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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,810 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,810
Reviews: 1,412
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 144
Gots: 521 | FT: 22
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 (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,810 | Reviews: 1,412
Photo of jmdrpi
4.39/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage, poured into goblet.

appears an opaque cloudy brown with orange highlights. little head.

aromas of brown sugar, vanilla, very nice. tastes of caramel, toffe, raisins, but not too sweet. pretty tasty, I've have to buy some more to cellar again.

mouthfeel is sticky, syrupy, but not that thick. just enough carbonation to move it over your tongue. barely any alcohol taste for an almost 12% abv beer. very impressive.

Photo of mexikrainian
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Stone tulip.

Appearance: murky amber-brown with zero head and non-existent lacing.

Aroma: caramel, molasses, malts, dried fruits, and apple.

Flavor: apple, caramel, brown sugar, subtle hops, spices, and warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel: syrupy, medium body with light carbonation.

Overall impression: this will keep you warm in the winter. be ready for bold flavors with high alcohol. reminiscent of a whiskey throat feel.

Photo of silentjay
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

pours almost black (muddy brown) which gives life to a smallish eggshell colored head that retains slightly but laces well. good for the style.

aroma of raisins. chocolate covered raisins. a touch metallic and musty (hope its not oxidized) with plenty of molasses and brown sugar and dark caramel.

flavor gets rid of any of those oxidation worries. chocolate covered raisins dominate, but there is sooo much going on here. molasses, soy sauce, caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, browned butter, maple syrup, but still plenty of alcohol.

pretty heavy, syrupy body with minimal carbonation and quite a bit of an alcohol burn on the finish.

drinks ok for the style. fruity, sweet, syrupy, and rich, but very tasty.

Photo of BigB415
4.04/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark orange sort of red color with no lacing. Smells like a barleywine to me. When I take a sip I get the very subtle hints of alcohol which is no surprise since this beer has a 11.5% ABV. What I'm surprised at is the fact that there is no bite. I get the flavor right off the back when I sip and then it goes away leaving very little mouth feel which is nice with 11.5% ABV. All in all a very smooth ale from a great brewery.

Photo of TheTippler
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had the 2010 vintage. Poured amber-brown color. Sweet malty flavor. Very malty, in fact. Lots of molasses on the nose and pallet. The 11.7% abv is apparent and could be overwhelming to some. Medium+ body. Syrupy. Brandy flavors, dark fruit flavors. This beer would be remarkable with aging.

Photo of DovaliHops
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky reddish brown with a very small white head. Lots of bubbles. Scent is very barleywine-ish. Dark fruits with big malt backbone. The alcohol is not as present as it was fresh. This one is almost a year old. Taste is very malty with some very tasty dried, dark fruit flavors. I get prunes, raisins, and dates. The alcohol has mellowed out over this last year...making this a much better beer. Mouthfeeel is not too syrupy and very delightful. Drinkability is fair considering the ABV. I'd recommend everyone to sit on this beer for about a year, as it has balanced out nicely.

Photo of sugit
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


A: Deep brownish caramel cloudy color. Very fizzy 1/2 finger head. Left small ring around glass. Leaves nice lacing as you swirl it around a bit. Lots of carbornation given the style.

S: Very boozy nose. Caramel and a bit of honey in there, but tough to get past the booze though.

T: Very rich and sweet. Upfront is all caramel malts and booze. Damn tasty though. Nice hit of vanillia on the way down. Very very subtle hop bitterness. I swear I taste bourbon, but since it's not BA, it must be just the alcohol and sweetness.

While still a bit sharp only a slight warming, which given the ABV, is imnpressive.

M: Full body. Very nice carbonation. Bit of a creamy feel. Very nice indeed.

D: Very drinkable and smooth for 11.5%. Alcohol is well hidden, esp how much it comes out in the nose. This is still a one and done for me though.

A couple years will do this beer wonders.

So far I have 08-10 in the cellar. Would really like to add a bottle from earlier to do a nice vertical tasting.

Photo of froggyfrog
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Stock Ale 2004

Aroma incredibly intense. Burnt sugar abounds. Dark fruits: plum, raisin also apple (not cidery).

Tons of tiny fizzy carbonation bubbles pop-rock the tongue. Flavor bursts with leather, tobacco, hay and banana.

