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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,431 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,431
Hads: 2,944
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.27%
Wants: 159
Gots: 582 | 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 (25) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Stock Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,431 | Hads: 2,944
Photo of Foxman
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours a crisp, clear darkish amber, with ruby pools. Two fingers of off-white head swells, then settles soon to tightly bubbled springs. Spotty lacing punctuates the inside of the glass.

The aroma delivers thick, viscous tendrils of toasted malt, blessedly sweet and rife with notes of caramel, vanilla, and baked dough. A stiff whiff draws the vapor of alcohol well into the light.

Upon sipping, a dense, lightly roasted malt sweetness dominates from the start, but bears tidings of caramel and butterscotch, and a distant berry note as well. A vague hops character wdges into the middle and duels with a stalwart spine of alcohol, which is very present but certainly manageable. The sweetness fades toward the end to allow a mild bitterness to linger at the finish. By design, it's all about malt, the trace of hops adds a small measure of intrigue.

Full bodied, it's syrupy and chewy on the palate. The alcohol cools and dries the tongue, opening the door to a very mild lingering tingle.

Captain, there be malt here! And plenty of it. It's thick, sweet, and filled to the brim with malted grain, and damned if foregoing any semblance of balance doesn't work here. The muscular ABV raises a red flag and if you're wise, you'll take heed. But if thick rich malt is your bag, baby, then you'll suffer the alcohol gladly and have another, just as I will. So now, excuse me while I enjoy what's left. (1,418 characters)

Photo of bditty187
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Murky tawny-brown hue with peachy-amber highlights, it is an attractive color with good depth; the off-white head reached a disappointing foamy trace and it disappeared in an instant, only a slight collar remained. Any sort of subsequent lacing was completely nonexistent. The nose is very malty, bushels of raisins dominant, warm brandy notes, toffee, chocolate, bread, and distant earthiness, hops. I find the aromas to be very inviting but the potency isn’t that powerful. I sniffed hard for the reward! The palate is very flavorful; the alcohol is the showstopper! It is not harsh or overwhelming but it is very prevalent and encompassing, similar to brandy/rum mixed with raisins and candied sugar. Good warmth. Toffee, lots of toffee notes. Faint chocolate hints, plums too, and similar to the nose, distant earthiness (the hops maybe?). This is one malty beast, damn yummy! This is pretty close to full-bodied; the carbonation is modestly low and very natural, lovely mouthfeel. This is a great sipping beer. I really enjoyed Old Stock Ale; this beer really wasn’t on my radar, thanks to prAna for suggesting it. This is an exquisite beverage. I purchased a single 12-ounce bottle in Loveland, CO. I wish I bought more. (1,236 characters)

Photo of Mitchster
3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

(2004 edition). Pours out to a brilliantly clear deep-garnet, forming a dark-biege head. Retention is average and lacing is minimal. Carbonation is mild-moderate. Aroma is striking with unmistakable overripe/nearly-rotting honeydew melon. Strawberries, rotting blackberries, faint warming alcohol, figs and dates begin to take precendence, but swirling the glass produces more of that overripe honeydew aroma. Mouthfeel is initially prickly with spice, but then becomes slick and syrupy with a dense body. Taste begins with mildly resinous piney hops, followed by vanilla, rotting apples, brown sugar, and sticky-sweet amber malts with lots of dark fruit overtones. The bitterness level is just right...anything else and it would be too malty or too hoppy. Alcohol is imperceptable in taste, but easily noted in mouthfeel and sensorium. The finish consists of herbal hops, caramel, and grain husk. As it warms, I notice acetone and isopropyl alcohols becoming evident (not a good thing in my book), as well as a port-like syrupy sweetness. Drinkability is very limited secondary to it's high ABV, syrupy mouthfeel and dense body. C'mon folks...how many of these could you really drink in a row?

This may be an excellent brew if you are into big beers, but my palate is getting a little fatigued with them at the moment. Comparable to other good barley wines like Bell's Olde Ale, Bigfoot, Hog Heaven, and Old Crustacean.

(2006 edition), limited release, $3.50/12 oz bottle at Jacks. 13.25% ABV.

Pours out to a syrupy dark burgandy, forming a tall yellow head with a vigorous pour, quickly dispersing to nil with no lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. The aroma is huge with prunes and raisins, sweet, syrupy, with copious piney hops in the mix but not in the same league as the malt. This smells like triple bock in many ways. Mouthfeel is syrupy, slick, oily with a dense, chewy body. The taste begins with the prunes and raisins. Every dark fruit is here with dates and figs as well. Sweet yet not overbearingly so, with a mild bitterness level but a nice punch of hop flavor throughout. Vanilla, rotten strawberries, soy sauce and honey are mingled throughout. Alcohol is not perceptable in flavor or aroma, but in gutfeel and mentation.

