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

Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,831 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1831
Reviews: 956
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%

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: 1,831 | Reviews: 956 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Craigory

South Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

32oz growler fill (2011 keg) from Green's Piney Grove, poured into a Stone Old Guardian glass.

A: Pours a deep reddish-brown body that reveals a bit of auburn when held to the light. Forms ample beige head, which slowly recedes to a solid cap. The cap last throughout the beer, and leaves a little lacing along the way.

S: Toffee, caramel, burnt sugar, dark fruit, and little alcohol. I've certainly smelled better, but this hits all the right notes.

T: A hop bites hits first, but this quickly gives way to toffee, burnt sugar, dark fruits, and a bit of smokiness. Bitterness lingers on the finish. Really, apart from a bit of hops at the very beginning and end, this leans more toward an English Barleywine, featuring a really nice dark fruit flavor and some burnt sugar notes.

M: Plenty big in the mouth without being too sticky. It definitely coats all over, yet it doesn't quite force one to sip slowly.

O: This is a really nice English Barleywine, with just a bit more hop presence than typical examples of that style. The smokiness is a nice touch, and prevents the beer from coming across as too syrupy-sweet, despite the toffee, burnt sugar, and dark fruit flavors. I'd like to try one fresh to compare, as this 2011 vintage is drinking marvelously.

Serving type: growler

02-24-2014 01:17:15 | More by Craigory
Photo of gopens44


3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice thick foamy cream colored head over a murky brown ale

S - Giant toffee and sweet was pretty much all I got.

T - Much like the nose but add raisins and just a hint of hops

M - Starts out creamy and turns a bit dry on the finish with a bitter aftertaste.

O - Really nice. Drinks like an aged American Barley wine, having allowed most of the hops to fall off.

Serving type: growler

04-18-2011 11:54:07 | More by gopens44
Photo of welldigger888

South Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from growler into my trusted irish pub pint glass,wonderful garnet ruby hue. A nice tan head that recedes to a nice ring leaving behind good lacing.
Very thick caramel aromas seem to dominate with some dry stone fruit for good measure.
The flavors that are most out front for me are a nice sweet caramel,dried stone fruit & a dark bread. A lingering hop bitterness seems to finish this.
Excellant carbonation and a thick creamy chewy mouth with just a hint of hop oil.
So, the abv on this is well hidden for me but causes pause for drinkability. Home, check, ok procede.

Serving type: growler

01-26-2011 02:01:47 | More by welldigger888
Photo of TreyIsWilson


4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Pours a murky reddish brown with a one-finger foamy white head. Light amount of sticky lacing.

S - Lots of booze, caramel malts, and light dark fruit.

T - Taste is a nice blend of sweet dark fruits, caramel malts, molasses, and alcohol. Finish has a nice earthy hop bite.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Nice creamy mouthfeel.

O - A really nice Barleywine with a nice balance of flavors. A nice sipper.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2014 01:32:19 | More by TreyIsWilson
Photo of StLeasy


5/5  rDev +21.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2014 08:20:57 | More by StLeasy
Photo of FLima


3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Amber reddish color with a thin beige head with low retention.
Aroma of dark and red fruits, licorice and port wine.
Intense flavor of prunes, caramels, charred wood, red fruits, house wine, fig, raspberry, smoked, roasted and toasted malts. Very dry and bitter aftertaste.
Medium to full body with low carbonation. Alcohol of 10.2% is harmonic with the beer. Sticky feeling.
Beer with good complexity and lower drinkability given its sweetness and sticky flavors, partially expected from the style.

Serving type: on-tap

02-26-2014 21:33:55 | More by FLima
Photo of brutusmuktuk


4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown ale with an off-white head. Has a pleasant, sweet aroma characteristic of barley wines. Taste is caramel, and towards the end of the beer there’s a stronger hint of sweet fig and syrup. There’s a touch of bitterness to further add to the complexity. I enjoy this, and I wonder how it will be after aging.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2014 19:59:17 | More by brutusmuktuk
Photo of mdfb79

New York

4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 02/11/14 notes. On tap at The Jeffrey in NYC; $8 for a 10oz pour in a tulip.

a - Pours a somewhat murky reddish brown color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, wheat, oats, plums, figs, toffee, caramel malts, toasted malts, bread, and alcohol. Nice nose, lots of dark fruits and malts.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruity malts, caramel malts, alcohol, bread, grains, toasted malts, toffee, wheat, dough, earthy notes, light spice. More caramel and booze than the nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Light booze to it.

o - Overall a very nice old ale. Lots of dark fruits and caramel throughout. Alcohol is a little noticable but it doesn't hinder drinking it. Would have it again.

Serving type: on-tap

02-12-2014 21:30:23 | More by mdfb79
Photo of Tsar_Riga


3.94/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled September 2011, drank February 2014.

