Dec 18, 2019

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2018 Cellar Reserve

North Coast has been releasing limited, barrel-aged variants of their Old Stock Ale for quite a few years now. Last year, the brewery offered up a tasty bourbon-barrel aged version of their big beer. I quite enjoyed that beer a good bit, but this 2018 variant has won me over with its rye whiskey barrel influence.

I’m not sure whose barrels this big beer (13.5% ABV) matured in, but they have imparted a lovely character upon its malty backbone. Vanilla, caramel, raisin, peppery rye whiskey, soft woody notes and a hint of anise linger from start to finish with each sip. And sip you must as the 2018 Cellar Reserve is no small beer. It’s big and boozy with plenty of alcohol warmth that lasts long through the lightly drying finish.

All of the elements – base ale, barrel influence, maturation – work so well with one another, accentuating the positives and never demanding too much of the spotlight. That peppery rye whiskey character calls to me, even now days after I have finished the big beer. There is a light roughness around the edges (due to the higher ABV) with this one, but it’s nothing a little more time in the bottle couldn’t even out.

I’ll have to go hunting for a few bottles for my own cellar stash.

This is a review of a promotional sample.