Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

1,491 Reviews
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001

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Reviews: 1,491 | Ratings: 3,172
Photo of stumac
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage, drank it March '08.

Stashed away for lil bit. popped it open with some buddies.

A - not much head, nice dark amber color

S - awesome. lots of dark fruits, figs, dark cherries. caramel malts

T - dark fruits, dark cherries for sure, nice brandy back tone, light alcohol burn (not a bad burn, more like a warming sensation)

MF - smoothe, nice sipping beer. low carbonation, medium to light bodied

D - theres good beer and then theres great beer. this beer is a great beer.

looking forward to aging more of this recipe for years to come.

2008 Vintage, drank it February of '09.

pours up a deep mahogany color with a quickly fading off white head. the nose is composed of English smelling malts, caramel, burnt wood. I taste dark cherries, sherry, wood, caramel apple. A very complex beer. medium bodied, low carbo, deeelish.

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Photo of jopezu
5/5  rDev +22%

old stock ale 2013 bottle poured into a snifter. deep amber cider color. slight head that dissipates quickly, but holds a compact, effervescent carbonated mouthfeel very well throughout the duration. nose is sweet sugar, dark fruit and bread. taste is a subtle, roving complexity; burnt sugar, raisin, fig, plum, and toast. at 11.9 abv, there is a gliding ester quality and warming booze tone. an amazingly balanced sipper. enjoy!

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Photo of morayeel
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All i can say is what a monster of a beer.
North coast brewing is awsome. I feel i need to let the case i bought age a year before i review it due to the wildness.

Very hoppy and boozzy with carmel and some fruit taste.

Bought the 2010 case so im going to age this case a few months and then taste and review later.

12% this ale rocks

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Photo of BeerManDan
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A beauitful dark copper color with very little foam in the glass. The aroma show's a fruity and spicy flair with a hint of carmel. This ale taste's what the aroma smell's like, plus. Complex aroma and taste is what this beer is. The alcohol is not over bearing or powerful and the bitterness on the after taste and palate is well balanced, with a hit of sweetness. Drink at room temperature, if cold it just doesn't have the flavor, aroma and compexity it should have. Storing up on this beer. Going for a week-end drive to Ft. Bragg if I can't find this locally! This Ale will blow your stock's off! At least it did mine.

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Photo of Avagadro
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage, 12,5% abv

A: garnet in color with a cream colored head that quickly fades into a film. The brew is clear in the goblet, with no sign of lacing.

S: the bouquet is vibrant, with heavy notes of prunes, molasses, and spices.

T: the brew is exploding with vanilla, oak, molasses, and prunes. Absolutely perfect.

M: thick and creamy, with a bit of oiliness.

D: the paragon of the style. A must have for fans of the style, as well as something to look in to for fans of DIPAs, RISs, and barleywines. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere… especially for a beer with this big of an ABV. After reading about this beer, and having already tried a few North Coast beers in my day, I was excited to drink the Old Stock Ale. (Had a great night last night at Barley Island, by the way. Got the chance to try several of their big beers, including their imperial red. Those blog posts will actually appear on rickyleepotts.com, not here… those beers were all on draft!)

For a beer with this big of an ABV, you would think it would be a tad bit thicker than it is. But it pours out nice, with light bubbles… almost like a good barleywine would pour. Heck, this is so big in terms of ABV, it might as well just be called a wine! You get some subtle chocolate notes on the nose. Let’s take a sip.

The beer is not carbonated at all… and it EXPLODES with flavor on the palate. Holy cow, this beer is incredible. It doesn’t taste like anything it smells, and has a very smooth finish, and a LONG aftertaste that I just don’t want to go away. Perhaps another drink will solve that…

This been has been referred to as a dessert beer, and I can see that. It’s not as thick as most dessert beers, but it doesn’t need to be. This beer is BIG and very very VERY good! Did I just find a new favorite beer?

