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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,036 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,036
Hads: 2,477
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 246
Gots: 468 | FT: 32
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Third Coast Old Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 1,036 | Hads: 2,477
Photo of StLeasy
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled September 10th, 2013. Halfway through, about an hour and a halfway after pouring, so it's ~60*F and IMO, at its most flavorful prime. (March 9 2014). Poured into a 16oz tulip.

Appearance- Poured aggressively, a deep brown with two fingers of brown head.

Smell- Grassy caramel.

Taste- Sweet, burnt, caramel, dark fruits, then pine. Crisp resiny aftertaste. Very little alcohol presence

Mouthfeel- Slightly thin for the style.Creamy at first, but quickly thins as it warms and oxidizes. Almost watery as I'm writing this, but that is expected 90 minutes after pouring.

One of my favorite beers in one of my favorite styles. Very sweet and malty with a bitter finish. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys strong ales/barleywines, or scotch ales.

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Photo of GoldenChild
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the best barley wine that i have had to date. Poured into a chalice.

Nice Dark red color with a big off white frothy head.

Smells like caramel and toffee.

Taste like a yummy, sticky, malt bomb
Caramel and toffee.

Have some in my cellar and i need to buy more as im typing this.

If you love barley wines this is one to try.

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Photo of swoopdog
5/5  rDev +22%

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.

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Photo of elNopalero
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was bottled on 11/07/11 and enjoyed a little over a year later, on 12/25/12.

I’m eager to try it with some time on it.

The beer pours a malty caramel color with light foam. I’m drooling already!

It has a simply amazing aroma to boot—I pick up on a combination of coconut—raw and toasted— and toffee. In the absence of a noticeable hop presence I find a light orange marmalade note to it.

The flavor still has a piney bitterness to it that comes across upfront. It’s sweet and chewy with a lingering bitterness on the finish. I get some more toasted coconut & caramel & pine & some orange marmalade notes on the palate. Somewhere I think there’s even hints of tobacco and leather as it warms and opens. Simply fantastic brew. Remained nice and effervescent even after a year. Really solid beer—this sets the benchmark even higher.

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Photo of Revvy
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Note- Poured into Belgian Goblet for Tasting Purposes.

Appearance- Poured a quarter inch head which rapidly dissipated. Small amount of lacing. It is a dark Mahogany in color, like an old leather journal found in a curio shop. There is some yeast in suspension which may have been more a result of my pour than a true reflection of the beer.

Aroma - Cold, there is a strong coffee and toffee aroma with hints of oak and smoke (very reminiscent of Stone's Oak Arrogant Bastard Ale). Also Molasses and brown sugar.

There is no hop aroma in evidence.

As it warms the complexity increases. soy sauce, smoke, caramel, toffee, leather and tobacco all come through.

There is a distinct alcohol nose to it.

And, at it's warmest there is a hint of cherry buried deep.

Mouthfeel- This is silky, with a hint of effervescence, as well as a noticeable alcohol bite on the tip of the tongue and the back of the throat. It is silky but it doesn't linger in the mouth, like honey. The surprising carbonation seems to cut through any cloying and carries it down the throat.

Taste - The complex aromas match with the flavors; coffee, toffee, hints of oak and smoke, molasses, brown sugar, Soy Sauce, smoke, caramel, toffee, leather and tobacco all come through. They are present cold and only increase in strength as the barleywine warms, although the coffee notes seem to take a backseat.

There is bitterness reminiscent of burnt toast that cuts through any sweetness.

Buried deep in the complex flavors, and released as it warms, are the flavors of chocolate and cherries, reminiscent of Liquor filled Cherry Cordials with dark chocolate.

And, in the final swallows the flavor of figs comes to the forefront.

Overall- This is a very complex and serious Barleywine. Very reminiscent of Oaked Arrogant Bastard by Stone in may ways, only with less oakiness and smoke and much more complexity of flavors. These flavors grow more varied as the ale warms, some come to the forefront as others recede. Each sip brings more and more surprises.

Third Coast Old Ale is the leather armchair in your favorite uncle's study. The uncle who died childless and left his vast fortune to you. It has absorbed decades of rich pipe tobacco fireplace smoke and the fumes of 100 year old brandy; it envelopes you in comfort and grandeur as you both grieve and bask in your good (and new) fortune.

Grade- A+

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Photo of rundocrun
4.92/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This bottle was from batch 9958 - Bottled on 8/25/2010

A - Pours a deep brown. Slightly hazy. Glows a brilliant deep red when held up to a bright light. One finger of off-white head that fades relatively quickly but leaves some light lacing on the glass.

