North Coast Brewing Co.
from United States (California)
57th highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedOld Stock Cellar Reserve (Aged In Bourbon Barrels) (90 / 100) Average score66 / 100 (Solid)
Lowest RatedScrimshaw Pilsner (43 / 100) Number Tried26
Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.07.15 on tap
63 / 100
Pours an amber colour, clear with foamy beige head retains thick. Slow and attractive bead. Looks good.

Smells malty. Big caramel edge with a touch of apple and lemon from underutilised US hops. Slight herbal edge. Not bad.

Taste is caramalty upfront. Touch of vanilla that develops into a mild citric bitterness. Midway seems almost chocolatey, and then trails off into unfortunate yeastiness. Not bad but possibly a bit old; hops just seem subdued and they could tie it all together.

Decent body, touch of edge as it goes down.

Not bad, but needs more cleansing. Finishes with a touch of yeast and some medicinal sweetness and just needs something sharp to cut through.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Class Of '88 Barleywine Style Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 15.02.14 in bottle
65 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle picked up from Whole Foods in SoMa, San Francisco. Shared with @tobeerornottobe in Sydney.

Pours a relatively clear golden-bronze colour, with a filmy, but very fine head of pure white, like snow on the top of a cake. Lacing forms in spritzy strips across the glass. Body actually looks fairly fluid and light, but the carbonation is quite fine and very languid, indicating that it's thicker than I think it is. Looks good.

Smell is barley-heavy, giving a light, sugary malt character above all else. Slight twinges of booze extend it slightly, but also add an eye-watering strength to the brew as a whole. Hops are definitely muted, but there's still something relatively pleasant about it as a whole, even though the complexity isn't really there.

Taste is similar. Smooth, barley-heavy sweetness gives a cleanness to the palate on the front, while the back is peppered by a faint astringency and a slinging heat of booze. Enlivened perks of hops do come forward on the finish, resulting in a slight bitterness to attempt to dry out the beer and add some complexity. It's not bad.

Feel is fairly rich and broad, and with a slickness that is very pleasant. The booze heat harms it a little, but it's surprisingly balanced.

Probably remarkably drinkable for the ABV. It's certainly well-made and with a balance that puts other similar beers to shame. But it perhaps doesn't justify its strength. It's remarkably mild in many ways: that's almost certainly a good thing—a testament to the quality and balance of the brew—but it didn't make me jump up in excitement, and that's what I really want beers to make me do.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Grand Cru
Reviewed by Jez on 11.01.12 in bottle
56 / 100
500ml caged and corked bottle, given to me by @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a very effervescent, clear golden colour, with a champagne-like bead and fizzling sec head. Body is fluid, with just a touch of weight behind it. Lacing is patchy. The champagne appearance is quite pleasant and refined, but it could be a little big more persistent.

Nose is a very strange combination of nectar sweet and bone- and earthy-dry. Soft bourbon oak characters come through giving a round, smooth sensation to the aroma, while the carbonation gives crisp champagne acidity. Together, they blend in to an odd apple-cider and caramelized tarte tartin flavour. It's unusual, and not unpleasant, but also a bit haphazard.

Taste is similar, with the added disadvantage of having quite a prominent heat on the back palate. Bourbon barrel opens proceedings, with a smooth oaky sweetness that develops into a slightly crisp phenolic tartness mid palate. More apple skin characters accompany the roar of booze on the finish, leaving a seared, raw character.

Feel suffers substantially from the heat, especially on the back, where it just overwhelms everything.

This had some promise. I quite liked the odd juxtaposition of the bourbon sweetness with the Bière Brut dryness, combining to give a demi-sec complexity, but they haven't quite pulled that off. I think the Agave nectar probably ferments to nothing, leaving a much higher alcohol percentage than the beer can justify.

In the end, this is hot, boozy, unbalanced and slightly too thin for its aggression. It's a bit of a mess.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.01.12 in bottle
62 / 100
Pours a vibrant orange colour with lacklustre head. Off-white, thin ring of decently sticky lace on the outside. Slight cloud; but yeah, looks a bit bland.

Smells sweet; not sure if it's a big Belgian character. Sweet vanilla with a slight smokey note and rich melon fruit, some orange peel and musk. Interesting complexities and nice sweetness, but could use more Belgian spice esters.

