Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale
3,273 Ratings
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

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

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001

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Ratings: 3,273 |  Reviews: 1,527
Photo of rickyleepotts
5/5  rDev +21.4%
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 AgentZero
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'04 bottle.

A - Brown beer with some redish highlights. White head that ha decent retention and left some spots on the sides.

S - Lots of dark fruit, crystal malts. Caramel is good, and it smells quite pleasant.

T - Toffee, dark fruits, very smooth, with some nutty taste and some crystal malts. Little bit of maple. This is actually quite nice, and there isn't much in the way of alcohol in this bottle.

M - Smooth, lower carbonation, pretty full bodied.

O - Really great beer, not sure if the newer versions would live up to this, but something with this much age on it is quite good. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. 2008 vintage, 12.5% Abv. Pours a dark mahogany color with ruby hues and no head. No lacing. Aroma is boozey. A bit earthy with some dark fruits but the alcohol dominates this one. Im not a big alcohol drinker but this one smells maybe like bourbon. Taste is mostly of toffee and booze. I didn't expect a whole bunch of flavors due to the high Abv but there isn't too much taste other than the alcohol flavor, but its still a good beer. Obviously not a high drinkability here. Its a decent beer but a bit pricey. Id like to try a fresh one next to compare. Overall, its good to grab every so often.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a bottle of the 2011 edition. I'm drinking it out of my Smuttynose Big Beer series snifter. It is served at cellar temperature. Unlike the BA listing, the label on this bottle says this beer is 22.9% ABV.

The liquid is colored brown, with ruby highlights. It is clear, but difficult to see through, due to the liquid being colored so dark. A small head of off white foam is present after I pour, but it quickly settled to a skim. Lots of tiny carbonation bubbles are rising from the bottom of the glass. Swirling the glass about revives the foamy head and leaves a good coating on the sides of the glass.

The nose has some interesting plum notes. I can also smell some crystal sugar, but it doesn't come across as overly sweet. Some pine hops and alcohol also make up the aroma.

The beer has a rich, malty flavor. Lots of mildly sweet plum, some toffee, a bit of alcohol and heat in the finish and as I swallow. It is very tasty and deceptively balanced. You wouldn't think this beer is almost 12% alcohol.

Easy drinking with very little coating or stickiness gives this beer an impressive mouthfeel. I can feel the carbonation dancing on my tongue as I sip. A little bit of warmth as I swallow is welcome.

This is a very good old ale. It's also widely available and well suited to aging, making it a great beer to hold on to to make a vertical (my current collection goes back to 2008). The high ABV will affect you quickly, making this a beer that you enjoy slowly, but that also allows you to savor it. It comes highly recommended.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.52/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Tulip glass.

Pours a dark amber maroon, with about a finger of fizzy foam which dissipates within a minute. Wow, that's audible fizz. No lacing. Smell is pretty muted: sweet grape, a little caramel and toffee, brandy, a little alcohol. Tastes like grape, malt, a little hoppiness, smoky caramel, a little booziness. As it warms a lot of the primary flavors become muted to the point of not tasting much except malt and hops. Medium-high carbonation and body, and warming alcohol. Overall, this is a good, middle of the road old ale with some nice flavors but nothing standout.

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Photo of litheum94
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage. Reviewed on 6/1/11.

Deep garnet body. Fizzy tan head that settles out with a loud hiss, leaving nothing on top.

Loads of ripe fig on the nose. Some toffee notes. Plum. Hazelnut. Caramel malts.

Aromas follow through, with figs, toffee, and a nutty boldness. Slight maple syrup flavor, also contributing to the mouth feel. Lots of carbonation. Finish has a slow, liquor burn, with just a dash of leafy hops and a lingering, residual sweetness.

This remains one of my favorite beers, and I look forward to it every year. I'll be getting more to cellar, as this beer only gets better with time.

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Photo of rundocrun
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a maple syrup-brown color with copper and amber highlights when held up to the light. Has a finger of coarse deep tan head that fades quickly. No lacing on the glass.

S - Ripe prunes and raisins hit the nose first. I'm also noticing a deep candy-like sweetness reminiscent of vanilla and mild molasses. There is a brandy-like booziness here. Yum! Very mild spiciness in the background almost like a belgian yeast strain were present. No hop aroma, but that fits with the style.

