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Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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1,483 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: 1,483 | Ratings: 3,140
Photo of Lnedrive14
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 vintage:

Whoa baby! This thing will send you into that state of pure inebriation (sang to the tune of Wonka). I think the age of the beer really helps to minimize the alcohol presence, that I am pretty sure would be quite overwhelming if drank too young.

Some caramel sweetness, with some dried papaya, pomegranate, other rare fruits. Only the slightest hop presence. Totally warming. Mouthfeel was good, but the drinkability was still hindered by the pure strength of this bad boy. It kinda reminded me of a MUCH better tasting Weyerbecher Decadence. Maybe that will taste better in a few years too.

A really great old ale and one that I would enjoy trying again in the future.

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Photo of petemoss14
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 bottle poured into a snifter. Chilled only slightly, as brewer recommends drinking at room temp.

Pours a beautiful deep ruby color. Moderately thick, creamy head dissipates rather quickly.

Heady, complex malt aroma. Full of ripe fruit, especially raisins.

Malt upfront, raisins again. Port-like. Followed by a quick kick from the hops before the alcohol takes over, warming the chest and going straight to the head on the exhale.

Full mouthfeel, but with moderate carbonation. Lots of malt, but avoids being cloying. Overall, a very enjoyable night-capper of a beer. Great for a cold winter's night.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 vintage.

Pours a brownish/red with a half inch off-white head that quickly fades away to a thin ring that leaves a decent amount of lace. Pretty nice considering the high abv.

Smell; dark sweet cherries and a little bit of apples, rich chocolate and caramel. There's also a presence of alcohol in the nose that mingles pretty well with averything alse.

Taste; the rich caramel malts jump out with the initial sip, but then the darks fruits kind of slide in there without being overly sweet. The alcohol has a presence in the flavor, but it's not biting or overwhelming. The year this has had to sit has mellowed out the hop bitterness quite a bit without developing any off tastes from oxidation. Mouthfeel is full bodied and chewy. Drinkability takes a bit of a hit with such a high abv.

A very enjoyable sipping beer, that I would highly recommend.

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

found a 2001 vintage in my celllar. And boy has this beer held up after five years. I had one of these from '05 and I thought it was good, but it didn't really knock my socks off, but after about five years aged this might be one of the tastiest beers I've had in a while. There is a great english malt character and decent similar smell. The 11.4% abv relly gets hidden well behind a lot of thick fruit and malt. Huge finish that kind of coats the mouth and leaves you begging for more. Reminds us of Westervlerteen or an aged Quad from Weyerbacher. Probably one of the best aged beers that we have ever had. I'd hate to disect something this good too much, so just go out and hunt your self an '01 Old Stock, or buy one now and wait five years damn't. You'll thank us later.

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Photo of shbobdb
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Well, having performed a back-to-back tasting of this beer and Bell's, I gotta say that North Coast wins hands down.
Wow. First off, I have to say, this old ale really shines as a prototypical porter. I can taste the darker malts that, when aged and blended, would result in a porter-like beer. Wow. The mouthfeel is thick and rich with a nice amount of bubbly to round it out. The taste is full, many-layered . . . wonderful. A little vineous though. It is good, don't get me wrong, but it almost reminds me of a port -- that alcholic sweetness predominates.
A good beer, highly recommended.

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Photo of arguemaniac
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

An aged example from 2003….

Pours a very cloudy brown with a short lived tan head. Big malty aroma with dark fruits, and whiff of sweet alcohol. The rich flavor includes a complex variety of dark and sweet flavors: dark rum, raisins (and other dark fruits), sweet caramel, and a hint of coffee roastiness in the finish. Not much in the way of hop bitterness but there is a pretty firm alcohol bite. Mouthfeel is creamy with moderate carbonation.

Very tasty, but given how sweet and alcoholic it is, I wouldn’t say this is the most drinkable beer in the world. Recommended

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Photo of amicar
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is the 2004. Pours a murky light brown with a decent sized tan head, given the ABV. More carbonation than I expected. Smells like all kinds of dried fruit, especially figs/ dates, and a little sherry- like. A nice slight roast smell with clear pine hop undertones. Taste is nicely complex. Again, a few roast things overlaying the sherry and candied/ dried fruit. Good, solid, brisk bitterness with a bit of bite to mask any syrupy sweetness. Certainly full in the mouth, almost slick, with a clear alcohol bite. A bit of harshness does detract, but may mellow with more time.

very nice strong beer. There are others with more complexity of flavor, but this one will keep you happy and warm on a cold night.

