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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,675 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,675
Reviews: 1,373
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 135
Gots: 457 | FT: 16
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001)
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Ratings: 2,675 | Reviews: 1,373 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This a fantastic beer that has some especially unusual characteristics. I'm drinking the 2005.

The pour is a hazy light mahogoney with a thin tan head that starts small but sticks around for a while and leaves some minimal thick lacing.

The smell is vinous and malty and has a noticeable alcohol presence. The beer opens up as it warms and becomes even maltier and more complex on the nose.

Wow! what a flavor. This is one of those beers that I always believed I had tried a while ago- I must have been mistaken, or earlier versions must have been much different than this. A malty attack on the front, highly alcoholic and warming, like a brandy. Then a long hop bitterness, some brandied fruitcake flavors and an interesting throat numbing astringency that seems to come from a mixture of hops and wood flavors. Very unusual and long, long taste that keeps going. This beer would age very well, it is still drinking a little hot- but nevertheless is delicious.

My mouth is still numb from this. Some may not like the experience, but I'm in to that sort of thing. Only a moderate body, definitely some creaminess as well before the numb takes over.

Quite drinkable, but I could probably only have one in a sitting. Really a unique beer.

Photo of mjc410
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Belgian tulip, the beer develops a thin tan head, which quickly turns into the usual glass ring. Held up to light, the beer has the color of cranberry juice, and is quite transparent. Otherwise, it's the color of a deep red wine. Looks austere. It's wonderful to watch sparse bubbles rise through the lovely deep color. Smells deeply of caramel, and a smell almost like a candied apple, with spicy alcohol. Very sweet juicy, and acidic as well. First sip (still cool): Drier than expected, malt seems somewhat astringent, and there is acid as well. Still, alcohol is well-concealed (can't hide the warming, though!).Likeable, but just as the label says, will improve with a year in the cellar. Medium bodied, with low carb, resulting in wild smoothness. I have 3 more bottles to sit on, and have great expectations!

Photo of Beerzebub
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage, 13.25% ABV

With a vigorous pour in a large wine glass, a quarter inch of butter colored head appears, receding to a film after a minute or so. Brilliant dark translucent red-orange rosewood color. Nose is mellow: brown sugar, biscuit, sweet fortified wine, hint of solvent.

Very strong, sweet taste. Brown sugar, sweet fortified wine, bourbon, prunes, sweet black tea, sweet light or medium roast coffee. This is a sipping beer, to put it mildly. A swirl can keep bringing back a little head. Oily, syrupy body - lip smacking. Really goes to the brain, 13.25 % is no joke.

This is excellent, just not for everyone. Probably has great aging potential, but already quite good.

Photo of cbl2
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2006 vintage $9.99 4 pack 13.25% No best by date; intended to age for years.


Pours a deep rich brown imbued with a crimson glow when held to the light. A very thin sheen of tan foam quickly dissipates from the top.


They've ramped up the ABV 2% and it shows in the nose. Also present are gobs and gobs of gooey caramel as well as some ripe starfruit.


Redolent of sherry with a sweet nutty flavor coupled with hot alcohol. Some tropical fruit notes are present, but vastly overshadowed by the high ABV. This one needs to settle for a while before it comes into its own. The potential for a good beer are present, but its not ready yet.

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage

A: Looks like liquified caramel. Deeply murky, forboding, mysterious. Hardly and carbonation, only minimal bubbles rest on the surface of the body.

S: Toasted marshmallow, creme brulee, vanilla creme, port in the highs and

T: Over the top toffee flavors. Sultry, sweet, deep and complex. Loads of vanilla, butter and brown sugar all over the place. Subtle bitterness and toasted graham crackers add a touch of depth to the sweet layers. Interesting notes of Drambuie flirt here and there. Finishes with pronounced clean alcohol vapors and lingering caramel flavors.

M: Full bodied and syrupy.

D: North Coast Brewco knows a thing or two about making beer.

Photo of bark
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The colour is opaque brown with a tint of orange. There head is just a ring of beige foam.

The smell is… matured. I found notes of strong wine, toffee, roasted malt, dried fruits, alcohol and Coke. Great stuff.

