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Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale
3,247 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: 3,247 |  Reviews: 1,518
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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Photo of hyuga
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 edition. Dark ruby red with a beige head, which unfortunately doesn't stay that well, but that can be expected with this style. Aroma of berries and nuts. Definitely some cherry in there, maybe a little soaked wood as well. Alcohol is definitely present. The flavor is hop-infused berries and raisins with pretty big maltiness backing that up, sweet, nutty, and woody, with a little caramel. Very spicy Sharp hop and alcohol twang on the back corners of the tongue. Bittersweet is a good one-word description. This is a great barleywine, but I find it odd that it doesn't seem to be bottle conditioned. I think all barleywines are just perfect for bottle conditioning. Still, I imagine that you could cellar it and get some good results. In fact, I think it could stand a little cellaring before tasting. Very nice as is though. Try this if you see it.

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Photo of Morris729
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 edition. Pours a reddish mahogany color with a very thin white head that immediately fades into a thin lace. Nose is sweet malts, brown sugar, and ripe fruit with some alcohol notes. Taste is quite sweet at first with notes of candied sugar, caramel, raisins, and spicy hops. Very smooth with some buttery toffee notes and a warming alcohol effect. I love a good barley wine, and this one is in that category. I plan to lay several down for a year or two and see how they mature.

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Photo of Valevapor
4.73/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A nice, dark amber to ruby hue w/ zilch haze. Sweetness and alcohol dominate the aroma, with notes of raisin/prune and a mild floridity. A huge, malty blanket wraps around the tongue. An almost praline-like dessert quality with subtle prune characteristics. Hops definitely play second fiddle in this bold ensemble! A healthy gulp will light a small fire in your belly! Overall, an incredibly smooth, big barley wine that sits on the sweet side of the fence.

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

This is a 2002 and should be sitting for a while before it's consumed. Patience has never been my strong suit. It pours a nice mahogony with a smallish head the dissipates quickly. The smell is ripe fruit with a definite alcohol aroma. It's certainly a different beast from Bigfoot but every bit as enjoyable. The hops are more subtle, but the malt makes its presence known in a most pleasant way. Apricot and just a bit of cherry are rounded out nicely by enough bitterness to balance everything. The assertiveness of the alcohol will almost certainly mellow into something to be cherished. It's deliciously creamy. If the remainder of my supply makes it through another year, it should be absolutely remarkable.

Reviewed again over a year later on 01/19/04. This has met expecations as far as aging goes. The head and carbonation have diminished but the flavor has certainly improved. The alcohol smell and taste have mellowed a bit, allowing dark fruit to dominate completely: raisin and date with just a hint of brown sugar. Enough hop bitterness remains to keep things in check. In hindsight, I felt that I overrated it when I originally reviewed it, but it has aged so well that I have no qualms about notching up the ratings on taste and drinkability. I was certainly lucky to run across a large stash of the '02 OS in early '04.

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Photo of mjohn27603
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It is just after midnight on New Year's and I broke one out of the beer cellar. This is the first beer I bought to cellar. This is a 2001 vintage I bought in early 2002. It poured out of the bottle almost like molten orange steel. It looks more brown in the glass. Kind of a caramel color that you can't see through. I couldn't put my finger on any aroma just sweet smellling. The taste is like a mild caramel. I'll say like a port even if I'm not expert in ports. A bit meaty. After aging everything is a bit subtle and not in your face at all. Watch the ABV - 11.4%!

I am drinking an old beer and listening to old records like the Replacements. A winter warmer that I'm drinking by the stereo with memories rather than the fireplace. I've got 3 more that I'll probably drink at a rate of one a year.

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Photo of marc77
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Turbid chestnut brown hue. Light tan head quickly settles into a thin, tight ring that coats the glass rim. Enticing blend of caramelized nuts, buttery malt, vinous alcohol soaked plums, with hints of grape and floral hops. Akin to a more intense Young's Old Nick aromawise. Intensely rich caramel driven malt profile, accompanied by notes of toast and buttery diacetyl. Fruitiness is of a mellow prune like nature and when coupled with the mild chocolate note, an impression of chocolate covered dried fruit is left mid palate. Notes of sherry, bittersweet alcohol along with muted hop bitterness emerge. Full bodied, w/ a viscous mouthfeel. Finishes with a spicy hot candy like sweetness. An intense, yet tremendously smooth barleywine. Its inherent satiating richness precludes quaffability. Old Stock is thus a beautiful nightcap. Surprisingly reminescent of Bell's 3rd Coast Ale.

