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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

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2,775 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,775
Reviews: 1,401
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 145
Gots: 508 | FT: 20
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,775 | Reviews: 1,401 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bluegrassbrew
4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle 2007 vintage into a snifter.

Pours a deep purple red with a minimal head that drops to just a slight ring. Minimal lacing.

Smell is grabbing! Raspberry jam and whiskey dominate.

Taste is a minty raspberry cream start with an Irish whiskey finish.

Mouthfeel is solid.

Overall, a very tasty beer. High alcohol keeps the drinkability down. I would love to see how this ages.

Photo of brentk56
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage, tasted on 6/30/07

Appearance: Pours a hazy caramel color with a modest head that disappears quickly but does splash the chalice with lace

Smell: Rich caramel aroma with hints of figs and dates; considerable alcohol on the nose

Taste: Starts with a rich, sweet caramel flavor; after the swallow, the fruit and alcohol make an appearance with just a touch of bitterness at the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to moderate carbonation; considerable warmth on the finish

Drinkability: Not as big in the mouthfeel area as the 2003; nevertheless a top flight Old Ale

Thanks, JesseDaniel, for the opportunity

Just for kicks, I tried the 2011 bottling on 11/27/11 and the major difference, as expected, was the level of hops in the flavor profile; still, this ale uses English hops so they blend very nicely with the big malt bill; the beer also has more of a cherry flavor than I recalled in earlier versions

Photo of nickfl
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Small head that dissapates quickly. Dark amber color seems to have nice clarity.

S - Caramel, alcohol, and some hops. Some roasted notes, a little bit woody as well.

T - Lots of hop flavor and maltyness. Strong alcoholic flavor. A little bit of raisiny flavor but not as sherry like as some other barley wines. Finishes with a nice long, drawn out bitterness.

M - Relatively thin and dry for such a strong ber. High level of carbonation as well.

D - Not overly complex, but a very solid and enjoyable example of the style.

Photo of SilentSabre
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off, let me say that this is not a fresh example of this brew, but rather an Autumn 2003 release that I was fortunate enough to find a 4pk of in a local store.

It poured almost the same shade of brown as a tootsie roll candy with a slight red hue to it. Head was certainly not khaki or sand coloured, but rather a light brown. The whole thing was a bit darker than I had imagined it would be. It looked wonderful.
The smell was awsome! I am really hesitant to give anything a 5,0, but if there were a 4,75, I'd have assigned it here. If you have ever received or eaten from one of those large tin tubs of popcorn that are separated three ways with the butter, cheese, and caramel popcorn that are so popular around Christmas, then you'll know what I mean when I say this reminded me instantly of the caramel popcorn out of one of those. Undeniably, there was a definite presence of booze here, but more than anything else, was that specific caramel popcorn smell. Delicious! That taste, too, was rather strong of toasted cereal and certainly caramel with a definite presence of alcohol.
Mouthfeel was very full and heavy, but right where it should be, all things considered. And while this was very good, indeed, its heaviness and abv really limit its drinkability. This is, without question, a sipper. More than two of these in a reasonable amount of time, and I would likely be sick. All in all, however, this is a really nice example of the style!

Photo of k3n
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz stubby bottle, 2007 vintage, 11.7% alv/vol, no freshness dating.

A: Dark reddish brown, with streaks of light breaking through the edges. One finger head dissipates quickly to a halo of small bubbles leaving no lacing. A few lively streams of bubbles from the bottom of the glass.

S: Sweet malts, chocolate, alcohol. Can a smell be syrupy?

T: Loads of malt, candied fruit, and alcohol. I was expecting the taste to be cloyingly sweet, from the smell, but it's more balanced than I thought it would be. Still a bit on the sweet side, though.

M: Very creamy, and goes down easily for well over 10% alcohol. The carbonation gives it a good zing that cuts through the sweetness. There's a bit of alcohol heat at the end.