S - Smells candy-sweet with intense dark fruits and a caramely-sweetness. Really no hop aroma to speak of but that's to be expected of the Old Ale style.

T - Again, very sweet with some prune- and raisin-like flavors evident. A surprising amount of hop bitterness is present considering the lack of hop aroma, but it is very well balanced. Lots of dextrinous caramel flavors are evident. A very sweet, delicious dessert ale!

M - Syrupy and thick with very faint, but pleasing carbonation that tickles the back of the tongue.

Overall, I would consider this to be a near-perfect example of the Old Ale style (yes, I know it's classified as an American Barleywine, but I don't believe it to be one). Delicious, delicious beer!

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Photo of TBCE
4.91/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.91/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to Sephiroth for the sample.

Dark cloudy pour, the color of dirty mahogany rustwater with a small, but sticky khaki head that laces impressively. In spite of a careful pour, there's an aquarium's worth of swimmers in my sweet new rapscallion sniffer. Ugly looking, but I know the goodness lies within.

Deep succulant aromas of deeply carmelized malts, brown sugar, dark ripe fruit, raisins, plums, figs, and sticky pine-drenched citrus hops. A glorious nose that inspires me to nearly hyperventilate the aromas.

Flavor knocks my socks off, this is incredible! A thick and chewy layer of carmelized malts, toffee, melted brown sugar, and dark sticky fruit notes leads into well-stated pine and candied citrus peel hops. Unbelievably balanced and extraordinarily complex in nature. Even better than North Coast Old Stock Ale, which i hold in the highest regard. This stuff is goood!

Big beefy body softened by smooth silky carbonation that just melts on your tongue. Creamy and sticky, coating your mouth with flavor. Well hidden alcohol makes it dangerously drinkable. More please!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.88/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out an absolutely amazing dark caramel brown turning nearly black creating a beautiful tannish head of even, creamy thick foam about a finger high. Floaty things dancing along the glass like specks of glitter or snow. Lace so finely stitched together it would make any embroidery connoisseur gleam of envy as it sticks in small curtains and has the staying power of a champ The perfect sight of creamy richness.
The aroma is soooo nice, all dark of caramel malt, deep and earthy, very rich with notes of maple, wheat, plum, raisin, dark chocolate, nuts, cookies, and a ever so faint trace of hops. Even the hint of alcohol seems darkened. I could smell this all day, if there was a way I could strap a glass of this to my face just under my nose I'd do it!
Hello flavor city! Deep, dark, rich, creamy, everything a growing boy needs. Mostly darkly sweetened caramel malt with rich packed flavors of robust, medium earthy tones throughout rendering burntness. Notes touching on plum and raisin, some maple syrup, dark wheat, and a bit of chocolate in there as well. Absolutely fabulous! Ohh, then there's the beautiful finish of altogether sweetly earthed, perfectly bittering dry of hops just noticeable enough to make your eyebrows raise right off your forehead, so damn nice and perrr....fect! Mustn't forget to throw in the nice little warming quality this has showing up ever so daintily as it gets sucked into your system and every pore in your body screams for more.
Super nice surprisingly light feel, smooth and creamy, lightly dancing mixture of bitterness, sweetness, and dryness. The feel is so surprising for something that seems to come across with so much robustness and heaviness making this unbelievably drinkable beyond comprehension. I'd like to try and think of one word to describe this beer, but can't. So really all I can think of is Larry, in a word "Thanks!"

Note: must'nt forget that this was a 18 month aged bottle.

Revisited Nov. 8th from same batch now 24 months aged, mellowed out some with more burntness coming through. Otherwise its still awesome as ever. I'd still strap it to my face, just love the smell. Oh yea...

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Photo of jtw5877
4.88/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark amber, with a thin white head. Smells malty with a hint of alcohol. Tastes amazing malty caramel taste, so damn smooth, Complex malty flavor with a little bit of hop bite. I love this stuff, thank you Ohio Politicians for changing our ABV laws.

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Photo of mjohn27603
4.87/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle believed to be 2001. Into the glass with caramel color that can't be seen through. Wonderful aroma with butterscotch, apricot, and caramel smells. Not much of a head retention. Amazing caramel, creamy, buttery, butterscotch flavor. Tastes like the old ale equivalent of Expedition Stout. Silky smooth but rich with flavors that make you want to sip slowly. I grabbed the last one in the cooler at the store and I'm happy I did. $2.59/bottle. I'd put this in upper class of Kalamazoo's offerings. I'd say that this would make a nice beer to sip while reading at the fireplace except the taste would take your attention away from the book.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
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!