Taste is more muted, and it's actually the richer for it. Slight fruit upfront with kiwi, melon and peach that waxes towards the middle; nice rich sweetness with a slightly bitter hint. This grows to a nice phenolic finish with some boozey heat, slight peppery spice as well. Dries up maybe a touch too much on the back, but is nicely full, big and smooth for the most part.

Challenging drinking experience, but pleasant for the most part.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Old Stock Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
66 / 100
Tried this in a blind head-to-head with the 2009 Bourbon-barrel aged version of the same. (This was the 2011 vintage)

Pours a red, metallic colour. Head is off-white; pleasant but thin with a ring of dense cloudy bubbles around the rim. Lace is sticky and slow-moving. Looks nice.

Smells very sweet and nutty, with a hint, but a noticeable hint, of sharp booze. Nutty caramel malt with sticky rye, chalk dust, licorice and Grand Marnier. Interesting tang and twist on a very sweet, nutty beer.

Taste is a bit sweet and syrupy, but also plenty of nuttiness to it. Yet it has an unfortunate honey flavour, with some slight corny sweetness to it as well. Slightly papery in some ways, with the big bold flavours thinning out at the end, drying up the sweetness which lacks the complexities it may have had. Slight lemony tang on the back, but yeah, it's a bit chalky and cardboardy, just not that great.

Decent texture, with an okay stickiness that then gets really dry, almost sharp, late. Feels almost stripped back to its boozey roots.

Has some sense that it might have been great, but it's sharp on one hand, and simple on another. Hot and cold; seems unbalanced.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Old Stock Cellar Reserve (Aged In Bourbon Barrels)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
67 / 100
Tried as a head-to-head with 2011 ordinary Old Stock.

Pours a very dark brown-red colour, little bit of cloud. Head is non-existent, really, just a rim of bubbles with mild cloud and a small bit of lace. Looks heavy, but lacklustre in all the important ways.

Massively sweet and nutty, with an effect I didn't think was possible- sharp coconut. It's coconut so pungent it assaults your olfactory in an almost spicy way, balanced with some coriander maybe? Pepper, vanilla and peanut brittle on there as well, but that coconut is iconoclastic. It makes me rethink what bourbon-ageing can do.

Taste is an impressive - for the most part - sweetness that burgeons with caramel toffee, pecan and some rye notes. Bourbony coconut comes through midway and really invades the late-mid with a hot booze that dried up on the finish, palate-wise. Kind of ends like a manufactured spirit, with the natural flavours getting soaked up by a black hole of booze, although a pinch of that coconut lingers. I don't mind it, but it's a bit hot and just short on the palate; would have liked more exploration of the complexities.

Big and full but that hot booze is a constant companion, from start to finish.

A bit too big for the container - let's just say I can see cellulite hanging out the hotpants of this beer.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Old Stock Cellar Reserve (Aged In Bourbon Barrels)
Reviewed by Jez on 22.12.11 in bottle
90 / 100
2009 edition, purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney, and shared with @LaitueGonflable comparing it to the 2011 regular Old Stock Ale.

Pours a pleasant deep and slightly hazed red-brown hue, deep like mahogany. Head forms solidly at first, giving a crown of gauzy beige bubbles on the top of the glass, but this settles out to a ring above the thick, toffee-like body. Gelatinously thick in the glass, but very little carbonation, meaning it doesn't effervesce pleasantly when tilted. In all other respects though, it's a very good looking beer.

Nose is spectacularly gorgeous, bringing to bear all the best things about a development in bourbon barrels. Big, smooth, rich sweetness with fragrances of vanilla and toffee. This is balanced by a slight redolent boozy quality, that never gets to sharp or astringent, but adds its potency to the mix, allowing a build up of other complexities. Deep, sweet, luscious. It's a phenomenally good nose.

Taste is similar, with big oaky characters giving vanilla and smoothness, and surprisingly adding very little tannin. The flavours are themselves exceptionally smooth, even though the feel is prickled with a touch of the booziness and a slight fine carbonation. This pleasantly cleans out the palate, without ever compromising the rich sweetness.

Absolutely gorgeous beer, and head and shoulders above the regular edition. This has mellowed, added complexity and integration in equal measures. It leaves it smooth, supple and seductive. This is one sexy fucking beer.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Scrimshaw Pilsner
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.11.11 in bottle
43 / 100
(Not Great)
Tried from a bottle at the Local Taphouse. At first thought it had been poorly stored/aged too much but a fellow BA who had it fresh in CA noted very similar characters so I'm determining this review valid. Will try this beer again and reevaluate regardless.

