Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Third Coast Old Ale - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,018 Reviews
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,018
Hads: 2,416
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 240
Gots: 443 | FT: 29
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002

From Bell's website:
"Third Coast Old Ale is a cellerable American-style barleywine that has notes of dried fruit and caramel embedded in a rich malt background that will grow more complex over time."
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,018 | Hads: 2,416
Reviews by Qbdoo:
Photo of Qbdoo
3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm drinking this fresh but my sense is that I should have let this sit. It's delicious but it seems it might be more promising over time. Color is dark amber and scent is pretty much alcohol, which I'm fine with in this style but you may not be. The mouth feel has the kind of dense oily quality I love in barleywines and old ales. I really like the taste - a combination of booze and candy caramel - but my sense - let's wait and see - is that it will gain in complexity over time. A really good beer for the style. Next time, though, I'll set it aside for a while. (567 characters)

More User Reviews:
Photo of TBCE
4.91/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best brews I have ever had. Pours a dark amber color with a finger of foam. Smells of dried blackberries, orange, lemon, and caramel. Taste has small hint of sweetness and cocoa, along citrus flavors. Very complex. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated and smooth. Overall an outstanding brew. Highly recommended. (318 characters)

Photo of Jjski
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An epic non barrel aged beer. Vintage 2014. New to Upstae NY, bells distribution
Garnet, brown
Aroma of banana bread, figs, caramel
Tastes of butterscotch brandy pudding on warm dark grainy bread
Feels smoothly viscous: perfect,

This beer already acts like a 4 year old bigfoot or curmudgeon. The tastes are different in each, but I am overwhelmed by the complexity exhibited in this freshly brewed, non-barrel elixir. hops are not as high as bigfoot, and old ale brashness is already a bit blunted. The effect is pulled off with deftness while retaining a huge flavor, malt forward and deep. If fresh American barleywine floats you , in its DIPA characteristics ( and I do like that), this beer strays. It acts old beyond its age. The hops are strong, but way muted , used for beautiful bittering. Not an aromatic hop hit.

I bought a case and will relish the effects age will have on this masterpiece. (913 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: dark amber with ruby brown highlights; a few fingers of fat tan head drape lace down the glass

S: sweet rich malts suggestive of dark fruit and caramel, somewhat earthy and rustic

T: full of fruit and malt, soft dates, caramel and toffee, edges of shellac and sweet herbs; modest bittering, vague hints of cocoa maybe?

M: full-bodied and smooth - intense mouthfeel - soft and lush caresses, lingering aftertaste begs for more

O: excellent - highly recommended - I had a bottle dated 10/08/14 , so with about 6 months on it - sublime drinking experience (560 characters)

Photo of Neorebel
4.7/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Third Coast pours an astonishing shade of auburn with distinctly red highlights. The head is thin, but fluffy and inviting. I did notice some sediment, but I believe I have been holding on to this bottle since 2011, so that may have played a factor.

The aroma is sharp, alcoholic, reminiscent of bourbon, but one can definitely pick up fruity aspects, such as apricot, and there is a caramel element within it as well.

The initial wave over the palate feels very soft and smooth - malty, bready, with a touch of vanilla. The center of the flavor releases complex dark fruits, red wine, and baker's chocolate. The finish, a surprising amount of citrus and pine hop flavor, with a drying bitterness and a certain woodiness.

The flavor lingers nicely and despite the ABV and aroma, it is shockingly easy to drink. I must say in closing, that this is one of the best Barleywines I have ever tasted! (900 characters)

Photo of DeFaz
3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I admit that my review may be of limited value due to my inexperience with the style and because I had this on cask, which I am not used to. This was the 2013 version (aged two years). Great smell of caramel, toffee, and faint alcohol, along with some fruit. The taste, which really concealed the alcohol nicely, did appear to have some complexity, but wasn't as appealing as the taste. The mouthfeel was really the low point, as it tasted thin and undercarbonated, although again this being on cask probably played a role in my dissatisfaction with the mouthfeel. To me, this seemed quite overrated (599 characters)

Photo of JebBeerFish
3.41/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To my limited palate, hoppy for a BW or for an Old Ale, (BA classifies as a barley wine but it is called an old ale - go figure), Fairly bold flavors, alcohol significantly present but not unpleasantly so. A sipper for sure, Fair amount of bitterness, not getting any caramel,

I intend to age rest of 6 pack and see if sweeter flavors emerge, Glad I bought, I'll judge after aging whether I'll buy again. (407 characters)

Photo of froggyfrog
2.6/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle packaged Feb. 8, 2006. Beer served in a snifter glass Nov. 17, 2006.

A: Floodwater mud and rust with a 12 iron head composed of silken web-like threads of viscous fluid which slather the glass and adhere to the walls when swirled.

S: Brown sugar and alcohol prevail.

T: Unexpected. Still somewhat sharp in flavor, this beer is overwhelmed to a degree by hot alcohol. Thin caramel and earthy hop oils argue for time. There is also a spot of sticky dark red fruits like plum or cherries.

M: Slightly conflicted. Weight is thin yet lips are left sticky with a dry alcoholic finish.

