Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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1,481 Reviews
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

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

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: 1,481 | Ratings: 3,132
Photo of mmmbeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is my first experience with old ales. Vintage 2003. 12 oz., served at room temperature, overflowing with foam when opened. Pours into the snifter a deep dark red with a 1 finger light tan head that leaves no lacing. Some sediment is floating around. There was a little bit of rust on the bottle where the crimped part of the cap was touching. Smell is of strong malts - dark fruit, apple, diacetyl, bubblegum, a hint of earth, and alcohol. Tastes very very malty - same as the scent but with a wine quality. The hops leave a slight bitterness but the malts dominate the aftertaste. The beer is thick, chewy, low on carbonation, and leaves a warming sensation as it goes down. A definite sipping beer with too strong a flavor (not to mention abv) to drink more than 1 or 2 a night. It is intense and not for the faint of heart, but it warms the soul well on a cold winter night.

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Photo of mgdeth
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - This beer is a beautiful reddish-brown, and has a creamy off-white head.

Smell - Malty sweet aromas mix with sort of a musty dried fruit character. Hop aroma is absent. Alcohol smell is present.

Taste - Luscious sweet malt ushers in an alcohol tang that clubs you in the head and sticks with you way into the aftertaste. Hops also show up , but the balance is tilted toward malt. I also detect some hefty fruity flavors in there.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied, with a full complement of alcohol warmth. Wow. Reminds me of brandy.

Drinkability - Although enjoyable at first, the alcohol presence in this beer is a bit overwhelming. Given the style, this is not such a bad thing, but it is still more than I like.

Comments - This is a complex beer, and truly a sipping one as well. Give it a try, but save up some money before you do because this stuff is not cheap.

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Photo of ProudBeerSnob
4.39/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pured a very dark copper color, with very minimal head. aroma is FANTASTIC! ...Sweet, malty, almost rumlike. Taste is good, not what I was expecting, almost like a barleywine. Great body for this style..not too heavy for its sweetness. A very drinkable brew that I will keep in mind for those cold winter evenings.

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Photo of DrainBamage
3.77/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice brown color. Not quite clear, a little opaque. Head is quite thin and is mostly just around the side of the glass. Smell is quite fruity, like a cantaloupe. Taste is flavorful and fruit-like. Mouthfeel is a step above average and has a nice slight bitter aftertaste. Nicely carbonated and goes down smoothely. Drinkability is quite high and one that I'll keep in mind every so often.

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Photo of IrishMike
4.49/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 2003 (released as new), and purchased from the local liquor store at $9.99 for a four pack.

appearance- Pours a beautiful deep ruby with just the slightest amount of carbonation bubbles making their way up the glass. Small off white head present but fleeting, little spots of lacing holding their own on the glass. Maybe nothing special as far as head retention is concerned, but damn what a gorgeous color.

Smell- Wow! Smells like a well aged English Barley-wine; sweet, with notes of raisin and dry fruit exploding from the body. I didn't think a "new" beer could smell this great; the next-best thing to that '97 J.W. Lees i had. Mellow and soothing. No hops to cloud up that great malty odor.

Taste- Seems to carry the theme of the well-aged English BW, plus a moderate hop profile that takes over in the forefront. Hops do their part but respectfully back away as the brilliant malt characters (raisins, toasted bread, and dark fruits) come in and steal the show. Finishes sweet with a roasted overtone, nicely creating a juxiposition with the hops that start off this brew. Full bodied and very complex. Alcohol profile present, but nowhere near dominating.

mouthfeel- A very full body that hits the mouth and immediately takes over. Can't reasonably fault it, as the toasted malts hang around for a nice after taste. Well, maybe the alcohol character does out stay it's welcome just a tad too long.

Drinkability- Far too heavy and strong to make a session out of, this is one that you drink a single bottle and savor during the entire experience. That one bottle certainly is a thing a beauty, though.

I hadn't even heard about this beer until it hit my liquor store about a month ago, and my manager recommended it to me. He certainly hit the nail on the head with this one; this beer is more akin to a well aged English BW that you can buy by the four pack. This was the first time trying it, and i can already tell that it'll be a regular in my fridge. What a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.59/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with a quickly fading light tan head. Nice lacing as it recedes.

This is one of the best smelling beers I have ever had the pleasure to sniff! Smells like bread made with lots of raisons and nuts with just a touch of spice. Almost like a really good holiday fruit cake.

