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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

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1,025 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,025
Hads: 2,433
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 242
Gots: 454 | 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
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Reviews: 1,025 | Hads: 2,433
Photo of logicalparadox
2/5  rDev -51.2%

Not for me.

Deep reddish brown, it's rusty, almost bloody. Good head that leaves beautiful lacing and sea foam like stickiness. it looks pretty.

Bitter and roasty to the point of reminding me of grilled chicken gone wrong. The alcohol is right up front, only subdued by the astringency of the brew. Boozy, to be sure. Warming on the way down, but harsh if you're not into that sort of thing (which I'm not).

Highly rated, so maybe I'm just not a fan of the style. I've not had many barleywines that I've enjoyed, so I'm not shocked, but disappointed nonetheless. This is the first barley wine that I've had that packed this kind of intense roasted character, though. While I'm not a fan, I can see how that might be a bonus if you're into it.

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Photo of alysmith4
2.5/5  rDev -39%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not uaually a fan of the Old Ales, and this beer just confirms that. Very syrupy sweet and thick with low carbonation. Lots of cherry flavors came through, and it reminded me of a cough syrup I used to have as a kid. Similar medicinal notes as well.

I only had one, but it was hard to finish. The high ABV set the night off right, and made it easy to graduate to a lighter, more complex beer. Would not try this one again though.

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Photo of innersanctum
2.56/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

My neighbor was awfully kind to offer me a bottle of BB's old ale, "Its like an amber ale on steroids!".

Let me offer the fine folks at Bell's the dignity they deserve and mention this just isn't my type of ale. Mouthfeel on this one had a definate sense of burnt carmel and raisin with lots of alcohal. The lack of head and lacing did not bother me, but it might bother you. Sediment is very obvious at the bottom of the bottle.

In all fairness, Bells recommends aging the ale so that could have voided the warranty right then and there, but I did sleep very well last night. Also, pay attention to the review conducted by Alström Bros and suggest following their leed, after all I did drink this at the end of a hot August day so a little bit of willpower could have helped.

This one is my own damn fault, and oh neighbor please don't forget about me with your wonderfully aged old ale in the depths of winter.

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Photo of nickfl
2.58/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Dark reddish brown, pretty much opaque. Good sized tan colored off white head.

S - Nutty and malty. Lots of brown, caramel notes and maby a little bit of wild funk or possibly a butter aroma. I wish I had someone here who could recognize diacetyl as I think that may be what I am detecting, but I have never been able to pick it out.

T - Buttery. Lots of hops, almost fatty and greasy flavor. Makes me wonder if I had poor luck and got a really oxadized bottle.

M - Very slick and mouth coating.

D - Not sure what to think about this. Right now I feel like this beer was a horrible mistake. I don't know if it was infected, abused, or just bad but I got this one from the Bells Store in Kalamazoo so it shold be as good as it gets. Maby with a few years of ageing it would turn into something a bit more satisfactory.

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Photo of froggyfrog
2.6/5  rDev -36.6%
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.

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Photo of rockwell
2.63/5  rDev -35.9%
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.

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Photo of CraftAle
2.86/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I didn't enjoy it. Taste was all sweetness and alcohol. Tasted some hops early on, but sweetness completely hid them as I drank more.

I'm a big fan of Bells, especially Two Hearted Ale, so I don't mean to say that this is a poorly done brew. If this is typical of Barley Wine, then I won't be trying others. In my opinion, it needed a lot more hops to balance the malt sweetness.

Double IPAs can have the same malt and alcohol, but offset it with hops, and be more drinkable.

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Photo of ph2001
2.9/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle in snifter

no head, a very hazy deep amber color. smells very sweet and malty. looks thick. the 10.2% is not too noticeable in ti. there is a strong sweetness and maltiness to it. the hop flavors are subtle and nice. it finishes with a strong spicy carmel flavor that stands out quite a bit. it could be more balanced but it might just need some time on it.

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Photo of Minkybut
2.9/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I poured this stiff brew into a tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was cloudy with a tan head that was decent enough. The beer smelled bready or yeasty. The tast of the beer was rather bitter with a slightly nutty finish. Therre was alo an acrid aftertaste that might have just been from the high alcohol content. I will not buyy again.

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Photo of champ103
2.91/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: Pours a nearly opaque reddish/brown color. A large beige head forms with good retention. The foam gently recedes to leave some sticky lace.
S: Musty, dank, and metallic. Sweet caramel malt, bread light chocolate. Fruity hops are a bit to prevalent. Hot alcohol.
T: Again, a metallic twang up front. Light toasted caramel malt and chocolate. Bitter hops show itself towards the end, and takes over a little to much for my tastes (especially for the style). Again, hot alcohol.
M/D: A medium to full body. Crisp, but smooth. Way to much alcohol for this to be enjoyable. It is hard to finish the bottle.

I am really not impressed with this. A sub standard Old Ale that lacks substance and subtleties. Not bad, but not something I would recommend.