Pours a dark orange colour - slightly too dark for a pils - with nice off-white head, fluffy on top and retaining well. Slight haze, no visible bead.

Smell is quite malty with a slight stone fruit tang on the front, and then light cereal grain coming out at the back, puffed rice with cinnamon and honey. Too sweet, really; needs more hops.

Taste is very sweet and grainy. Cereal with puffed rice, corn and lots of honey sweetness. Touch of wet cardboard as well, making me think this is a bit old. Too sweet, and has a slight adjuncty taste to it. Most of the bitterness on the back is due to carbonation rather than distinct hop presence. Sorry North Coast but I'm not enjoying this.

Decent body, too dry and snappy at the back from the fizz. Have had more interesting and pleasantly textured beer.

Yeah, finding this slightly deficient mostly in the pilsener stakes. The hop character is just not assertive enough and as a result a weird adjuncty grain note comes through instead.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Old #38 Stout
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.10.11 in bottle
65 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour, almost entirely black with beige head, nice and dense crema look, decent lace left behind. Looks good, decent head retention.

Smells dark; roasty but a bit lacking with not too much malt. A bit sour and lacking as a result. Plenty of espresso with a touch of beetroot and some spice. Dark caramel as well; pretty standard stout, not too bad.

Taste starts reasonably sweet with some malt and a touch of brown sugar. Early mid some dark roastiness begins and starts growing to the back, which is quite bitter and slightly sour with mild espresso and a touch of cola. Bit flat on the back, maybe a hint of licorice but more piquant spice would be welcome. Bit sour late, bitter really, without body or enough balance.

Decent body, quite smooth, maybe a bit thin but for the ABV that's not too bad.

Decent stout, have had better, just feels lacking in places.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Old #38 Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 26.09.11 in bottle
76 / 100
Pours a pleasantly dark, but rather fine and light-bodied black-brown, with a silky smooth head of beige film. Lacing is complex and delicious. It's a pretty light-bodied stout, but apart from that it looks great.

Nose is smooth and bittersweet, with pleasant brown roasted characters giving dark chocolate and light coffee hints, along with a velvety vanilla sweetness. At the edges, you can pick up the real roastiness, and even a hint of smoke, but for the most part, it's smooth, approachable and delectable. Very nice.

Taste is a lot lighter, but still tasty, and the lack of body and alcohol means it's pleasantly sessionable. Smooth dark grain characters meld with the light sweetness to again give hints of bittersweet chocolate and burnt toast. Feel is smooth, but very light bodied, meaning you have to keep drinking it to realise... that you're drinking it. That's not so bad.

Very sessionable brew; in the style of those stouts that give you something full flavoured, but something easy to stick with all night. It's a fine achievement, and this is undoubtedly something I'd be happy to drink often.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Le Merle
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 01.09.11 in bottle
66 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with mild haze and strong, furious bead. Head is off-white, fluffy and generous like whipped egg white. Looks pretty great.

Saisony on the nose, some organic notes with spicy barnyard, stone fruit, slight citrus, peppery character and some floral freshness hanging at the back. Hint of liqueury booze as well, pretty decent.

Taste is surprisingly tangy with a strong orange flavour upfront that then gets distinct off/rank notes midway with some capsicum, mustard seed and horsey note towards the back. Slightly boozey with a touch of heat but quite sweet on the back, and some more spice would be great; hint of marmalade finishes off. Not bad but a bit too much residual sweetness and doesn't finish as crisply as I'd like.

Full, fair stickiness with slight booze hit and dryness on the back, could use more to cut off the fullness.

Decent saison notes, but another argument in favour of capping saison ABV at 6%. The booze warmth just overrides the otherwise really pleasant saisony notes and they should be allowed to speak for themselves.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.11 in bottle
67 / 100
Purchased from Leura Cellars, as a result of the relatively new import of North Coast beers to Australia. Awesome.

Pours a bright orange-amber colour, without perhaps the red tinges I expected. Head is full-bodied, frothy and persistent, leaving speckled lacing, and forming a wonderful crown to the beer. Relatively good body to it, and the carbonation is fine. Looks good.

Nice mixture of herbal, slightly spicy hops with a round base of malt. Touches of lemon and citrus come through nicely to cut through the meaty malt, leaving a well-structured nose. Nice.