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Photo of MMOSNN
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Year-old 2015 version poured in a goblet.
Look - a super hazy brown, but there's some red in there too. The head is very thin and khaki colored. Very spotty lacing.
Smell - raisins, brown sugar, some notes of vanilla and chocolate, and slight booziness.
Taste - so much complexity here. It's similar to the nose and extremely rich. You get sweet notes in the form of caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, and there's a good amount of raisan and chocolate, almost like a Raisinette. I'm not noticing much booze, especially considering the ABV.
Feel - good carbonation, chewy mouthfeel, smooth finish, a little slick.
Overall, age is doing wonders to this beer. It's losing complexity visually due to the aging process, but everything else is completely stellar. I have some 2016 bottles that I plan on aging, and I'll definitely be looking forward to this beer every year.

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Photo of acevenom
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage.

Poured into a chalice. Pours clear, deep reddish copper with a finger length biege head. The head dissipates, leaving a cap of lacing on top. The aroma of malts hits up front. There is some alcohol in the smell as well as some fruit smells. The flavors of this beer are complex. It's malty, but it's also not that sweet. There is also some alcohol in the taste. There are fruity flavors like raisin, plum, and cherry. The carbonation is abundant enough to make this beer medium bodied. However, it the beer does stick to the mouth like a heavier beer would. verall, this is an amazing and complex beer. I've been saving bottles from the 2011 vintage and felt the urge to try one. This is best saved for a cold night, but it is even enjoyable on a summer day. It's definitely a world class beer any time of the year.

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Photo of beertunes
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the 2008 Vintage. Poured into 12oz "pint" glass. Poured a deep, rich worn-leather color with a tinge of ruby/orange on the edges. Poured with 1/4 inch of dark khaki head that quickly dissipated. A full, malt filled aroma with just a hint of sweet fruitiness. The taste is wonderfully fulfilling, full-figured and well rounded with just enough hop spicieness to counter the solid malt foundation. The body is also a well built, full ,tongue-coating treat. Ultimate in it's drinkability, caution is well advised. Note that this beer is slightly hot when new, but smooths out relatively quickly. This beers stores wonderfully and if you have the chance for an aged vintage, do not hesitate. Truly magnificent, a world class classic.

Update for the '09 version. One of the few beers I think actually improves with age, this brew is magnificent even when fresh. What a great beer. So many flavors, so much texture. Absolutely enjoyable.

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Photo of josefnewsong
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow... Had a sample poured in a champagne flute. Color was ruby red/bronze with a scent like whisky and brown sugar with some dark fruits in the mix. The taste was so complex that it felt ooollld, caramel, toffee, wood, and whisky...maybe molasses, dark fruits. just damn good.


this seems to get better with every year that it ages

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Photo of putnam
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002 edition.
Miraculously balanced beer with a hint of top-notch sake-like aromatics that appear like over-ripe strawberries/cherries and roasted vanilla with a faint, raw grain bitterness. Sake yeast?
The color is grade A maple syrup brown and features a stubborn, beige blanket of fine-gagued foam. Pillowy, tropical green leaves, with voluptuosly floral, truffly and toffee-like fruit gives plenty to chew on. Nevertheless it rinses cleanly across the palate leaving a glaze of perfumy magic. Quite impressive to drink now for all of its exquisite balance, a quality missing from so many American Strong Ales, Barleywines etc. Still, I think this will only improve over the next 3-8 years.

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Photo of Zodijackyl
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours ruby red. Aroma of sticky caramel candy, delicious. Taste of sticky, savory caramel malt, strong and tart. The barley has a rustic, coppery taste similar to heavier Belgian tripels/quads. Extremely drinkable for a beer this heavy. There's a bit of hop sweetness that shines through in the aftertaste. Extremely clean mouthfeel, the taste has a strong presence, but it is purely pleasant, throughout and after.

Very smooth and balanced, doesn't taste as strong as it is, there's not even a hint of alcohol. Top notch.