Sugary sweet, oxidation-heavy. Moderately weighty, slippery.

Spicy alcohol strong in the finish.

Slightly less robust than the 2005 (sampled last year). Delicious with definable oxidation and heavy with sweet fruit.

Excellent but likely on the decline. Drink now if you're holding.

Photo of mavbrew
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter, 2010.

A: Pours a deep amber color with a finger thick, off-white head that quickly dissipates leaving only a ring around the glass.

S: Scent has a caramel, toffee tone with some hints of honey. Nose is sweet, malty and has some alcohol to it.

T: The taste is as you would expect from the nose, there is a sweet flavor up front with some caramel notes. There are definite malt characteristics mid sip and the finish leaves a bit of an alcohol flavor that sticks around with what tastes like honey.

M: Medium bodied with average carbonation, a nice crisp feel.

D: Although 11.5% ABV, it is masked well by the flavor, it is still present but not as much as you would expect. This is my second North Coast review and I have been impressed so far, this is a good beer and should definitely be tried if ever come across.

Photo of xpoweruser
2.92/5  rDev -29%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber/caramel color. Off-white foamy head. Cloudy.

Aroma: Sweet fruit with lots of caramel and toffee.

Taste: Fruity with a nice caramel and toffee flavor. Slight bitterness, but this brew is dominated by the malts. Alcohol flavor is covered up well, only slightly noticeable with a slight warming effect.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, goes down easy. The body of this beer is actually pretty light. High carbonation.

Drinkability: Decent beer, but not nearly as full bodied and complex as I would like.

Photo of the1DarkLord
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have had this beer before, a few years ago. Since then, I have drank the -bal versoins, but have not had this puppy again until now.

2008 vintag poured into a tulip glass.

It pours clean amber sap colored with highlights of burnt orange that glimmer in the light. The head dissipates and leaves some spotty lacing on top. To be honest, I am a little impressed at the carbonation level for this beer.

The smell is good. some phenolic sharpness, carmelized brown sugar, maybe some roasted fig (or some similar fruit may be a better descriptor). Either way, the nose is good, but for me, there is too much of that alcohol sharpness hiding other smells that could shine more otherwise.

Now for the first sip. Surprisingly not as carbonated as it looked based on the pour. The flavor has all the components that I wish the nose had as well. It is like caramelized figs, pears and raisins that have been simmered in brown sugar and brandy for a while. It is warming, complex, somewhat spicy, sweet, and smooth. The finish is coats your mouth, but without being too syrupy or cloying.

Most definitely a sipper (well duh, at this ABV, what would you expect?!)

With this taste fresh in my mind, I am looking forward to tasting the newly released bourbon barrel version.

Photo of JizackFH
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - This beer pours a very nice dark amber color. It has a big fluffy tan head that has excellent retention. It slowly fell, and left no lacing on the side of the glass.

S - It smells of toffee, caramel, honey, and vanilla. It smells very sweet, but there is a nice alcohol bit that counter acts the sweetness. There are also some dark fruits, such as figs and raisins present.

T - There is a lot of caramel sweetness up front. There are good notes of toffee, vanilla, oak, chocolate, raisins, and figs. There is also a nice alcohol presence that comes out and stays through the finish.

M - This has a heavy body, with very nice carbonation. It has a bit of a chewy quality to it, and is quite creamy. There is also an alcohol warmth in the finish.

D - This is very drinkable. It goes down easy and tastes great. I think the alcohol content is hidden pretty well also. This is exactly what I had hoped it would be when I bought it. Great beer. I think I'll go back to the store and get a 4-pack of this.

Photo of haddon
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a rusty brown with a decent head that dissipates quickly. good lacing down the glass

Smell: malts, molasses, raisins & alcohol are prominent

Taste: malty all the way... molasses, dark fruits, & brown sugar all wrapped in the warming alcohol. hops are present but just to bring balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium with a bit of syrupy feel. would expect a little fuller body at 11.4% abv.

Drinkability: to be such a strong ale, I find this incredibly drinkable. you know it's good when you are a little bumbed the glass is about empty. will buy more to cellar.

Photo of misinformed
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle reviewed, 12/24. Pint glass.

A- Clear, dark cherry brown. Poured with around an inch of purplish head that faded pretty quickly to a small ring around the edge of the glass. No lacing.

