Old Stock Ale 2011 – The Tasting

A little fphitzz of air and it was done. Like a scene from one of those Indiana Jones movies when they prise open the door to an ancient tomb and I was in.

After 8 years it was time to taste what time had done to my 2011 vintage bottle of North Coast Brewing Co‘s Old Stock Ale.

You know a beer’s going to be good when it doesn’t even need to slip into a glass before it starts impressing you.

Despite the years this old ale had managed to hang on to the faintest amount of fizz, although it didn’t have enough energy left to build a reasonable head and keep it for more than a few seconds. But that’s understandable and expected. Age catches up with the best of us.

What it lacks in good looks it more than makes up for in aroma, and it’s here the reward for my patience really starts paying out. Smells of dark chocolate fudge, damp oak casks, julmust, coffee and raisins flood over me.

It reeks of old library books and I imagine if I could ever sneak into Boodle’s Gentlemen’s Club in London’s St James’s Street it would smell like this. A heady mix of leather, port, cigars and privilege.

It transported me back to my childhood when my Dad used to drag me reluctantly around coastal town antique shops full of boring blue and white plates and jugs and dusty Georgian mahogany furniture.

Despite the years the yeast had decided to leave most of the malty sugars left in this beer alone. It was surprisingly sweet, with rounded alcohol edges and a soft, smooth. coating texture.

Was it as good as I’d hope for? Well……not quite, I think there’s a tendency to will a beer to be better than it is after this long. Perhaps I should have released it a couple of years earlier when it may have tasted a little brighter and less ‘tarnished’?

The truth is I’ll never know. And it’s this element of uncertainty that makes ageing beer so addictive. Because maybe the next one will be perfect. Maybe……