D: For such a high ABV, quite drinkable. The sweetness does make it hard to do more than sip this one slowly, though.

This is my second old ale, and I'm quite pleased with the style. I look forward to trying these as they age, and the flavors integrate more fully.

Photo of scott
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A well balanced baby from the get-go, the complexities are numerous. A tight frothy head initially, fading into a large rim of noticeable alcohol. a sipper for sure, this baby warms you up, but the alcohol is hidden nicely. Very balanced, and highly recommended.

Photo of BeerZack
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep deep amber body with hardly a head after a few seconds.

On the nose there is alcohol, sweet malt scents, some caramel and marzipan.

This has a pretty unique taste... almost want to say I taste balsamic vinegar. There is definately some alcohol taste and maybe some oaky/woody notes. Some burnt sugar/creme brule also.

Rather than a hop bitterness on the finish I get a tannic mouthfeel that reminds me of a wine. Overall, its pretty complex in flavor and mouthfeel, but when I drink it again it will be after some aging.

Photo of rallison
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottle. Glad to have gotten to try one of the 13.25% bottles.

Poured a dark ruby brown with a nice 1/2 finger head that unfortunately quickly dissipated. Smell is of sweet caramel malts, rum soaked raisins and some alcohol.

Taste is quite intense. Lots of rum infused caramel/toffee malts. Raisins, dark fruits. Maybe a touch of red wine. Alcohol is definitely present, but serves a purpose similar to alcohol in the good whiskeys. Truly a nightcap sort of beer. Well done in flavors for this sort of beer.

Mouthfeel is extremely rich and somewhat syrupy. Drinkability is decent for the style.

Overall, recommended. I always enjoy this beer, and have some stashed away aging - can't wait to try those.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into the North Coast Brewery Glass for this ale, it pours with a light brownish head.

It has a powerful smell of strong carmelized sugars and lightly of alcohol.

This tastes much like it smells, the sugars are the dominate taste compared to the hops and yeast, almost to a fault but not quite. You know when tasting it it is a high alcohol ale.

Mouthfeel of this beer is good, I think it could use a bit more bubbles, but overall I cannot complain.

I cannot see myself drinking more than two bottles of this at once. While I enjoy a glass of this, it is not something to spend drinking during a night at the bar, it can definately sneak up on you.

Photo of ArrogantB
4.77/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


12 oz bottle of 2004 vintage Old Stock. I poured this into an Old Guardian glass and it was a dark ruby red with a few errant bubbles wandering around the glass. The smell was inviting and reminded me of cocoa or chocolate. The taste was amazingly complex yet subdued. The alcohol was very well hidden. I had a 2005 last year and it was not this good. This has a syrupy, sweet taste and is very, very good. I'm glad I have more but I want to see what more time does to these beers. I think I'll drink the next 04 in 08.

08/29/08 2003 vintage 11.4%

Smells like honey-nut wheat bread, alcohol, candy, maple syrup, nice.

A:4 S:4 T:4 M:4 D:4

03/30/08 2003 vintage 11.4%

Nice ruby at first and then chestnut as the glass fills. Nice aroma of candied alcohol and tastes really good. This has held up well and I'm not getting the oxidation I got from a bottle earlier this year. Syrupy mouthfeel.

A: 4 S:4.5 T:4 M:4 D:4

03/05/08 2005 vintage 11.4%

I haven't had this vintage in about two years when it was only a year or so old. To start off, it is not nearly as good as the 2004 I had earlier this week or the 04 I had two months ago, those were awesome. Nice ruby color, a good initial head and then just bubbles. Subtle sweet aroma There is more oxidation than the 04 and a syrupy alcoholic flavor which I have liked previously but this vintage needs more time, at least a year.

A:4 S:3.5 T:3.5 M:3.5 D:3.5

01/22/08 2004 vintage 11.2%

Delicious, brown color, murky, alcohol tingles the tongue. Oxidation is present but so is a very awesome brandy flavor. I swear I tasted cognac! Good stuff but watch out cause it can really kick your ass.

