I had stopped in the local bottle shop and spotted a name I haven’t seen on the shelf in a few years. It was North Coast Old Stock Ale. The last time I partook of an Old Stock was back in April of ’11 when I reviewed it here on the site. Those were the days where I wrote embellished prose to cover up my lack of experience. Hell, that review was enough to put you to sleep halfway through. But, we can’t change the past. We can only make excuses for it.
Old Stock Ale is made by the same fine folks who crank out Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, a mainstay on shelves all over. It was one of those beers that I remember for being so big and tasty. Here it was again, available right down the street.
I was looking for a new one by Oskar Blues called Death By Coconut, but it was nowhere to be seen. The owner mentioned it was pretty hard to get in our area. Reviews of the beer are very high and many say it was like drinking a Mounds Bar. I settled for the Old Stock Ale because it was here now and that I was so impressed with it way back when.
After purchasing the beverage, I started to have qualms about what it would taste like 5 years later. Whether or not I would be considered running out of ideas for beers, and mostly, what if I got shitfaced drinking this beer and wake up with my face embedded in the keyboard. But I know my limitations. If the trip to the bathroom starts to go uphill, it’s time to quit.
I am always looking for some new taste or flavor in a beer and Old Stock may not be new, but it was something I had really liked in the past. I wondered if North Coast changed the recipe since ’11.
Old Stock Ale is brewed every year and the year is printed on the label (except for when I had it back in ’11.) The ABV varies slightly by a point or two either way but the gigantic taste remains the same over time.
With that being said, it’s time for me to stop drooling and start drinking. Here we go.
The beer poured with a nice brown color and brought up a one-finger head. Holding the glass up to the light showed that it had an underlying red tint, almost like raspberry. The aroma held a smell of dark malts waiting to attack.
The head was gone before the first sip. And that first sip was a monster. Massive, huge tastes of dark malt with hints of baker’s chocolate and maybe some dark cherry way in the back. This was a big beer and it tasted like it.
The darkness had no roasty flavors at all and therefore didn’t taste like an imperial stout. This was an imperial ale, just a massive taste with a ton of dark malt and some nice sweetness all around.
There was also no resemblance to a Belgian quad. The tastes are similar, but this old ale is a bit rough like the freshly cut surface of an oak plank.
The closest comparison would be to an American barleywine but in our example today, the hop flavors are subdued and can’t be tasted. Old Stock Ale fits perfectly into the English Old Ale style of beer which is similar to a barleywine, only with less hops. Test some Old Stock against Bigfoot barleywine and you’ll get the idea.
Alcohol is not so much tasted as it felt in the gut. The heat kicked on slightly at the beginning. It was pretty much expected with this beer weighing in at 11.8% alcohol. The potency of this beer should be seriously considered before purchasing it. I’d say that Old Stock Ale is a beer that should be shared and not pounded down after a hard day at work.
Old Stock is a perfect candidate for cellar aging. After a few years, the rough cut edges would be considerably smoothed and the taste character will change for the better. If you can afford it, get 2 four-packs. One goes away to be aged while the other one is enjoyed with a friend or two. Keep some standing by for those massive snow days where the city shuts down. It’d be your winter warmer.
Style: Old Ale – also here.
Taste: Huge. Massive malt dosage, sweetness and some mystery tastes within.
Smoothness: A bit of a twinge at the swallow.
Drinkability: This is a slow sipper. Slow is the word for this beer.
Bang for the buck: Nominal for the taste experience.
Amount paid: $12.99 per four-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes, next year if I can find it.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy. Looks kinda like tea. (sniff) Yeast. Caramelly. (sip) Ughck! Oh. I dunno what that is. Burnt caramel? (sip) Yeah, I don’t care for that at all. Ack! (She ran into the kitchen for a bowl of chocolate ice cream with pecans. I’d say we set the stage.)
The story of North Coast Brewing Co. [3:33]