The taste is sweet with lots of wood-like flavour, a light sourness, some Madeira wine, toffee, fruit drops and sun dried tomatoes. The long aftertaste got notes of alcohol, old whisky and dried fruits.

The carbonation is, as it should, mixed in an odd way: The small bubbles tickles the tongue, but it is at the same time very relaxed with some very big bubbles.

Photo of Dizzy
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage. Poured reddish brown into a pint glass, didn't retain head too long, but with all the alcohol that's to be expected. Aroma is filled with alcohol and malts. Taste consists of dark fruit, caramel and heat from the alcohol. I notice a little bit of hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is viscous, almost like syrup. I wouldn't want more than one, but I really enjoyed this.
I found it intresting that on the North Coast Brewing website they reccomend not serving the beer cold, but condensation is visible on the glass in the photo of the pour.

Photo of Ego
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage.. have had quite a few of these over the past few months... and they have been ridiculously good, with luck I ran across 2 cases of the 2003 just about 6 months ago. (this vintage is 11.4%)

deep dark brown but not opaque (with ruby highlights), thin head retains well, a decent amount of carbonation rises from the depths, lacing is decent but more or less this leaves "legs" like good wine due to the high alcohol content. no doubt, this is a great looking beer for the style.

here is where I usually just get lost in the olefactory-gasm that is this fine brew, raisins dunked in jack daniels, barley, this stings the nose with it's booziness but it has mellowed to be in balance here, the smell finshes out with cocoa powder (it smells that dry!), the dark fruit tones are just out right awesome and the chocolate tint balances this out! great !

taste etc...
the carbonation is just active enough, a slight prickly sensation before the maple syrups hits your mouth, huge barley like flavor with chocolate undertones, the beer has developed so well that the booze is only noticed in the back of the throat and the warming sensation in your stomach, at times this is nearly as thick as maple syrup and does also have a paralell in the flavor component. the "sweetness" factor here is really reminiscent of good dark vermont maple syrup, there is some mild bitterness in this as well.. man alive the complexity that has developed here is mind boggling. and bottle to bottle the 2003 has been pretty consistent.

out-friggin-standing! this could pair well with any super strong cheese. one bottle is nice to split amongst a couple of friends in a snifter. it is easy drinking for the heavy ABV.. man has this aged well! if you see it.. buy every bottle you find.

Photo of swhitt
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is the 2005 bottle, picked up from the Wine Gallery in Kenmore, Square. 11.4% abv.

This one is dark amber when poured with a thin lacy head that disperses a few minutes after pouring. Like someone else said here, it pours almost like a soda.

Smell is very nice - malty and some alcohol in there. A little bit of caramel too, sweet sweet caramel.

First sip hits you pretty hard. The alcohol is definitely the first and last thing I taste. It's not bad, you can just definitely taste the alcohol in this one. I taste some raisen, some rum and some fruit all covered up with some malt. I dunno, it's tasty, you just need to sip it.

The high alcohol on this one along with the need to sip it makes this one not too drinkable.

Photo of Bighuge
3.35/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 release. 13.25% a/v

Got a scarlet red/orange thing going on in the appearance. Somewhat of a glow to it. Thin creamy yellow tinged cap of foam. Great retention and nice lace qualities. Smell is quite sweet. Like port in a way. Rich malty tones along with intoxicatingly juicy fruits like melon and pineapple. The aroma is very inviting. The beer is very lightly carbonated. It flows quite smoothly across the tongue in that respect, but the boozy aspects are over-powering at first glance. This beer has that "dissolving" aspect to the mouthfeel. The kind beer that just dissolves away without much effort. Nice fruity concoction of flavors. Passion fruits. Like a spiked fruit punch...and with a lot of "spike." Malts are fairly rich, but seem to be overpowered by the alcohol. This one really seems boozy to me. Not exactly my thing. But give it 5 years and I bet I love it.

Thanks go out to the LongBeachBum for the highly flammable beer.

Photo of TheBungyo
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Bottle.
Poured with a baby head atop a body that looked like inviting rootbeer with far less carbonation. Nose is syrupy bourbon with vanilla notes mingled with black cherry. Taste is massive malt. Cocoa, black cherry, syrup, all mingle to please the tongue. Mouth is somewhat thin and lightly carbonated. I like this and would love to see what happens after a year.