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Photo of scott
2.92/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3


Very nice pour of a murky bodied dark brew with a foamy head that receeded later with minor lacing.
Smell was innocuous and bland, with bready malted notes.
First sip was juicy fruit meets caramel meets plum.
As it sat(because I wasn't eager to drink this) it became a poor quality brown ale. When I think olde ale, I am expecting almost a barley wine. This was not true to form.
I love Bell's, but many in their profile taste like the same beer (Best Brown/ TCOA/ Consecrator/ Hell Hath) with minor adjustments.
This was a syrupy mess on the tongue after the initial hop sting.
Boring, Sidney. Boring.

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Photo of CWiggins
2.92/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is one of the six Bell's taps at Tyler's Taproom in Durham. I've now sampled them all! Old Ale is one of my favorite styles; I try each new version I come across. Bell's Third Coast is served in a Bell's tulip glass with approximately ten ounces at a time.

It's dark brown with nut-brown highlights, and the foamy head is tan and short-lived. Aromas of dark, sweet fruit and roasted malts rise up from the brew during a deep sniff. The flavor is sweet and malty with a surprisingly hoppy finish. Upfront, the malts are heavy and complex, and the fruity esters are certainly noticeable. When those characters mellow just before the finish, hops takes over and provides a very bitter finish. The mouthfeel is thick and a little chewy. This makes for a great stand-alone drink for a cool/cold evening.

My only complaint about this brew is the intense hops at the finish. I prefer Old Ales that are malty, smooth, and well-balanced.

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Photo of bman13
2.94/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Just doesn't do it for me for a barleywine. It's flavor is extremely cloying and overly buttery sweet for a beer. It really doesn't taste like a barleywine or let alone, a beer, at all. I love Bell's, probably one of my favorite breweries but i just really don't like this one at all.

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Photo of rastaman
2.96/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I didn't know what to make of this. Noticable flavour, spicy hops, caramel, some nectary kinda peachy notes, quite bitter. I think these flavours could have worked well in moderation, and it could have done without the raw alcohol that pops out right at the end. If anything it lacked balance and texture, definitely not boring, lots of flavour. Another gift from Feloniousmonk.

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Photo of battlekow
2.98/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Third Coast Old Ale looks unappetizing, rather like sewage. It's a murky brown with just a few floating bubbles fruitlessly looking for friends. The nose makes up for the appearance a bit, smelling seductively of ripe cherries and caramel. Taste echoes those same traits, but there's some intense bitterness, pretty radically different from the only other old ale I've had, Thomas Hardy's Ale. Too intense for me. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, but the taste is too schizoid for that to matter much.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.98/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

OG=1.098, 9.0% ABV.

Murky, dark-amber in color, forming a tall, rocky, whipped dark-beige head with awesome holding power and sticky sheets of lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma...intense floral and piney hops, sticky amber malts, molasses cookies, faint sensation of alcohol, pumpernickel bread dough, caramelized sugar, dark honey. Mouthfeel is syrupy and oily with a dense body and slick finish. per aroma...there is also a peculiar resinous buttery hop note towards the end with the suggestion of almonds. The hops predominate initially, creating the sensation of West-Coast intensity and harshness (i.e-Centennial). The suggestion of ripe dark fruits doesn't quite have the intensity to balance the hop levels. The alcohol is harsh and medicinal, with no fusels. As it warms, it worsens...there is no improvement in balance, and the alcohol becomes even more dominant. This is definitely a sipper for a cold, lonely winter night as you watch the snow sadly obscure your recently shoveled driveway.

This is a hearty Olde Ale. I have drank cellared versions of this brew and aged bottles are better, however the young batches just don't have any balance and are harsh and medicinal. If you like west-coast offerings along the lines of Stone, you will enjoy this one. This is my least favorite of the otherwise exceptional Bells lineup, but still a kickass brew.

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
3/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with no freshness date on the bottle. Poured a cloudy amber color with only about an inch of head that disappeared quickly. Strong prune is the only thing I smell. Caramel, prune, malts flavors. I am sorry this bottle was a drain pour for me.

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Photo of thisisbigrob
3/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: Poured a hazy brown with very minimal white head that quickly disappeared leaving a tiny ring around the edge of the glass.

S: Smell is satisfyingly sweet but not very strong. Can't pick up any hops or alcohol.

T: Sweet and not very hoppy. A definite alcohol kick. There is a definite twang to the flavor that I'm not completely down with. Something about this beer reminds me of brandy.

M: Carbonation is a little heavy. Alcohol is strong. Not very smooth.

D: A struggle from the start, but gets a little easier as the alcohol starts to hit you. Wouldn't drink more than one in a night, if I ever get around to another one.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.08/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from bottle into cervoise.
A: Nice dark, cloudy crimson. Thin light tan creamy head.
S: Sweet caramel and malt. Nice aroma.
T: The high ABV is clearly apparent. Much more hops than malt doesn't help mask this. Some caramel, but taste doesn't hold up to the promising smell. Stong hop bite at the end.
M: Sharp on the tongue. Medium body. Decent mouthfeel.
D: Honestly, I was excited to try this, but I came away disappointed. To give it a second chance, I'll put a couple away to age and see what happens over time.
I love high ABV brews, but the flavors in this beer didn't complement the ABV well. There are better old ales out there.

