Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale
3,264 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: 3,264 |  Reviews: 1,522
Photo of beerguy101
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2001 version. Retasted 1/15/2003. Has mellowed and gained complexity with age. Medium brown color, small head. Aroma is very malty. Very malty, full-bodied, full flavored ale. Very nice hop malt balance. Malts are sweet, roasted caramel. Mouthfeel is full, round and nearly chewy. Has a definite high alcohol taste to it (10.5%) Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is malty, slightly bitter. Could use some bottle aging. North Coast recommends at least a year of bottle aging. Re-taste again in a year, that is if I have any left. Still have 2 bottles left in 2003. Need to buy some 2002 quick.

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Photo of Jon
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 Vintage

Ruby garnet hue with a fizzy white head that dissipates into nothing as the beer warms up. Bouquet features voluptuous notes of alcohol, raisin, toffee, caramel, and mild hop aromas in addition to a rum-like sweetness. Strong, complex, and well-rounded for an American strong ale, this one features notes of caramel, rummy alcohol, mildly bitter hops, dark fruit, really sweet malt and sugar with a relatively fierce alcoholic rush on the finish. Mouthfeel is oily and quite smooth. This is a fantastic old ale for sipping purposes only. Drinkability suffers, however, due to the heavily concentrated alcohol that lurks beneath each sip. This is a fairly well-balanced strong ale and certainly one that I'll return to after it's had additional time to mature.

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Photo of putnam
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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Photo of Indybeer
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of a Vintage Tasting
Vintage 2001. Poured a Coppery color, with no head to speak of, some fine lacing on the glass. Aroma is sweet malt with a hint of butteriness to it. Taste is sweet with a brandied fruit like flavor. Well balanced and very drinkable, but with a very noticible alcohol bite.

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Photo of Dantes
3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Package: 12oz. crowned brown bottle somewhere between a stubby and a longneck. No specific bottling/consume by date, but the label denotes it as a “limited release” 2002. One of the classiest labels I’ve seen, printed to look like textured, bond paper with blue printing and “Whale-tail” logo. 11.4% ABV.

Cost: $8.99 a 4-Pack at Artisan

Presentation: Snifter at 50º

Appearance: Strong-tea color with a woody, auburn tint. Some haze. Generated a small, quickly disappearing off-white head. Isolated strings of small bubble-strings. Generous gunsmoke.

Smell: Nice aroma, a bit like a smoldering hardwood fire in a bottle. Notes of tobacco, leather, wet, Fall leaves, with a touch of fruitiness. Strong, volatile alcohol fumes. Brought to mind an oxidized Islay whisky. Little indication of hops on the nose.

Taste: Surprisingly dry on the palate for a “new” barley wine. Invoked lots of “dry” adjectives: Bourbon-tinged pipe tobacco, hardwood, damp, burning leaves, and wet leather. Almost a complete 180º from the Bigfoot I had the night before. This had only a modest taste of hops (masked by the alcohol?) and little of the maltiness and fruitiness I expect in a barley wine. As it warmed, a bit more fruitiness (plums, blackcurrant, and dried apple) came out. Exhibited a long, dry, alcohol-laden finish. Probably the driest barley wine I’ve had.

Mouthfeel: For something with this high an ABV, this possessed only moderate body. Nice, subtle carbonation helped tame this beast.

Drinkability: One of the stronger barley wines, this is somewhat demanding. I found it interesting, but not the thing I would choose with which to finish the night.

This beer puzzled me. North Coast’s products are not common around here, so I was excited to find it. This isn't a hop-bomb like Bigfoot, nor a malty-sweet barley wine like Old Horizontal or Adam. Maybe more like Stone’s Old Guardian, but even drier and more austere. I didn’t dislike it, but I’m not sure I loved it either. Normally, I would expect a barley wine to improve with age, but this one almost seems pre-aged. The expected fruit and malt fullness is already subdued, leading me to wonder what it would be like in 2 or 3 years: drier? More complex? I’m not sure. Perhaps this 4-pack was subjected to too much heat. In any case, I’ve set two aside to find out!

Backwash: Might be perfect if mixed 50/50 with some Old Horizontal.

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Photo of ADR
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 edition...

Hazy reddish brown, tea-like medium yellow head of fine carbonation. Laces stick thickly, in rings. Lots of aroma, caramel and diacetyl butteriness, slight bit of mace and nutmeg. Big body and mounds of sweetness, some of the most buttercotch I've got out of a beer this side of a couple Doppelbocks. Sweet spiciness enhances the malt impression, generally in the nutmeg category. No sizzly hop gravel in this one, quite skewed toward the malt. Alcohol catches up by the third sip in the upper throat. Smooth and sweet, not hopped to the gills, like some.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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

Vintage 2002

Appearance: This was a deep ruby-brown beer without any haze. A thin coarse head rose up and then was gone in a flash. By the time I took my first drink, there was no evidence of foam left.