Photo of VoodooBrew
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

I bought a four-pack of this stuff as the 2005 was coming out, with the intention of drinking it in no particular hurry. I'm now getting around to enjoying my first bottle from this purchase.

It's quite obviously boozy, in the nose, on the palate, and in the lovely way that its alcoholic warmth embraces you from the belly up and whispers in your ear that everything's going to be just fine. Big dark fruit and caramel dominate the aroma and flavor profiles, with some toasty malt on the palate as well. But my lord, the nose is awash in alcohol! I'm not complaining, mind you...

I had this same vintage last fall (about 10 months ago), much closer to its release date, and there was a more evident hops presence then, which has since given way to malt and alcohol. There is now enough to provide a reasonably bitter sensation into the finish. This is not inconsistent with my experience with similar beers after this length of aging.

This beer is quite the sipper -- use where you would otherwise employ Congnac or Madeira for your after-dinner or nightcap purposes. Old Stock Ale invokes these spirits as well as rum, and bourbon.

Complex. Rich. Mature. Did I mention alcoholic?

Photo of zjungleist
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2005 edition. Pours deep brown with a foamy tan head. The smell is fairly potent, with some dark fruits, sugars, and a hint of booze.The taste is quite sweet, with loads of brown sugar, maple syrup, bread dough, a bit of fruit, a bit of spicey hops, and then a touch of vinousness and alcohol (which really is well masked for theABV) in the finish. The mouth feel is a touch syupy, but also has some dryness to it, though it could maybe use a tad more carbonation. Overall I really did enjoy this quite a lot, but drinkability is nearly non-existant.

Photo of jameaterblues
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage:

A- Thick amber color, with bright red hints....1/3inch creamy golden head, light lace, and visible carbonation.
S-This beer smells thick and syrupy...which is hard to do...whisky or bourbon like scent....with brown sugar.
T- Slight acidity on the tip of the tongue...body is very rich, with sugary alcohol...this beer is sweet....I have had beers that remind me of wine but very few that remind me of liquor...this one has a very bourbon like finish with alcohol present(especially at 11.4%)...and I confirmed this after drinking some fine bourbon on the rocks the other evening.
M/D- Moderate carbonation....which was a surprise....heavy and tongue coating...almost unlike any beer I have tasted...I think the whisky taste comes from the beer being aged in whisky barrels(but I am not 100% sure if that is a fact) ...slightly reminded me of a wee-heavy ale. I am interesting in trying other old ales...they are very interesting.

Photo of MaGno
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A beautiful chestnut to mahogany color with a very slight head that draws down to small tight creamy lace.

S: Smoky and fruit balance. The smell of alcohol is nice and not overwhelming. Smells of figs and molases maybe?

T: Wow! This is quite a nice brew. Taste is very light and smooth at first, almost dissapointing after the wonderful aromas...then the brew gives you an uppercut right to teh tastebuds! Tastes of figs and slight hints of chocolate. A little vanilla flavor detected at finish.

M: Nice smooth and creamy. Very light carbonation on the tongue. Dry yet refreshing finish.

D: This is not your everyday brew. I will definately drink this again, but its for special occasions. One of those brews you break out when you are feeling a bit sophisticated and want to walk around the house in your Hefner robe and slippers.

This was a 2005 Old stock ale, 11.4% A/V, No other dates on bottle. Poured in a Snifter.

Photo of Brian700
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a bottle of the 2006 and it lists the ABV as 13.25 on the bottle. It pours a deep reddish garnet color with an off-white head that sits pretty low but stable leaves a little bit of lacing.

The aroma is of sweet malt, some raisins, and alcohol. The alcohol intensifies all of the sweetness and dark fruit flavor and warms the mouth nicely.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with medium carbonation.

This is a pretty drinkable beer and would probably be even better with a few years of age on it.

Photo of ej285701
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 release, 13.25% abv.

Poured into a goblet. It comes out a very nice clear, brownish-red color with a half inch tan head composed of large bubbles which quickly disappear and leave no lacing behind.