Nice. This is better than I remember the 2004 edition. Quite the sipper, this. Beer is Mmmmm mmmm good.

(2011 edition)-Brisk Psssht upon cap release, forming a tan head due to the strong carbonation..perhaps a bit under-attentuated if they don't force carb. Large light tan creamy head of fine soapy bubbles with superior retention and great solid sheets of lace sitting on a clear deeply amber brew with ruby highlights. The aroma is of rotting fruit, vanilla, and souring milk. Mouthfeel is brisk and light from the carbonation, but with a big chewy malt body. The taste is of rotting cherries, raisins, vanilla, molasses, faint carob and distant soy sauce. The bitterness is mild, woodsy and herbaceous. The finish is sweet and breathy with alcohol. Moderately Boozy. No perceptable off flavors. A decent beer, but there are many better Olde Ales/barleywines out there. (3,123 characters)

Photo of grynder33
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a red mahagony color with a nice little head that disappeared quickly, a current, fruity aroma, reminded me of a port wine, creamy molasses date, malt taste, wonderful,alcohol shows up in the aftertaste, flavor lessens only a touch as you finish. A real gem. Definitely on my top 10 list. (295 characters)

Photo of Realale
3.64/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4


Slightly hazy reddish mahogany. Extremely fine small beige head settles quickly to a thin rim of foam.

Citric hops lead the nose, with some piney there as well. Huge rumble of caramelly, treacley malt underneath the hop notes. Malt comes to dominate as it warms, and the sweetness of the nose increases as well.

Very big and round in the mouth. Sweet malt dominates with the hops apparent only due to their ability to provide some semblence of balance to the palate, and on the tail end of the finish where some bitterness is present. Very, very long, and quite sweet. ETOH completely hidden.

Okay mouthfeel as the level of carbonation is about right. This would really benefit from the softness that bottle-conditioning gives, as its a bit prickly now. Frightfully easy to drink for an 11+% brew. Big thanks to MJR for including this one in my Christmas present. (881 characters)

Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
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. (445 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.82/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle.

Pours a beautiful ruby-brown with a sticky khaki head. Mama likes. Smells of sweet, sugary toffee malts, backed by a spicy hop bouquet. I could smell this all day! Taste starts with the big sugary, toffee malt component. Not overly sweet (which is good), and very rich and brandy-like with notes of ripened fruit. Alcohol is coming through some, but not overpowering. Pretty good-sized resinous hop wallop kicks in, but simply balances the malt; it doesn't overpower it. Finish is bitter, with lingering notes of candied bananas, and butterscotch liquer. Mouthfeel is big, but not cloying and not too syrupy. A great, warming sipper. Mmmmm.... (659 characters)

Photo of watermelonman
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured to a dark ruby-brown without much head. There's still a fair amount of active bubbling down low in the glass. There's no lacing to speak of.

Appropriately, it smells and tastes powerful. The alcohol content is quite evident but not overpowering. The taste is certainly not bad cold, but more great flavor is unlocked as it warms up a bit.

Consume this one all by itself. It demands respect and attention. (427 characters)

Photo of LuckySevens82
3.82/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2002 vintage
Pours a dark brown with little to no head (at 11.4% abv. it's not expected)
Smells of dark malts, dried fruit (apricots and raisins) and alcohol
Wow, this is one complex beer, very malty, a little caramel flavor exists. The alcohol is kind of overpowering, but with all the other flavors in this ale, it's not such a bad thing.
I don't think I could have this one but once in a while, it's very strong and not a beer that you can drink fast, this is one to enjoy. (480 characters)

Photo of belgianbeerlover
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage

Pours a deep, clear amber brown. Maybe one finger of head, with no real lacing to speak of.

A complex aroma...sweet and malty with hints of caramel and fruit. The alcohol's there, but not in your face.

Talk about flavor. Nothing is subtle about the flavor of this beer. An initial burn explodes with a sweet, maltiness that fills your entire mouth. It finishes with some dry hops leaving a satisfying balance. Within a minute you feel a warm glow spread through your head and remember that this thing comes in at 11.4%. God this beer tastes good. (568 characters)

Photo of jonnylieberman
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I don't know what to say... This is a truley superlative beer, one of perhaps the 4 or 5 best I have ever tasted. Maybe better. I drank my 2002 bootle in March of 2004. Plenty of time to age, though I am sure it will ast another decade.

