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Old Ale Reviews

This style is synonymous with “stock ale,” meaning these beers are almost always aged, and were once kept as stock brews for blending. Backed by European brewing tradition, old ales fit neatly between English brown ales and English barleywines. They’re generally high in alcohol, but not overbearing in strength; they also lean heavily on malt flavors, but offer just enough hops to balance the sweetness. The style offers more than a little wiggle room for interpretation; aromas and flavors range from nutty to toffeelike to fruity to vinous, and some U.S. versions offer pronounced hop characters. No matter the taste and smell, old ales are always medium to full in body, low in carbonation and high in alcohol; ABVs can top 9 percent.

Pair: True companions to bready, caramelized desserts, old ales are best served with bread pudding or banana bread topped with a cream sauce. These delicious desserts have toasted, sweet and fruity qualities that play up the beer’s similar taste profile. Old ales also pair well with pheasant and washed-rind and aged cheeses, foods whose flavor strength matches that of the beer.

Glassware: snifter