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Old Stock Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,813 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,813
Reviews: 1,413
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 144
Gots: 523 | 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,813 | Reviews: 1,413
Photo of udubdawg
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

pours a reddish brown color, vibrant and with a sizeable yellowish tan head of large bubbles that pop audibly as it rapidly recedes. Even a slight swirl would bring quite a bit back. A thin cap would remain through the entire glass, and lacing was nonexistent.

Boozy, with underlying vague fruit and brown sugar - not my favorite aroma, but pretty decent. This is a year old and hasn't lost any edge.

Tasty. Smooth toasty maltiness abounds, with alcohol everpresent. Fruit is stronger and now raisin and plum are discernable. Quite a bit of carmelized sugar. A sipper to say the least. Carbonation is quite low, and the creamy body glides across the tongue, warming everything - I wouldn't call it a burn, but it isn't that far off.

Again, this is a sipper, but one I'd have again in a heartbeat. Could use a couple more years, and this particular year ('06) is a couple percent stronger than the others I've got.

Photo of hunteraw
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 edition

Received in a trade from barleywinebrewer.

Appearance: Effervescently carbonated, smallish khaki head on top of a garnet/leather body. Good retention. Lacing limited by alcohol?

Smell: Caramel and dark fruits, aroma reminiscent almost of a Belgian dark ale's malt profile, but without the distinctive Belgian yeast. Hint of biscuit/toast also reveals itself - attractive aroma, with just a hint of underlying alcohol.

Taste: Wow, very good. Sweetness of dark fruits (raisin are balanced by hop bitterness, caramel at the swallow. Aftertaste is a New Belgium-esque biscuit. Complex, layered, delicious. Would not have guessed 11.7% alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, smooth but carbonation seems a little excessive for this style and alcohol content.

Drinkability: Very good, sole limitation is the alcohol.

Photo of John_M
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Max's the other night. I've never seen the draft version of this any place other then in Ft. Bragg, so I'm rather amazed to see it on tap here.

The beer pours a rich mahogany color, looking for all the world like a prototypical barleywine. There is decent head retention and good lacing. The beer smells very sweet and malty, with lots of sweet cherry and ameretto. The beer smells very rich and boozy. On the palate this beer tastes like exactly what it is: a well aged ale, with nuances of cherry syrup, more amaretto, vanilla, nuts, sherry and a hint of chocolate. However, the beer is very, very sweet, which along with the alcohol, detracts considerably from it's drinkability. The beer is very warming and smooth, but is also a bit cloying from the sweetness and high abv.

A good beer, but a little bit goes a long way. The bartender gave me a 12 oz. pour of it, which was more then I could reasonably handle. I think the idea of pouring it in a brandy glass, as they do at the brewpub, is a much better idea.

Edit from 11/14. Tried the 2010 version of this beer on tap at Apex in PDX,, and was fascinated by what a few years of bottle age does for it. The beer wasn't nearly as sweet or boozy tasting, and there was almost a flower flavor aspect to the flavor profile that was intriguing. Very, very impressive an nice..... So I get the impression that this beer ages very ,very well.

Photo of ndekke39
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. from the 2006 edition.

A: Hazy ruby red when held up to the light, with a thin, off-white head. Good retention, rings of lace around the glass.

S: Bananas, yeasty, caramel, alcohol.

T: Yeast, bananas, maple syrup, a little bite from the alcohol (but it's hidden well - watch out), hints of bitterness on the finish, then a little burn from the 11.6% ABV.

M: Medium body. Slight fizz on the back of the tongue.

D: A really good Ole Ale. That alcohol is well hidden, so be careful, but it's lovely to sip. Nice, sharp sweet flavors without being too overwhelming. Even as it warms to room temperature, I'm still liking it. Another high score for North Coast.

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

Awesome Old Ale from a brewer I wish I had more access to.

Ruby with a vigorous head that seems to expand slowly before finally dying down. A little on the light side I think for an Old Ale...it reminds me more of a barley wine in appearance.

Smell is more reminiscent of barley wine as well. Plums, raisins, sweet malt and vinous notes. Faint dry scent to it, not quite as sweet as a barley wine.

Great, malty taste. Brown sugar, raisins, slight yeast taste. Low on hops, and faint vinous tastes.

A great sipper. Very nice as an after dinner drink or just by itself on a quiet evening. Low carbonation, smooth but not too thick feel to it.

Photo of Mdog
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottling, 13.25% ABV

Appearance: Thick-looking brownish-red, decent sized head at first but little retention.

Smell: Smells very good and very sweet--red licorice, sweet raisins, brown sugar.

Taste: Huge malty sweetness. Brown sugar, raisins...for a beer this strong there is little or no heat from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick, lasting sweetness.

Drinkability: A nice night capper but a little strong to have more than one.

I hadn't drank one of these in several years but picked up a single to try. It was as good as I remembered, a malt bomb to be respected. Not really the season for a big old ale like this--but highly recommended for a cold winter's night.

Photo of IPAcraig
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this into my De Garre snifter. Drinking this while wathcin the 1st season of "Big Love" on DVD.

A - Pours a murky brown with a thin tan head. After a vigorous pour it didnt reveal much of a head or lacing; though it does have a steady stream of co2 running up the ide of the glass.