The smell is great. Most notable are sweet cherries, figs, dark fruits, and caramely malts. The alcohol is there as well, but it does not dominate.

The taste is very similar to the smell except the the alcohol is much more noticable. It is very strong at around mid-palate, but in the finsh the alcohol is taken over by the malts which leaves you with a fairly pleasant aftertaste. Not bad for a beer of this strength.

The mouthfeel is fairly thick but well carbonated to keep it feeling light and to keep it from becoming cloying...at first. About half way through it seems to lose most, if not all of its carbonation and becomes very surapy. It drinks more like a liqueur than a beer.

Drinkability is still good. I don't get tired of the flavors, but could not drink more than one due to the strength. I think this beer was definitely meant for aging. It should be great in a few years.

Photo of Suds
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I opened one of several bottles of the 2004 vintage that I’ve been cellaring. The brew pours a clear mahogany color with a fairly big and lasting head, given the high ABV. The head is a somewhat dark shade of tan. The aroma is at once earthy, malty, and alcoholic. There’s plenty of caramel, berry, and fig smells mixed in there as well. I think that there were more hops notable in the brew I tasted when it was younger. The taste is syrupy and sweet, with a lot of sugar and malt qualities. The alcohol is notable immediately, giving an intense warming on the tongue and throughout the mouth. A lot more fruit comes forth in the hind-taste. Sweet and full with an almost chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation for beer in general, but notably carbonated for the style. Extremely drinkable, and very satisfying.

Photo of klewis
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2004 edition

A: Pours a murky brown with a one-finger bubbly white head that quickly subsides to a frothy ring around the snifter.

S: Aromas of raisins and dark fruits, vanilla, and molasses. The alcohol is alost entirely hidden in the smell.

T: Flavors of dark fruit and bourbon with strong alcohol flavors. Initially, I tasted nothing but oxidation, but that faded as the beer warmed and I had a few more sips.

M: So thick that it might help to chew. This one has the perfect amount of carbonation and a texture that sticks to your mouth. Doesn't get much better than this.

D: The taste was a bit disapointing, but all other aspects of this beer make me want to try other vintages. Definitely worth trying.

Photo of jerrymiller
3/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance is orange-ruby with a rocky, dark tan head. It pours clean and clear with a 3/4 inch head.

Smell is strongly of alcohol and cherry. Very fruity and sweet. Dark port smells as the beer warms up. It gets better, but the alcohol content is dominant.

Taste is not surprisingly burdened by the alcohol content, but upon sipping, subtler malt tastes bubble through the thick, sweet fruit.

Drinkability is easy as the alcohol numbs everything pretty quickly. Very tight carbonation initially gives way to sweet, porty roughness. Balance is ok, but the overall complexity is tarnished by the alcohol.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Release:
Alc.Vol. 13.25%

Presentation: Picked up a fresh 2006 Four-pack of 12 ounce bottles from a recent trip to Hollingshead’s Delicatessen in Orange at the weekend.

Appearance: Deep ruddy mahogany with a supreme clarity which refracts the falling light to provide a light show that impresses, the ruby body has a gem like quality that improves the appearance no matter what kind of light is used. The head fizzes into life quickly after the pour, but soon rises and falls like a freshly served Iced Coke, the remnants are minimal, only a thin line of small tan colored bubbles cling to the edge, more like scum mark than a halo head, but this does look impressive nonetheless. Low conditioning

Nose: Molasses with a hefty dollop of caramelized sugars and berries. Baked apples coated in crystalline brown sugar, plums and hard skinned Californian figs. The alcohol is here, and it’s not hiding, but it takes a distinctly educated tone, it is not stupid, it has a responsible presentation, a mixture of Single Malt Whisky with hints of Bourbon.

Taste: It needs to settle and relax, before it warms up and slowly acclimatizes and becomes comfortable before it will take off all of its clothes in your company. But once it is naked it has a fine entourage of followers; Figs, plums, molasses, brown sugar, toasted malts, hints of maple sauce, raisins, prunes and alcohol soaked Edinburgh toffee. It is all here, accentuated and finished off with a warming alcohol, but not quite harsh enough to be classed a burn, more of a kick.