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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 iron78
3.87/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

thick creamy beige head fast very fast to little lacing. a rich dark amber color.
strong smell of raisins, carmel, spiced rum.
first thing i notice tasting it is the alcohol. after a couple of sips this is balanced by the hops and i notice more. maybe a raisin flavor with the malts.
good feel, thick with out being to much syrup. smooth and enjoyable.

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

Dark, hazy mahogany. A dirty white head builds up about a quarter of an inch, then fades down to nothing. Smells of maple syrup, with hints of dark fruit- plums and raisins, maybe. And of course, a buzzy alcohol scent lingers throughout. Dark, heavy malts flood my tastebuds, mellowing into a raw sugar-raisin sweetness. The warming alcohol bite never quite abandons it's efforts at assaulting my gut. A nice warming sensation is the lingering effects of this brew. Delicious even when young. 2004 edition.

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Photo of cheers2beers
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 Vintage

Appearance: Poured a murky almost rust colored tint of brown. A one finger head sprung up but disapated within 20 seconds. Left little to no lacing. Its hard to see but I can detect a steady bead within the cloudy darkness.

Smell: Dark spiced rum, apple butter, toast, raisin, subtle bourbon and dark sweet malts penetrate my nasal passages. Very expressive!

Taste: Oh so similar to the nose. Plenty of fruits at work here. Pear chutney drizzled with caramel. Slight stinging alcohol as this big boy warms.

Mouthfeel: Full mouthfeel but strangly crisp for having so little carbonation. This is due possibly to the ABV.

Drinkability: This is quite simply a well put together beer I could and would drink this all the time. Being such a booze bomb limits this to maybe two per sitting. This would be a fine desert beer (03' vintage).

Overall: This specific vintage has aged beautifully. Compared to the 05' that I had, the alcohol has mellowed to an almost perfect level and it has developed soooo many layers of malt and fruity complexity. I cant wait to review this 03' vintage again in a couple of years.


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

Picked up a 2004 edition bottle at AJ's in mid-August for $2.99.

This brew pours a hazy dark red with a nice but quickly dissapating head. Nose is of heavy malts, alcohol, and the dark fruits. Taste is kind of changing as I progress thru this brew. Initially it was a shock of alcohol. But on successive sips the complexity of this brew becomes more evident as I am tasting a nice medley of chocolate malts and dark fruits and a nice alcohol warming finish. The style reminds me of an extremely strong dark Belgian. Mouthfeel is very lively and nice and full. Initially I did not think this was a knock your socks off drinkable brew but it definitely grows on me as I progress thru my glass. Unless you're out to get 'faced, this is one brew that should be enjoyed in small doses!

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Photo of kolbe
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I just enjoyed a bottle of 2004 Old Stock. I didn't have high hopes for this beer. I presumed it would taste too strongly of alcohol and that I wouldn't enjoy it much.

Instead, I enjoyed a deliciously strong beer with an intriguing palate, even after only one year of maturation. I thoroughly recommend this ale.

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

2009 Edition

Poured into a tulip a very nice hazy brown/reddish color, very nice carbonation, and a very nice fizzy light tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight hop, and some spice. The taste is sweet, malty, slight hop, nice warming effect. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well, but it's there. Drinkable, still a very nice/tasty brew.

2007 Edition

Poured into a tulip a very nice hazy brown/reddish color, very nice carbonation, and a very nice fizzy light tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight hop, and some spice. The taste is sweet, malty, slight hop, nice warming effect. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well, but it's there. Drinkable, still a very nice/tasty brew.

2005 Edition

Not sure of the date of this vintage, Pours a nice dark brown/red color, some carbonation, small head, some lacing. Scents of malt, alcohol, spices, and caramel. Nice taste, sweet with a hint of alcohol. Medium body. Very drinkable at 11.4% ABV, this is one of the strongest barley's I've have, the alcohol is hidden very well for the style. Would highly recommend.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A buddy gave me a couple bottles of the 2004

Pours a dark ruby red. Very pretty purple highlights. Nice foamy tan head that disapears very fast. Nice little carination bubbles scattered in the brew.

Very strong malt aroma I can smell it far away, a little fruity. I can smell the sweetness and the alcohol in this brew. What am I getting myself into?