A very balanced taste. Reminds me of an English style Barley Wine, but with a hoppier/more alcohol finish. The alcohol comes on slowly and tends to give more of a warming effect rather than that jolt other high abv brews often have.

The full mouthfeel is right in line with what I would expect from this style...full.

This is one of the best tasting brews I have tried in a long time. The smell is the real standout trait. I keep sniffing my glass more than I'm sipping it. This would be a very drinkable beer, but with the high abv, a four pack will get most drinkers wasted. A beer that tastes/smells this good can make that happen faster than you might want.

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

Ok its a nice looking brown with ruby accents,the head is small and off white colour..very nice lacing present throughout the glass.
Very rich,creamy,malty aromas,backed by a spicy scent of alcohol
Good taste,pretty "thick" and fruity,rum and raisin!. Slight hoppy bitterness complimented by the alcohol, which is rather sherry like .
Quite nice on the palate,smooth until the end, alcohol warmth present in the throat.
Its a very nice cold night sipper, though I doubt I can manage more than one at a sitting.

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

This is my first old ale. The "watermark" on the label shows "2003". The alcohol presence hits the nose from the moment the cap is removed. Poured into an oversized Burgundy glass. Earthy, muddy medium brown, opaque, with ruddy hints. Minimal head that dissipated quickly.

Aside from the alcohol, I smelled rust, an old metallic odor as if I opened an disused jar of nails from Grandpa's workshed. This smelled like something other than beer (of course, now I have to find examples of old ale to compare this to.)

This ale coats the mouth, but without feeling thick. My tongue and throat were immediately bathed in alcohol with a decent concomitant burn. Finish is long and warm. Other flavors (raisins? prunes?) were breaking through. Was this a rum-based liqueur?

This is a sipping beer for me. I enjoyed it immensely, an ideal after-dinner quaff, with a cigar maybe, in lieu of a cognac or whiskey. It certainly warms the digestive track. I will have this ale on hand as an alternative to distilled spirits.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dirty amber color with a finger of head that falls to ring the beer. The nose is very sweet, full of malty goodness. Touches of raisins in there, but very sweet. The flavor is big, full of raisin and bready tones. Some of the alcohol come through as well. The feel is thick, and very warming in my stomach. Wow. What a nice beer for a cold winter day. For having a very big alcohol, this one is really good. I am enjoying this, but slowly.

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

poured from a growler filled at fingerlakes beverage center.
pillowy rocky light tan colored head and a deep amber red body. heavy malty aroma, with dried fruit and figs underneath a ton of caramel and thick sugary malt. rich dense mouthfeel, coats the mouth very well. smooth and lucious...like liquid candy. glass feels like it to, sticky. verydrinkable but a growler by yourself...it's tough, I'd suggest splitting it with some friends.


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Photo of Kookiekwan
3.67/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a cloudy orange/amber had a one finger head with fair retention and average lacing. The aroma was of spicy chocolate malt. The taste is sweet molasses, licorice, chocolate, and vanilla. This beer is full bodied, bitter, and has a slightly nutty finish.

Reflection: A very complex beer, but I could only have one in a sitting.

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

2003 bottle

Pours a beautiful dark copper with a minimal head.

Powerful aroma of alcohol, caramel sweetness and a faint fruitiness, strawberries maybe?

Taste is delightful. Powerful alcohol flavors blend with a smooth caramel and sweet maltiness, that begins to leave a pleasant stomach warming. Sweetness becomes more pronounced as further progress is made and leaves a delightful butterscotchy aftertaste.

A beautiful old ale, a recent addition to the available line up in Georgia.

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

2002 Vintage. Pours clear red/chestnut in color with minimal head that falls into a ring. Very full nose filled with sweet fruits (pear, apple, peach), caramel malt, cocoa, spices,pine, and oak with a strong alcohol tinge. Mmmm, a very full-bodied brew filled with flavors of caramel, molasses, oak, vanilla, peach, root-beer, and moist gingerbread. This huge maltiness is well balanced by spicy, piney hops. Lush, velvet-smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol is noticable, but certainlt not over-powering. Lip-smacking sweetness remains on lips, yummy.