A:4.5 S:4 T:4.5 M:4 D:4

1/08/08 2003 vintage

Murky amber-brown with a small ring of bubbles at the edge of the glass. Smells sweet with alcohol and a slight hint of oxidation (wet cardboard) at the end. Whoa, delicious, complex, cocoa, chocolate, malty. Alcohol tingles on the tongue.

A:4 S:4 T:4 M:4 D:4

11/2007 2001 vintage

On the vintage menu at the Bull and Bush. This was good but not as good as the 2004 I had earlier in the year. Seems like it has reached the end of the road as the flavors were very, very subdued.

A:4 S:4 T:3.5 M:4 D:4

Photo of MiguelMandingo
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the only brew of this style I have ever sampled, but I would sample another Old Ale if it is as good as this one. It is a 2007 vintage.

Poured a 12oz. bottle into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance - Deep hazy reddish brown with a 1 finger head that quickly dissipates to nothing but a few suspended bubbles fighting their way through this thick brew. Swirling the glass does virtually nothing in bringing the head back.

Smell - Kinda musty. Alcohol and bitter cherry and roasted malt. Kinda like a cough syrup, but nonetheless complex.

Taste - Whoa. Very complex. Dark bitter cherry and roasted malt, more pronounced than in the scent. It has a very subtle creamy sweetness and pleasant bitter finish. Definitely has a Robitussin feel, but tastes way better than it smells.

Mouthfeel - Creamy initially, and then burning alcohol after every sip, but not in a negative way. Medium to full bodied. Goes down smooth.

Drinkability - Definitely a sipper. While the ABV doesn't bother me, the medicinal feel kinda does.

This beer should definitely be aged, and then drunk in cold weather. It definitely tastes new and has some sharp edges that will hopefully be worn down in the cellaring process. I picked up a bottle of 2005 and intend on setting that down for at least a year right next to my other bottle of 2007, and then drinking them back to back. This isn't a bad brew, I am glad to have tried it, but I can't wait to see what aging does to it.

Photo of malcontent
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I told myself I'd give the 2006 a little while to sit down before I tried it but I'm needing an old ale fix today so here goes;

Golden hued head atop a murky brown body with orange edges. Looks surprisingly lively for and old ale.

Brown sugar scent is strong but after swirling all sorts of funky odors are released; standing water, must, dark fruit!?! Scary and intriguing at once.

For an old ale this young it's surprisingly drinkable. Alcohol is obvious but that's to be expected. Dark fruit abounds, brandied plums almost. Booziness comes to the forefront on the finish and just a touch of honey on the aftertaste.

Creamy and rich with only a slight alcohol burn on the end. A bit syrupy as the glass gets emptier.

It's an old ale and it's young so obviously the drinkability isn't great but this already shows signs of a beer that will be really good by next winter. I'm so glad North Coast does this beer because it seems as though most U.S. breweries are afraid/uninterested in the style. Good stuff.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.97/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

I know that you are suppose to age these beers but I wanted to try it anyways. 07 vintage (if you want to call it that). Pours a clear brown color to dark amber. A nice froathy head with a nice rocky head. Good lacing and limited retention that did disappear about mid way through sampling

The nose is strong with strong fusel alcohol feelings. Again with the ageing though. Some malty background notes with some caramel, molasses and a touch of roasty aromas. Some phenolics with a meaty cherry flavor. Almost like a fig or raisin-esk.

The taste is also notably strong but understandable. The malt places a bigger piece then the nose would indicate. A nice flavor but really limited in taste. Mostly grainy but some caramel and toasty/biscuit notes are there too. The fruity notes come out as well with more cherry and fig flavors. A touch of plums as it warms. Some spicey hops flavors come out with some subtle earth tones. Mostly on the bittering side, but some touches in the finishing as well.