10/9/09: Revisited this one. The hops and feel have softened a bit, but this is still not well balanced and alcohol is too apparent. Still lacking.

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Photo of schellsbeer
3.11/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I have been waiting to try this one for a while now. Thanks to my good friend Greggy who through this into a 6 pack for me. Excellent.

A - Good. Very dark orange to light brown in color. Huge head that when disappears, leaves a nice lacing around the class. Not clear but cloudy all the way through. Large amount of sediment left in the bottle of the bottle as a result of conditioning.

S - Malty. Very little hops noticed. Sweet bread with a touch of brown the bread was just made but then put into the refridgerator.

T - This is where all of the peanuts count. Wow...very strong complex beer. Alcohol is indeed noticed. So many flavors, I don't know where to start. Most of the strong taste comes after the ale is allowed to start its path down the throat. This is when the tastebuds and nose start firing messages to the brain all at the same time. Bitter but not too much for an Old Ale. Nothing like an IPA. Malt is present. This beer took some time to make.

M - Seems a bit thick for the style. Sort of like pudding. I expect this with a milk stout but somehow, the mouthfeel is just a little too thick. It is like tasting sour bread that hasn't been given the proper time in the oven to cook. This is the lowest score for me. A little too heavy.

D - The bottle states that this is 10.2% alcohol and BA says that it is closer to 9%. Either way, one bottle is enough even for the diehard. Slow down and enjoy the taste. Just don't dwell on the mouthfeel. If you do, you won't like this beer. Enjoy it for being from Bells and the care that went into making it. So many flavors....maybe too many.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.15/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2008 vintage courtesy of Uwftke26.

A: Pours a very dark, but still clear, mahogany body with two fingers of cream-colored head that recedes quickly into nothingness. No collar, no lace, do not pass Go, go directly to jail.

S: Caramel, grape / raisins... That's about it.

T: Very caramelly, with maybe some brown sugar next to it. I pick up some dark fruits in grapes / raisins. There's an underlying bitterness that balances the sugars (which are decently well attenuated anyway). Compared to (say) Adam, this beer isn't particularly complex or inviting, and it's a rare weak spot for Bell's.

M: Chewy, with med-full viscosity. Not much heat.

D: It drinks fine, but it's not something I'd trade for again when I can pick up Adam and Old Stock locally. Meh.

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.15/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours brown with a red hue, nice head at first, but then dissipates ultra fast.

Hops upfront, hints of fruits, cherries, grapes.

Tastes of the nose, strong hops and light sweet fruit flavors, this beer is simplistic, nice but highly forgettable.

Somewhat dull mouthfeel, not too much going on.

Not my favorite beer, but not bad. This beer was fresh and with some age on it I'm sure it would be significantly better.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
3.16/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: The body of this beer pours deep mahogany color with some visible carbonation, chunks, & little to no head. What head I have is just a pin stripe that's a off white color.

S: I had the glass a good 12 inches away and could get a strong aroma of brown sugar and caramel malts. Once I really got into the glass I was able to pick up figs, nuts, floral hops, and a slight hint of cocoa. Reminds me of my wife's sweet potatoe casserole.

T: Maybe I got a bad bottle, but this beer is way more boozy then I expect a beer to taste like. Kind of burned as it went down. Put that aside and I was able to get a strong molasses flavor as well as brown sugar, dates, and bitter hops. Reminded me of a strong port.

M: Heavy on the palate with a full body and little carbonation.

D: Maybe I don't like this style (this was my first old ale so I have nothing to compare this to), but I thought it was too boozey. I don't see myself drinking this again, and what I have I will definitely be sipping (my husband gave his away because he hates the date flavor).

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Photo of tigg924
3.2/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: redish brown, medium head, medium carbonation

Smell:hops, grapefruit, pine, malt, sugarcane, and raisin

Taste: hops, grapefruit, pine, malt, sugarcane, honeydew melon, and raisin

Mouthfeel: sweet throughout-almost syrupy, medium bodied, with a bitter finish

Drinkability: This is a bit hoppy for an old ale. I do think Bells makes better beers and there are better in this style. Not for me.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.2/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked up two Third Coast Old Ales while in Indianapolis, IN. On the back of the label it states, “perfect for the cellar” or something close to that effect. Third Coast Old poured a murky, turbid brown color with a creamy ½” thick head that was pretty durable and left some nice webby lace.
The smell was quite sweet, of carmelized candy, molasses, some vanilla notes, and bready caramel malt. Some light bitter hops notes and a modest alcohol aroma also were present. The taste was a big (and disheartening) departure from the aroma. Lightly sweet up front, the dominant flavor was bitter and harsh. The candy and vanilla notes easily picked up in the nose were muted in the taste and instead, a prolonged astringent, medicinal flavor clung to the palate. Swirling and letting stand to warm a bit did nothing to improve the taste profile. If anything, letting it warm did more harm than good. The feel was full and creamy with a noticeable alcohol warmth.
Third Coast Old Ale was a bit of a let-down. The appearance and aroma were superb but the raw, medicinal taste was a real detractor. Perhaps this beer really is better after spending some time in the cellar. That’s where number two is headed for few months (or longer).

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,025 ratings.