Old Stock Ale | North Coast Brewing Co.

1,500 Reviews
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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Reviews: 1,500 | Ratings: 3,193
Photo of drmeto
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2014 Version

-pours a clear red-brown with a small to medium,quickly dissipating,foamy,offwhite head
-low carbonation visible
-small particle floaties visible
caramel,toffee,nutty,figs,strawberries,slight chocolate,brown sugar
-plums,raisins,figs,brown sugar,strawberries,syrupy,toasty finish
-very sweet
-low to medium carbonation
-medium to full body
-alcohol present
More a Barleywine than an Old Ale.
Very good, but also very sweet

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Recommended by our local beer store. Bought a 4-pack of '14 and one of '15. Poured the '14 on Christmas eve. Clear dark honey color with light, but lingering, carbonation. Aroma of pit fruits - figs, dates and apricots. Mouthfeel is light and little hint of the ABV dynamite. Sweet flavors with a port wine profile - delicious! Let it warm to cellar temp before poring.

Update: '15 batch poured on 26 Feb '16. This one is cloudy and has a nutty, almond taste and strong malt backbone. Next year - a vertical '14 - '16 !

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Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into pint glass in December 2015. No date on the bottle.

Appearance: Dark Amber with tan head. Beer color is deep. Head is thin, and leaves a thin film on the glass.

Smell: Aroma is sweet. There is some caramel aroma as well, and a little hops.

Taste: The taste is also dominated by the sweetness from the malt. There is a little bite from the hops, but not much.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, but with a nice punch from the alcohol, which confirms the 11% on the bottle.

This is a smooth strong Ale. Good drinking, and something I would like to drink again.

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Photo of Tele
4.29/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle (2015 Vintage)
Consumed: 12.14.15

A: 4.5 Pours a coppery brown with a one-inch, light tan head with good retention and lacing.

S: 4.25 Aromas are really nice, but a bit muted. Good malt presence bringing raisins, figs, caramel, apple pie, and a tiny bit of clove.

T: 4.25 Like the nose, there are great things going on flavor wise, but it’s pretty quiet. Starts off a bit sweet with a lot of the characteristics from the nose, especially caramel and malt with some booziness thrown in. The beer moves seamlessly into a very mild hop bitterness until finally finishing dry with flavors of candied apple.

M: 4.5 Full-bodied and satisfying without feeling too heavy. Great carbonation too.

O 4.25 This is a really nice old ale and the balance between sweet and bitter flavors is excellent. If the flavors were a little more pronounced, it would be a perfect example of the style.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a lovely orange with a slight haze. Amber hues and coppers amidst a soft glow. Thin tan head that fell fats but on a subsequent pour I was able to coax a bit of a lush head. Nose is nutty and fruity. A touch of treacle sweetness at first. Then the layered malt complexity is revealled. Caramel toffee, and soft sweet cake like breaddy malt. Dark fruits like fig and dates, a lovely hop floral to underscore. Golding show a bit of sweet herbal as this beer goes to finish with a touch of residula sweetness and a festive ting from alcohol. Excellent. Mouthfeel is medium and never gets too heavy or chewy. The flavors are prominent but delicate. It is impeccably smooth.

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Photo of Spikester
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Hazy reddish brown with about 3 fingers of light tan five minute head. No lace.
Smell is light toffee.
Taste is toffee plums brown sugar and a bit of noble hops toward the end.
Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. The finish is semi dry and wanders from sweet to bitter.
Overall a powerful and tasty beer. Proceed with caution.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

bottled on the 223rd day of 2014 (8/11/14) and bought in July of 2015. consumed 12/9/15. bought a 4 pack so i could age 3 bottles and consume 1 now.

pours a dark mahogany color with a barely present white head.

smell is sweet like heavy caramel malt. smells like a barleywine. slight tones of alcohol as well but is covered well by the sweetness.

taste is sweet but has heavy alcohol tones. causing a warming effect almost instantly in my mouth. not a bad taste but could cover more of the alcohol. a sipper for sure.

overall this is good but isn't special to me. had my first barleywine ever last night and completely enjoyed it. now i'm interested in that style and beers of similar taste so i tried this. tastes similar to that barleywine but the alcohol is less hidden. not bad but put me down a rabbit hole. can't wait for the aged bottles now!