S - I think I am going to hae to let this one warm. I get hints of malt sweetness and raisins. Just a hint of alcohol as well. At first the aroma is very faint, however it really open up with a little bit of warming.

T -This beer has a huge malty profile. Not particulary well balanced but who cares. The flavor is very similar to the aroma, dark fruit and raisins with a bit of an alcohol bite. A nice earthy hoppiness in the aftertaste.

M - Thick and lightly carbonated, but appropriate for the style; not so undercarbonated to be oily.

D - A fairly drinkable beer. I am not struggling to finish this one, but I couldnt do 2 in a row.

This old ale blows away Thomas Hardy, imo. Well worth the $3 for this 12oz bottle (rather than the $8 8oz bottle of Hardy).

Photo of Grundle20
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer pours with a visible viscosity and dark brown in color. A small tan head crowns the beer but it showcases poor lacing and retention.

The nose is thick with malty goodness. There's strong tones of figs and currants with an earthy clay like undertone. For such a big beer the alcohol is very well suppressed and really only comes across as a faint burn in the back of my nostrils. All in all it's about what I would expect from an old ale.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
Everything from the scent and the appearance of this beer comes through in spades in the taste. The beer is thick and rife with malt flavors of figs, molasses, and a delicate touch of black cherries. Alcohol comes through a bit more here as an apparent burn at the back of my palate. The finish is full and all the flavors of this beer hold on through to the aftertaste.

The beer is tasty, but it's simply too potent for me to get in to drinking it. I'll be nursing this beer for a while...

Bottom Line:
I'm pretty stoked to see how this ages, and I've got a few shoved away for the years to come. If you're in to sipping beers then this is a fine one, probably one of North Coast's better beers IMO.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally decided to break out one of these from the old closet. I had been holding onto about a 7 year vertical, and had never even tried one. So the other night, I decided to grab one at random, from a decent ageing and see how they hold up..

2005 Vintage

A - Poured a deep hazy reddish amber, no real head or lace to speak of, just a syrupy looking liquid in the glass, no visible carbonation. Nice color but other then that pretty standard.

S - Strong alcohol notes were apparent immediatly, one I got past that there was some light sweetness coming up, mixed with an off fruitiness and a touch of some earthy grain.

T - Very strong, almost overwhelming. Still alot of alcohol in this for sure. No real hoppiness to speak of, just some maltiness and a slight bit of a bourbon taste to it. Maybe some plums and as it got towards the end a bit of a back hoppiness picked up.

M - Quite harsh due to the high ABV, but as far as liquid feel, very smooth, not alot of life in it, but not too slick either. Had the constency of a cough syrup, a bit thick.

D - A bottle put in a snifter is an all night sipper. Really can't drink more then one of these, and a sip every 5 minutes is more then enough for me.

Overall this was a fairly good old ale. It definatly holds up well with age, will have to try a new one to see what the initial was like, but it was enjoyable, albeit very very strong

Photo of BeardedSquash
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage.

A: Beautiful ruby red. Not much in the way of a head, but the a few active columns of carbonation keep some tan on the top of the beer.

S: Sugar coated plums with hints of honeysuckle and caramel.

T: First tastes are filled with spiced malts followed by a subtle hop bite at the swallow. The 13.25% alcohol is well hidden in the sweet grainy notes.

M: Much more lively than I expected, a nice surprise. Syrupy malts coat the mouth while the carbonation stirs the flavors on the tongue. A wonderful mix.

D: Just one of these makes itself known in the head. Proceed with caution, but enjoy in the meantime. A delicious beer worthy of some attention.

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

wow! i liked this choice. from a bottle into a snifter. nice color, nice head, nice lacing. smelled nice. chocolate and caramel. this beer smelled very good but tasted even better. watch out for that abv. after a few tastes i could taste the alcohol. pretty sure if i had two in a row i would have a start to a buzzz!

i like heavy beers but can not drink many of them. this was a very good single for me. i am looking forward to the next five of them!

good choice from a very good brewer.

suckem up and movem out!


Photo of chrhowe
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Old Stock pours a very dark red, amber color with no head to write home to Mom about, but subtle and quickly dissapating into a very small ring on the outside. I smell candy and caramel, maybe some bananas as well. I get almost a bourbon/candy taste, along with that caramel. The taste is really good. Once sipped it is quite smooth to the mouth, however, it heats as it goes. I really enjoy this brew and have cellared one to see what a year or so will do. However the high alcohol and the boubon-like qualities will keep the drinkability down on this one. Most definitely a slow sipper. A great one from North Coast!

Photo of timtim
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage pours a ruby red/brown with a dark white (does that make sense?) head that goes away quick like samichlaus. plenty of carbonation though. hops and malt and fruit (raspberry!) in the nose. pretty complex and interesting. also smell booze. tons of things come through in taste, but raspberry, hops, booze, sugar, mostly dominant. mildly syrupy mouthfeel. from a beer this strong, i would expect much more syrup. nice carbonation, mouthfeel smooth and not as bitter as would be expected. i can sip on this one all night long, but it would probably be wise to only inbibe as an apertif. tasty, strong, delectable.

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.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,813 ratings.