Intimidation, thy name is Old Stock
Posted on 4/30/2011 (1270 days ago, 44 of 657 reviews)
10/10 Appearance | 9/10 Aroma | 8/10 Mouthfeel | 10/10 Flavor
Some beers just need to be properly respected before you can truly enjoy them. North Coast's Old Stock Ale has been sitting in my fridge for quite a while now. I've been passing it up time and time again because you can't just grab an old ale, bust it open, then go sit on the couch and watch the game. Some beers need their own moment. They need to be the focus. So here I am on a lazy Saturday, nothing on my plate, and the craving for a quality brew hits me. It's time. Let's open the Old Stock.
I poured this beer into a glass and immediately began to salivate. It's a beautiful deep cherry, much like an Imperial Red. My hopes are now high, so I go in for the first whiff. Son... of a bitch. This beer's aroma can be summed up in a single word: intimidating. It's faint at a distance, so you have to get your nose on top of it. And once you do, you'd swear you were smelling a fine brandy. Even the pour reminded me of a brandy, quite thin with no head. This made me a bit nervous, because when a beer of this color pours with no head, it's usually indicative of serious strength.
The first sip of Old Stock is a wow moment. This beer grabs your tongue and starts beating the inside of your mouth with it. Strong is an understatement. It may clock in at a whopping 12.5% ABV, but it actually tastes much stronger. Don't get me wrong though, it's really, really good. The front end is very bitter and unapologetic, so the first half of this beer is devoted primarily to establishing mouth comfort. It's a battle, so don't expect to immediately pick out flavors. But once you get used to the intensity, it settles down into a delicious base of rich, smokey caramel. Really big caramel in fact. Caramel is a common description for darker sweeter ales, but in this case it applies with a vengeance. It's absolutely delicious. The only downside to this beer is the finish. It's relentlessly bitter and lingers well past it's welcome. Not entirely unexpected considering it's strength, but it does get unnerving after a while.
Overall, North Coast's Old Stock Ale is a delicious high quality old ale. But novices be warned, this beer has a harsh bite. Old Stock demands respect and deserves every ounce of it. A single 4-pack would probably last me for several months. This beer is strictly for those special days when you are feeling brave and adventurous.