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Photo of stompilator
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 edition poured into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep crimson, thin beige head.

S - Earthy spice, plums, berries, caramel, and a bit of booze. (The 2012 takes on a more caramelly, fruity aroma)

T - A nice, floral and earthy, decidedly English hop burst kicks things off, but the massive malt presence quickly takes over, with an incredibly sweet, molasses-y, caramelly taste. Wild, viney, dark fruit notes join soon after, which compliments the malt incredibly well. A subtle booziness begins to roll out later in the palate, giving a hard, almost woody edge to the flavor. In the end, the hefty, caramelly sweetness lingers over all else. (The 2012 was incredibly sweet by comparison, with near-cloying green apple, butterscotch, and toffee)

M - Thick and mouth-coating. Wonderfully dry.

O - Everything about this beer is massive. The flavors are many, but they marry into a gargantuan, incredibly complex brew. Every vintage seems to be special in its own way.

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Photo of wages
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I recall previously having the 2009 and 2010 versions which were amazing, so I'm looking forward to trying this 2011 version.

2011 bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance - 5/5 - Beautiful rich red/brown color. Pours with a finger-thick head that retreats to a very thin lingering layer of foam.

Smell - 5/5 - Big sweet aroma with fruit.

Taste - 5/5 - Malty flavor finishes with raisins that perfectly balances the high alcohol. Perhaps currant, but I don't know what those taste like, so hard to describe the fruit flavor.

Mouthfeel - 4.5/5 - High carbonation balances a near-syrupy body and ends with alcohol warming. Malt remains behind on the tongue.

Overall - 5/5 - Every bit as good as I remember from previous vintages. It may be an "Old Ale", but it reminds me a lot of a barleywine, though less "thick".

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Photo of RexBanner
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%

Poured from bottle into a goblet.
Its appearance was a dark amber. Hazy, no carbonation was noticeable. 1 1/2 finger creamy head that faded into nothing rather quickly. Nice looking beer.

Aroma: Some yeast, although very faint. Maple syrup, corn flakes, alcoholic esters, hops and maybe vanilla or corn syrup, I couldn't quite make it out.

Taste & mouth feel: Robust was the first word that came to mind. Deep "beer" taste. Slight sweetness from the malts but then there is a sharp bite from both the hops and the carbonation. Chewy and full although it looks like a thin beer. The carbonation is by no means assertive; medium is more like it. Nice sweet corn syrup taste but nothing like an adjunct beer. The bready yeast and hops helps balance this beer out.

Very, very good beer. This is for sure a beer drinkers beer. The kind of taste one thinks of when desiring a good beer to end the work day. One of the better American old ales in the market. The reason I say that is that many of the other American old ales tend to be too sweet and end up tasting more like milder version of a barleywine. This one was balanced. My recommendation, however, would be to age it after purchasing, for a year.

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Photo of sergeantstogie
4.94/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 batch.

Poured a gorgeous dark amber color. I can almost imagine ants frozen in time in this dark yet glowing elixir.

The smell is just a hint of what lies ahead in flavor. It smells like walking into a house where a pineapple upside down cake just got thrown to bake in the oven by mom because she was afraid that pineapple was going to rot and we don't have the kind of money where something as expensive as a pineapple can go to waste.

The taste is pineapple upside down cake. What else did you think I would say? Well to be honest there are hints of boozy bourbon vanilla. Just a hint.

For such a heavy experience of a beer, it comes off very light. Not a ton of carbonation, but it's an old ale; That's ok.

This is the second year I have been lucky enough to drink this delicious beer and I gotta say it is easily on my Island list if such a thing exists. Dessert in a glass without being sweet and cloying. The only ding in my score comes from this and all the past Old Stock Ales from North Coast have had almost no head. Apart from that this beer would have been all 5's.

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Photo of musicman575
4.94/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If one can make wine from barley, this is definitely a port.