S- Sweet malt and dark fruits, toffee. Alcohol is definitely present as well.

T- Lots of nice dark roasted malt notes including toffee, hints of molasses and smoke. Dark sweet fruit and alcohol. Complex, but a bit harsh. The alcohol is very assertive.

M- On the heavier side of medium bodied, but not thick or mouth coating at all. Good carbonation and lots of alcohol heat.

D- I enjoyed one bottle and could've had a second easily. Nice complex flavor although it does seem a bit harsh this young. The higher alcohol is definitely noticeable and only sometimes becomes too assertive. Definitely worth a revisit in a year after the rest of the 4 pack has chilled out a bit.

Photo of ejeffer11
4.72/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 vintage stored at cellar temp since purchase - served at cellar temp.

Pour shows suprising head life and ample carbonation - some vintages with age to them have shown much less carbonation. very dark brown appearance with continual bubbles surfacing.

smell is exceptional - toffee, candy, carmel...dessert in a glass.

while sweetness is evident as expected with such a high alcohol brew, there is still some remaining hop profile which balances the beer exceptionally. The bitterness and sweetness work amazingly.

20 minutes in, and the beer is still showing carbonation life. the flavor is just amazing - port, brown sugar, caramel and it is not overly sweet which many barleywines with age end up falling into..a syrup sweet mess.

This is an amazing beer, which after four years in the cellar could stand a few more i'm sure. I looked at a few reviews of the recent release and many identify the overwhelming alcohol bite. While a good beer upon release, this beer is so much better with a few years under its belt. I have many vintages in the cellar and have tried them numerous times at 2 - 6 years old. this beer just seems to keep getting better with age. A recent 04 was equally amazing.

Some may hesitate to purchase, with a four pack around 15 dollars in 2010, but at this price for the quality, old stock is a great bargain. Just hold off drinking for a few years.

Photo of TheKingofWichita
3.3/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a honey color with a thick white head and tons of lacing left over. Smells of caramel, toffee, and tons of booze. Tastes of caramel, toffee, malts, honey, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is medium with a fair amount of carbonation. Drinkability is medium because the alcohol is so upfront.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. I messed up the pour and only got about a finger of tan head, which dissipated quickly to leave a spotted lacing and ring of foam around the edge. The color is a hazy, deep amber or dark copper that is perhaps leaning toward brown.

Smell: After popping the cap I immediately noticed a nice, boozy smell of caramel malts. Once in the glass, the beer smells of sweet caramel malts, toffee, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla. There is also a noticeable, but subtle, alcohol presence, but I can't put my finger on what kind of hard liquor it reminds me of.

Taste: Very sour and somewhat unpleasant. No flavors stand out, but there is a definite taste of caramel malts, toffee, and honey. However, the flavor experience is mostly dominated by a vodka-like sharpness of alcohol. I suppose the taste will mature with a lot of aging.

Drinkability: Though I can't speak for the entire 2010 vintage, I do not think this bottle was ready yet. I do not know how young it was, but more aging would have, I suppose, done it well.

Photo of Morey
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a super hazy brown color. Reddish hues can be seen when held up to the light. Nice tan head has settled to a thin lace after a few minutes or so. Decent head retention.

Smells a bit like whiskey. Not sure if this bad boy is barrel aged or not? Sweet caramel tones are also being detected. Nice.

Taste a bit like whiskey too. There's a slight sweetness towards the middle. Alcohol lingers in the finish.

Full bodied mouthfeel.

I could drink a couple bottles, but for what it is, it's pretty drinkable.

Morey's Bottom Line: This is my first go-round with this beer, but it won't be my last. I'm adding this one to my favorite winter beers list. An enjoyable sipper.

Photo of UTCengOwl
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah, I'm drinking a 2010 bottle young... I'm just not that patient. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Great Divide balloon glass. Drank while watching a UK / Indiana basketball game.

The beer ended up with a 2 finger head after a vigorous pour. A decent off-white color with nice tight bubbles. Doesn't stay around that long because of the booze level, but it is nicely composed. The body itself is a medium brown with rich ruby notes.

The nose is somewhat acidic... which was definitely unexpected. Not bad though. Underneath that sour bite is a bready caramel. Surprisingly lacks an alcohol sting. Interesting.