Taste is a little less full than I expected, especially the weight of the body, which is thin and a little flat. Peppery hops stand up well through the centre of the palate, giving a mild and nuanced bitterness, but the malt sweetness disappears, leaving very little connection in the palate. It feels a little empty as a result.

Drinkable little beer, and probably more so for the clear and thin palate. It doesn't feel like a really well-rounded brew, but it certainly has enough character to make it worthwhile drinking a few.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Scrimshaw Pilsner
Reviewed by Jez on 14.06.11 in bottle
51 / 100
My problem with American beer in Australia: Here, it's more expensive than in America, so I don't buy it, thinking I can get it when I'm there instead. In America, I think "Oh, I could get the Scrimshaw Pilsener, but I can get that in Australia, so why not get something else".

This bottle, however, I purchased in Australia when I realised that I was in an annoying infinite loop. And for $6 a bottle, sure, it's more than you'd pay, but I figure it's good to lend some support to the importers who go out of their way to get this stuff.

Pours a brassy golden colour, with a filmy head of just-off-white, that dissipates to a collar. Carbonation is evident, and it has a pleasantly rich body to it—the carbonation seems blissfully languid. Looks good.

Nose is grainy and crisp, but missing the hop character I really like in a good pilsener. Here, the cereal grain character is extremely pronounced, and it's really quite confronting. It's a classic pilsener note, but I expect some freshness, some greenness, heck even that metallic green-bottle Euro twang to give it some balance.

Taste is similar. Crisp and faint entry, with minimal hop character, followed by a welling, rather sweet grain finish. Mild seltzer water bitterness on the back, but it doesn't do nearly enough to clean up. Again, it has some very classic German notes, but it seems tame by comparison. And when an American brewery doing a German style seems like the conservative version, something seems wrong to me.

An average pils. It does very little to discriminate itself from other generic pilseners, and while it does a reasonable job at emulating a style, that doesn't necessarily make it a particularly good beer.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Brother Thelonious
Reviewed by Jez on 31.10.10 in bottle
69 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a very thick and rich deep red-brown mahogany. Head is firm and thick, a big dollop of yellow-tan bubbles that dissipate, leaving some ecstatic lacing. Body looks very deep and heavy, but despite this, there's minimal static bubbling as it's swirled. Still, looks a very decent brew. Some hazing would maybe help, but it's good nonetheless.

Nose is quite oaky, with big vinous characters coming through. Sweet hints of molasses and fresher notes of crushed leaves. Slight acidity to it as well, giving a carbonic fizz to the aroma. It's not quite right for a Belgian ale, but there are certainly pleasant characters to it.

Taste is sweet and rich, and again quite oaky, with a finish that stems from melted sugar and roasted grain. Initially, the vinous characters come through with a woody astringency, before this drops out, leaving a sweeter and softer note which extends to the finish, getting thinner and thinner as it goes. Feel is rather light, and the faint seltzer acidity doesn't help this perception, but it fits in with the finish at least.

Yeah, not a bad brew, but nothing that's going to excite you beyond redemption. I'd happily drink it again, and would probably even select it again, but maybe only if there was not a new, and potentially more exciting option available.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Old Rasputin XII
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.06.10 in bottle
86 / 100
Pours a clear dark brown, slight red tinge up to the light. Head is frothy, ochre in colour, sinks to a thin film after a while but leaves one hell of a curtain of lace - dense, silky foam, like a fresco made from God's jizz. 5 for the lacing, I would like the body to be slightly darker though, based on the style.

Nose is deliciously burnt, but also delightfully chocolatey. Large cacao aroma with hints of espresso bitterness, some licorice aroma, hints of leather and some black pepper notes. Savoury, bittersweet, roasty and strong. Beautifully strong, like smelling Vladimir Putin's armpit after he's been benchpressing a lorry.

Taste is pretty impressive as well. Strong chocolate flavour throughout with malt verging into nutty territory, hints of hazelnut and walnuts, especially on the aftertaste. Palate is spicy overall with some distinct alcohol warmth on the back but it's oh so sweet as well, lots of cola, cocoa-rich chocolate and a slight licorice character on the mid as well. Beautifully balanced then gets dry, and descends into spicy and slightly savoury territory on the back. That could be a bad thing, but it's wonderfully strong and warm, absolutely perfect for this kind of weather (it's Winter), and it's never unbearable, just robust like a great cognac. Just a delightful drink.

Dry mouthfeel, but quite thick and vegemitey for the most part. Does give you a "shit, you're gonna be hungover tomorrow" sensation, but really nice for the most part.

