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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

2,046 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,046
Reviews: 970
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.44%
Wants: 208
Gots: 291 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,046 | Reviews: 970 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by hawks10:
Photo of hawks10
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle - Batch #8723 - Bottled September 5th, 2008 - Poured into my Bell's tulip...just past this beers 2 year anniversary, been stored properly by me that whole time...

Pours a dark crimson, gorgeous color with a two finger, thick, light tan head which lasts forever...

Aroma is very sweet, tons of caramel and toffee. Has the dark ripe fruit characteristic of a quad, no trace of hop bitterness remains in this beer. Bready, thick, there is a bit of an aged barleywine aroma going on here...and maybe a slight bit of oxidation...

Taste is complex and strong. Initially very warming from the alcohol, this one is definitely a sipper. Although there were no signs of hop bitterness in the aroma, there is still some bitter hops presence in the taste. Otherwise this beer is all about sweetness...tons of caramel and toffee malt flavors mixed in with brown sugar and ripe dark fruits...

Heavy bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Fully flavored and still somewhat hot...

hawks10, Sep 21, 2010
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +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.

oberon, Apr 22, 2004
Photo of Shawnadams330
3.99/5  rDev -3.2%

Shawnadams330, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of don1481
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

don1481, Dec 12, 2013
Photo of RoyalT
4.83/5  rDev +17.2%
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!

RoyalT, Jul 22, 2004
Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

DanGeo, May 28, 2013
Photo of tectactoe
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

tectactoe, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of DavyJones
2.25/5  rDev -45.4%

DavyJones, Apr 13, 2012
Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -2.9%

t2grogan, Oct 06, 2014
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

TCHopCraver, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of GBfan75
4.76/5  rDev +15.5%

GBfan75, Tuesday at 05:22 AM
Photo of SanFranJake
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

SanFranJake, May 13, 2013
Photo of delaced21
4/5  rDev -2.9%

delaced21, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of joemetric
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

joemetric, Jul 10, 2014
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

BeerAdvocate, Apr 07, 2010
Photo of bdkucharski
4/5  rDev -2.9%

bdkucharski, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of skybluewater
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky reddish brown, apple cider color. Smells of caramel, as well as a touch of that "special" Bell's smell. Taste is like a malt bomb going off in my mouth, one with hops on the inside to slay my tongue with. There's a bit of woodiness, and some caramel as well. This is a highly drinkable brew for ABV level.

Wow, another Bell's beer I like. Never thought that would happen. Indeed, this is a very tasty brew, one that warms me up on a cold winter's night.

skybluewater, Jan 18, 2005
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz, no batch number, has probably been in my cellar around 4 years at least.

Pours into my glass a deep brown with garnet accents and a ton of yeast floaties moving all over the place. Not much head on this one only a few bubbles. Aromas start with deep, rich caramel mixed with sherry notes. Dark fruits mix in with some raisins and a bit of wet paper oxidation notes as well. Toffee undertones with lots of maltiness.

First sip brings big caramel malts upfront with a nutty aspect and big sherry tones as well. Dark fruits mix in with earthy yeast and a bit of oxidation. Flows down with a touch of alcohol mixing with the malt sweetness and bit of bitterness.
Rich, deep and tasty.

Mouthfeel is a bit slick and medium bodied...not overly heavy with nice subtle carbonation. Alcohol bit still lingers a bit. Overall, a tasty beer but I think this one is a bit too old for my tastes. Will have to crack open a fresh bottle soon to compare again. Still another solid beer from Bell's

orbitalr0x, Jul 25, 2009
Photo of blitz134
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’ve had this one for quite a while (nearly 2 years), it’s a hold over beer I’ve been saving from when I spent some time up north. I’d been saving it for something and that something came out to be just because. But I digress…

I’m unsure what else you could ask for in the look of an old ale. This beer looks like someone dumped some dirt in a glass and swirled it around with its mud brown color and some relatively large chunks floating around in perfect suspension, barely kept aloft by a little carbonation. Little head, but that was to be expected.

The smell is sweet with malts and a sugary caramel and some apricot hints with a slight musty smell. Nothing over powering. Taste has a bit of alcohol sting to it, that definitely hasn’t gone away over the last two years. Slight hoppy bitterness still lingering around as well. A bit of spiciness stings the tongue and finishes with a yeast flavor. I really enjoy the complexity of this one as it is slightly different that the other barleywine style brews I’ve had.

Mouthfeel is slightly oily but isn’t overly heavy. Drinkability is brought down a bit by the overly warming effect of the alcohol. This is a good beer but not more than one in a night for me.

blitz134, Apr 24, 2005
Photo of bulldogg915
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

bulldogg915, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of nickadams2
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A_Pours a very deep dark brown.Almost black. Huge billowy khaki colored head that dissipates into a thick ring.Nice lacing.

S_Strong aroma of sweet malt, brown sugar,clove and figs. Alcohol smell present as well.

T_Not as sweet tasting as the smell would indicate but sweet nonetheless. Nice balance of caramel malt , dark fruits and booze. Nice alcohol burn but not off putting.

M_Thick and creamy. Definitely a mouthful.

D_ One is enough for me. Definite winter beer.

nickadams2, Jul 24, 2010
Photo of JasonA
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks marvin, been looking for this one a while!

Pours a deep carmel with just hints of reddish tint on the edges of the glass. Virtually no head, islands forming on the brim.

Deep medium malt. Barrel aged? Smells bourbon almost. Slightest hop character. I swear there is oak in there.

Deep. Yummy. Bitter and not quite sweet, but warming. I need a class on identifying Old Ale characteristics.

Full bodied, deep warm and smooth. Amazing balance for 10% ABV. I could drink this warm ... I just might ;)

I just love Old Ale's. I dont think there is a better brew. This one is by far my second favorite, only to Hardy's. Definately want more.

JasonA, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of danthehopslamman
3.75/5  rDev -9%

danthehopslamman, Aug 15, 2012
Photo of DaftPatrick
3.75/5  rDev -9%

DaftPatrick, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of Hamburgers
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Hamburgers, Mar 18, 2013
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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,046 ratings.