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Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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1,487 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: 1,487 | Ratings: 3,147
Photo of dbrauneis
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear garnet red in color. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that reduces to a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate lacing is observed.

S: There are lots of aromas in this beer with a nice complexity. I get notes of vanilla, caramel malts, and some dark fruit (fig). Overall a fairly sweet smelling beer with some light hint of alcohol.

T: The taste follows the smell with an almost cloying sweetness to this beer. There is a definite presence of caramel malts along with some brown sugar and molasses. After that the dark fruit is very noticeable with fig being most dominant of the dark fruits. There is a light hint of vanilla and some wood. Light lingering presence of alcohol.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Some alcohol heat is present. Smooth.

O: Overall, there is just a little too much alcohol presence in this beer (in the taste, smell, and mouthfeel) for it to be easy to drink. While it is not the easiest to drink, it is not unenjoyable. This is definitely a sipping beer.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this one up at Julio's -2008 vintage -poured from the stubby 12ozer into a snifter

A - A caramel brown colored liquid w/ translucent clarity and quick to settle beige cap w/ ultra fine bead. The lace clings is a haphazard streamer/spotted appearance

S - Vanilla spice and caramel aroma w/ a slight creamy almost custard-like aroma of subtle oxidation

M - The feel is surprisingly crisp w/ relatively full carbonation and a mild warmth of alcohol w/ sweet textures from mid taste into a semi-dry toasted finish

T - A taste of nut and mild caramel malt sweetness w/ a mild pine flavor in the hop dept is followed by a light pepper and subtle note of coffee w/ toffee-like buttery edge and mild brown sugar flavor w/ a light vanilla bean accent and mild molasses quality w/ more pine from the hops and sweet malted caramel notes into the long finish. As it warms it brings more of an alcohol warming and caramel tootsie roll from the malt emerges

D - I really wasn't sure what to expect other than good mentions of this brew - a really solid old ale w/ substantial malt body - what this style is all about. The alcohol is very well hidden for a brew upwards of 11% abv

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Photo of womencantsail
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A bottle from the 2009 bottling.

A: The pour is a sort of muddy brownish red color with a short lived tan head that settles down to a thin ring.

S: A strong aroma of dark fruits, leather, toffee, and dark sugars. There is a mild alcoholic presence in the form of sherry, rum which works nicely with the plums and raisins.

T: There is a bitterness and dryness that wasn't quite expected. The leathery quality really shines through along with some dark/burnt sugars. Surprisingly, the fruits are somewhat subdued.

M: The body is full with a smooth carbonation. A bit sticky and chewy as well.

D: Not the best of the old ales that I've come across. Perhaps I need to try this one at varying ages to see how it might differ.

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Photo of russpowell
4.51/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2004 version Pours a murky caramel with a tiny/filmy white head. Head retention and lacing minimal

Smell: Bourbon-like oakiness hits you up front, then raisin and leather comes to the fore.

Taste: Big malt presence coupled with toffee/treacle- like sweetness and Bourbon. Warming alcohol burn on the finish

Mouthfeel: Chewy and well balaced. Carbonation is understated but appropriate

Despite it's heft, this goes down too smoothly. This will take the chill out of the winter night

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Photo of Jason
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz short brown bottle with the vintage date of 2002 and 11.4% abv … no need for a freshness date.

Appearance: Dark hazy amber brown in colour, thin lacing … a bit sticky yet again, thin.

Smell: Steely caramelized malts, juicy ripe fruit … raisins? A malty and alcoholic aroma.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, ripe fruit melds with the alcohol to produce a rum raisin like flavour. He steely caramel malt has a bite and rides with a faded hop character. Sweet caramel and toasted grain run throughout, again … lots of malt. Sweet yet pleasing finish.

Notes: One of the few old ales I have had from an American brewery and an excellent job they did. The maltiness hides some of the 11.4% abv and there seems to be a good bit of balance even after it has aged for a good while.

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Photo of smcolw
4.02/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Decent head and pleasant lace. Pours a dirty (read cloudy) light brown.

Rich warm malty smell: lots of alcohol; caramel candy aroma.

Stronger hop bite than expected. The rich aroma comes through in the sweet, malty flavor. Full bodied as would be expected; relatively low carbonation.

This is a deceptively easy-to-drink barley wine. At 13.25% ABV, this is like having three beers in one. This is an excellent beer if your having only one.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.52/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Thanks to plenum for this vintage gem!

2007 Vintage. Old stock indeed. It pours a murky dark apple cider topped by a very minor spritz of dirty ecru foam. The nose comprises buttery biscuits, caramel, chocolate, graham crackers, ginger, and a well o' fusels deep in the back. The taste holds notes of orange peel, slight pine, buttery toffee, light cocoa, and a decidedly noticeable alcohol burn. The body is a hefty medium, with a moderate carbonation and a chunky feel. Overall, I think age has done some good for this brew (remembering way back to my fresh bottle a year or so ago), but I'm not sure I could drink much of this at once.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A: Poured a hazy ruby red/amber color. A small head forms upon pouring and dissipates to a smattering of bubbles. Decent lacing.