Beautiful, complex mix of colors. Copper, for sure, but also reds, browns, and golds.

The smell is massive and potent. Winey, vanilla... alcohol and raisois, perhaps. Point is, complex.

The taste is the reason. Fantastic. You have two or three sips and you begin wondering why other beers exist. Two more sips and you find yourself digging holes in the backyard so as to bury the other bottles. Wouldn't want anyone else gettting ahold of your treasure, would you? Fantastic.

Mouthfeel is that of aged barleywine. A complex mix of balance and flavor that I feel has to be experienced rather than described. Balance, balance, balance!

Cost and 11.4% abv are the only factors keeping this from being my session beer. Cheers to North Coast for making one of the most remarkable beers on planet earth.

Note: I have 6 bottles buried in my beer cave. (1,102 characters)

Photo of RootedFool
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California.

2003 edition.

Pours a deep, opaque mahogany into my goblet. A slender layer of creamy foam dispands posthaste.

The smell is of heavy, spicy malt sweetness (alcohol soaked dark fruits) and sinus-clearing alcohol fumes.

Taste begins with a vinuous fruity sweetness and arches out into a honed roar of hops and strong alcohol heat. Aftertaste is a balance of these three flavors -- fruity malts, hops, and alcohol.

But the alcohol isn't overpowering, quite a feat at 11.4%.

Middling carbonation. Body isn't as stocky as I thought it would be, instead it feels too thin compared to the hefty sweeps of flavor going on here.

A real sipper, this brew. Enjoying it.

I'll have to pick up a few more and resist drinking them, to see how they hold up with age. (849 characters)

Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Talk about the anti low carb diet. All I've been doing is drinking big beers these days...and this is one of my favorites recently. Very large beer. I got way too much ethanol in the nose...not very appealing, but the taste is really fantastic. Almost vinuous. Just good amount of hops, very malty. Very strong. I can feel it in my nose after I swallow...almost like horseradish cleanin' me out. WHEWWWW! I like this one. (421 characters)

Photo of Imbiber
4.52/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep ruby red with a small light grey head which dissipates but doesn't fade totally. Big aroma: alcohol, malt, hops, possible brown sugar. Quite a big taste too, predominately malt and alcohol but balanced with hops; a distinct sweetness is there but the hops come through at the right moment for a fairly dry finish. Nice, complex, distinctive and quite dangerously drinkable - though the latter is hindered a bit by the high alcohol content.

A great beer to savour and respect, especially on a cold winter evening. (520 characters)

Photo of TPoling
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2003 Old Stock weighs in at 11.4 percent this year, but can be deceptively tame as the alcohol astringency balances with the mellowness of the malt and notes akin to vanilla extract. A deep amber with hints of ruby red when it catches the light, Old Stock only warns that this isn't a safe all-night session beer when it gently warms the throat like brandy. Coffee and caramel and hops that stick to tastebuds for a long time. (430 characters)

Photo of TripelJ
3.77/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Originally sampled: 8/10/2003 -- Reviewing from notes.

Now Quaffing: North Coast Old Stock Ale 2002

Another fine offering from North Coast! Pours a deep, but clear amber with a medium tan head. The nose is sweet with a symphony of maltiness--whisky, molasses, caramel--hard to keep my nose out of the snifter! The taste reflects the nose which was dominated by caramel and molasses. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. There is a nice warming feeling with every sip that gently reminds you of the ABV, without it interfering with the taste. Drinkability is good for the style, but I would definitely only have one per night. (628 characters)

Photo of lou91
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'01 vintage. This beer poured dark brown with hints of red with a small head that quickly dissipated. A subtle nose of malt and alcohol. The first taste is intense with rich malt, alcohol, yeast and maple syrup sweetness all in exquisite balance. As it warms the alcohol shines through and reminds you who’s in charge. An excellent beer from an excellent brewer.

'00 vintage in 2004. The additional year adds an orange peel/sweet sherry nose and taste with the same profile as above. Yum.