D: I like a strong beer but this felt overpowered by raw alcohol and not balanced by an appropriately aggressive flavor profile.

While obviously a well-made beer, this Old Ale really didn't hit on any of the flavor components that I was looking for. To echo the advice of previous reviewers: Cellar this beer - 9 months is not enough. (945 characters)

Photo of Beermanmiles
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I look for in a good barleywine is flavor over alcohol. If the alcohol takes over the taste like in Speakeasy's barleywine (see review) I believe it lacks quality. I had this beer a craft bar in Albany, it is somewhat difficult to find outside of a bar. Either way, this is my favorite barleywine, I prefer it over any barrel aged barleywine because the mouth feel of this beer has a thin fizzy bite as opposed to a syrupy thick taste like bell's saturn. This beer taste similar to Stone's barleywine; Old Guardian. The thing that makes it better is the refreshing taste. I almost taste some sort of citrus. It is unlike most barleywines in that way. If you want a barleywine that is not barrel aged, get this one. If you want any beer in general and this one is on the menu, get this one. (794 characters)

Photo of swoopdog
5/5  rDev +22.2%

A - Transparent brown with a good carbonation causing some tight bubbles in the middle. Minimal lacing and very faint alcohol legs.

S - Nice bourbon upfront some smokiness and vanilla, caramel and chicory.

T - Dark fruits maltiness and roasted breadiness upfront and some vanilla hit the middle of the mouth before leaving you with a faint hopiness at the back end where you get just a bit of that bourbon flavor at the end of a pull.

M - Much thinner than it drinks with minimal heat. Syruppy sweetiness and sticky drinks incredibly smooth for 10.2%.

O - This is an incredible barleywine and has a real nice drinkability and smoothness that can get someone in trouble if they weren't careful. I would put this up next to Bigfoot in style. (745 characters)

Photo of rockwell
2.63/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle has #7695 on it which I assume is the batch number.

Pours a deep, cherry-oak color with a almost burnt-orange head. Also has two-fingers of solid foam, with intricate lacing.

Roasted notes on the nose, with hints of cherry and tobacco.

Something is very unbalanced in this beer. First few drinks are very hot. The malts seem to be fighting with the hops and not balancing each other out. Very resiny, lots of herbal, earthy undertones. But the finish has a very weird, alcohol/hop kick to it that is throwing the whole thing very much out of balance for me.

I had very high hopes for this after the initial pour, but overall seemed to be unbalanced. I'll revisit this with another batch to make sure I didn't get a mistreated bottle. (752 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a creamy,sticky head,aromas of dried fruit and of brown sugar a nice robust aroma.Wow what a nice rich complex beer flavors of fruit and dough with some big alcohol notes as this beer warms.A big hearty beer meant to be drank to warm you up,big and chewey just awesome!Thanks AKSmokedPorter for this great brew from the home state. (358 characters)

Photo of Shawnadams330
3.99/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of don1481
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into my standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark red. Through a glass, darkly, indeed. Half inch of foam lasts but doesn't overwhelm.

Smell: Sweet smell. Cognac-ish. Definitely boozy. Little hints of fruitiness, but nothing that's particularly close to matching the booziness.

Taste: Sweet, slightly boozy, yet with a surprisingly hint of bitter to the finish. It masks the 10.2% ABV quite well.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, but not obnoxiously so. The bitterness definitely lingers in the mouth well after each sip. Maybe a sort of clay-ish aftertaste.

Overall: Yes, this is something that I'll age in my basement. It's pretty darn good, but I wonder how it'll be in a year or even 6 months. I look forward to revisiting it. (749 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
4.82/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Absolutely magnificent! The body is a dark, luscious brown with tons of sediment and the head is tanned and generous. As the foam receded it left a wonderful lacing on the inside of my glass and settled into foamy, bubbly pits on top of the liquid.

Smell – This is a very complex monster. First off, not necessarily in any order, I noticed the mature woody notes. Not that vanilla wood that you get from breweries trying to impart false wood or vanilla flavors in their ales. This is the wood of old.

This is a malty beer with some really big fruits. The aroma contains a fascinating mix of dark fruits, like plums, dates, raisins, and the much-sought tobacco, lighter fruits such as apricots, bananas, and cherries, as well as some easy summer fruits like melon.

The malt itself is heavily-toasted and sopped with alcohol. Not the throat-burning type of booze, but more like the tinge that you get from a good port. It definitely has some portly winey notes for sure. All around, this is one of the most complex and well put-together noses that I’ve ever smelled.

Taste – So, take the description under “Smell”, and make the following changes: add a bit more alcohol, take out the summer fruits, change the “heavily-toasted malts” to “slightly roasty”, add a bit of bittering hops (just a bit), and insert the phrase “full as shit” a few dozen times. There you have it – my interpretation of the taste of this beer.

Also, interestingly, I mentally noted the absence of simple sugars from the nose (other than a bit of cane) but found some brown sugar and caramel at the taste. This defines the term, “complete package”.

Mouthfeel – Almost full-bodied with a wonderful but very light carbonation and some very significant dryness at the finish.