Smell: The smell was a combination of burnt sugar, dark fruits, raisins, and alcohol. All were combined in a warm, well-rounded aroma.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied and very smooth, with a hint of tingle and then numbess caused by the abundance of alcohol. It had a slightly coating property to it.

Taste: Upfront were some very sweet malt, burnt sugar, and caramel flavors. Then, in the middle, a contrastingly tart cherry flavor kicked in. This paved the way for the big alcohol finish. I think that there was a hint of bitterness on the finish as well, but it was very slight.

The high alcohol content gave this beer a nice warming effect. Just what I needed in this 107 degree weather :-) This was a very good strong ale. It had a nice mix of flavors that complimented each other well. I'm just glad that it only came in a 12 oz. bottle. Otherwise, at 11.4% abv, I would be taking a nap right now instead of writing this review.

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Photo of DerKaiser
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage.

Wow, this is one hell of a good barleywine. I prefer it over some of the better known California examples, such as Anchor's Old Foghorn and Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot. The aroma is huge, with lots of dark, brandied fruits and a smooth underlying sweetness.

The taste is similarly heavy on dark fruit flavors, with nice alcohol presence that pulls the flavor up through the nose. It finishes with a nice, oily hop bite, but this is well-balanced by a caramel sweetness that makes this beer a little more drinkable for me than Sierra's Bigfoot, for example. Really a well crafted beer. I'll leave one in the cellar to see how it ages.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage served at 68 F
Fizzy tan head dissappered immediatly after pouring this. Beautiful deep burgundy with a lot of carbonation in thin streams. Aroma is intense as it is full of Sweet malt with fruity esters and a little hopiness to make the aroma very splendid. Flavor is even better than the aroma as it starts with a little bit of roasted flavor that transitions into sweet malt and huge alcohol flavors. Hopiness is very noticible yet it balances this brew quite nicely. Mouthfeel is heavy which goes well with the lingering hopiness and the fruity esters. Overall this is an excellent old ale which i will be sure to put a couple bottles in my cellar for aging.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
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 jcalabre
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 28 January 2002. A reddish/brown pour w/ a quickly dissipating yellow/tan head. The alcohol is completely disguised by a slightly sweet taste, a flavor almost like a dessert wine. This is a Sipping Beer, Period. Lovely. Hide a bottle away until next year!

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

Dark brown body, thin but resilient tan head. Good lacing.

Deep malty aroma, but cleaner than most barleywines.

Wonderful taste! Chewy, malty, just a bit sharp in the mouth, and not quite so "hot" or burning as so many other barleywines. This beer has one of the creamiest, smoothest mouthfeels that I've ever had in any beer, and certainly one of the best of any barleywine.

I have had some great barleywines recently, and this is right up there with the best of them (such as Smuttynose's Big Beer Series). Exceptionally drinkable for a barleywine.

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Photo of BierReise
3/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had a few different brews from North Coast and although a good brewery, I don't think they stack up to others in Cal. like Stone, Alesmith and Bear Republic to name a few. This is a good example of a barley wine with all the classic characteristics such as the sweet alcohol nose and rich malt flavor. Very even throughout but nothing outstanding. Perhaps this bottle (2001) might smooth out if cellared. Will have to wait and see

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

Excellent example of the style. Good balance between hops and malt (with an edge to the malt), powerful and smooth, without being too "boozy". A great warmer. Nice to have a micro that isn't dominated by hops. Thanks, North Coast. I'll buy this every time I see it!

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Bottle: This year's is every bit as good as the last one I had. Deep brownish-red color with a very thin beige head. Very thin lacing too. Rich aroma of caramel, malt and fruit. Full-bodied with hearty malt, caramel and nut flavors. Roasty character with the alcohol peeking through periodically. The finish is long and sweet, with a nice hops bite. Another winner!

2002 Bottle: Pours a dark brown color but held light throughout the glass. Thick and foamy beige head and nice lacing. Aroma is strong malt and alcohol, with lesser portions of hops and fruit. Rich bodied and it tasted somewhere between a Scotch Ale and Barley Wine. Excellent blend of malt, vanilla, alcohol and caramel. Finish is all malt and tart fruit. Good beer.

