crafted beer from the NCB.

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Photo of bcm119
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful color, sort of like mohogany. Fine tan head. Lots of black fruit in the aroma, dried cherries, figs, sherry. Tawny port-like nose, becomes semi-sweet with more dark fruit; woody with hints of black licorice. Smooth alcoholic rumminess, but hops add balance and complexity. Very refined, and has a holiday feel to it. Alcohol is warming but not even slightly unpleasant, like rum cake. Really interesting and worth seeking out.

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Photo of DogFood11
3.99/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

North coast is a phenom.

Poured into a snifter it produced a filthy dirty head that laces on occasion but mostly you get that alcohol slide down the sides of the glass....sweeet!. dark ruby red color with medium lazy carbonation. For sure you have to pick up the huge alcohol smell although its not overbearing. Caramel is there to chill it out a bit. The drinks are warm regardless of temperature. Big coffee flavor balanced by some sweet malts. I get some light fruitiness as well although its well in the background its welcomed and a nice fit.

No date of any kind on the bottle but I would imagine this would be better in a few years as its still a bit raw for an 11%+ brew. I will hunt this down hopefully and find a big bottle to store but for now this is a must purchase and for the price it packs the punch for sure. yaawwwn goodnight. slosh.

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Photo of DrJay
3.77/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2004: Deep ruby brown, slightly hazed, with a thin, light tan head that leaves a bit of lace. Bready aroma with lots of caramel and toffee along with some raisins. Alcohol was quite pronounced, but not completely out of balance. Moderately low bitterness compared to the amount of malt in this one. Lots of caramel and nuts, with a toffee finish and faint hop flavour. Alcohol throughout with a lot of warming and a little burn. The carbonation was coarse and didn't last for long. The nut and alcohol combination was a little reminiscent of whiskey. Overall, it seemed a little young and rough around the edges. A little aging could do it some good.

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Photo of Viggo
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy ruby red, small tan head forms, some legs but no lacing. Smell is nice, chocolate, pecan pie, cinnamon, alcohol and some bread. Taste is burnt toast up front, nuts, alcohol, some hopping and a sweet toffee finish. Mouthffeel was light, with really low carbonation that wasn't suited to the body, pretty intense alcohol burn. This beer was hit and miss, some really impressive parts and some not so impressive parts, this would really benefit from some aging, but worth a try. Good call DrJay.

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Photo of buckiflyer
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another pop the cap beer now available in NC, paid 1.75$ for a bottle from Whole Foods. 2004 vintage. Poured at room tempature as website suggested, a clear dark brown color, very little head. A very clean smell, maybe a hint of Rasberry and alcohol. Pow! what a finish, you can tell this one is high in alcohol. Sipped for an hour. May buy another and let it age.

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Photo of blackie
3.63/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2004 Vintage

appearance: My careful pour creates a thin off white head which leaves only a few islands of bubbles behind. The color is a deep mahogany with huge red hues coming through.

smell: Big malty flavors come through first, giving aromas of dark fruits.. Leathery and tobbacco like earty nuances are noticeable while a strong Ethanol presence tickles the back of the nose. A nice amount of hops provide just enough backing for the malt.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is medium low and the body medium heavy. It is pretty thick and has somewhat of a smoothness to it.

taste: As the silky liquid hits my tongue I first notice the big malty fruitiness alongside the strong ethanol presence. The alcohol in this one is really really strong, and it could definately use some time in the cellar to mellow out. The taste actually kind of suffers, and I think the alcohol is covering up some of the good flavors my tastebuds are searching for. The hops provide a bittering that lasts into the finish, as well as an ethanol astringency as alcohol fumes exit through the nose.

The alcohol in this one is huge and has to mellow out some for this beer to get a higher score for taste in my book. A beast.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 vintage: Pours a magnificent, cloudy ruby-tinged mahogany with a nice than head that is quickly killed by the alcohol. Aroma is striking with its malty, sweet and alcoholic presence with hints of caramel, molasses, fruity esters, dark fruits (currant and blackberry), toffee and a slight diacetyl presence. This one is definately a sipper, as the alcohol bite is somewhat harsh. The flavor is incredibly complex with huge malt notes of molasses, brown sugar, caramel, toasted bread, currant, plum, blackberry, raisins and toffee. There are some light floral and piney hop notes here but they definately take a backseat to the malt. This almost seems like an english barleywine due to the huge malt profile, and this beer has quite a scotch-like burn and some nice vinous flavors . The mouthfeel is huge and thick, chewy with a big body and light carbonation, drinkability is just descent as this one still carries a big alcohol bite and is fairly harsh. Quite enjoyable and complex, but could definately mellow out some more.

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Photo of PatYoda
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2002 Version.

Hazy Mahogany with a long lasting thick ring of foam around the side of the glass. Smell is some plum, raisin, and a definite brandy smell - lots of alcohol in the nose here. It gets better as it warms (or perhaps as I get more drunk?) Taste is all malt at first. Dark fruit galore. Some maple syrup in there as well. The finish is moderately bitter with some balancing hops and smacking of tongue numbing alcohol. A little spiciness as well, maybe from the alcohol. A bit too medicinal for my tastes, otherwise this would be great. Mouthfeel is relatively thick and slick. Overall, not something I would want all the time, but certainly good enough.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 Edition

Appearance: Pours a clear garnet color with a tan head that quickly disappears. A thin lacing rings the glass perfectly.

Smell: Prunes, must, cloves, burnt brown sugar. All things dark and sweet. A definite alcohol presence on the nose.

Taste: Prunes, raisins, with a present and strong alcohol backbone. Maybe some spices like cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar as it warms. Still, the alcohol is pretty present and has a sharp bite to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and lively carbonation. Burns a bit on the way down.

Drinkability: One to sip for sure. This could stand to benefit from some aging. A little rough around the edges for me but a nice change of pace.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,470 ratings.