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Photo of maddog13lb
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a strong flavorful beer. Can often overpower the flavor of any food eaten with it, so it's best when sitting with a friend having a chat.

My favorite beer by far, but extreemly hard to find. I plan a trip to Bell's brewery every once in a while when this beer is in season just to get another taste. Sure wish this beer was more widely available.

Appearance - Dark brown, not much head.

Smell - Multiple aromas. Definitely can smell the high alcohol content.

Taste - American Barleywine accurately describes this beer.

Mouthfeel - Begins as a fruity taste, ends dry.

Drinkability - If it's on tap, it is a must try... bottled doesn't do it justice. Can't have too many because of the high alcohol content.

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Photo of EK33
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11-7-11---Label date
A-Copper Haze is best description with only hints of light showing through the haze. Medium carbonation and poured into a glass with a one finger head that dissipates, but hangs around the glass until the last bit.

S-Initial Dark fruit (plum/dark cherry) backed by candy like sweetness smell. Until taste one wonders if hops are even in this brew. This smells like a wine and makes one want to pair with a good pungent cheese.

T-Fantastic! Initial bitterness followed by sweet fruits finishing with caramel malty goodness. Final tinge of balanced hoppy-bitterness that sits on tongue along with sweet malt. Truly a delicious balanced Barley-wine.

M-Approaching a thick stout chewiness, but not overboard.

Overall a fantastic Barley Wine. I am going to cellar and try at 5 years and 10 years to see how it ages.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Perfect dark violet/burgundy color, with an impressive, thick cocoa/tan head. Aroma is majestic, and rich with flavorful connotations: sweet, sharp, and fruity, suggesting cherries, grapes, port wine, brandy, with a hint of anise, and chocolate. Mouthfeel is dazzling in complexity, full, rewarding , and greatly alcoholic, taste is magnificent, dark, sweet, profound, and strong, accompanied by a lively hop ride on the tongue, awash in sweet, liquory flavors. Alcohol content is not given on the label, but it has to be formidable, for a burnt quality lingers in the finish, and hangs around the mouth. Wonderfully warming, expertly crafted, another prodigious acheivement from Larry Bell & Co.
All larger praises must be rescinded, as we hail the king of American barleywines!.

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Photo of hoptualBrew
4.81/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle

Appearance is deep amber in color, clear with off white head. Minimal lacing, legs indicative of the abv %

Aroma is complex, and layered with decadent pheromones. Sherry, oak, cherry, caramel, vanilla, leather and tobacco qualities all synthesize in one fantastic aroma.

Palate starts off caramel sweetness & lends to the aforementioned flavor characters. Sherry & cherry, near fruitcake flavors come in mid-palate and end in a somewhat oaky and booze filled finish.

Feel is soft up front with a slight bitterness, but balanced in the finish with a slightly dry and more of a bittering draw. Carbonation is right on point.

Literally, cannot find a fault in this old ale. I'm reviewing it to Old Ale style characters, as I don't think it resembles an American Barleywine.

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Photo of carlborch
4.8/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deep, rich malty notes, restrained hops, hints of coffee and oak. Dark, clear, redish amber, with a dense toffee-colored, lingering head, almost like the crema on my espresso. Moderate lacing.Sweet, heavy palate with medium-bitter notes. Great length. Powerful. Warmth, chocolate, Umami! Full bold body with silky lingering and very long finish with low note-bitter tones. An excellent ale! Heady. Best suited for colder months and rainy days. Can certainly be celllared to watch it develop. Multilayered, complex beverage. Wonderful match for rich foods witn seet notes, such as BBQ (Batch 8863)

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Photo of pschul4
4.8/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First bottle that I aged myself! 1 year old poured into snifter

A- Pours a deep brown with more head that I would have expected. The head eventually dissipates to a small ring

S- Tons of dark fruits. Literally tons.. Sweet brown sugar and the faintest hint of alcohol. More mellow than I remember it smelling a year ago

T- Smooth buttery figs and other dark fruits. This is very impressive! No alcohol at all on the palate. I dare say its even a little light (in a good way for a 10%+ abv) Nothing coming to mind but silky smooth butter and the dark fruits that have been apparent since I cracked the bottle.

