Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale
3,296 Ratings
Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale

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

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round out and mellow with age. It’s brewed with classic Maris Otter malt and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, all imported from England.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-26-2001

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Ratings: 3,296 |  Reviews: 1,533
Photo of jonnylieberman
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I don't know what to say... This is a truley superlative beer, one of perhaps the 4 or 5 best I have ever tasted. Maybe better. I drank my 2002 bootle in March of 2004. Plenty of time to age, though I am sure it will ast another decade.

Beautiful, complex mix of colors. Copper, for sure, but also reds, browns, and golds.

The smell is massive and potent. Winey, vanilla... alcohol and raisois, perhaps. Point is, complex.

The taste is the reason. Fantastic. You have two or three sips and you begin wondering why other beers exist. Two more sips and you find yourself digging holes in the backyard so as to bury the other bottles. Wouldn't want anyone else gettting ahold of your treasure, would you? Fantastic.

Mouthfeel is that of aged barleywine. A complex mix of balance and flavor that I feel has to be experienced rather than described. Balance, balance, balance!

Cost and 11.4% abv are the only factors keeping this from being my session beer. Cheers to North Coast for making one of the most remarkable beers on planet earth.

Note: I have 6 bottles buried in my beer cave.

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Photo of RootedFool
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California.

2003 edition.

Pours a deep, opaque mahogany into my goblet. A slender layer of creamy foam dispands posthaste.

The smell is of heavy, spicy malt sweetness (alcohol soaked dark fruits) and sinus-clearing alcohol fumes.

Taste begins with a vinuous fruity sweetness and arches out into a honed roar of hops and strong alcohol heat. Aftertaste is a balance of these three flavors -- fruity malts, hops, and alcohol.

But the alcohol isn't overpowering, quite a feat at 11.4%.

Middling carbonation. Body isn't as stocky as I thought it would be, instead it feels too thin compared to the hefty sweeps of flavor going on here.

A real sipper, this brew. Enjoying it.

I'll have to pick up a few more and resist drinking them, to see how they hold up with age.

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Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Talk about the anti low carb diet. All I've been doing is drinking big beers these days...and this is one of my favorites recently. Very large beer. I got way too much ethanol in the nose...not very appealing, but the taste is really fantastic. Almost vinuous. Just good amount of hops, very malty. Very strong. I can feel it in my nose after I swallow...almost like horseradish cleanin' me out. WHEWWWW! I like this one.

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Photo of Imbiber
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep ruby red with a small light grey head which dissipates but doesn't fade totally. Big aroma: alcohol, malt, hops, possible brown sugar. Quite a big taste too, predominately malt and alcohol but balanced with hops; a distinct sweetness is there but the hops come through at the right moment for a fairly dry finish. Nice, complex, distinctive and quite dangerously drinkable - though the latter is hindered a bit by the high alcohol content.

A great beer to savour and respect, especially on a cold winter evening.

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Photo of TPoling
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2003 Old Stock weighs in at 11.4 percent this year, but can be deceptively tame as the alcohol astringency balances with the mellowness of the malt and notes akin to vanilla extract. A deep amber with hints of ruby red when it catches the light, Old Stock only warns that this isn't a safe all-night session beer when it gently warms the throat like brandy. Coffee and caramel and hops that stick to tastebuds for a long time.

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Photo of TripelJ
3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Originally sampled: 8/10/2003 -- Reviewing from notes.

Now Quaffing: North Coast Old Stock Ale 2002

Another fine offering from North Coast! Pours a deep, but clear amber with a medium tan head. The nose is sweet with a symphony of maltiness--whisky, molasses, caramel--hard to keep my nose out of the snifter! The taste reflects the nose which was dominated by caramel and molasses. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy. There is a nice warming feeling with every sip that gently reminds you of the ABV, without it interfering with the taste. Drinkability is good for the style, but I would definitely only have one per night.

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Photo of lou91
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'01 vintage. This beer poured dark brown with hints of red with a small head that quickly dissipated. A subtle nose of malt and alcohol. The first taste is intense with rich malt, alcohol, yeast and maple syrup sweetness all in exquisite balance. As it warms the alcohol shines through and reminds you who’s in charge. An excellent beer from an excellent brewer.