T - A very clean sweetness toward the front. Deep, rich caramel comes through right afterwards. Not overly hoppy. Really just a mild balanced bitterness. Toward the finish is when this beer gets really boozy. To date this is the strongest beer I've ever had, though, so it's all relative. Each sip finishes with warm alcohol spiciness.

M - Medium-to-thick body. Carbonation is mild, but what I would expect for a stronger beer. Syrupy finish that leaves the mouth feeling sticky. Deep alcohol warmth hits the chest from first sip to last.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep clear crimson with a velvety white head, decent retention and some sticky lacing

S: dark fruits are the first notable aroma with emphasis on plum and fig. Some notes of brown sugar come through in the middle along with some delicate notes of vanilla.

T: the flavor starts out bold and fruity, some notes reminiscent of a Belgian quad minus the Belgian yeast qualities. Notes of dark cherries and brown sugar. The flavor gains momentum and becomes rather bold and earthy as it finishes. A noticeable dash of alcohol come through as well.

MF: medium body, mellow carbonation

O: This beer is well balanced while providing some nice in your face flavors without being overwhelming. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Allpe45
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle
2010 vintage
Poured into a snifter

Appears extremely dark red with a rosy tinge, short tan head recedes quickly. Active legs and decent lacing.

Smells like bready toasted malts. Candy apple and figs unfold when agitated, along with a sweet alcohol aroma.

Taste is very similar to the smell. Bready malts up front, an interesting caramel sweetness in the middle, candy apple and dark fruit in the finish with a warming alcohol sensation.

Sticky/syrupy, low carbonation, medium bodied. Sweet sticky lingering feel.

Easy to drink but definitely a sipper.

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Photo of imbibehour
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
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 kellog
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010. The initial pour has a nice pillow of foam that quickly dissappears, but every sip brings champagne like bubbles up the side of the glass. The color is toffee/mohagany like and reminds me of the chocolote river in Willy Wonka which makes it equally inviting to drink. Smells like Caramel Apple and cotton candy (this is getting better than a chocolate river) and fig with similar tastes of caramel, hints of vanilla and raisin/prune. I was surprised to find out it is in the 12% range because it seems extremely sessionable, but I did notice a warm alcohol finish that assures me that it is meant to be enjoyed slowly, but thoroughly in my case.

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Photo of kbutler1
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. 2007 vintage. Pours a dark copper reddish color with a light tan head. Swirling generates a nice darker tan head. Head settles and collars around the glass nicely. Caramel, toffee, biscuit, and slight booze round out the nose. This things smells sweet. Caramel sweet upfront. Some dark fruit flavors as well. Overall, rather sweet but easily drinkable for the abv.

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Photo of BBP
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage

A- Pours a dark ruby chestnut and holds a slight head in the beginning, but soon falls back to nothing. It begins to looks like a flat beer, although it almost resembles a nice liquor at this point. No lace to speak of.

At halfway through this drink, there wasn't even a bubble at the top.

S- Booze and baking were the first two things I noticed. Raisins, carmel, and sugar were there. It really smells a lot like a liquor.

T- After the appearance and smell, you'd almost expect people taking shots of this or putting it on the rocks. Taking that into consideration, it seems very easy on the palate.

There's a lot of flavors in the aroma that come through in the taste. I appreciate that it's a tastefully sweet brew, and the sugar is well under control.

There's a definitive bubblegum taste in the beginning. Cinnamon comes in after as well as dark fruit (figs being the most prominent). I can sense some oak notes to this, and perhaps some hints of vanilla.

I found the "generously hopped" description on the label laughable. While I realize that many good craft breweries generously hop brews compared to BMC, the hops in this, especially the fresh 2011 vintage, were nowhere close to holding up to the malt. The provided some balance, but that's where it ended.

Overall it tasted like a good brew. However, it didn't knock my socks off in any way. I'll put the other 3/4 back and see how they're looking in a couple years.

M- Medium leaning towards full body. The alcohols harshness is balanced out by the light carbonation which leaves you with an average amount of prickliness on the tongue. Slightly dry and sticky in the finish.

O- As far as drinkability goes, it's extremely smooth. There's a ton of heat as it goes down, but none on the palate. Later on in the review, I definitely felt the heat in my stomach pretty harsh.