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Photo of MaxBrews
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aging is recommended on this beer, however I could not help cracking open a fresh 2015 vintage.

I never refrigerated this beer, and poured it straight into a Chimay goblet. The beer poured a nice mahogany color with a thin white head that dissipated quickly, likely due to the alcohol content. Definitely a brilliant color out of this beer.

The aroma of this beer was reminiscent of sherry, brandy, oak, oats and caramel malts. Due to a near 12% alcohol content alcohol was present in the nose.

The flavor of this beer was delightfully simple. Strong notes of cherry, sherry, brandy and oak. Not much more than those flavors. Due to the strength of this beer I was suspecting a more malt flavors, but rather than a heavy sweetness from the malt it has a brown sugar sweetness. Some reviews report hop flavor in this beer, I did not taste any hop flavor nor recognize any hop bitterness. As alcoholic as this beer is minimal

Mouthfeel was smooth, little to no bitterness. An extremely sweet beer.

All and all a well rounded beer that's quite easy to drink for the high ABV. As a fresh and un-aged beer it's very simple and lacking complexity. For a more fair review I should age this beer and try some vintages. I anticipate buying another four pack and giving this a go.

When beers approach the more extreme side i.e. higher alcohol contents there's a lot that go wrong. There are no off flavors in this beer, nor nothing unpleasant. I think this is a beer that can be enjoyed by most people and certainly a great way to showcase the diversity of beer. Also a great introduction to a very old style of beer.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a medium to moderately deep copper/amber brown in color with a very small head. The head is off-white in color and only about a centimeter thick. There is just a little bit of lacing from the small amount of head that remains after a moment in the glass. Looks like a fair amount of carbonation in the glass for the style and ABV.

S- The first noticeable scent that hits the nostrils is a fairly decent dose of sweetness. The sweetness is mostly caramel-like with a bit of balancing, red malt smell moving in during the middle of the drink. Right in the middle of the scent is just a touch of brown sugar sweetness mixing in. The back half of the smell is a combination of fading sweetness, light booze, and maybe just the slightest bit of hops bitterness.

T- At first sip, this beer displays its unique flavor profile. The sweetness from the scent is there early on, but not nearly as strong in the taste of the beer, instead being replaced by the balanced, caramel malt flavor. Some hops bitterness move in more quickly in the taste than in the scent, giving the beer a light to moderate, piney bitterness in the middle of the drink that carries throughout the back half as well. Underneath the hops bitterness is a mild, caramel flavor that moves in and out repeatedly throughout the drink.

M- This beer is very high in carbonation, not only for the style, but just overall. Outside of the carbonation, the beer is fairly light on the palate and there is no noticeable alcohol, both which are surprising for this beer and style.

Overall, this is an interesting beer that is very good. To me, it is light a hybrid of barleywine and old ale. It has some sweetness and some bitterness, and really doesn't lean towards either. It is a very balanced beer in flavor and displays surprisingly little alcohol for its content.

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Photo of BikingDutchman
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Dark reddish/brown with a half inch tan head that dissipates quickly.
S - Sweet dark bread with a little bit of dark fruit/raisin.
T - Very sweet with a lot of dark bread and bread crust. Also a lot of dark fruit that reminds me of raisins prunes. Sweetness is balanced by just enough bitterness, but little to no hop flavor or aroma. It is a little bit boozy, but that is expected from 11.9% abv.
M - Heavy and sweet. The moderate carbonation helps, but it is an unapologetically heavy beer.
O - The sweetness brings a complexity to this beer with all of the dark malty flavors. It's really a treat that is refreshing among all of the hoppy beers that are available. I'm curious how it would be different with age.
Edit - 12 oz. 2015 bottle

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Photo of Absolut
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 version poured into a snifter while watching MNF.

first half of review at fridge temp.

pours a clearish dark brown with a fizzy head. surprising carb for such an old beer, but it dissipates quickly.

smells of oak, molasses, vanilla and malt.

taste is interesting. starts of reminiscent of sucaba- minus the depth and barrel flavor. I get molasses, vanilla, booze and an after taste that is dry, medicinal and leaves a coating in the mouth like Nyquil.

interesting but somewhat disappointing.

letting warm...

after warmed. its a very good beer, but where others kick it up after the initial wave, it falters into a medicinal flavor.