'00 vintage in 2004. The additional year adds an orange peel/sweet sherry nose and taste with the same profile as above. Yum.

'00 in '05 - Perfection.

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Photo of gnaussea
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark amber, with a small head that settles quickly. Smells of alcoholic, sweet malt with a somewhat roasted sensation. I can't quite place it. Very nice quaffer. Taste is powerful straight off. once again strongly sweet and strongly alcoholic, with a dark, kahlua-like hint. The aftertaste I'm having trouble placing. perhaps it will come to me another night, at which point I'll make an edit. Palate is perfect for the style, slightly carbonated. Maybe i havent had a barleywine in a while, but I don't think that is it. Suprisingly good.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 Version

As reccomended by their web site I am drinking this at cellar temperature. Very lively pour with lots of little bubbles and a thick rich pale tan 1/2 inch sticky head on the deep cherry colored brew. Big rich caramel malty nose with lots fruits (pineapple, tropical, plum). Really good lookin' and smellin' in the goblet. Initial intense tropical fruit burst of flavor is then caramel sweetness. after this inital burst of flavor the brew then stings the tongue with a warm hop bitterness to the finish. Wonderful comforting smooth full mouth. Drinkability suffers due to the high octane.. but other than that... man what a nicely crafted big friggin' beer.

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Photo of BeefyMee
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2002 edition

Appearance: Great caramel color.

Smell: Malty butterscotch and alcohol.

Taste: [cough] Pretty good. [cough] Same butterscotch quality as in the smell. Warming alcohol. You can't taste the alcohol quite so much as you can feel it.

Mouthfeel: I thought the alcohol in this might detract from the mouthfeel but, surprisingly, it does not. Though it still gives your tongue a little love tap to announce its presence.

Drinkability: There's kind of a burning aftertaste in the bottom of my throat, which scores some negative points, but other than that, this is very drinkable.

Beef Notes: Wow. Certainly a beer to be reckoned with. Huge malt and alcohol. It reminds me of drinking straight rum, but it's not as harsh.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2002 Old Stock Ale, yeah baby. Appearance: Deep ruby mahogany with a nice sized cream head leaves a nice pattern of scattered lacing. Aroma: Rich alcoholic brandy tone with rich overly ripened fruit soaked in alcohol, very compex and strong smelling. Taste: Malts slightly burnt orangepeel tone with a plums simmered in brown sugar tone a finishing bitter note but the hops don't play a vital role here this is one malty alcoholic tasting beer. Mouthfeel: Full bodied chewy texture medium carbonation big beer weighs in at 11.4, wow. Drinkability: It's a winter warmer chill and enjoy with a beer over the course of at least 45 minutes let this one warm up a bit, you won't be sorry.

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Photo of merlin48
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this 2003 edition up on a whim, to fill out one of my three cases of new ales from the Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg, Va., this afternoon. Don't know what to expect here. Pours into a large tulip glass a clear, ruby tinted, mahogoney brown with a short-lived beige head. Patchy lacing. Aroma gets my attention in a hurry. Wow! Lots of chocolate, then lots of roasted Columbian coffee, then figs and raisins. A hint of piney and citrus hops, but this one is all about the malts. I'm going to have to study up on this one. Alcohol is also present in the nose, which caught me by surprise. Oops, the label says 11.4. OK, let's go....! Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and has appropriate alcohol warming. Taste is initially an assault of chocolate, quickly followed by notes of coffee. Peppery spices seem to be present as well. Dark fruits try to emerge, but get smothered by the big abv. This one is like a Celebrator on steroids! Perfect as a winter warmer. This ale will make me sleep well tonight. I can't imagine drinking more than one of these in one evening, but this is one fine strong dark ale.

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Photo of Todd
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh my! This is some headache material just waiting to be consumed! Thick ruby colored beer, coffee colored foamy head that relaxes to nothing quickly, but there's plenty of carbonation going on. Steely caramel aroma, very sweet smelling and inviting. Mouthfeel is viscous, chewy and very full to the palate. Massively sweet and complex in the malt department. Loads of caramel, assertive raisin, notes of chocolate and plenty of coffee (two creams and sugar-like). Light bitter edge flows into an immense alcohol spice. And right about at this point you think "Oh my! ..." as the warming alcohol bathes your noodle in its sublime pool of numbness and brings some redness and heat to your cheeks. Finish is sweet and full of fumes from the alcohol.

