Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.
Today I’m reviewing another beer that my wife brought home as a surprise. This beer is, like the last one, made by North Coast Brewing Co. I’ve only had one other of this brewery’s beers, Red Seal Ale, and I am constantly trying to find it again. These are solid brewers. But so this beer is a “Limited Release,” which is too vague to mean much to me, and it’s a big beer to say the least.
Old Stock Ale (2009) is an old ale style beer that’s probably closer to wine than what most people think of as beer. It carries a big 11.5% alcohol tag, so you should drink it a bit more slowly and carefully than you would say PBR. (Those are two different ball games–actually, it’s more like they’re two different mediums. It’d be like comparing golf and Southern literature. (They’re both entertainment (and both beers are beers), but they couldn’t be more distant in function, make-up, and rules. These beers don’t play by the same rules–that’s fairly concise). End comparison–begin review.)
The Old Stock Ale, as is stated on the bottle and 4-pack carrier, is made with Maris Otter Pale malt and Fuggles hops. The brewery suggests that the beers be cellared and tasted after a year, or more. I refuse to wait that long. Can’t do it. The carrier also indicates that the beer has won platinum and gold medals in the World Beer Championships in Chicago, so I could take their word that it’s a good beer. But actually I don’t have to take their word. I’ll just drink it instead.
They’re right. It’s a good beer. Here’s how it’s good.
The taste is malty. And, even though this might sound strange, the high alcohol content contributes to the taste. Relative to wine and liquor, 11.5% alcohol seems slight, but this beer reminds me of a good bourbon drink. (By no means do I mean here that higher alcohol means better beer, or better tasting beer, but the alcohol affects the taste in this beer in a positive way. Being able to taste the alcohol shouldn’t be a bad thing. Would enthusiasts drink good bourbons or gins that masked the alcohol? I imagine not–the alcohol imparts character to the drink just as important as any other ingredient. Same with this Old Stock Ale.) It tastes of caramel with just enough hops at the end to know they’re there. I imagine a mild bourbon and Coke (pretend I put a registered trademark here) lightly dryhopped. If that sounds strange, trust me, it’s good. It’s warming–good for drinking in the winter. It’s high in alcohol–good for drinking slowly, which makes it last longer (our absolute mission in life, in everything). And it’s recognizably malty, heavy beer. Pretend you’re an Englishman 150 years ago drinking beer in a dark, pub called the Queen’s Arm in Kensington, London.
If you’ve had this beer and think I’m out of my mind, please tell me why. I invite constructive criticism and just plain old mean criticism, but only if it’s funny and free of grammatical errors (Proofread goddammit. Just because you’re writing on the internet doesn’t mean, necessarily, that no one’s looking.).
Thumbs up or thumbs down? Thumbs up. I wish I had more to cellar until next year, but I’d probably just drink them before then anyway. Such impatience.