Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Old Stock AleOld Stock Ale
3,283 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: 3,283 |  Reviews: 1,530
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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Photo of Rastacouere
3.81/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2yr old bottle. Amber body with ruby tones, small fading head rapidly becomes a memory. The aroma is pretty complex like any respectable barleywine, but definitely more on the malt side. Brown sugar is obvious and is of pleasant company to figs, peaches, alcohol and an all-around complex fruitiness. Taste is an infinite malty deepness that is only restrained by a tad too much alcohol presence for my liking. Syrupy apricot and sweet peaches. The aftertaste is fresh like I had brushed my teeths with an alcohol flavoured toothpaste. Medium bodied and full-flavoured. Just a little too sweet/cloying to be among the greats of this world.

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Photo of HossMcGraw
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 bottling
I think I'm in love. Deep amber with small tan head and adequate lacing. I detect some unusual but wonderful things in the aroma. It's so damn complex! I can pick up on black licorice, wartermelon, and many, many, spices.

The taste is sweet caramel and molasses, yet very fruity as well, (Although this is by no means a "fruity" beer). Surprisingly, it's very refreshing. The alcohol is very well hidden which makes this very drinkable, but it still lets you know who's boss. Very excellent and very underrated. North Coast will continue to get more of my flow so long as they keep bringing me quality beer.

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

2002 release.
Hazed and half brown, half red in color. Tan head.
Aroma of dark fruit, sweet malt, and alcohol.

Taste is very smooth for an 11.4% ABV beer. Sweet caramel malt and brown sugar. Dark fruit. How does this beer manage to have a clean finish; unreal. Alcohol is well hidden.

Plenty of body and the right amount of carbonation lends to a good mouthfeel.
Very drinkable for an 11.4% ABV beer. Dare I say quaffable.

Overall, this is a good beer. Big and tastey, yet very drinkable. I was distressed when Brew's sold out of Third Coast Old Ale while I was sitting at the bar, then the bartender pulled this gem out. Thanks to Brew's Cafe for aging this one for me for the last year!

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

2002 vintage.
My, my this is a potent brew!
It pours an old, worn leathery brown with a thin beige head. A sweet toffee aroma and big warming alcohol fuminess is quite noticeable throughout the glass. A light citrus and mild coffee aroma are also constantly in the background. Pronounced toffee, coffee with cream and milk chocolate blend nicely with grapefruit and lemon zest bitterness. Flavors of pear brandy and a peppery spiciness mingle within the woody alcoholic and creamy bodied compound. This is a beautifully crafted beer in the "extreme" class.

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

Appearance – Dark, thick, heavy brown with a beautiful tan head that almost stayed the night and left some cool lacing (I thought high ABV ale wasn’t supposed to lace?).

Smell – Big, strong aroma of dark, heavily-sweetened malt. The sweetness comes mostly from dark sugars. Everything is very strong, dark, and soaked in alcohol.

Taste – Amazingly, this is nowhere near as harsh as I thought it was going to be from the nose. The toasted malt is there, juicy and firm. The sugars are enormous. This is one of the most sugary, syrupy, ales that I’ve ever had. I can pick up some dark fruits, but mostly it’s brown sugar. Lots of alcohol, too, but not harshly so.

Mouthfeel – Chewy, gooey, and sticky. This almost full-bodied ale is a mouthfeel. It’s also a lot smoother than I thought from the sharp aroma.

Drinkability – At 11.5 ABV this one is a real sipper, although I’d be lying if I said it’ll last me the night. This is good stuff and belongs in the tummy. Hmm!

Update – I remember this being a gem when I first had it in 2003 and wanted to try an ’04 batch in ’05 to see if it still blew me away.

Boy, did it ever! This beer smells scary, like it’s going to kill your taste buds and burn your throat all to hell. But, after the first swig, trust ensues. You can still sense the strong ABV, but this ale is extremely smooth and flavorful. One of my all time favorites!

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served at Lucky Baldwin's pub in Pasadena at the So. Cal. BA gathering on 10/11/03. 2001 vintage. Belgian style goblet. This keg was tapped that evening and the owner of LB's was excited about tapping it and even talked to me for a minute about this ale.

This is a sipping ale. It took me over an hour to finish it. What a great way to spend an hour.

Pours a deep mahogany with red hues. A nice burnt quality to the color of this ale as well. The head was a weak beige which disappeared quickly and did not leave much lacing around the glass. The scents are dominated by a resiny malt. Very heavy molassas and brown suger and then some dried figs. There is a green apple sweetness to break up the malts. Heavy on the alcohol but as it warms the alcohol takes on a wonderful cognac quality.

Heavily malty with some spices that provide a touch of a bitter bite but are really along for the malty ride. There are so many flavors to this ale. It is quite incredible. First comes the caramel and molassas. The dried figs dipped in brown sugar come next. Dark bread flavors tease but never show themselves fully. Then there is some green apple and white wine grapes for a good addition of fruit. There are some spices at the end and a very nice peppery finish. Not to be left out is the alcohol. At first it is very present and can bite. As the ale warms it mellows and takes on a smooth cognac sipping quality. It adds to the flavors. Wonderful and very complex, the flavors evolve the slower it is consumed.

Medium bodied and sticky in the mouth. It does have a thickness to it. The alcohol at first gives a nice smooth burn in the throat. It mellows as the ale warms and just reminds the drinker it is a high alcohol ale. Because of its high ABV and thickness I would never call this ale a session ale. Unless that session is one excellent hour to an hour and a half drink. It has great drinkability in enjoying just the one.

I think this being the 2001 vintage, it has mellowed this ale to a fantastic state. I can see where this ale has all the qualities of being harsh if it was in an early stage.

Overall I really enjoyed this ale. Just take it slow and easy. It will reveal its mysteries near the end of the story. One just has to have restraint of eagerness about how quickly they get to the end.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
3/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2002 edition. Served chilled in a glass. Allowed to warm up a bit as the beer was consumed.

Appearance: Clear caramel colored head with an ephemeral tan head. No retention or lacing.

Smell: Aromas of green apples, maple, and faint apricots. A splash of herbal hoppines as well. Smell is not very strong overall.

Taste: Caramel and toasted malt bittersweetness followed by a slow burn of alcoholic taste that's not quite unpleasant, but not all that integrated with the other flavors, either. Some prune flavors as well. Peppery notes on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Relatively full bodied with the aforementioned burning sensation going down. Kinda hinders the enjoyment,

Drinkability: Hindered by the inadequate alcohol masking. I've had stronger ABV beers that mask better. I think this stuff needs to age some more.

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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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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 3,283 ratings