2004 vintage. Seems a shade deeper in color, a haunting deep garnet red when my St. Bernardus goblet is heald up to the light. Aroma displays a similar, yet lesser array of fruity flavors. Chewy caramel, burnt English toffee, dates, and a more noticable alcohol presence. Theres a touch of oaky vanilla in there too. The flavor bursts forth with all the complex goodness that the nose tells of. It is noticably hoppier, but certainly not overly-so. Balance is exceptional as expected. I would KILL for a chance at a vertical tasting of this expertly crafted and delicious brew!

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Photo of Zorro
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear cold hazed nut brown brew. No head to speak of but it has a high surface tension, the bubbles veer left and right when they hit the to get free.

Smell is super fruity with big tropical fruit smells, the strongest of which is pineapple. Lots of malt smell and hints of chocolate and tea in the scent too.

Taste is big. Strong hit of fruit flavor the moment you take the first sip; this is a powerful beer! The fruit flavor passes quickly as the alcohol cleans your palette. Mild sweetness passes quickly and leaves chocolate and coffee flavors. The alcohol content makes itself known by a strong warming effect in your throat. Latter more sour fruit flavors appear like lemon and sour apples. The hops make themselves known as a herbal background taste.

Mouthfeel is thinner than you would expect for a beer this big.

Drinkability is great FOR A SIPPING BEER! No way can you chug this and you won't want to! This is like sipping an expensive brandy or port wine.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a bottle at Red Bones with PatandDavid. 2002 Vintage.

This old ale poured a clear, chestnut color with tan foam that settled. The smell was richly malty with some fusel alcohol and some dried fruit aromas. The taste was malty with flavors of dried fruit (figs, fruitcake), some alcohol (fusels), rum, and light caramel as well. The mouthfeel was smooth and warming with medium-full body and modest carbonation. The lingering aftertaste was bitter with some dried fruit flavors. This was a very good ale, and the alcohol content was deceiving. Mmm, good.

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Photo of Ellbert
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: A nice copper color with a small very large bubbly head. The head doesn't last long but it leaves a very sticky lace that looks beautiful.

Smell: Roasted caramel, wood chips, molasses, alcohol all attack the nose. There really is no finess in this. It is what it is and it lets it all out at the aroma.

Taste: Raisins, figs, burnt caramel. These are some of the great flavors I can taste in this. Even though these are great they do not hide the alcohol very well. The alcohol makes itself too well know in this beer.

Mouthfeel is very sticky and rich, I liky.

Not very drinkable based on the alcohol basically.

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Photo of santoslhalper
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

Appearence: Pours a reddish brown, that's semi-clear. A little off-white head sits atop and leaves a little lacing.

Smell: A malty, almost oak smell arise first, with a nice malt back. No alcohol presence really, which make it smell less spicy than I had hoped.

Taste and Mouthfeel: An intant attack of malts on the taste buds. Many caramel, molasses, and sticky sweet notes flow around my mouth. The end has a decent amount of juicy hop aftertaste. Tastes a little young (I know I should've aged it.... I just couldn't wait!), but still a very good taste. Nice and sticky in the mouth. Very tart.

Drinkability and Overall: A very intense beer, that with a little bit of proper aging would do wonders. Already I like it a little more than the 2003 (see review below). And the drinkability is much higher on this one simply because the alcohol is well-hidden. If you get this tho, put it down for a while.

This one was sent to me by GClarkage. Thank you again for the great brew.
2003 vintage. (overall rating 4.3)

Appearence: Pours a nice brown color with a huge burnt umber head. Leaves beautiful lacing. Has only the fewest bubbles of carbonation.

Smell: The bouquet is all malts and alcohol. A rich, wonderfully complex smelling ale that has all the qualities a fine old ale should.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Tastes very sweet and malty with a huge alcohol body. On the tiniest bit of hops are present in the finish. A sticky mouthfeel enhances the flavor of this beer even more. Very complex without being too overpowering. The alcohol content warms you the whole way down. Almost a smoky, caramel flavor sticks in your moth long after the beer is down.

Drinkability and Overall: A very rich, complex ale that is accompanied with a huge amount of alcohol. Not for the average beer drinker but definitly a treat to try. I wouldn't have too many of these tho, considering the high alcohol and the chewy mouthfeel. Put on some Wes Montgomery, light a few candles, snuggle with your old lady, and drink this beer.

Again, thanks to Bashiba for the phenomenal sample.