S: A little bit of alcohol, but overall it is rather sweet smelling. A little bit of fruit and an earthiness.

T: Again a little bit of alcohol, but a lot less than I thought there would be since this bottle is rather fresh. Overly malty, no hops to speak of at all. Some caramel, plums, and brown sugar.

M: Medium to full bodied, and a bit high on the carbonation for the style.

O: Pretty good, even with the hints of alcohol (which weren't entirely unexpected at 11.7%). Good flavor, but the high carbonation was a bit strange.

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Photo of orangesol
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on nitro-tap into a Bell's tulip at Al's of Hampden.

A - Pours nut brown with a very spotty tan head leaving no lacing down the glass.

S - Tons of rich caramel malt up front with a touch of booze. Some dark fruits like raisins and figs mix well with a bit of spice and strong brandy flavor from the booze. A very complex nose.

T - Lots of caramel sweetness up front from the malt giving way quickly to lots of dark fruit flavors similar to the nose, toffee, and vanilla. Finish is strong booze that lingers on the pallet for some time. I liked this one a lot but I don't think I could drink more than one at a time. It is a very heavy beer.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. A good amount of booze burn lingers for some time. I think the nitro hurt this one a bit.

D - Not too bad. I like this one out of the bottle better. I think if it was on co2 it would have been a bit better. Still one of my favorites for the style.

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Photo of billab914
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle. It poured a darker, murky, caramel brown color with a thin white head sticking to the edges of the glass.

The aroma has a brown sugar, caramel and toffee presence in it. I also get some sweeter, dark fruit, fig and cherry flavors as well as some boozy alcohol notes. Very appealing and inviting aroma on this cold evening.

The taste has more of the caramel, toffee and malty notes to it at first. In the finish I get some yeast spices mixing with some of the fig and cherry dark fruit notes. A nice balancing bitterness is there in the finish as well, which really helps keep all those sweet, malty flavors in check. Decent amount of alcohol present, but fitting for the style and size of the beer.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being low. Overall it was a very nice beer. It had some big and flavorful malty flavors but managed to balance them out very well. Great beer to sip on this evening.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a deep brown color with 2 inches of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells very very sweet. Smells of sugar, molasses, dark fruits, and caramel malts.

t - Tastes of dark fruits, sugar, and fruity malts. Also a decent amount of alcohol in the taste.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Little bit of heat.

d - A decent dark ale, but I thought it smelled and tasted too sweet, and I thought the alcohol was too prevelant in the taste. Might give another shot.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Slightly hazy amber color with beige head. Aroma has dark fruits and brown sugar. Taste follows with dried raisins, bitter burnt sugar, earthy hops. Medium to light body, medium bitterness, quite dry. A well made old ale but I think it's too bitter and earthy for the style.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by jayhawk73. Thanks Jeff!

The beer is dark ruby hued, with a thin, wispy tan head that leaves faint lacing on the snifter. The aroma brings malt, toffee, alcohol. The flavor is sweet, with notes of toffee, caramel candies, malt. The feel is medium bodied on the palate. The sweetness is present throughout, but not cloying. The beer actually reminds me of Samichlaus. Good stuff. This will certainly age well. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2002 Old Stock Ale, yeah baby. Appearance: Deep ruby mahogany with a nice sized cream head leaves a nice pattern of scattered lacing. Aroma: Rich alcoholic brandy tone with rich overly ripened fruit soaked in alcohol, very compex and strong smelling. Taste: Malts slightly burnt orangepeel tone with a plums simmered in brown sugar tone a finishing bitter note but the hops don't play a vital role here this is one malty alcoholic tasting beer. Mouthfeel: Full bodied chewy texture medium carbonation big beer weighs in at 11.4, wow. Drinkability: It's a winter warmer chill and enjoy with a beer over the course of at least 45 minutes let this one warm up a bit, you won't be sorry.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. 2010 bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Reddish brown body with a minimal head, which is gone in a flash. The body is pretty clear and it hardly sticks to the glass with a swirl.

Smell - Booze! It's a lot of booze. Behind that is a lot of dark fruits and some caramel malt. Smells good, but very boozy.

Taste - Pretty well follows the taste. Booze and dark fruits with a slight caramel sweetness. It finishes with a slight earthiness that I expect from an old ale.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation and high alcohol, but it isn't a problem. It's also quite dry, which is surprising. The flavors don't linger a whole lot, which might be nice. Makes it feel somewhat light for an 11.7% ABV beer.

Overall - Just my style. I love giant, boozy old ales. I have a bunch of these in the cellar and I like to crack one open when I feel like zonking out on the couch. A little harsh on the booze, but its within the style.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Pours a fully fogged in very slightly orange touched brown. Nose is caramel, chalky, and dark fruits. Flavor is extremely smooth and brings just enough complexities. I get an alcohol burn, but it's more of a warming thing. Chalky almost strawberry flavorthing is there. Bourbon tones. Sweet tones abide, but it's not overdone. Carbonation still nips at the tongue quite a bit. Liquid is slick and smooth. Well this is quite good. A firm example of why you should buy some beers and never touch them for years.