Very sweet, huge amounts of malts in this brew. Nice little raisin fruitiness. The bitter spiciness comes from the 11.4 ABV. I can feel it in my nose like bourbon as I sip. Nice warming factor. After taste like as if I was drinking fruit juice.

Very drinkable despit ABV. But I wouldn't try taking on more than one at a time.


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Photo of RedDiamond
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002. With just the slightest, and I do mean the slightest crack of this bottle – the bottle cap itself not even fully removed – the aroma of this strong ale rushes forth to greet the drinker with a profound resilience. Before most beers would even knock on your door, the aroma of Old Stock is already stretched out on your sofa and reaching for the remote. This potent and complex fragrance, so relaxed and eager to please, provides an elegant introduction to a great beer.

Plush tawny gold with a deep sentimental haze, Old Stock glows like the embers of an ancient flame. Carbonation is still crazy after all these years though the hops have long fled the scene. Bubbles are infinitesimally small. The head is on vacation.

Old Stock’s aroma is an exquisite basket of candied fruits, with melon, brown sugar and a broad sweep of caramel. Raisin and plum abound, as does an edgy spice I can’t name.

The flavor is equally complex and rides upon a warm alcoholic glow. It has more in common with port wine than it does with common ales though it compares favorably to a good barleywine.

This strong ale from the Redwood Coast makes for a rich aperitif of enduring quality. Two years after bottling the beer was superb. A year after that it was even more of a treasure.

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Photo of Starchild
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2001 Vintage

Poured this four year old in a glass and got a top head of foam. Carbonation was fine and the beer was a red amber color. In the nose, sugar, ripe fruit, a scents of alcohol. In terms of taste, this is one smooth old ale. In terms of the aging, the 11.4% is so smooth and takes like maybe 6%.... so without knowing the actual percentage this could easily be a winter session beer. A little bit of cherries, oak, and a dash of spice. Its good.

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

2002 vinatage

appearance: a ruby/mahogany pour...very full appearance. light creamy beige head and minimal lacing

smell: sweet and fruity...apple, cherry, plum. a full nose of alcohol is present, bitter hops behind sweet malt. pretty potent aroma

taste: plenty of dark fruit dominates especially plum, apple, cherry, raisin. alcohol is very evident. bitter hoppy finish. sweet malty body....light caramel

mouthfeel: smooth and full, bitter aftertaste, alcohol burn

drinkability: slightly above average

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Photo of faernt
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So I broke out the old stock and opened a 2001. It is well. The cap came off with a little pop. It wasn't much but it made a noise. The pour was quiet with a little head which settled into a ring. The nose is what I'd hoped for...spicy and caramelly. The taste is smooth and silky. I look for old ale to taste this way. The 2001 is ready now. It is 11.22.05 and I couldn't be more satisfied. If you have any in your cellar try one. My cellar is not one of the 55F constant types so it may accellerate the aging. Nonetheless. it is ready to be a smoother. I'm glad to have the space and patience to have let this one sit. It is a praise for aging.

Update: 2010 Old Stock Ale
This one just came into Chicago. It's a little hot, but worthy of drinking now. As you might gather by my dates, the 2002,2003,2004, and 2005 are history. Good history...this beer ages well and I'm now committed to aging it longer. The alcohol content is rising...now 11.7% abv. This is nightcap beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(Vintage 2004)

Appearance: Marvelous color; a stunning mosaic of reds, browns, and golds. Even when poured a wee bit aggressively, the head quickly seperated, stretched thinly across the surface of the beer.

Smell: Mammoth malts weigh heavily in the nose. Thick molasses, brandy, vanilla, dried raisins, and alcohol are all very prominent.

Taste: "Hands up" on this malt rollercoaster, please! The vibrant flavors are varied and plentiful. Richly textured caramel and sweetened molasses up front. Sweet, ripened fruits roll by the palate, followed with sugar-coated bread. All of these flavors are punctuated by a zippy spiciness. The 11.4% alcohol is, at first, cumbersome on the palate, but eventually mellows to a relaxing hotness.

Mouthfeel: Medium. Considerably lighter than I remember it being, although its alcohol, syrupiness, and colossal range of flavors help it to seem a bit hardier.

Drinkability: Such an excellent example of balance within a beer. Its all so very impressive. Drinkable? Definitely, but the alcohol can really shake you up, so take it easy, friends. I'll certainly be returning to the store to grab more to cellar.