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Photo of Brew_42
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep brownish red and a thin white head that dissipates quickly

Smell-Dark fruits, molasses, and malts

Taste follows the nose with some medium-to heavy booziness. Some bitterness towards the end. Very similar to a barley wine

Mouthfeel-Medium bodied with some warmth from the alcohol

Great beer that packs a punch.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle of 2012 edition, poured into a nonic pint at ~40 degrees F.

Appearance: Pours a hazy, vaguely reddish brown, and forms a thin head of beige foam that rather quickly turns into a ring. Leaves patches of lacing on the glass.

Smell: At 3 years of age, the aroma is a bouquet of sweetness and malt, very caramel and molasses. Fig, plum, date, and the like swirl around in the scent as well, alongside a vague hint of booziness that seems less rum, more whiskey.

Taste: All the sweetness in the nose did not lie. This opens in a wash of dark stone fruit preserves slathered on bread and topped with molasses. A medicinal quality comes in as the beer moves along the palate, much like I'd imagine an early 19th-century cough syrup might have tasted like. Rusted iron notes appear as well, giving a metallic tang to shadow the syrupy sweetness, and there are bits of a burnt caramel-vanilla tone. An oaky and vinous tinge round out the flavor palate, and the aftertaste lingers as the molasses, preserves, and medicinal syrup.

Mouthfeel: Sticky is the first word that comes to mind, with minimal sharpness from carbonation rolling through a full-bodied beer.

Overall: A delicious old ale / English barleywine, which ages quite well.

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Photo of FlandersNed
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle: 2007 vintage. Reddish-brown hue with some finings and a tan head of moderate height. Sugared date & fig nose. Boozy, almost like it was BBA. Tasty: aged fruit & caramel. Full body and nedium+ carbonation.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I tried two vintages dated 5/2014 (2104 vintage) &12/2014 (2015 vintage). The 2015 vintage: decent carbonation when opened; pours a clear mahogany color, with a surprisingly small about of head; strong aroma of--what I think is called---dark fruits, and booze; medium body, with some heat from the alcohol; caramel, brandy like flavors, sweet, and a strong boozy flavor. I drank the 2014 version a day before, and it was basically the same, but not as strong, and so, smoother.

I really like this beer: there is no weird or off flavors, and it satisfies in just about every way (I only wish it didn't have to sip it because of its strong alcohol). I have three of each year laid down, so it will be interesting to see how it does with more age; but for now, I prefer the fresher (at ~8 months) over the slightly aged one (at ~16 months). This is definitely a beer to enjoy with with others.

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Photo of Raime
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2015 Vintage.

Ahhh yes sir, I have been wanting to try this guy since I saw it hit shelves. Haven't had an old ale on quite some time, maybe 'round the last time I fucked your nasty STD ridden wife. But hey, got this at a loss on their part of $2.99 ( they lose on the new ones hoping to sell it for more later and make a profit, smart business and really can't complain too much, especially since they make a ¢50 profit per 4 pack without it being a loss at all ;) ).

Look - A harder pour than your dads biker amongst the time he plowed your mom an ultimately gave birth to you yield the deepest of all Amber heads with a two finger off though not completely off the mark white head. Carbonation appears pretty low and it sits like cough syrup in a glass without the overly present thickness. Lacing isn't quite there, though just enough to prove its point without sticking around for too long. 4

Smell - The breadyness is all ruling along with a big dosage of whole chip ness of the mesquite and oak flakes variety. Tootsie roll esque chocolately sweetness without massive cloying dosage that is unbearable. Bit of cherries, but muted enough as to know it doesn't murder you on the taste. 4..

Taste - You start of initially with a large and dominating hit of the boozyness left to question you about whether or not you should have another sip. The wood is up next followed by a small though noticavle dark fruit flavor. Alcohol is also there in a warming and moderately burning quality though not enough to male you stop. Slight dark fruits an full leveled rye and burnt breads come through and complete the flavor. 4.

