Monday, July 30, 2012

527. North Coast Old Stock Ale 2009 Cellar Reserve

“This tastes like everything Samichlaus wishes it tasted like.”
Jeffrey McElfresh

Hot damn. This beer is easily one of the best beers I’ve had in the last couple of years. Sorry all you other fancy beers, but you just got served. Old Stock Ale Cellar Reserve 2009 is North Coast’s regular Old Stock Ale aged in bourbon barrels. And the results are, well, stupendous. North Coast is no stranger to us in these here parts, although it has been a while; our final tabulations indicate that we’ve tried several selections, including Old Stock Ale 2004, Brother Thelonius, Old No. 38 Stout, Red Seal Ale, Cru d’Or Organic Belgian Style Ale and Old Rasputin XII. Prost to Fort Bragg!

Old Stock Ale 2009 Cellar Reserve pours a crystal clear maple syrup brown with orange and red highlights jumping out all over the place. While there was not much in the way of a head on the beer, I pretty much didn’t think about it or care because the aromas streaming out of this beer were phenomenal: brown sugar, molasses, caramel, maple syrup, bright oak, vanilla, bourbon, and hard butterscotch candy. In fact, I smelled and smelled and smelled this beer. Beguiling, alluring, and intoxicating. And no, I’m not talking because of the alcohol, although there were very evident legs on the glass with each swirl. Once I got around to drinking it, the front was a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup with lesser amounts of buttered toast. The vanilla and bourbon really came through in the middle, as did the bright oak flavor, although everything was restrained and in control. The finish offered honey and a tannic bite from the oak; there was a touch of alcohol and bourbon and some lingering warmth that was pleasant and reassuring. The gentle carbonation allowed the chewy & rich malt body to shine; it came with a touch of creaminess that helped round the beer on the palate. In fact, everything was even about this beer—it was complex and delightful with plenty of malt character, it featured a well-balanced use of bourbon and oak, and it was smooth and surprisingly easy-drinking for 13.16% ABV. There was nothing overpowering, and all facets of the beer were in harmony. It was like the warm blanket you wrap around yourself when sitting by the fire on a brisk winter evening, the one that relaxes you and makes everything perfect. In other words, it was super awesome. And it easily could easily handle a couple more years of aging—everything was still bright and fresh and clean. Although I’m not sure I can imagine it being better than it was: that would just blow my mind.

From the bottle: “Old Stock Cellar Reserve is a small batch, limited release that has been aged in oak bourbon barrels. The aging process gives this world-class beer an added layer of complexity. A memorable drink that should be enjoyed as a completely unique offering.”

ABV: 13.16%


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