Drinkability – I can’t believe no one has sent me this beer yet. Shame on you all! They should make you taste this before you get your mug icon. This is what “Old Ale” is all about. This has great cellaring potential as well.

Comments – This awesome ale was in good company in the trade I did with feloniousmonk. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better . . . it did. Thanks a heap for all the great beers that you managed to squeeze into one box.

PS: How does this compare to the great ones? Well, bigger but not as sweet or quite as smooth as Old Stock or Skullsplitter, better balanced but not as big (flavor wise) as Arrogant Bastard, more drinkable than Deschutes (Jubilale), more traditional than Old Woody, lacks the balanced yeast but is more drinkable than the N’ice Chouffe, smoother than Decimator (as if that’s a challenge), beats Traquir House Ale in complexity alone, is most reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, and one small notch below Double Bastard.

Update – I originally had the 2003 in 2004 and so had an opportunity to taste a rightly-aged 2005 in the spring of 2006 thanks to the generosity of BeerGuy. This sample had a little bit more alcohol sting in the mouth, which I love with the style. Other than that it was right on, so I’m raising the Mouthfeel to a perfect 5.0 and calling this one of the best beers I’ve ever had! (3,162 characters)

Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of tectactoe
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Took me a minute to realize that this was different than the "Old Ale" I had on tap at Bell's cafe in Kalamazoo. This one pours deep, muddy copper-brown color, opaque and cloudy. Looks very thick and viscous with minimal carbonation. A hard pour produces a creamy tan head that lasts for quite a while.

Aroma is full of many different things - what stands out the most are booze-soaked raisins, burnt brown sugar, rum, and bitter black cherries. Quite a nice combination of smells. Little bitterness or floral notes are picked up on the nose, but they are definitely there in the taste. First sip hits with a heavy, warming alcohol presence, much like that of rum or wine, but is quickly tamed by the sweetness present from the fruity elements - raisins, lots of plums, figs, and caramelized sugar. Slight hops are present, citrus-heavy and leafy, which combat the sweetness quite nicely. The beer finishes on a malt-heavy note, caramel and sugar, with a tight bitter bite at the end. Thick and syrupy body, chewy and pretty heavy on the mouth.

This beer is a sipper but it is totally delicious. Something to warm you up on a cold night, and a nice alternative to sipping a glass of whiskey or wine. I plan to age some of these and see how they turn out. (1,256 characters)

Photo of DavyJones
2.25/5  rDev -45%

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review is from notes composed on 12/15/10.

Third Coast Old Ale pours a quite dark ruby-mahogany-brown into a snifter. This color really appeals to my eye. A dark tan head fizzles away quickly and leaves a sinewy and hazy film on top. I can barely see sparse carbonation bubbles moving slowly through the darkness.

Dark fruit aromas lazily waft from the glass. Plum, raisin, fig, and dark cherry combine with big brown sugar notes, caramel, and a little anise. Large inhales of this beer reveal a hefty alcohol burn on my nasal passages. Also emerging from the smell are hearty sweet breads, cinnamon, and other sweet spices.

Big, sweet, comlex malt flavors douse my palate and keep spreading their goodness in my mouth well past the end of the sip. Caramel, brown sugar, connamon, raisin, and sweet breads all blend with a clove flavor and an alcoholic heat that linger on the tongue as long as the sweet malt does.

Oooh, yeah, this is a really great mouthfeel. A creamy medium to full body combines with just enough of a boozy bite on the sides of my mouth to add some extra zest. This really warms the mouth and the soul.

This is a beer that I will definitely be having again and again. I'm pretty sure this is of the '09 vintage. That said, I'll be searching stores to see if there is any of the '10 batch left. I don't think I would drink more than one in a sitting, but at the same time the a.b.v. is well hidden in this brew. (1,441 characters)

Photo of GBfan75
4.76/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of SanFranJake
4.5/5  rDev +10%

Photo of delaced21
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of joemetric
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine March 2007

One of the brewery's biggest beers, and a cold-weather beer for sure. They dubbed this one a "brandy of ales" and suggest that you cellar it.

The viscous liquid pours slow and the tiny bubbles roll to the top to form a stellar tan head. Deep-brown color with garnet edges shows clarity; the yeast was not the least bit disturbed and stayed in the bottle. Very sweet aroma; a tad boozy with slight sherry and fig undertones. Brown bread and baked apples in the nose towards the back. Lush, creamy, smooth mouthfeel with a semi-syrupy body. Caramel sweetness to start; suggestions of burnt raisins, ripe dates, black currants, and cocoa powder come to mind. Modest hop bitterness, there to help balance. Some warmth from the alcohol adds a bit of spice, middle to end. Finishes sweet, with dark malt and ripe fruit.

We couldn't think of another beer to have during a chilly, single-digit winter night. It's definitely a warmer, and certainly a beer that has a lot of cellaring po- tential. We intend to do just that, though our willpower will be tested. A simple Danish blue cheese with figs was a superb pairing. (1,159 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
91 out of 100 based on 1,018 ratings.