'00 in '05 - Perfection. (520 characters)

Photo of gnaussea
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark amber, with a small head that settles quickly. Smells of alcoholic, sweet malt with a somewhat roasted sensation. I can't quite place it. Very nice quaffer. Taste is powerful straight off. once again strongly sweet and strongly alcoholic, with a dark, kahlua-like hint. The aftertaste I'm having trouble placing. perhaps it will come to me another night, at which point I'll make an edit. Palate is perfect for the style, slightly carbonated. Maybe i havent had a barleywine in a while, but I don't think that is it. Suprisingly good. (552 characters)

Photo of frank4sail
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 Version

As reccomended by their web site I am drinking this at cellar temperature. Very lively pour with lots of little bubbles and a thick rich pale tan 1/2 inch sticky head on the deep cherry colored brew. Big rich caramel malty nose with lots fruits (pineapple, tropical, plum). Really good lookin' and smellin' in the goblet. Initial intense tropical fruit burst of flavor is then caramel sweetness. after this inital burst of flavor the brew then stings the tongue with a warm hop bitterness to the finish. Wonderful comforting smooth full mouth. Drinkability suffers due to the high octane.. but other than that... man what a nicely crafted big friggin' beer. (673 characters)

Photo of BeefyMee
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 edition

Appearance: Great caramel color.

Smell: Malty butterscotch and alcohol.

Taste: [cough] Pretty good. [cough] Same butterscotch quality as in the smell. Warming alcohol. You can't taste the alcohol quite so much as you can feel it.

Mouthfeel: I thought the alcohol in this might detract from the mouthfeel but, surprisingly, it does not. Though it still gives your tongue a little love tap to announce its presence.

Drinkability: There's kind of a burning aftertaste in the bottom of my throat, which scores some negative points, but other than that, this is very drinkable.

Beef Notes: Wow. Certainly a beer to be reckoned with. Huge malt and alcohol. It reminds me of drinking straight rum, but it's not as harsh. (744 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
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. (691 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4.02/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this 2003 edition up on a whim, to fill out one of my three cases of new ales from the Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg, Va., this afternoon. Don't know what to expect here. Pours into a large tulip glass a clear, ruby tinted, mahogoney brown with a short-lived beige head. Patchy lacing. Aroma gets my attention in a hurry. Wow! Lots of chocolate, then lots of roasted Columbian coffee, then figs and raisins. A hint of piney and citrus hops, but this one is all about the malts. I'm going to have to study up on this one. Alcohol is also present in the nose, which caught me by surprise. Oops, the label says 11.4. OK, let's go....! Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and has appropriate alcohol warming. Taste is initially an assault of chocolate, quickly followed by notes of coffee. Peppery spices seem to be present as well. Dark fruits try to emerge, but get smothered by the big abv. This one is like a Celebrator on steroids! Perfect as a winter warmer. This ale will make me sleep well tonight. I can't imagine drinking more than one of these in one evening, but this is one fine strong dark ale. (1,105 characters)

Photo of Todd
4.17/5  rDev +2%
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! (899 characters)

Photo of OatmattStout
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 Edition:

Nice deep oak color and a light head with big bubbles on the surface. The smell was sweet with the presence of fruit and caramel malt. The mouth feel was full and the carbonation was light with a nice slick feeling of warming alcohol on the tongue.

The flavors were of candied fruits, plums, currants and sweet malts. The hop side was mild but did a nice job to balance this big malty ale.

Overall this is a solid old ale and I recommend trying. (469 characters)

Photo of BKotch
4.67/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's January 2004 and I'm drinking the second bottle from a pair of four packs that I bought in January 2002 (the 2001 bottling). I'm also sitting on a pair of four packs from the 2002 bottling and the 2003 bottling. Ah, patience . . .

Pours a somewhat cloudy reddish brown with about a half-inch of head that faded pretty quickly. Some lace on the side of my pint glass.

The nose is thick and sweet, but surprisingly devoid of a strong hint of alcohol given its 11.4% abv.

The taste is ever-so-smooth -- sweet, malty and ever so complex. A strong caramel malt flavor, with traces of plums, black currant and other fuity tastes that I haven't yet identified. The alcohol, as I've already mentioned, is very, very well masked.

Mouthfeel is oily/sticky.

Drinkability is awfully high for a brew of this strength, but you simply do not drink this beer quickly. Small sips . . .

Boy, am I looking forward to checking out the rest of my stock over the next few years. Until Thomas Hardy Ale comes back to Texas, at least I have this old ale.

Now I'm on the fifth bottle of the 2001 bottling in June, 2006. The vanilla has really come to the forefront. Since the earlier review, I've picked up the 2004 bottling and I need to get the 2005 vintage before my local store runs out. This stuff is spectacular. (1,319 characters)

Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 1,431 ratings.