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

2002 Bottle
Aroma: A dark cherry nose with very noticeable alcohol. Mild bouquet for such a strong beer, doesn't broadcast its character.
Appearance: Very deep amber/red; close to a burnt sienna. Good clarity with a white head that fades quickly, and expectantly given the 11.4% abv.
Flavor: An alcohol prickle that is rapidly overwhelmed by a rich malt raisin/plum that slowly warms the mouth and leaves the lips sticky. I can barely detect any hop bitterness, but the taste isn't overly sweet.
Mouthfeel: Seems a bit thin for this heavy of a beer, but not unpleasant. Definite alcohol warming.
Overall: A good way to reward a hard cold day.

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Photo of beerluvr
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 version:
Pours with a quickly subsiding light tan head that settles over a beautiful clear deep ruby liquid. This edition too, has a cherry fruit perfume to it, with a backbone of dark fruit and malt. Taste is very big on hoppy bitterness, followed by a nice blend of yeasty, fruity notes with an underpinning of maltiness...then a wave of tingly alcoholic warmth that surges forth, coating the palate, warming the throat and is felt all the way down. The finish is lbrandy-like and long on alcohol and hop bitterness...the quintessential warming ale for this cold, late-winter's night. The rest of the 4-pak I can tell will age wonderfully, to be enjoyed next Winter and beyond.

2001 version:
Pours with a dissipating beige head over slightly hazy reddish/amber liquid. Nose is dominatingly malty, with fruity undertones and a nice cherry Pop Tart aroma noticed. Taste is a peppery, spicy mix with the malts and hops dueling it out for top billing. A pleasant alcohol burn is felt after swallowing. Finishes smooth at first, then alcohol flavors turn up the heat. A nice Barleywine but even after a few years in the bottle it could still benefit from further cellaring.

Thanks to jaybeerman for the opportunity to sample this one.

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Photo of Jarod
4.76/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Limited Reserve 2001
This beer poured into the glass a cloudy amber/red/orange color. The head was beige in color, fairly thick and foamy. The lace was barely there. The aroma was a whole cornucopia of smells all stuffed into the little bottle. I smelled simply the following items swirling in my glass. Sweet and tart granny smith apples, alcohol, sweet malt, baked apple pie with sugar topping, some other dark fruits, sandlewood like a barrel that held apple cidar was used, some nuts and again alcohol. The first thing I noticed about this beer that it was strong and thick and the first sip was full of flavors waiting to be discovered. I tasted sweet malts, baked apple pie, alcohol, kind of woody like it was aged in an oak barrel that was used to hold apples or other fruits, nuts and roasted malts, roasted sugars and a sweet hint of cocoa. This beer was bitty all through out. A warm alcohol glow filled my body afterwards. It left me feeling warm and fuzzy. This is a definite sipping beer. Awesome.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage

Dark amber/ruby in color, with a tight head formed by slowly rising carbonation. Malt dominated, somewhat nutty aroma with light fruity notes -- almost strawberry-like, but very unobtrusive. The mouthfeel is smooth and lightly coating, and the flavor starts with a toasty, toffee-like maltiness. This gives way to a slightly nutty mid-palate, with a bit of alcohol warming and a mildly citric hop finish. Aftertaste is pleasantly toasty. All in all this is a quite decent ale, though not the brewery's best, and not really a stand-out among the selection of barley wines available today.

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Photo of aaronh
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2001 bottling.

Chestnut red with a slight haze. It pours with a minimal tan head that remains as a thin ring of foam around the sides of the glass. No lacing to speak of. A somewhat nutty, plum scent dominates the aroma. Just a wonderful toasted malt smell. The taste is sweet as expected, but again the nutty component is very prevalent. Nice plum and cherry fruits appear, along with a biscuit malt flavor. Some hops clean up the finsh, and present a lingering bitterness. The minimal carbonation contributes to the velvety smooth mouthfeel. The drinkability is surprisingly good for the ABV. This is one fine barleywine.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

==== edit 03-26-2004 ====
2003 release: So this year I did a side-by-side with the 2002. The 2002 has changed quite a bit. It's a touch hazier in appearance. Lots of bread now appears in the toffee/caramel sweet nose. The 2003 is a little darker in aroma, more sourish and more faint. The 2002 shows a lot of fruit and is quite creamy. The hoppy bitterness in the dry finish is quite subdued. The harsher alcohol effects have mostly disappeared. The 2003 is more raw. Grainy front, alcohol and some apples. The middle shows some sweet maltiness, with a touch of chocolate. Major alcohol in the hoppy, dry finish. A touch dusty, with some bread. There are some peas in the somewhat chocolatey aftertaste. Quite vinous. Fruitier and hoppier than the 2002, but a little harsher.

Still an awesome beer. One of my favorite. The 2003 isn't quite as good in my side-by-side, but the 2002 is better than it was.