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

2002 Vintage
Pours a dark hazy, mud brown with a thin strip of off-white lacing. Small pin pricks of lace slide down the glass along with alcoholic tannins.
Aroma is caramel, peat, raisins and grain alcohol. Whisky like notes in air.
Flavor is smooth caramel and dark citrus, almost a light dark rum flavor. Some roasted and peat notes are in the background and bitterings hiding behind the massive alcohol front.
Mouthfeel is very thick and chewy. Heavily sweet and complex malt balance some of the alcohol burden but not all. Tinge of bitterness at the closing bell also counteracts the pure alcohol hit.
Drinkability is solid but sticky sweetness and heavy alcohol make one enough. Well done to the folks at NC for a classic example of style.

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Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage. A reddish brown ale after fizzing from a high quality Belgian-like pour. Some cognac and barleyiwne aroma. Fine carbonation on the tongue. Immediate tummy warming from the alcohol. Barley wine and malt tastes, with Eno epsom salt. Numbing aftertaste. Unique.

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

2003 vintage. Pours a deep rusty amber color. Smells of fruit, mostly prune. Taste is very malty, with a dried fruit undertone. Highly (and way too) drinkable for a 11% plus ABV beer-I had to restrain myself from gulping this one! The only drawback is the mouthfeel, which is a bit fizzy, but that disappates as the beer warms.

Great brew here, very soothing on a cold fall night. I'm glad I have three more to get me through the coming cold months.

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Photo of PatandDavid
4.7/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was awesome. Shared an '02 bottle of this at one of my favorite beer bars this weekend...none of us knew they had it. Straight out of the celler, the serving temp was awesome. Four of us shared the bottle in small sample glasses, but that was enough for all of us, because the beer was fantastic. Mahagony color, no head when poured. Medium mouthfeel, low carbonation. There's some fruit in the aroma (raisins), but tastewise is where this beer delivers. My notes list raisins, plums, caramel, but I also wrote down chocolate chip cookie dough ( the brown sugar and chocolate also appear). This beer was superb.

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

Came in a 4-pack. Bottle labeled 2003 Release.

First thing that hit me wasn't the pour (decent head, nice reddish/brownish glow)... but the smell. Oh Gods, the smell!

Figs, raisans, brown sugar, caramel... best smelling brew I've ever had the pleasure of dipping my sniffer into. The taste was exactly the same. Malty, sugary sweet, fruity and very complex. Give this guy a year or two more, and you're in beer heaven. Great stuff.

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

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2003 vintage.

Pours a deep, clear, reddish brown with small tan head which leaves a light film of foam and moderate lace. The nose is deep with roasted caramel malt and alcohol spice. Flavor starts off with vinous toasted malts, develops into creamy sweetness, and finishes with slight hop bitterness and very strong alcohol spice. Medium-thick and creamy body which serves the style well. The raw alcohol (almost scotch-like) character is a bit over-pronounced for my taste.

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Photo of CortexBomb
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottling consumed in early 2005. Served at cellar temp initially, and then allowed to gently warm.

Pours out a nice dark, almost blackish orange / tan with a light head which made an appearance but left in less than a minute. The smell is sweet...some definite malt presence as well but not much beyond that.

Flavour is a serious shock, deep and tasty. The sweet, malty tones from the aroma waste no time in making themselves known, while a soft, but delightful hop reminder lurks on the back of the tongue. There are definite soft, brown sugary tones present, along with other spices such as cinammon, not in abundance, but enough to lend a certain character. Overall sweet and tasty, though the sharpness would probably be brought down a bit by laying this down for a spell.

Mouthfeel is big and oily, just like I like my old ales while the drinkability is downright dangerous. Without strong bitter effects or big alcohol effects on the palate this is one big beer that is easy to drink on a cold evening.

Another big winner for North Coast!

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

Oooooh. I will not do this brew justice.

Pours a hazy orangey-brown witha a thin tan head. Head dissipates to nothing and I mean nothing. No lace either. Smell is fruity and rich, molasses malt. Cherries and fig evident. Some vinuous smells.

Rich warming malt. Fruitiness of cherry, apple, and grapes. Cinamon and light nutmeg. A persistent rounded hoppiness underneath. Just so thick and chewy and tasty. Full bodied and a sweet molassess sticky aftertaste. Oh, so smooth and oh so good. Can't believe I waited so long to try this one. Really smooth for 11% ABV. A masterpiece.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.1 out of 5 based on 3,132 ratings.
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