The body is big and the strong alcohol presence is overwhelming and takes getting use to. But again with the aging thing. Carbonation is limited but good for style. I have a 05 vinatage in a BIF a while ago but I would really like to see how this style ages.

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Eric at the Wine Company in Denver suggested this beer to me. We'll see...
Pours a slightly hazy almond color topped with an off-brown head about 1 1/2 fingers. Looks really good. Like beer.
Smell is hard to find at first, perhaps it was too cold. Anyway, slight earthy hops and bitterness emerge, some toffee and golden raisins.
Taste is wonderful, almost a fiver. Slight bitterness countered by sweet raisins. Semi-thick, finishes really nice. Hard to review this beer b/c I drank it without really noticing that I drank it all. Wonderful. Good job Eric!

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

Wow! This beer is meant for sippin'. If you're looking for a beer to take to a tail gate party I would look for something else. This is a sit down in a den, next to the fire, relax and drink slowly brew. The alcohol is very present in the taste but not distracting. Nice red/brown color. It reminded me a bit of a Scotch Ale. In fact, no Scotch in the house, try some Old Stock Ale.

Photo of Gatch
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage. I think this is the oldest beer I've had so far.
A - A great looking deep red w/ a custard colored head which fades into a dense, creamy layer after a couple minutes.
S - A complex nose full of spice and dark fruits. I can already see this being a great pairing with colder weather. Cane sugar, hints of cinnamon and allspice, and dark cherries really stand out. I like the presence of dark cherries here; it's unique. It's not a strong cherry either, it's more like cherries soaked in alcohol w/ a nice sweetness. There is more to the nose that I can't think of right now, which excites me for the first sip...
T - As good as an Old Ale gets. Most of the nose comes out on the palate. The dark, sweet cherries are a great complement to the surprising roasted malt flavors which come out in the finish. The sweetness is very subtle and balances so well with everything. The alcohol is even less noticeable and keeps the finish from being dull. This beer gets better w/ every single sip. I could see this being very strong in it's first year, so I'm happy I picked up a 2005 bottle.
M/D - No flavor is overwhelming and the sweetness is just right. The alcohol nips at the palate reminding you it's still there. The flavors are different from most beers I've tasted, which is great. Letting this beer age a few years has fixed some imperfections I could imagine come with the 2007 batch and has also made it one of my favorite Old Ale's and one of the better beers I've had in a while. In comparison, the Longshot Old Ale from Sam Adams was good, but was overly malty and fairly strong. Old Stock Ale has every aspect of an Old Ale almost perfect and it's truly drinkable. I could drink several bottles of this on almost any night.

Photo of TurdFurgison
2.98/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2007 vintage. The pour looked pretty good (deep burgandy brown) but other than that it was a bit too sweet and alcoholic for me. The aroma was very malty, a little burnt, and cough syrup sweet. The flavor was too sweet too drink easily, and burned with alcohol on the backside. Thickish mouthfeel was a redeeming factor, but not enough to help me finish the bottle (I didn't).

Photo of Fugazme
3.41/5  rDev -17%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Bill @ Beertopia...


1" white head... quite thick and fluffy... deep, deep amber/brown... flickers of crimson... beautiful beer.

Aroma: Cherry... alcohol... dried fruit...subtle nuttiness with roasted malts, caramel, some anise... a touch medicinal.

Mouthfeel is creamy upfront... a touch more harsh in the middle, but very harsh on the swallow... alcohol all over.

Flavor is bourbon-like and sweet... a bit woody, but honestly... Robotussin everywhere... lingering cough syrup and alcohol.

Alchol needs to settle down a lot on this one... that cherry/cough syrup thing overwhelms and makes it near-undrinkable.

Photo of Beaver13
3.43/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, 2007 vintage. Pours a reddish brown with a fizzy off-white head that quickly diminishes to a light dusting and then completely disappears.