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Photo of Mark
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This 2001 vintage bottle was supplied compliments of a butcher at a Whole Foods market. Color appeared to be a deep red with orange hues, head was tan, and lacing was good. This beer had a very strong fruity nose, plums and pears? Not surprisingly the taste was very smooth with a strong alcoholic kick. Good rounded mouth feel and for such a powerful ale, quite drinkable. Not my favorite style of brew but very good nonetheless. A potent warming ale. Perfect for a gloomy rainy day. Addition: I have fallen in love with tis brew and consider it one of the great beers available to us. The 2006 vintage aged one year has done it for me. Ultra smooth, warming, enjoyable, the ultimate sipping ale? Maybe, all I know is it is stupendous.

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Photo of StevieW
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 version. Rich deep burgundy to brown color. Thin, fizzy beige head settled to a dusting atop the viscous liquid. Smells were a rich warm inviting combination of roasted fruit, oak, and sweet carmel malt smells. Taste was unbelievably smooth. Initial shots of sweet roasted plum tastes and syrupy feel. As the glass warmed, undertones of malty sweetness erupt, with the subtle oak and whiskey like belly warming alcohol prescense is felt. The beer thins a touch, but only in a way to balance the syrup like feel earlier. Unbelievable beer, smooth, rich, and delicious. No harsh bitter bite like some other barleywines I have had. Had I not known better, I would have guessed it to be a strong belgian ale. One bottle left of this for a special night !
Cheers to North Coast for making a wonderful barleywine !

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Photo of BeerManDan
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A beauitful dark copper color with very little foam in the glass. The aroma show's a fruity and spicy flair with a hint of carmel. This ale taste's what the aroma smell's like, plus. Complex aroma and taste is what this beer is. The alcohol is not over bearing or powerful and the bitterness on the after taste and palate is well balanced, with a hit of sweetness. Drink at room temperature, if cold it just doesn't have the flavor, aroma and compexity it should have. Storing up on this beer. Going for a week-end drive to Ft. Bragg if I can't find this locally! This Ale will blow your stock's off! At least it did mine.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2000. The aroma starts with dark fruit, alcohol, a touch of sweet maltiness, and some light hop character. The color is brownish with some crimson tints. The head starts fairly creamy with a light beige color but dissipates quickly as expected in a high alcohol beer. The flavor starts with a burst of sharp dark fruit and malt, followed by a fairly heavy touch of alcohol, and then a drying hop character which is somewhat aggressive, but far from overwhelming. The finish is dry, but one sided. An excellent beer, but it's no Samiclaus or Thomas Hardy's either. An excellent beer from an excellent brewery!

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Photo of Bierman9
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this thinking I was having an old, strong ale, not a barley. Pleasant surprize! Great mahogany/chestnut color, with ruby hues, too! A decent head sat on top, faded quickly, and left ok lacing in the glass. Big-time aroma! Reminded me a bit of Samichlaus....rich, sweet, strong alcohol presence. Lovely body, and really caressed the tongue. Some raisiny notes mixed in with the sweet maltiness and warming alcohol. Tasty! just keep an eye on how many you've had; they'll sneak up on you! Vielen Dank, Herr Murph, und Prosit!!

overall: 4.25
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4


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


Well I am laying the rest of this 4-pack down and after tasting this one i am going to be having dreams about what they will be like. It poured a great deep amber color with a bit of a creamy head that faded a bit faster than I would have liked. It smells very malty with alcohol undertones in it. The taste is all malt from the first sip till you swallow. A huge malt character that almost completely drowns out the alcohol. A different kind of malt sweetness than a double bock (tend to be too sweet for me, or the wrong kind of sweet.) The mouthfeel is very sticky and it completely coats your entire mouth and tongue with its flavor. I think as young as this is I could still drink a few of these with no problem. A class brew. It should dry out a little as it ages. Can't wait to see how it is doing around next Christmas.

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Photo of Brent
2.86/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Sorry Matt, but this one did not score with me. Great bronze/ruby color, but the flavor was an overwhelming bittersweetness that coated my tongue so that I could not get any other dimension from the beer. At a whopping 11.4% abv, I did not even get any spicyness from the alcohol. Perhaps this beer will integrate the flavor over time and develop more character, but for the time being, it just wasn't my cup of tea ... I mean beer.

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Photo of mattmaples
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I don't know of any other domestic "Old Ale" to compare this to but this one rocks. The carbonation was a little low (even for the style) but maybe that will improve with age. Huge, malty and smooth. Unlike some "Old Ales" this one is good now and it should continue to get better for at least 3 if not 5 years. Although a touch sweet it is not overly so and it should dry out if you age it. If you can get this one make sure and pick up some so you can put them down.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,247 ratings
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