A bit of expected oxidation in the form of wet paper, but other than that this 2002 vintage is a freagin' rockin' example of an olde school Old Ale!

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

2003 Edition:

Nice deep oak color and a light head with big bubbles on the surface. The smell was sweet with the presence of fruit and caramel malt. The mouth feel was full and the carbonation was light with a nice slick feeling of warming alcohol on the tongue.

The flavors were of candied fruits, plums, currants and sweet malts. The hop side was mild but did a nice job to balance this big malty ale.

Overall this is a solid old ale and I recommend trying.

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Photo of BKotch
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's January 2004 and I'm drinking the second bottle from a pair of four packs that I bought in January 2002 (the 2001 bottling). I'm also sitting on a pair of four packs from the 2002 bottling and the 2003 bottling. Ah, patience . . .

Pours a somewhat cloudy reddish brown with about a half-inch of head that faded pretty quickly. Some lace on the side of my pint glass.

The nose is thick and sweet, but surprisingly devoid of a strong hint of alcohol given its 11.4% abv.

The taste is ever-so-smooth -- sweet, malty and ever so complex. A strong caramel malt flavor, with traces of plums, black currant and other fuity tastes that I haven't yet identified. The alcohol, as I've already mentioned, is very, very well masked.

Mouthfeel is oily/sticky.

Drinkability is awfully high for a brew of this strength, but you simply do not drink this beer quickly. Small sips . . .

Boy, am I looking forward to checking out the rest of my stock over the next few years. Until Thomas Hardy Ale comes back to Texas, at least I have this old ale.

Now I'm on the fifth bottle of the 2001 bottling in June, 2006. The vanilla has really come to the forefront. Since the earlier review, I've picked up the 2004 bottling and I need to get the 2005 vintage before my local store runs out. This stuff is spectacular.

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Photo of Jason
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz short brown bottle with the vintage date of 2002 and 11.4% abv … no need for a freshness date.

Appearance: Dark hazy amber brown in colour, thin lacing … a bit sticky yet again, thin.

Smell: Steely caramelized malts, juicy ripe fruit … raisins? A malty and alcoholic aroma.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, ripe fruit melds with the alcohol to produce a rum raisin like flavour. He steely caramel malt has a bite and rides with a faded hop character. Sweet caramel and toasted grain run throughout, again … lots of malt. Sweet yet pleasing finish.

Notes: One of the few old ales I have had from an American brewery and an excellent job they did. The maltiness hides some of the 11.4% abv and there seems to be a good bit of balance even after it has aged for a good while.

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

Somewhat cloudy dark brown with a small tan head that quickly becomes a ring around the surface, this was the 2002 vintage -- and the aging seems to have served it well. Big malty aroma and taste, it is deceptively smooth for its 11.5% alcohol. In fact, I had to think about it to detect the alcohol after taste, and there was no burn at all. It may not be the best of it's type that I've had, but it's very good.

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Photo of Crosling
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

First let me say that I have been waiting to try this for months. The long awaited opening follows....

Pours a beautiful deep burgundy with a modest white head that self terminated rather quickly and left very little lace. Usually this prevents the appearence score from being high but the color on this beer was so damn pretty. When held up to the light the beer casts red lazers throughout the room. Cool!

Dried Plums, trampled cherries, sweet raisins, malts, brown sugar and alcohol present in the aroma. Smells hefty and complex!

Now the long awaited first sip....

Wow! This is a big beer! Starts out with plums and caramel then faids into a harsh alcohol bite but since it is woven with so many other flavors it is extreamly pleasant and warming. Sweet malts, brown sugar, dark fruits, molasses, and dried apples are intertwined with the alcohol bite to produce something that just simply tastes exquisite. A big barley wine leaning towards malt. This one has a low hop presense.

Fantastic mouthfeel, perhaps the best I have had. Drinkability suffers due to the alcohol taste.

Overall, this is one kickass beer!