M- Smooth and slick along with being on the lighter side. Really digging this

O- A wonderful experience. I can see myself buying cases of this and Palo Santo down the road and just letting it sit in my cellar

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.79/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle is batch 8727, 9/25/08. Poured into a Unibroue tulip. I don't even want to taste this after smelling the beer. I don't want to risk disappointment. The smell is of sweet raisins, dates, figs, caramel, brown sugar and molasses. Ok here goes...tastes like 5 years of aging work in only 13 months! A beer this young shouldn't taste like this!!!! Holy bat shit. Tastes like everything it smells like. I will continue to age some bottles but can this taste better than it does right now? Hard to believe that it can.

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Photo of deejaydan
4.77/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours wonderfully amber into my glass, good head and retention given the ABV. Smells big and boozy, some carmelly notes rise up as well. Taste is great, complex, fruity, and alcoholic. Mouthfeel is nice, thick, carbonation cuts it a decent amount as well. This is perhaps, the best example of the style that I've had.

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Photo of nomad
4.77/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 vintage

This wonder is a dark amber ale dominated by medium-brown tones, showing very thick and slow lace off of an impressive head for an aged ale. Sits well in a snifter.

Smell is a wilderness of musty hops and deep caramel and toast creating sense of cinnamon, old woodpiles, and a dark bittersweetness. The hop funk is a herbal blend of, seemingly, both UK smooth and US pungent varieties. They interlock with the thickly dark roast and sweetnes of the malts impeccably well.

On a thick, soft, and smooth palate, this beer delivers just more of what your nose gets: lush caramel malt flavors with bittersweet edges and a fine toast presence from beginning to end. Wrapped up in are hop flavors bringing herbal and floral dryness along with raspy, fruity notes too. Most impressive are how are the moderately dark malt profile interacts with the earthy yet highly savory hop load.

This beer is a magic mystery tour involving a maltily complex English ale, possibly and a pungent American ale, and that's more good thing in my book. The only old ale in the States better than this one might be an older bottle of the same beer.

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Photo of waldowin
4.76/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to Beerhandy for this brew! My first "Old Ale", but reading what the style descriptor says I'm looking forward to it!

Pours a very murky gold-fading-to-ruby. Almost a two-toned beer. Almost a non-existant tan head that fades quickly to nothing. Some visible carbonation very sloooowly working its way up.

Just on pouring this beer, I got a wonderful whiff of raisins and plums. A more detailed sniff gives some caramel, peat, and almost a scotch quality to this beer. Very enticing!

And this is an extremely smooth malty beer. Caramel and a hint of toffee up front, and as it works its way back, the beer turns to raisins and a definite alcohol warmth, with a very faint aftertaste of cedar-like hops. Perfectly blended, and very well balanced. Wow!

This beer is unearthly smooth, and it just slooowly oozes over your tongue. Just enough carbonation to keep the body from being overbearing, and the hint of bitter in the aftertaste leaves you ready to dive right back in for the sweetness. Careful, this ABV hides itself very well! If it wasn't for the warmth radiating from the beer as you swallow, you'd never know it was there.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.75/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2009 bottle poured into Prairie Artisan Ales goblet

A - nice dark brown murky beer with a thick tan head that dissipates after a bit, nice lacing
S - vanilla, caramel, chocolate, some smooth woody smells, although this isn't barrel aged, i'm not getting anything in the way of fruits at this point, I think when this beer is younger It has more dark fruit character
T - Smooth, caramel malts, chocolate, vanilla, creamy, umami, I've noticed that beers that are aged 4+ years start to get an almost musty character to them, but not in a bad way.
M - Thick, like a beer milkshake, the alcohol is completely covered, Aftertaste is a little more bitter - cocoa, caramel, roasty notes
O - almost perfect on all fronts. If this was bourbon barrel aged it would be a perfect 5.

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Photo of deg
4.75/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer is a nice reddish-brown color. The head is thick, and there's not a huge amount of foam. The smell reminded me of fig newtons, bready and figgy. The initial taste was figgy and fruity, but I could feel the malt come out. The beer is a bit thick and creamy in consistency. I can feel some alcohol warmth, but it's not overwhelming. A very good barleywine.

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Photo of kissmybunniebutt
4.74/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Beautifully light Barleywine-esque ale. Rich and hearty but bright on the tongue. The aroma was sweet, figgy, and mildly sour. The texture just coated your tongue perfectly. Not too thick, not too thin. The ABV gave it a bite that really cut the richness well. Nicely done.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,036 ratings.