Sparse little bubbles rise very slowly out of nowhere through the dark cola-colored liquid.

Smells of cocoa, dates, raisins, molasses, smokiness, oakiness, and everything else that is rich, sweet, and brown.

What an enormous flavor! It's almost overwhelmingly tasty. It's comparable to, let's say, the best hot chocolate you've ever had, or maybe the most well-balanced manhattan.

The carbonation isn't terribly present until you take a sip, then a single layer of microbubbles effervesces across the tongue to invigorate the drink. Amazing.

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Photo of bball208
4.94/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A truly amazing beer.

Pours a nice dark gold/brown. i taste sweet molasses, toffee, vanilla, oak, and some alcohol. It was very similar to a backwoods bastard, but a little more intense and chaotic (in a good way). This is definitely worth cellaring. I will from now on buy a case of this every year and hopefully 5 years down the road do a vertical with this one.

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Photo of czechsaaz
4.92/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2002 vintage, 4 years old. Celar Temp in a snifter. 11.4% 12 oz bottle.

Lots of malt aroma, particularly dark malts like Munich or Vienna. There's also a bunch of wine-like yeast smells with lots of fruit esters too. The wine character that was pretty up front on the first sniffs disappears after a minute. I get some coffee notes and caramel and even a cinnamin spiceyness. Very complex.

Very dark red color with a solid layer of tan head that leaves good lacing. Some rising carbonation bubbles too.

Lots of malt backbone again with lots of darker malts. What really gets me is the fermentation fruitiness. Lots of ripe plums and cherries and some grape flavors like port wine. Solid hop bitterness but its a back seat to the malty profile. It's got some brown sugar character in the aftertaste that is pretty sweet. Seems like the hops are dropping out with age.

Full bodied and smooth. Carbonation level is fairly light on the toungue. Theres also a warming alcohol effect in the aftertaste too.

Another winner. Not sure how much longer this is going to age. If the hops drop out any m,ore it will get pretty sweet. But right now its drinking marvelously.

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Photo of Citadel82
4.92/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 Bottling enjoyed with friends during the superbowl and paired with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup...Sublime!

Poured out deep brown with an aple tan head that left plenty of lace. Aroma of cocoa and toasted malt. Rich and deep and dessert like. Taste was wonderfully complex blend of caramel, chocolate and toasted malt. Thick and rich and luscious on the tongue makes this tipple exceptional as a nightcap or with a good book.

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Photo of asabreed
4.9/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer about 6 months ago and have been dying to try it again; I deemed it then as one of the best beers I've ever tasted.

Thankfully, I was able to find a 4-pack at Carytown Wine and Beer in Richmond for about $10, and I would've paid much more to be able to buy for bottles for sure. I think I had the 2003 edition 6 months, but now this is the 2004, and a fresh bottle that I just opened. One of the reasons it has an almost perfect score is for my expectations being so high, and they ended up being pretty much right on as far as what I can recall after that first taste.

Appearance: Beautiful amber, orange, reddish color, with a lace that sticks and then recedes quickly. Nice outline of white around the beer that remains nicely, and no lace sticking to the wine glass.

Smell: Better than I remember it. Raisins. Toffee. Faint hints of chocolate. Faint hints of many kinds of fruit. The Caramel presence is huge, though not cloying but extremely surprising and welcoming. The sweetness is what surely fills the nose, but again, it's not so sweet you think it's a fruit beer. Reminds me of a good barley wine, yet the faint smell of hops usually in many isn't present, andf it really isn't missed in that sense because the aroma's so complex.

Taste: Extremely complex, and extremely inviting. The flavors come out immensely from the smells. And for how sweet it smells, once would imagine the sweetness would overtake the palate. However, the aftertaste is one of the attributes that denies any such claim. One may think it would be too sweet, too overpowering with the alcohol, too unbalanced. Not at all. I don't know how it's done, but not only is the aftertaste sweet, it's balanced, complex yet again, and stays with you in the mouth. Stunning.