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

I had a North Coast Old Stock Ale 2002 a few months ago and was so impressed I absolutely had to check out. I knew I couldn't be as lucky to have that vintage again, but the 2004 blew my mind as well. It is a dark brown, hazy, creamy pour, with almost no head whatsoever. And the bouquet..It was very strong, with hints of raisin, roasted malt, sugars, hops.
The taste kicks you in the face; it is strong but somehow not overpowering. You can certainly taste the 9% alcohol, but also raisins, plum, hops, roasty malts. This was a very powerful and complex beer and done excellently.It was a little harsh at times in the mouthfeel, but always made up for it with a wonderful aftertaste. Hats off to North Coast, yet again.

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Photo of dnrobert24
3.86/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This was a 2005 vintage consumed in 2005 in a snifter. I am positive that this beer will get better with some cellaring, I simply had to try a "fresh" bottle to get an idea of what I was starting with. While this is defined as an "old ale," I think it better qualifies as an English Style Barleywine. In fact, I paired this with a blue cheese meal, as if it were a barleywine.

The color was an orange rust. Also, it had some chill haze and was a little murky. When I popped it open, I didn't even have to pour it to get the aroma, immediately I smelled a floral bouquet (rose?) and dried fruits. I am hoping the aroma was a portent of the taste once this ages a bit.

I grilled some filet mignon topped with Maytag Blue Cheese. On the side I had a baked potato with sour cream and butter and a salad with basalmic vinagrette, dried cranberries, and more blue cheese. As soon as I took a bite of the blue cheese, the aroma of the beer changed to a juicy vinous scent. The beer was initially candy sweet with hints of prunes or raisins, which complemented the blue cheese. The aftertast was actually a little tart. The alcohol stood out, although it was not "hot." It merely punched in at the end of every sip and was very recognizable. This may mellow out with time. The carbonation was great and the body smooth. Nevertheless, the beer seemed to actually get more bitter towards the end, making it a little difficult to drink up. All in all, it was a very pleasant dinner combination, one that I hope to repeat perhaps a year or two down the road.

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Photo of jaluria
3.27/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a medium-brown, translucent color with white head that doesn't stay and leaves behind only minimal lacing. Some carbonation is present, but not very much. Aromas of malt, alcohol, dried fruit, and oak-wood seem to come out all at once. Very interesting and appealing. The taste, however, is a different story. The alcohol dominates the taste buds with only a slight sugar/malt backbone. In light of the aromas present, this is a disappointing beer. Not much complexity in this beer. The sweetness turns sour in the back of my throat leaving an unpleasant, dry aftertaste that only gets worse over time. I sipped this beer slowly but could only finish 3/4 of it. An interesting style that I wanted to try, but I won't be having this again. I imagine that if you are really in the mood for this, it would be an enjoyable brew...but, I don't see such an event occuring for me. The high ABV and the alcohol taste prevent this from having a higher drinkability score.

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Photo of BeerFink
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Evacuating this bottle reveals a rich caramel/copper/amber hued brew. Head is fleeting, but a thin khaki ring remains. Aroma is a potent conglomeration of alcohol, overripe fruits, and an impressive malt bill. Caramel and molasses assist in the olfactory assault. Similar to the aroma, the flavor takes no prisoners. Heavy and oily, this is truly delightful. Big malts present bready flavors with strong caramel sweetness. Slightly burning alcohol is warming and enjoyable without being too overpowering. Ripe apples and grapes provide a sweetness and acidity at the same time. Some darker fruits are hinted at, but escape my conscious. Hops provide a hint of pine and the slightest whisper of citrous, but are mostly present in their spiciness. Even a little saltiness from the bold hops. The hops blend well with the sticky sweet malts and alcohol. Finishes sweet and alcoholicly potent. Mouthfeel is very full and thick, massively satisfying. Extremely enjoyable old ale, full of complexities, and devilishly drinkable.

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Photo of yoyo
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So the local stores finally started getting serious about stocking North Coast products. This one took me by suprise. All of a sudden there I see Old Rasputin and Old Stock Ale side by side. What the ??@#$! IS that a 2003 vintage of Old Stock Ale? I'll happily grab three mispriced 4-packs. Yes, a fine reddish, high alcohol sweet ale pre-aged just for me. I promptly packed away 8 of them in the closet for the future. Boy that feels good. Love having great beer hanging out in the closet. This beer rates with some of the better ales from Canada and Belgium. Rock on North Coast, I'll make it to see you someday!

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.1 out of 5 based on 3,140 ratings.
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