Cheers!: A Sweet Tart and a Monstrous Wit


All I knew for certain about Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. is that it weighs in at a hefty 11.8 percent. I’d never heard of it until I saw a four-pack of 2014 Old Stock recently. Being a longtime fan of the brewery’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, I looked forward to seeing what this was all about.

It was love at first sip. Rich, deep, dark pitted fruit flavors and a wave of caramel assault the palate like a tsunami that ends with a surprising tight little pucker. Each sip robs your mind for a moment of the ability to think about anything except how goddamn good this beer is. It seals your lips with its sweetness.

Why is that? This is a very malty beer. You have to have a large malt bill if you are brewing a high-octane beer.

My first thought was this is a barleywine, but what about that tartness at the end? Traditional Old Ale went through a secondary fermentation with either naturally occurring or introduced wild yeast, which resulted in the pucker factor.

So this truly is an amalgamation of two of my favorite beer tastes – malty sweet and wildly tart.

If you have the patience and/or discipline, this would be an excellent beer to put away, where I expect even further refinements in its taste would develop.

And I’ve heard rumors of a bourbon barrel-aged version of Old Stock. Love to find some of that.

* * *

Since I started out in high gear, I decided to go for another big bruiser, and I must say immediately, Oh-gee, I like O-Gii, “a monstrous tea-infused wit” from Milwaukee Brewing Co., who teamed up with Rishi Tea of Milwaukee to create this really tasty and potent (9.2 percent) wit beer. This is liquid candy.

O-GiiBeing a tea drinker from way back when, I absolutely love the green tea finish of this great wit, and I love the great wit of the Kaiju reference on the label, and the equally great wit of the name (OG – original gravity, which in this case is unusually high for a wit beer, hence the apt monster reference).

This may be my new favorite wit. The green tea finish opens a whole new dimension of flavor to this traditional Belgian style of wheat beer.

I want to crack open another O-Gii and watch Big Man Japan, my favorite Kaiju movie.

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