A - Dark, nearly opaque brew, with a mild, light tan head that produces minimal lacing.

S - Strong, very strong hit of malt and alcohol, with powerful notes of dried fruits. Particularly prunes. My wife, who was sitting next to me on the couch when I was drinking this, complained that the smell was less than appetizing. I don't agree, but it was somewhat overwhelming.

T - A spine of alcohol and malt runs throughout. with a decently balanced hit of dark fruit, raisins and prunes foremost, very sweet, but not cloyingly so, combined with a closing solid bitter note, making this something you can swallow, not just sip.

M - The real trick here is that Bell's managed to prevent this old ale from blanketing your mouth with a cloying sweetness. Each swallow runs its course and leaves your mouth ready for more.

O - I can recognize that this brew is a top notch barleywine. I cannot imagine how hot it would be fresh, but with 2 1/2 years on it, things have settled in nicely. I am not a huge fan of the style, but I recognize the talent exhibited here. Another fine brew from Bell.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2014 03:17:47 | More by Tsar_Riga
Photo of BierJager89


4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown, practically black, with a tan head.

S: Old wet malt, some dark fruits and a touch of orange in the nose. Typical of an old ale.

T: Pine, raspberry, strawberry, fig, plum, malt, orange peel and nutmeg.

M: Full bodied and a touch harsh, but pretty good.

O: A delicious old ale. I've only had a few of this style, but they tend to be very good, especially when aged in bourbon barrels. I'd love a taste of a bourbon barrel aged version of this.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2014 06:48:05 | More by BierJager89


4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle to snifter. Packaged on 10/12/12, Batch number 11400.

[A] Pours dark mahogany brown with low visibility showcasing amber edges and a degree of transparency, The head is light tan in color and modest in size, but the retention is longstanding in half collar form and there is a light amount of lacing that grabs the glass.

[S] Over ripe, bruised and beaten stone fruits mixed with an entire jar of molasses and set on the stove to simmer. Lots of dark, toasty bread crust aromas waft from the glass as well.

[T] Deep, dark fruit, molasses, leather and burnt sugar. Light notes of oxidation coming across like an aged port or sherry. Complexity is fantastic as each lingering moment on the tongue reveals a new dimension to the flavor. Plum, fig, prunes, raisins and more.

[M] The mouthfeel is spot on for my tastes. Thick, luxurious body. Low carbonation. The bitterness is perfectly balanced with this brew which is sweet on the end and sticks to the tongue and doesn't let go.

[O] Forget about the 10.2%. You wouldn't ever guess it. Third Coast Old Ale is very, very enjoyable. Especially at this age. I wouldn't mind having a few more of these bottles lying around.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 23:18:20 | More by FeDUBBELFIST
Photo of JamesShoemaker


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter and stemless wine glass. Bottling date of 9/13/13. I picked this up from the Triple Deuce in Mount Pleasant for only $9.99/sixer. Obviously it was an error in my favor!

A - deep, dark browns, semi-translucent. Not unlike a Scotch Ale, very reminiscent of BBA brown ales or Wee Heavys, Backwoods Bastard, CW, etc. The color isn't particularly appetizing, and the appearance isn't particularly striking. Some foam lingers on the side of the glass, a little haze and carbonation on the top, but otherwise pretty tepid. I swirl the liquid around in the glass and the carbonation bubbles rise in disturbance.

S - a lot of peaty malt on the nose, sweet stickiness, caramel, butterscotch, meat, smoked malt, toffee, and caramelized onions. A deep whiff yields booze at the end, burning the nose. Again, not unlike a BBA Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy, but more interesting because the ingredients are dynamic. A lot of sweetness pervades, but there's a savory element too that's just touched upon.

T - again, sweet and savory. The taste is especially complex, a good balance between sticky candies (butterscotch and toffee) and the savory elements (smoke, beef, peat, etc.). I'm really in disbelief, because TCOA tastes like it's been whiskey barrel aged, but obviously it hasn't. A very complex level of taste produced by a non-BBA beer. Impressive.

M - quite smooth, despite the high alcohol content. The sweet notes in the taste make this beer frighteningly drinkable; the bitter elements don't play a role at all in the MF.

O - I'd be interested in aging one of these (inexpensive) bottles for a short period of time, otherwise I can tell that TCOA is going to fall off with prolonged age. Bell's has really achieved something pretty great here with a composite style that mixes elements of BW with stouts, Scotch, brown, and old ales.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 00:25:57 | More by JamesShoemaker
Photo of Flopjack


4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into snifter

Appearance - Rich mahogany, has an amber glow to it, nice white head that settled quickly leaving a ring around the glass , intricate lacing.

Smell - Predominantly malts, bread, slight roasted coffee, caramel sweetness.

