- Style: Old Ale
- Vintage: 2019
- Abv: 10.2%
- IBU: 34
Old Ales…what are they? Let’s get some-what of an understanding of what this beer style is, before we begin to discuss North Coasts fantastic version of this style. Old Ale’s or also known as, Stock Ales, have a distinctive quality to which their yeast undergoes an aging process, often for years, in bulk storage or through bottle conditioning, which contributes to a rich, wine-like and often sweet oxidation character. Old ales are copper-red to very dark in color. Typically low attenuated, with high levels of dextrins, creating a full malt body with plenty of character. Complex fruit-ester characters may emerge. Expect fruity, vinous, intense malt flavors and sharp alcohol characteristics. The often racy but mellow attitude of the beer may also include acidic notes, raisins, and black currants. Vintage varieties may have a low level of oxidation while stronger versions sometimes show similarities to port wine. Brewers may also inoculate a portion of the batch with Brettanomyces lambicus and age it for an extended period of time to achieve an old-school acidic character. Old ales are very similar to Barleywines, but in general old ales are going to be lower gravity ales with a more restrained hop profile. Old ales run the gamut between the restrained maltiness of a mild ale and the big, aggressive character of a Barleywine.
“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.” North Coast Brewing
Poured into a snifter from a 2019 vintage bottle the mahogany-hue liquid sat topped with an off-white head that dissipated very quickly, however, that is to be expected with high gravity beers. The clarity was opaque with slow rising bubbles. The nose was filled with caramel, dried fruits of fig, dates, and raisins. No noticeable heat was detected. Flavors of toasted bread with honey, dried fruit, and caramel. Earthy herbal notes from the hops. Slight hop bitterness which is evident in the finish. Some Diacetyl was noticed leaving your mouth moderately coated. Medium carbonation, with a long and dry finish.
The beer is extremely well balanced, and for the high abv, I was expecting to blow fumes, but to my surprise I got very minimal burn. This is a very malt-forward beer, with some buttery characteristics to it. The sweet notes of dried fruit, and the slight hop bitterness help balance everything out. This is an exceptional beer, and well crafted. I can totally see why this has won more than a few World Beer Championships medals and other awards. I am truly excited to lay a few of these away to age, and see what this beer can turn into with a year or two more in the bottle. Grab a 4-pack, drink one today, and stash away the other three to have over time and see how this fantastic beer will develop.