The aroma is bitter grains and some DMS at first with sharp caramel alcohol, fruits and sugary sweetness coming out.

The flavor is sweet candy-like sugar with some sharp bitter alcohol in the finish. Some fruitiness comes out as it warms. The mouthfeel is medium to full with soft carbonation.

Overall, a mediocre barley wine. The alcohol and sweetness are pretty harsh and brash and it is not very complex. Maybe this is better after sitting a while...it is pretty hot.

Photo of mattd017
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle
2007 vintage

Pours a deep mahogany brown with a thin tan head that is gone very quickly. Very clear liquid. Very sweet smells, toffee, molassas, not real fruitiness that I can detect. Sweet taste, with a strong alcohol back to it. Finishes slightly dry, the high alcohol biting at my tongue. Maltiness, maltiness and more maltiness with a hint of hops. Thick fluid, very creamy, exceptionally small carbonation. Beer looks, after the head quickly vanishes, flat, and leaves no lacing on the glass, unfortunately.

Very good beer, I kind of wish it was bottle conditioned. I have 6 more that I want to age, but I don't think it will change a whole lot since it's so well filtered.

Photo of henrysunset
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 old stock ale...

Brownish Orange, clear and obviously filtered. A small head of tannish foam.

scent is dark and sweet. Not very much hoppy quality.

Taste is really nice and balanced.. bitterness is perfect for the sweetness. I enjoy it alot. Ever so slightly nutty and quite malty. Dark flavors seem to come from alot of medium toast instead fo any dark toasted malts.

Photo of khiasmus
3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

2005 old stock poured into a snifter.

A- Ruby/brown color with very thin head that settles to nothing.

S- Raisins, rum, alcohol, nuts, cane sugar. Smells sweet and nutty, with no hop aroma at all.

T- Initially light and almost tangy, but slides down and impressions of banana, raisins, chocolate, almonds, roasted grains, and even a hint of fruit are there, complemented by some strong warming alcohol.

M- Medium-low carbonation, with a thick feel and a smooth finish, leaving the very back of the throat just a little dry.

D- Old ale being my favorite style notwithstanding, this beer was a little too strong, too decadent, to merit a high drinkability score. Better share this one.

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a beautiful amber brown in color with plenty of visible carbonation. Smell is of carmel, malt, and dark fruits. The taste was strong of malt and carmel with the fruits in the background. The alcohol is well hidden at first but bites the more you drink. Great mouthfeel. Medium body with plenty of carbonation-but not too much. Very smooth.

Photo of flexabull
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage - 11.7% ABV

Pours a brown copper color, mostly clear, just a bit of haze, and with a decent head.

Smells quite toasty, with a bit of smoke, and with some dark sweet stewed fruit aromas.

Man... I love Old Stock. Be it fresh, or be it aged, it still comes out well no matter when I drink it.

The first thing I notice upon the first sip is the awesome mouthfeel on this one. It is so full bodied, nicely carbonated, and full flavored.

Flavor is quite smokey, dry, tart, and a bit hoppy and bitter up front. The finish is sweet, with a bright dark fruit like flavor. This is a complex beer, and I can tell it is built to age.

Drinkability is very good. But this will be better with some age. This is close to being great right now, but another 6 months or so might be the perfect time to drink this. We shall see.

Well done yet again North Coast.

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

2003 vintage... about 4 1/2 years old. I thought I'd try one I had laid back.

Appearance is dark, kinda muddy brown. Head appears very briefly and fades instantly away. Sweet, malty licorice aroma. Flavor is hugely malty: bitter chocolate taste, dark molasses bread, caramel... bitterness has faded for the most part, leaving this sweet and full-bodied. Fruitiness remains but is not identifiable by particular type. No hint of oxidation as yet. Alcohol is quite noticible in the finish. Big bodied, creamy.

Good, but it hasn't developed any interesting flavors as yet. I still have a few more 2003's in storage to try again at a later date.

Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,775 ratings.