I found this to be a drink that may need to be set aside to age. I wasn't impressed by the new 2011 vintage, but I wasn't really let down either. I'm curious to see how the age will change it.

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Photo of kdiggidy
3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Bottle

A - pours a dark amber with a huge head of thick white foam.

S - didn't pick much up on the smell, a little malty and boozy

T - still very hot, this one will be great in a couple years. I do pick up some brown sugar and dark fruit, finishing with the warming of alcohol.

M - thick and creamy, very nice

O - I enjoy this brew. The 2010 was the first I've had, and I have a 2011 that I am cellaring, but I wanted to make sure to have it fresh as well so I had a point of reference when I crack it in a few years.

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Photo of robbrandes
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

taster, poured from a bottle. Tasting @ Elegance - thanks Carl! reviewed from notes

pours a root-beer brown, with a billowing head in the glass.

nose is a pleasing mix of malt, carmelized sugar and molasses.

exceptional malt depth and breadth on the mouthfeel. is this really pushing 12%!?!? every indication said 'too sweet', but this beer absolutely works.

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Photo of Spider889
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by a generous BA (cannot remember who) at Jackie O's One Funky Afternoon. 2009 vintage.

Maple syrup in color with light lacing and good clarity.

Smelled delicious. Lovely barrel aging effects. Lots of sweet brown sugar and molasses notes.

Tasted pretty damn good too. Tobacco, raisin, bourbon and maple all come together very nicely. Oak dryness is also present.

The beer is hot, but the deliciousness makes the alcohol tolerable. Very light carbonation, but it manages to feel prickly due to the alcohol heat.

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Photo of bsuedekum
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 2010 version poured into a Bells Tulip.

A - I think this is near perfect for an old ale look. The color is perfect and the overall appearance approaches perfection, but I'd like it to be just a touch more clear and less murky. The color reminds me of the awful water that used to come out of the Bundy's sink on Married with Children or the water the Goonie's get from the Fratelli's. What could look more like an "old ale" than that color? ha.

S - The nose on this one is just slightly above average. It has some roasted nuts in there along with sugars, but nothing is too prominent.

T - I like this beer, especially as a quality alternative to the IIPAs and RISs I usually find myself drinking. My quickest description on this one is sugars and booze. It blends well and isn't hot... a really well balanced beer.

M - Decently carbonated with medium body and crisp finish.

O - Locally I pay $3.50 for this beer and think it's worth every penny. A great beer on some week night after work when you just want to pour one and enjoy it slowly. Or a beer to have when sitting down to a game or movie because it's not one you'll finish in 10 minutes most likely.

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Photo of Sam21
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

4-pack purchased for $12.99. 12oz bottle, 2010 vintage, poured into snifter.

Appearance – Deep ruby brown body. Thin wispy tan head that fizzles down to nothing within the first minute. Really nice ruby color when held up to the light.

Smell – Sweet chewy raisins, dried plums, sugary figs, and delicate caramel. Slight alcohol burn at the back of the nose. Nice depth to the sweetness. There is a lot to take in here.

Taste – Rich dark fruit and caramel. Figs, raisins, dark cherries and prunes create a smoothie of fruit flavor. Interesting woody flavors are present at well and dry up a bit of the sweetness. Finish is long, fruity, lightly woody, and sweet. Alcohol adds a pleasant burn, but is nicely integrated into the malt.

Mouthfeel – The body straddles medium and full. The carbonation is light and fluffy which keeps the body from feeling full. Nice scrubbing bubble action.

Drinkability – Nice balance of dark fruits and overall sweetness. Subtle pockets of flavors keep you hooked and interested. Complex and rich. Paired nicely with some Stilton cheese. Excellent.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage

12oz bottle poured into a North Coast Brewing pint glass...

A - Pours amber with a two finger off white head on a fairly aggressive pour. Head dissipates fairly quick, and there is not much lacing to be had...

S - Good amount of sweet notes come through. Caramel, molasses, plums, and some alcohol...

T - Lots of sweet malts. Caramel, plums, brown sugar, toffee, and molasses. Ends with an alcohol bite and some oak. This one is deliciously malty. Alcohol is not over the top, but it is very noticable...

M - Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Super smooth...

O - For the abv this one is smooth. One of my go to Old Ales. Have a four pack aging in the celler. Looking foward to revisiting these in a couple of years. North Coast brewed a winner here...