Feel - The feel is very, very full and a bit sweet with just enough carbonation to keep things interesting. Feel s nice big wood chip ordeal on the tongue followed by some heat and alcohol for the tinge-like alcohol bullshit. 4

Overall - Overall, still to this not a huge fan of Old Ales. In my opinion they basically taste like a wooded dubbel in my OWN opinion. Prettttyyyyy good, though is slow, and a heavy to drink guy. Take it as you will ladies and gentleman just don't have as a finisher. Thing about Old Ales is they nearly always 4, but don't offer much to go beyond a 4...

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Photo of SayBoom
4.44/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

My 333 foreign beer) 2014 vintage.
Intense red, no any head, a small amount of bubbles.
Lots of strong aromas: caramel, raisins, dry fruits, alcoholic aroma, notes similar rotten apples. The smell is really intricate.
The sweetness is very high, smooth caramel and toffee, moderate bitterness, hints of wood.
Palate full, creamy, boozy heat.
Big and complex Old Ale. I think it perfect candidate to post «winter beer».

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Photo of josanguapo
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In Bar Viriato, Sevilla. In wine cup. With Viriato Burger. 5€. Pleasantly warm. Really nice in aroma and taste. To drink with care because of its high ABV

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 release 12oz bottle with my FW snifter glass
Notes taken on 03/01/2015 – side by side with Bells Third Coast

A: The body is the color of a russet brown with some dark ruby tones. Showing off some bubble action there with a minor amount of clarity to it. A cautious pour produces a nice even layer of dark khaki cream across the top. Moderate holding strength to it with only a few dots of stick noted. More so has the alcohol legs going.

S: Caramelized fig and sugary vanilla bean meets rum soaked breads and spiced plum. I get notes of leather and tobacco signature of that Maillard reaction in an Old Ale. Has a molasses sweetness to it all throughout and a bit of stinging alcohol presence in the nose. Very nice and on point with the style.

T: Flavors comprise of vanilla toffee and caramelized fig, darkened breads, and nutty toasted malt grains. Not unlike a candied nougat here. Getting some tart plum like fruity esters noted. Subtle leather and molasses. Leafy bitterness as well with a dose of grassy alcohol spice. Seemingly hot in a way but not really in a detracting manner. Has an almost vinous note about it like a sherry wine. Really well balanced at near 12% ABV I would. Very tasty indeed.

M: Medium to full bodied. Lightly creamy on the palate with a lower perceived carbonation feel. Some modest hop bitterness there with a good amount of warming alcohol. Nice lighter drying effect to the finish.

D: A well groomed sipper. The perfect companion to your favorite lounge chair and a good read. One of the better takes on the Old Ale and exemplary of the style I would say. Often taken for granted here with its availability.

Very comparable with Bell’s Third Coast and both being solid renditions of the style. I am giving a slight nod to North Coast for a touch more depth and complexity in flavor and better overall balance here.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.44/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. I could drink this regularly and never tire of it. Maybe I should stock up.

It is very pretty in the glass - something I did not really expect. Lovely head and continuous bubbles. The aroma is boozy and malty. And just plain cool. Again, not what I expected. Very civilized yet pronounced.

The taste is one of the best boozy ales ever. It makes no excuse for all the alcohol but instead puts the malts to good use, blending into a lovely sweet and bitter brew. The finish is like the primary, more sweet that bitter but still slightly bitter.

If you want a change of pace from all those over hopped ipas or nasty representations of big old world ales, this is the modern California way to go. Very refined. I don't think this needs aging, but it would be interesting to try it.

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Photo of bcsbeer
4.46/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 edition. 12 Oz bottle that I pulled from the cellar
(cardboard box in my closet )

Poured a dirty looking amber, cleared up with time and temperature.
Head was surprisingly active for a 3yr old high gravity ale. Produced a one finger head that slowly reduced to a thin layer, but would respond on command. The inhale was intoxicating, I was getting a light alcohol warmth with candy like notes of cherries, bubblegum and caramel. Almost like a tamed down cough syrup with out the medicine. Flavors were complex and rich, evolving as it warmed up. Picking up sweet boozy malts best described as rum cake. The one problem with this beer is that I could not keep the glass on the table, as soon as the aftertaste receded, I found my arm reaching for another taste. It went by too quick. Everything improved on this towards the end. I would love to have a do over and drink this at room temperature start to finish.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 version poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dense burgundy/red, with little to no head and sliver of lace.