The flavor of the beer is malty and bready. Not quite as thick as I would have liked... but that does keep it drinkable. There's a slight sour tinge to it. Not bad, but is this what they wanted? The flavors aren't jumping out at me... it seems a bit two dimensional. I want to give a further description of the flavors, but they aren't coming to me. On the plus side, the booze is very well hidden. This ups the drinkability and I'll have no problem downing this. I'd still like to get a bit thicker moufeel on this, but maybe that's just me.

Overall, this was a decent big beer, but I want a bit more out of it. It's drinkable and enjoyable, but not mindblowingly memorable. Also, the sour notes in the nose and taste are a bit confusing. Is that intentional?

Photo of JayS2629
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark muddy brown with a thin mocha colored head and sea foam lacing.

S- Deep cramel aroma, dark fruits, figs and raisins, hints of spice and chocolate. Oak.

T- Heavy carmel and toffee with hints of vanilla and chocolate. A good dose of booze. Hints of oak and rum...or maybe bourbon.

M- Heavy with a touch of booze burn and slight creamy feel.

D- Wow! Its so complex in flavor between woody flavors of oak, spice, rum, chocolates and vanilla. However it is so strong. A sipping beer for sure. The booze burn and heaviness of the beer brings it down a notch despite is flavor profile.

Photo of orangesol
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Photo of Chaney
3.91/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I pour this into an oversized snifter.

A: I poured this one really hard and generated a nice 3 finger mocha head that melted into something that resembled iceberg formations in the Arctic. The brew itself was a crimson red, almost the color of a fine red wine. I could see right through it to the other side.

S: Sort of a musty, sugary, English Barleywine. Lots of dark fruit, a hint of chocolate, but unfortunately, also a good bit of stomach acid.

T: Liquified cherry "Jolly Rancher", coco nibs (especially on the finish), raisons, plums, a hint of booze (but luckily not as much as I was expecting), and no hop bitterness of any kind. Can you say beet sugar?

M: There was virtually no lacing, but for some reason, the alcohol killed some of the potential syrupiness. The carbonation was fine for this style. A bit of lingering by the sweet elements, but not too bad.

D: I don't like this beer as much as many of my friends. However, this beer is complex... and so is the style in general.

Photo of jsprain1
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Appearance is a mix of garnets and browns.
S- Delightfully malty with some vanilla and mollasses notes. Notes of alcohol.
T- Sweet caramel and mollasses notes. Plenty sweet and finishes with a strong dark fruit flavor.
M- Medium, though the sweetness and alcohol add some presence to it.
D- All in all a very solid old ale that hides that 11.5 well.

Photo of perrymarcus
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in an oversized wineglass. 11.7% ABV.

pours a dark, ruddy amber tone with a good degree of clarity; a tan finger of head quicky dissipates into a thin collar around the glass.

nose is a bit underwhelming but with dark fruits, molasses, and caramel malts all evident.

flavor takes the aroma and improves upon it: stronger presence of dark fruits; the molasses are there, as is the caramel maltiness... some spices, breadiness... sweet, but nowhere near cloying; some booze in the finish. a tasty beer.

medium-plus bodied beer with average cabonation. pretty drinkable considering its strength. i endorse this beer.

Photo of cratez
3.94/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz (355ml) bottle purchased from Ryan's Party Store in Port Huron, Michigan. Pours a brownish ruby hue with a thick tan cap that quickly dissipates to a thin ring of bubbles. Aroma and flavour are ethanol, vinous dark fruit, mild esters, oak wood, roasted barley, toffee sweetness, prunes, burnt caramel, cocoa nibs, rum, brown sugar, fig, and a spicy sting of warming alcohol. Mouthfeel is fuller than medium (but thinner than I expected), silky texture through the middle, clean boozy finish with some heat in the throat. Drinks like a barley wine with a much lighter palate.

The evident alcohol makes this a textbook 'sipping beer.' I've read that Old Stock is not meant to be consumed fresh, and is best enjoyed after cellaring for a year or so. Well, I can see why ageing is suggested. Although I had no problem savouring this ale, it's a bit young and harsh right now. Overall it's still a very good brew, but I'm willing to bet that vintaged versions are more rewarding than this fresh new bottle.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,810 ratings.