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Photo of Radome
3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Beer was a light to medium brown color but totally cloudy and opaque but with tons of tiny bubbles rising through it. The head was light tan and very wispy, made up of many miniscule bubbles. It faded from about 1/4" thick to a thin layer that remained throughout.

S - Aroma is surprisingly muted. I get some caramel and nutty notes, but the biggest component is sweet alcohol. No hops noted.

T - The taste is all about malt and alcohol. I get some bready, nutty malt up front, then a big wave of sweet alcohol. Not much complexity. Some hop background is apparent at the end of the palate, but not identifiable by variety.

M - Medium to heavy body, but it is lightened by a fizzy, fluffy feel from the carbonation. There is some burn from the alcohol. Lingering mouth-coating sweetness.

D - Overall I like this beer, but it is very "hot" and sweet from all the alcohol. I am a fan of lower-hopped English-style Barley Wines, but this one could use some additional element to add complexity and bring some of the focus away from the unbalanced alcohol.

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Photo of Francepants06
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage.
I aged it 2 years hoping the alcohol would dilute a bit, but I think I opened it too early. It was a great dark brown beer. It has roasted nut aromas with a caramel lingering finish.The nose was pretty average smelled like stainless steel barrel. The alcohol is a little high,it definitely could have aged for another 2 years. It's too bad North Coast brewing co. is not going to ship to Louisiana during the summer months, I guess I better stock up.

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Photo of beck2008
2/5  rDev -51.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I was very disappointed with this ale. I am a big fan of strong ale but this was nothing like I expected. It poured like a coke - a quick fizzy head formed and rapidly disappeared entirely. The appearance was like a red ale and very clear. The mouth feel was thin, the taste was akin to brown ale with a shot of whiskey, this is no exaggeration. It lacked complexity and character. I was all around just a hard ale to drink. I am hoping this was just a bad bottle. I will cellar this and see what it tastes like in a year.

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Photo of Franz4
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 version 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- A deep walnut/mahogany color. A vigorous pour got a finger of head on it, but that settles quickly to nothing. Instead of lacing it leaves legs like a wine might.

S- Alcohol is slightly noticeable. First scent is dried fruit, mostly apricots, followed by a touch of toffee

T- Dried fruit comes through again, slight heat is noticeable, very complex as the flavors change several times. Heat lingers which is pleasant and brings out additional flavors. This is a very enjoyable sipper. Some cherry is evident, some grainy notes as well.

M- The alcohol is noticeable, and that's a good thing in this brew. It's a sipper for sure, taste lingers with you for a while. It's slick and smooth, but it goes down slowly.

O- A very complex brew, not for every occasion for sure, but this was a nice example of an old ale. I see more of this sipper in my future.

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Photo of Ralphs66
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When I saw this on the menu at Holy Smoke, I frankly, had no idea what it was. Never had an old ale before. So it came out in a 4 tasting flight. Looked like a very bubbly cheerwine (that monstrosity of a soda from NC). Almost no head whatsoever. First taste and smell and I'm thinking, "How come it didn't say Barleywine on the menu?". Not as overtly sweet as your typical barleywine, but MANY of the same characteristics. Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla. At almost 12%, the alcohol is pretty well hidden. Still a sipper however. My 5 ounce pour was the perfect quantity.

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Photo of claspada
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage. Pours a honey-thick amber, slightly hazy, with literally zero head, disappointing, maybe it's too cold.

Aromas begin quite fruity with orange marmalade, plums, vinous red grape notes and a predominant dark cherry sweetness. As it warms you get more of the caramel and brown sugar maltiness. A little too sweet and sugary; the alcohol becomes more prevalent as is warms as well.

The taste begins with waves of caramel and butterscotch malts quickly followed by lesser brown sugar and toffee notes. You get the fruitiness more in the flavor as it warms with red grapes, plums, pears and hard apple cider. Alcohol flavors become a tad too prevalent towards the end of this 12 oz offering.

Mouthfeel is medium to thick, with adequate carbonation. Alcohol presence/bite makes this difficult to truly enjoy to its full capacity but helps to dry out the palate.

Overall this was a very good beer although it is still not reached "maturity" yet as the flavors are a bit too alcohol heavy, preventing complete enjoyment/savoring. Looking forward to cellaring and sampling the rest of the 4 pack over the next couple years.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,273 ratings