S - Plums, figs/dates, booze, dark fruit, wood, nuts.

T - Let this warm for peak taste. Initially, the taste doesn't match the nose, could have used a few more room temp minutes. Toasted grains and malts compete with the plum/fig. Wood elements and some brown sugar. The heat is present (it is apparent on some swigs more than others), not as much in the nose, and only mildly recognized when sipped.

M - Carbonation is low, though there is enough to keep this from becoming syrup. The heft, as expected, is heavy.

O - Was finally glad to try this one, and it is a very well made Old ale. This is one that needs to be matched with good food pairing or precursor at 12%.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.77/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2015 vintage. I've had this in my fridge for a handful of months. My original plan was to sit on it for a few years, but for some reason, I got impatient and opened it now. Poured into improper glassware. Oh well.

Appearance: Burgundy with excellent clarity. There was a bit of a head when pouring, but it went away quickly and left nothing but a wispy ring on top. Very "quiet" beer, as there's very little carbonation coming from the bottom of the glass. Great color, but that's about it.

Smell: Alcohol and dark fruits, as expected, bu there's this very unusual maple syrup quality that I get... unusual, but fantastic. There's obviously malty sweetness in there as well, but it's predominantly dark fruits and alcohol, with that super pleasant maple syrup aroma. Not flooded with depth but I'm liking the smell of this one.

Taste/feel: First sip, not enjoying it much. It's just intense alcohol flavor and a bit of warmth with only trace dark fruits. As I'm drinking on, I'm picking up more flavors, but almost exclusively in the aftertaste. For the life of me I can't understand why I'm smelling so much from this beer, but tasting so little... it's like a mind trick. It goes in with the mildest carbonation and a flat Coke-esque body, which is already a fairly underwhelming start. Then comes a huge rush of intense alcohol flavor followed by a dark fruit taste that lingers to the end. Not as sweet as the nose would suggest, but of course, it's an Old Ale, so it's still on the sweet side. The finish of this has a very slight spicy characteristic to it that I like, but it doesn't save what I feel is a pretty uninteresting and overrated Old Ale. I will say that even though I can taste a lot of alcohol in this beer, there's not all that much burn, so that's a plus for this particular beer.

I'm not sure age would have done a whole lot for Old Stock Ale. Sure, the alcohol flavor may tone back a bit, but I don't feel like there are a lot of other flavors there that would suddenly blossom into something fantastic. It's quite good, but I've had many better in the style.

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Photo of VetsPackage
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 1/20/15
Not too many better that are as widely available at NC stuff is. Raisins, brown sugar, toasted nuts on the nose and follows with the taste accompanied with rich molasses and caramel flavors from the prolonged boil. What little hop profile this one has to begin with had subdued even more after 6 months in the cellar and though it lends some warmth from the alcohol is still hides the nearly 12% abv well. Look forward to revisiting this one at the 1 year mark

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Photo of zac16125
4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12o oz bottle into a snifter
2014 Vintage

A: Pours a very hazy to the point of being opaque, murky brownish colored with under 1 fingers width of tan head. Head dissipates down very quickly and leaves no lacing. 3.75

S: Tons of dark fruits and sweetness; currants, dates, and cherry. Candied sugar and toffee. Some booze to round it out. Fantastic. 4.5

T: Not quite as sweet as the nose, particularly the dark fruits aren’t as prominent. Still lots of caramel and toffee, subtle bakers cocoa, burnt sugar. Some bitterness as well, and a fair amount of booze. Its very good but a let down from the aroma. 4

M/D: Medium bodied, carbonation appropriate, ABV is noticeable but non-dominant, drinkability is good.4

O: Very good beer that I would enjoy any day. 4.25

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Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
4.1 out of 5 based on 3,193 ratings.
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