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Photo of stakem
4.54/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at TJ's, I really should have inquired about the vintage of this as it will haunt me until I have it again and/or find out.

Pours a cloudy amber orange color with an off white creamy head. Nose is full of caramel notes, maltiness and suggestions of oak and vanilla. Mostly sweet aroma is strikingly similar to cotton candy and floral hops. Taste is malty sweet with vanilla, caramel and a little bit of hops in the finish blend with the warmth of the alcohol and some faint astringency. Medium feel and mild amount of carbonation. This is one extremely smooth and drinkable ale. Absoslutely an unexpected awesome surprise.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark copper with ruby highlights, and has a big fluffy mostly white head that impales itself to the glass on the way down. The Aroma is wonderful, caramel, raisins, dried fruits, slight bit of citrus hops, but mostly sweet smelling malt. Taste hits with the sweet malt and caramel up front, some hop twang in the middle, giving way to an alcohol burn at the end. Mouthfeel is sweet and sticky, ample carbonation. Great sipping beer. Tastes a little sweet, but that just made me drink it quicker.

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Photo of jwc215
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2007 edition:

Pours hazed dark brown with an off-white head that thins and stays around. Good head retention for style and abv level.

The smell is rum-like - boozy with prunes and raisins. Some woody earthiness comes through.

The taste is of caramel and booze. Some muted prune-like fruitiness is there as well as woody/earthy notes. Sweet alcohol dominates.

The feel is almost syrupy. Raw and a bit sticky.

Interesting - very hot (which was expected). A slow-sipper to be sure. Maybe this would be better after having mellowed with age, though not bad as it is.

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Photo of tdm168
3.31/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber color with a thin layer of bubbly, soft, loose, off white head that has little retention. The nose has an odd medicinal, cherry aroma. The flavor is malty and caramelly up front followed by some cherry notes and finishes warm with some alcohol coming through. The flavor is a little medicinal as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth, and well carbonated.

This is an unusual beer. The medicinal characteristics detract from what appears to be a great underlying beer. Overall, I'm disappointed.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle vintage 2011 poured into a shaker pint at Quarry House tavern Silver Spring MD.

A two finger head is produced, with a very creamy looking light caramel brown head uniform throughout. Dig that head color. A gorgeous clear red copper body is present with rust like hues. Fantastic staying power on the head, while drinking the body disappears into cherry red on the end. There is no visible lacing or stickyness.

Very malty on the nose, but also something very unexpected. Sweet and earthy, dirt, almost manure even. I am shocked.

Giant malt borderline feeling like a wee heavy Scotch Ale. Sweet and big bodied but not syrupy either. Chocolate sense slightly in the mid palate and the finish with giant malt feeling gives a sense of Ovaltine chocolate bar. More sips and drink bring more thickness it seems and the feel gets a little more syrupy.

Overall pretty darn tasty and one unique smelling brew.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage.
Appearance: a brilliantly ruby reddish hue, with a darkish head that dies down immediately.
Aroma: dazzling! full of dark fruits (cherries, berries, grapes), and wine, port, cognac... a very evident alcoholic component!
Big hops, big malt, big booze: that's the basic lineup, but when it all tastes so good, who could want anything else
A sweet, syrupy characteristic shines through the mouthfeel...the fruit and the booze (brandyish) totally dominates the overall texture.
One thoroughly decadent ale, and a truly stand-out examples of a barleywine.
thanks to weefishheads.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle opened April 2015

A - Murky mahogany brown. Fine dark bone white head pours a quarter finger high but hangs around with nice retention. Low lace.

S - Sweet and surprisingly bright. Butter scotch, lemon, maple syrup, amaretto, and bread crust.

T - Smooth caramel, fruitcake and butterscotch with a toasty amaretto backdrop. The impression is net sweet, but the boozy warmth and bright carbonation bring a really nice balance to the beer.

M - Silky smooth with a medium light frame. Warm finish. Really nice carbonation.

O - A really nice example of the style. The 2013 is drinking really well.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, this is the 2010 vintage. The beer pours a vibrant, deep amber-red coloring with no head. Heavy smells of sweet malt, caramel, and a bit of hazelnut, with a slight hint of sour grapes. Flavors are heavy sweet, with caramel and toffee tones. Also, there are roasted characteristics present, with a shift to a slightly sour aftertaste. The beer has a sharp and carbonated feel in mouth initially, yet has a full and syrupy/viscous feeling throughout the mouth. There is a spiced and slightly sour aftertaste, with a strong nudge of the booze, and the finish is viscous and stale. Strong flavors and alcohol notes make this a sipper, and only one or two per sitting for me, but tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz botle, 2003 vintage. Pours a dark ruby, mohogany color. Minimal head, leaves lace and settles down to a tiny bubble sheen. Alcohol, flowers and vanilla in the nose. Rich malt notes, alcohol present. Creamy smooth, notes of butter, honey, vanilla, brandy, and caramel and then piney, citrusy hops. Lovely balance and complexity. Clearly a finely crafted product, seek out, and enjoy. Would be great with some stinky cheese, nuts and apples.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.1 out of 5 based on 3,147 ratings.
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