Yesterday night I did a four vintage vertical of North Coast Brewerys Old Stock Ale with Don Niestrom, a sales associate from Binnys in Willowbrook. The funny thing is that neither Don nor I were involved in any sort of aging or cellaring when it came to these beers. What happened is that a case of Old Stock Ale sent to Binnys in Willowbrook had a four- pack of the 06, 07, 08, and two 09 four-packs. We did a simple switcheroo and suddenly there were four four-packs loaded with four vintage verticals. This is a dream come true for beer lovers, and the four-packs were all accounted for before the end of the day. We were hoping the case we ordered for the following week would be loaded with different vintages, but it came with all 09s in it. I dont know the story of the mysterious case, but I do know it was a gift from the heavens. So Don stopped by after work, I popped a pizza in the oven, and we got to work.
This vintage was just released, and comes in at 11.5% ABV. It is a beautiful red color, and the only one of the four vintages that was clear enough to see through. A good amount of carbonation was evident. It was very sweet on the nose, palate, and finish. The finish also had an alcohol burn, but not an overpowering one.
This one was an orange cidery color, a vast change from the 09 vintage. You could not see through this one at all, as it was very cloudy. There were vanilla and sherry notes on the nose and palate, as well as a noticeable amount of alcohol. This vintage was not sweet at all compared to the 09. The prominent characteristic of this vintage was the exceptionally dry aftertaste. We came to the conclusion that this was not a great characteristic as the dryness lingered for a conspicuous amount of time.
The 07 retained the orange cidery color and cloudy nature that we observed in the 08, but these characteristics were even more prominent in the 07 vintage. It had some vanilla and sherry on the nose and taste. Some English type malts and a bit of alcohol were also evident on the palate. Everything in this vintage blended together perfectly, creating a smooth beer at a deceivingly high 11.7% ABV.
The color on this one was more towards the reddish side than the 07 or 08, but not as red as the 09. This beer was just what the doctor ordered, so much so that I barely wanted to take any tasting notes as much as I just wanted to sip and take pleasure in it. It was extremely mellow for the style yet still complex enough to stifle the most experienced of palates. A bit of alcohol was detectable on the finish, but was faint compared to the previous three vintages.
I asked Don to rate the vintages from worst(not that any of the vintages were bad though) to best, and after some serious thought, he came to the conclusion that the older the Old Stock Ale, the better. I totally agreed with him, and marveled at the way this beer aged. The 06 aged brilliantly, and while the 09 was a high-quality brew, we can only imagine how superb of a beer it will develop into with some cellaring. North Coast Brewery brews Old Stock Ale with intentions to lay it down. They recommend cellaring for a year to let the complex flavors develop, but like Don and I, acknowledge that the longer you wait the better.
Has anyone ever seen or heard of a magical case like the case of Old Stock Ale that Binnys in Willowbrook received? Better yet, has anyone ever had the self-discipline to lay down bottles for a lengthy amount of time?