Beautiful winter warmer. Strong, sweet, rich, bitter, did I say strong? Beautifully strong. Sock it to me, Putin. Rasputin, that is.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Old Rasputin XII
Reviewed by Jez on 02.06.10 in bottle
88 / 100

Pours a heavy black - blacker than the BP oil slick, with a lightly foamy dark chocolate brown head of crackling bubbles that struggle their way to the surface. Lacing is really good. Overall, a great looking RIS.

Oh man, I love a stout that smells like that. Deep dark roasted notes, with toasty sweetness coming through - desiccated coconut, vanilla, oak, anise and raisins. Oh, and it's strong and potent, giving me a sock to the nose. Amazing. It's really hard to get better than this.

Yep, lovely roasted characters on the palate. Just as desired, the dark, ashy lightly astringent characters are more prominent here, especially on the back palate. But leveraged around it are the lighter notes of aniseed, toasted coconut and light smoke. Even at the very end of the aftertaste, there's a slight lilt upwards with the sweet coconut. Mouthfeel is, to be fair, a little softer and lighter than I expected, but ironically, this aids the drinkability, which is amazingly good given its gravity and the depth of flavour.

Oh yes, this is an extremely good stout. Very rich and flavoursome, with depth and complexity to savour.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Reviewed by Jez on 17.05.10 in bottle
51 / 100

Pours a clear golden yellow colour, with a massive, voluminous and frothy head of egg-white foam, fed by an enormous, almost ridiculous, amount of carbonation. It almost seems as though the beer is more gas than liquid looking at all the streams of tiny bubbles. Looks good though.

Nose is muted belgian yeast, some roundness and a little organic sweetness, with some pepper and spice. Carbonation acidity is also present, unsurprisingly, given the level of bubbling. Pretty nice, if not particularly complex or robust.

Taste, ooh, something seems wrong here... Big phenolic acetone character and an evaporating booze fume presence. Roundness is there, with a little Belgian sweetness, but it's suppressed by the sharp and pungent heat. It's very harsh, making it difficult to take.

After a while, it gets more bearable, but this seems rather unpleasantly unbalanced compared to most Belgian style ales. It has some nice characters, but I just found it very difficult.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Old Stock Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 09.06.09 in bottle
79 / 100

Pours like honey. A deep, heavy syrupy amber colour, with a minimal head of off-white foam. Hell, this is one full-bodied, thick beer. Retention is minimal, but that's not unexpected. Can't believe how heavy it looks.

Lots of roasted characters, mixed with a nutty sweetness, and plenty of booze. Certainly notes of port, oak, a little pepper and lots of heavy, sugary liqueur. Very nice indeed, and incredibly heavy, again.

Thick, chewy and syrupy in the mouth. I'm unsurprised that the first thing I note about the beer is its texture. The flavour is full of rich boozy notes, spirits, port, but with a pleasant roasted character, and a light phenolic afterpalate that helps to clean out the residual alcohol fumes. Phew. Unsurprisingly, the 12.5% ABV is felt in force. Mouthfeel is truly wonderful, with a heavy, syrupy feel mixed in with a light tingle from some hidden carbonation and the alcohol itself.

Heavy as hell. I was surprised I didn't need to consume this with a knife and fork. This was only a small bottle, but I had trouble finishing it alone. Share, share, share, and give some friends a unique beer experience.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 5.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 01.10.08 in bottle
81 / 100

Pours a very, very deep and dark black, with just flashes of blood-red hints at the very edges. Head is a solid, crusty cap of coffee-crema brown. Tiny streams of minuscule bubbles float up at the edges. Lacing is exceptional. An excellent looking beer.

Dark, smoky characteristics on the nose. Dusty dark chocolate, roasted grains, barnyard, even a light meaty character. It's not overly powerful, but it is dark and pleasant.

But wow, the taste is where it packs a punch. Light roasted bitterness first up, mellowing to a chocolate-coffee sweetness and a lingering chalky dryness, but still toasty and warm. The alcohol is exceptionally well hidden, leaving just that residual heat on the palate. Long and drawn out on the palate, lots of complexity but all on a hearty and solid base. Mouthfeel feels just slightly too light to me, for such a heavy-flavoured beer, I was expecting something a bit smoother and creamier on the feel.

But this is a very tasty, and very robust beer. Lots of character, lots of flavour - too heavy for more than one in a sitting, but worth waiting around for the occasional sip.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0