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

Old Stock Ale 2002. This fine ale has a transluscent brown/copper color with a good lingering head. I found the aroma to be mostly of caramel and alcohol with a hint of hop bouquet. It has a smooth, doughy body dominated by the tastes of caramel, coffee, and alcohol. These tastes are tempered a bit by a good blending of hops for just the right amount of flavor and bitterness. The finish is sweet, dry and warming. One of the better beers I came across in 2003.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 edition. 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a murky reddish-brown color with half a finger of tan foam. There is very little lacing left. The smell is a mix of chocolate, spiced rum, candied plums, and licorice. It is a very strong smell that fills the nostrils nicely. The taste is fairly sweet at the beginning, with dates, figs, and brown sugar. There is a little bit of tartness in the middle, like soured raisins. The finish has a bit of an alcohol bite, and just a little hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is suberb, very strong, and very heavy. It glides smooth across the tongue though. The drinkability is fairly good for a beer this strong. I can't wait to cellar my others.

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

What a good beer!

Pours out to a dark amber in the glass with a very small head. Aroma is very good and with plums and other fruits coming through in the nose. The taste is superb and with fruit and nuts and malt and the kitchen sink coming through but finish so smooth on the swallow. The ABV is unreal hidden for something that is 11.4%.

Not a beer you'd drink a ton of, but wonderful on a cold winter's night.

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

2001 bottle drank in late 2003 - um, aging does nice things...

Poured a ruddy ruby color, showing tons of soft chiffon head, khaki-colored, and a bounty of thick, full lace. Specks of stain splattered about deftly clings to the snifter.

Smelled of vinuous grapes, espresso, nuts, and smoked beechwood. All were splayed on top of a feast of caramel malt. Tasted of a sleek caramel flavor and a separate presence of nicely oxidized malt. It had a wonderfully roasty flavor that was soft in power, round in body, and gracefully hearty. A tiny touch of alcohol near the end combines with fruity nips and the last remnants of hops. Amazing how quiet the finish is, with almost nothing left behind. Slick and smooth in the glass and on the tongue. Big, sweet, roasty, and highly mature tasting - in essence the textbook on an aged Old Ale.

One of the most drinkable big alcohol beers I’ve encountered. Instantly booked itself a permanent spot in my cellar.

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

This is one beer that I have always been scared away from because of price - at my local rip-off retailer, $14.99 a FOUR PACK. Since my friend was working, he gave one to me at his cost and I took it as my duty to critically evaluate the object of my desires.

The beer pours out a muddy, hazey brownish color with tints of ruby when held to the light. There was no head to speak of, and only a slight kick up of carbonation with a violent pour. Nice hints of spiderweb lacing were left on the glass. I'm not sure, but it appears that this beer was not bottle conditioned.

The beer smells fantastic, though one of my friends compared it to an alcoholic Yoo-hoo. I also noticed a slight suggestion of apple cider on the nose, a characeristic I have found in a couple other strong ales and barleywines.

This beer really has more of a porter taste than that of an old/stong/barleywine, and I was very appreciative of that. I've been slaughtering my tastebuds with those lately, and this beer is a major change.

Old Stock has a nice chewy mouthfeel comprised almost entirely of rich malts, with some hops definetely hiding underneath the surface. Hints of coffee, belgian dark chocolate, oak. I love that this beer is a porter or stout on steroids - it doesn't have the painfully sweet or medicinal taste that most huge beers have.

This beer is amazing - don't fear the price tag, it is really worth the money. You would not believe that this beer is 11.5% ABV. While drinking and reviewing this to notes, I considered giving this beer nearly all fives. Enchanting.

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

Poured a wonderful deep brown color with just a small amount of head. Nice aroma with so many smell floating around but well balanced so that one doesn't overpower the other. The taste is malty and hoppy. I find that mmost old style ales have a large bite at the beginning of the taste but this one is nice and smooth. Though it is a loarge beer, it is so smooth you would never know. A wonderful well balanced beer. I can't wait to pick up another one!

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

2002 edition sampled 12/05/03

Poured an extravagant deep amber with a quickly dissipating tan head. That's to be expected with 11.4% abv. The beer coated the glass with cobwebs of lacing. The aroma released malts and caramels with fruits and sugars sneaking around as well. The taste was inviting and the alcohol wasn't too strong. It hid very well in his complex beer and that can be difficult to do.This beer was still very young. A very nice offering and a great example to cellar.

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,296 ratings