Wednesday, July 1, 2015

North Coast Old Stock 2013 Cellar Reserve


4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (1385) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 1, 2015
Take an excellent Old Ale and age it in bourbon barrel and you’re probably going to end up with something great. That’s the premise of North Coast Old Stock 2013 Cellar Reserve, and the result is a delectable, sweet beastly brew that’s remarkably drinkable. My only complaint is that it’s merely excellent rather than world class.

I poured a 500ml corked and cage bottle into a flared snifter (thanks to Patrick at the brewery for the bottle!).

Appearance: A hazy shade of murky burgundy to brown proper. Completely opaque. Pours to a small, off-white, soapy head which fizzles away quickly and completely.

Smell: Lovely scent of dark fruit, chocolate and bourbon though not especially pungent.

Taste: There’s a lot going on in this beer and it’s all pretty tasty to say the least. The base brew has a sweet, authentic palette of dark and dried fruits: plum, raisin, fig, cherry, dates, etc. But that’s after the light milk chocolate sensation which opens each swig. On the finish the bourbon barrel appears to impart an earthy woody character, some vanilla and a hint of smoke. Alcohol grows stronger on each sip and becomes ever so slightly distracting. There’s an aftertaste of fruit and dark malt, though it’s only temporary. Hops have nearly completely receded – only the faintest bitterness is detectable. Overall, it’s what I would consider a great-tasting brew.

Drinkability: At 14.1% ABV, North Coast Old Stock 2013 Cellar Reserve is a big beer by anyone’s definition. Yet, it’s not quite the behemoth I was expecting. Yes, there’s considerable warmth from the alcohol, but never is it out of control. The mouthfeel is not quite carbonated syrup; in fact, it’s a little lighter than I was expecting. As sweet as the palette is, it doesn’t leave a sticky, cloying sensation (perhaps it should?). I was able to drink the entire bottle myself on a hot summer’s night (for whatever that’s worth).

Score: 9/10