See you next year!

==== Original 2002 review ====
2002 release: bought locally (Grapevine floor display), 2-3 weeks in my fridge, sat 30 minutes before pouring at 55F, reviewed at 55F-65F. Several bottles cellared.

An unbelievably coarse head pours strangely yellow. Bubbles the size of jacuzzi foam. The head collapses immediately to nothing. That is to say: nothing. No lacing. No ring. No memory of head.

The color is deep red. In low light, this is almost indistinguishable from red wine in appearance. Loner bubbles rise as though they have all day, each one waiting for the last to reach the top before starting out.

The nose is overripe fruit, syrup, a touch of alcohol, candy, grape. This is nothing like the spicey, smoky alcohol nose from 2001. The front is fruity, with caramel and grapes. The middle is slightly metallic alcohol at the cooler 55F. This completely disappears by the time it warms leaving a fairly straight malty taste. The finish is somewhat dry with an alcohol kick.

This is one pretty amazing brew. It's complex and strong with a wonderful warming effect. The alcohol is there, but very well hidden for 11.4%. I love this thing.

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Photo of BeerAngel
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear but dark brown with amber highlights and a 1-1/2 finger light tan head. The smell consists of light fresh baked sweet bread notes. It smells very good. The taste also reveals the same as the aroma, but also yields roasted malts, sharp hops, and lots of alcohol. At 11.4% ABV, there’s just not much covering this up. Blended nicely in this medium bodied creamy brew, this is definitely a sipping beer. Whew! This is put together very well! Cheers!

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Photo of AtrumAnimus
4.84/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This one is the best barley wine I have ever tasted on draft. The nose reminds me of a Hennessey XO cognac. The alcohol smell is very strong and usually something I don't enjoy as much in the nose. This one is the exception though. I love good cognac therefore the nose is exceptional in my opinion. The taste is also exceptional. The Cognac like nose lends to the flavor - and they are right - the warmer this barley wine the better it tastes. The after taste is fruity and not bitter like many barley wines I have tried. According to their web site this is a vintage limited run of 12,000 cases. So I would grab the bottles while you can. But if you can get the draft - man you are in for a treat.

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Photo of TXHops
3.09/5  rDev -25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 Bottling.

-OG: approx. 1115
-FG: approx.1.030
-ABV: 11.4%
-AA: approx. 72%
-Calories/12 oz: approx 379
-Real Extract: approx 11 P
-Floor-malted Maris Otter Pale Malt and Fuggles Hops imported from England
-Fuggles Hops

Note--I don't have the exact Original Gravity for Old Stock Ale (though if someone gets it for me, I'd be quite appreciative) so most of the above numbers are approximations based on the fact that I know OG is greater than 1.100 and my own rough estimation of apparent attenuation (AA).

Old Stock Ale pours a deep, but brilliant garnet color: maybe chestnut or mahogany is more accurate... A tan head is thrown up with the pour, but it slowly relents to the high ABV and becomes nothing more than wisps of cirrus clouds across the top of the beer.
Interestingly, Old Stock Ale smells almost completely inert. You'd think that with that much gravity and the requisite hopping rate that I'd be able to pick up something. However, I only get the vaguest dried-fruit maltiness and a bit of wine-like alcohol.

The flavor is similar--frightfully subdued. While there's a LOT of viscous mouthfeel, and quite a bit of carbonation, there isn't much flavor. I taste (and feel) a considerable amount of alcohol--the mouthfeel is hot and peppery and the finish burns and tingles inside my mouth for quite a while after the beer's been swallowed. If I thoroughly rinse my mouth with water, wait 5 minutes and then really concentrate, I can get a slight brown sugar flavor to come through before the alcohol takes over. Where are the hops? Where's all that malt? For something with the shear quantity of raw ingredients as Old Stock Ale, there should be a lot more going on in the glass. I'm suspecting that there's something wrong with my taste buds tonight, so I'm going to re-visit this review after my next sample of Old Stock. However, I remember drinking last year's vintage and having the same reaction--UNDERSTATED. Talk about subtle. Subtlety is a great trait in most beer, but this is over the top subtlety.

Now that I've let the beer warm to room temps, I can also pick up some raisin flavors, though the alcohol presence has increased. Like I said, I'll re-review soon to verify these results...

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Photo of Wildman
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Edition:
This beer poured a nice deep red amber color and formed a nice foamy off white head that subsided quickly and left a small amount of lace. Some carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, caramel and fruit. A flavor of malt and fruit with some of the alcohol present as well. Not bad for a barleywine, but probably could use some cellaring.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,264 ratings