Mouthfeel: Bordering on presenting a Whisky Mouthfeel, it still nevertheless exhibits a light creaminess in the overall feel, despite the low conditioning, the alcohol is not so harsh, but it is still prevalent. In this respect I think that aging will probably refine the Mouthfeel more than the flavors I suspect.

Drinkability: Beyond beer, but despite the lack of carbonation this is still extremely “dangerously drinkable”. Even at the stated strength and with its robust nose and flavors, it is not a shy libation when prostituting itself in the drinking stakes. Beware.

Overall: I note that the 2006 deviates from previous examples of past years in so much as the main label is a different color, no longer a light gray color but now with a cream-brown background, you know like J.W. Lees Harvest Ales. But much more important is the increase of over 2% on the engine size, it is now up to an advertised 13.45% ABV. As always this can be aged, and should be to get it at its best, but sampling this fresh is still quite the treat.

Good to go right now, but I think it will shape up nicely in the coming years …and at $9.99 for Four x 12 ounce bottles of 13.45% brew; it is a real bargain for the price and a cheap addition, neigh investment, for the cellar.

Highly Recommend.

Photo of phisig137
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2004 vintage pours a red copper color with no head and no lacing at all. Very light carbonation forms a tiny ring around the rin of my Samichlaus tulip.

Aroma is woody and vinous, with alcohol bringing up the rear. Dark cherries and plums fill the nose, as well as a hint of vanilla. Very complex and enjoyable.

Flavor tastes of tobacco and leather. Solidly bitter finish, with flavors of caramel developing in the midpalate. Large Sherry flavors, and very reminiscent of dry marsala wine. Again, very complex, and could use some time to mellow out even more. Mouhfeel is slightly astringent and light Drinkability is somewhat low, due to the alcohol warming and harsh bitterness.

Even being two years old, I think this beer needs at least another 2 to mellow out fully. I'd like to see some more sweetness in an old ale, and more body as well. This beer was obviously designed to age, and I feel that it needs to. The other three bottles from this 2004 six pack will be sitting in my cellar for a while I think.

Photo of WeisGuy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage

a - pours a rather transparent rust color; small tan head completely disappears after a few minutes; no hint of lacing

s - malt and alcohol dominate, very sweet smelling slight plum or raisin

t - very malty, slightly sweet, quite spicy, finish is lingering alchol

m - carbonation is evident, oily and coating after swallowing

d - quite drinkable for a high abv, but don't think I'd probably have any more than two, one would usually be good

Quite a old ale overall without much aging. I think this one would definitely benefit from extended cellaring...that's where the other three bottles are headed. I still enjoyed this at an early age though. Taste is already pretty complex, but a bit harsh...that will probably tone down a bit with aging.

Photo of NEhophead
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A glowing mahogany in color. Thin, creamy; lightly tan head that leaves a few trails of spotted lacing.

Sweet molasses; carmelized malt and sugar. Bourbon-soaked figs, plums, and apple. The alcohol presence is very fragrant with the intense sweetness.

Ripe plum and fig that start as a light sweetness that turns rich and chocolatey. A coating of candied Belgian sugars. The alcohol is warming, but still a little rough around the edges.

Full bodied; slick and gaseous. A nice balance on the palate between the malt profile and the alcohol character.

This is a very complex ale that can only improve with age. At 13.25% abv, this is best to be shared, but to be enjoyed no doubt!

Photo of ram3139
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage

Appearance: Hazy orange/rust color with a small head that quickly dissipates.

Smell: Sweet and tart fruit smell with quite a bit of alcohol

Taste: Sweet and sort of spicy at first. Fades to a more earthy fruitiness with the alcohol coming through last. Reminds me of a dark belgian dubbel without the typical belgian yeast flavor.

Mouthfeel: Not thin, but I was expecting something a bit more. Low carbonation. Still coats the palate well and the flavors linger for a while.

Drinkability: I thought it was pretty average for drinkability until I noticed the ABV. It hides the alcohol and while the flavors are strong, they don't have a really sharp bite.

Overall, a strong but sweet beer thats surprisingly drinkable. Would be a great after-dinner beer.

Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,675 ratings.