Mouthfeel: I don't see how it can get any better. This may be the perfectly delicate balance between light and chewy.

Drinkability: The only reason I'm giving this a rating that isn't perfect is for the extremely high ABV. I would never drink more than one at a time because it's so goddamn good you'd be a fool to do so.

This is a gorgeous beer and one that will remain, I imagine, in my top five for as long as I continue to drink it. Please seek this out, as it's worth it for the price if you can find it in singles or a 4-pack. Bravo, North Coast.

NOTE: As I said, this is the 2004 batch, so it could have been brewed and bottled over a year ago or less than six months ago. That said, I can't wait to shelve a few of these for at least a year to see what wonderful things happen. I've had way too many barley wines in the past year that have been so green that I couldn't believe I even attempted to open it. This is a case where, in [probably] less than a year, this beer's come through, which makes it even more inviting that in its "green" state it can be such a fantastic thing.

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Photo of youngblood
4.9/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a 2004 vintage.
A - Pours a leathery brown with weathered amber on the outer regions. Light brown head perches atop the brew. Head remains steady for most of the beer leaving heavy lace.
S - Loads of bread/biscuit coming from this. Strong undercurrent of raisins, figs, and dates. Some leather and tobacco hidden in there also. Beauty of a sniffer.
T - This might have the most complex, rich flavor of any beer I've ever had. Strong malt sweetness resulting in a doughy flavor. Alcohol provides estery sweetness, traces of raisin and tobacco. Bit of plum and tannin swirling around.
M - Strong thick mouthfeel, slightly sticky. Leaves the mouth satisfied and smiling.
D - This is a sipper because of all the flavors, but that doesn't mean its hard to drink my any means.

This is a beer to have with serious thinking. The complexity of this beer easily stands up to any Barleywine or any other old ale that I've ever had.

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Photo of HumulusLupuLust
4.89/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

i)low, thin head; hazy dark copper

II)couldn't get over how much this smelled like powdered grape kool-aid, green apple, raisons, watermelon candy from cracker barrel, not too much alcohol on the nose, misc. fruit, wood, smoked peat, cinnamon

III)first sip rang juniper berry, caramel; nice carbonation; well hidden alcohol, however, spicy; lemon, oak finish, hint of peat, alcohol warms halfway through.

this beer reminds me of an oaky tripel, a 11.7% that sips like a 7-9er. this beer is now one of my favorites. last year's was good, this one's great.

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.89/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2002 Edition: One of my longtime favorites, this beer will go into a tulip. The head is much more subdued than my previous bottles from this year. The half inch head quickly fades to nothing. The body is transparent only when held to a light source, and even then one must be quite close to the glass.

The nose is malty and vinous. Slight vanilla and raisins are detected. This baby is in its prime. The malts are complex. I really cannot pick any individual flavor out of this. The malt is somewhat roasty, with dark fruits as well. The finish is dry, almost like I am drinking Cabernet. Must be the remnants of the hops. The mouthfeel is thick, but not coating as I imagine it once was. Even if there was a hint of the 11.4% ABV, this would be extremely drinkable. Time has been good to this, as the alcohol is buried deeply within this one. I cannot find any more recent vintages of this one in Indy. There seems to be plenty of this one, though. I give a three for appearance because of the enormous head on every other occassion that I drank this one. I will edit this the next time I pop one.

Edit: My glass might have been slightly dirty the last time. This time, I get the nice head I am accustomed to from this one.

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Photo of McNealc31
4.87/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 version. Deep mahogany color with loads of roasted butterscotch and some wood in the nose. That butterscotch flavor absolutely coats the mouth with a bit of sour tang in the finish. Hops add a welcome kick and some bitterness, but don't get in the way of anything. Picking up some grapes and late chocolate as it warms. It's a heavy hitter at more than 11% ABV, but the alcohol is just a pleasant warmth.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.1 out of 5 based on 3,172 ratings.
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