Taste - Roasted malts, and coffee flavors at the beginning of the taste. Roasted hoppy bitterness toward the middle of the taste. Burnt bread notes and alcohol towards the end. Slight woodiness as it warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation and full bodied. Can't label this one as refreshing, rather, more on the warming, thick, blanket like side.

Overall - Good beer. Lots of roasted, and burnt notes. Has some stout characteristics, and a beautiful dark rich woody color.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 22:19:03 | More by Flopjack
Photo of cambabeer


4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very nice brown body with some reddishness and nice small carbonation that makes for a nice tannish head. Very sweet and alcohol in the nose, somewhat like wheat bread and some fruity apple like-ness. Sweeter in the beginning a little bitter from the burnt caramelized taste, with some chocolatey undertones. Some hops are in there but just enough to offset the sweetness of the malt. The alcohol also helps to balance out the sweetness. This was great and enjoyed with good friends, good for a winter time ale.

Serving type: on-tap

01-24-2014 04:42:20 | More by cambabeer
Photo of lochef81


4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This ale pours a rich copper brown color which is quite cloudy with visible sediment in the glass. There is virtually no head but just a slight amount of tan lacing. The nose of this beer is deep and malty. Some hoppiness but it is definitely overwhelmed by the aroma of sweet roast malts and a little alcohol on the end. The beer sips chewy and coating. Medium bodied with a lasting bitter mouth coating. The flavors are awesome. Lots of malt; sweet and rich. There is a little hoppy bitter essential and citrus notes by they are mostly overwhelmed by the sweetness of the malt. There is an alcohol bite but it is well balanced and very enjoyable. This is my first experience with this style of beer but I definitely look forward to trying more. Excellent offering. Can't wait to try the other ones that I cellared.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2014 04:03:34 | More by lochef81
Photo of jhawth


3.99/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from bottle into a snifter. Pours a deep, translucent ruby with a finger off-white head.

Aroma: Predominantly musty, earthy malt notes, with some rich, candied fruit aromas. Slight caramel, slight toffee. Faint whiff of alcohol.

Taste: Sweet, rich fruit notes lead to caramel notes, followed by earthy, herbal hop bitterness. Sweet, toffee-like malt notes return for relatively long finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full bodied, light carbonation.

Overall: Very nice barleywine, excited to see how this one ages.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 23:55:26 | More by jhawth
Photo of weltywm


4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Dark ruby red to almost black, with about a finger of tan foam that quickly dissipates, leaving a little bit of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Warm alcohol, spice, caramel sweetness and fruit.

Taste: This is good: warm alcohol, red fruit, spice. There's some subtle hints of cocoa and an almost cola-like quality. Balancing everything out is caramel sweetness, vanilla, and bittersweet hops.

Mouthfeel: Really nice carbonation, especially for an old ale. The finish is long and sweet.

Overall: A really good old ale. I'm savoring it while watching a Breaking Bad marathon, and it is perfect.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 05:17:47 | More by weltywm
Photo of charlzm


3.79/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

consumed December 24th, 2013 from a bottle labelEd 11419 PKGD. Poured into a Triple Petrus tulip.

Beer looks brown until held to light; when light shines through it, is a deep, rich amber. One finger off-white head becomes a minimal sheeting on sides of glass.

Boozy aroma of dark, pitted fruit and cinnamon bread.

Flavor is similar to smell with the addition of peppery spice. Sweet. More bitter than anticipated on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and slightly creamy with some alcohol burn and a little tingle.

Over two and a half years age on this bottle and it still has some bite. Might want to leave the next one cellared longer.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 02:50:12 | More by charlzm
Photo of RedMosquito1

South Carolina

4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bell's has really created a masterpiece here. Barleywine, it's great to meet you.

A: Deep red color. Head and lacing are nil.
S: Alcohol is definitely apparent in the nose, but not overpowering. Not roasty, not floral, but mildly sweet, like a caramel.
T: Again, the alcohol level is apparent, but not at all dominant. The front, mid and end are very complex, with some vanilla, caramel and woody notes evident in each. I wish that I had purchased a few to age, because this one challenges you with every sip.
M: Very soft and silky, which is to be expected. A beautiful mouthfeel.
O: A unique taste for me, as I've never had anything like it. The unraveling of its complexity is part of the fun here, as it has a great range of taste notes. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2013 03:23:33 | More by RedMosquito1
Photo of Cylinsier


4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz.

Pours a dark hazy nut brown, off-white lacing for a head.

Smells of cinnamon, molasses, and a hint of cherry. Maybe some licorice in there too.

Tastes of cinnamon, molasses, nutmeg, and a bit of black pepper.

Medium body with sharp stinging carbonation on the tongue.

A good spiced ale, nice flavor, hides its strength well and goes down easy. Very enjoyable and definitely worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 23:01:08 | More by Cylinsier
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2013 02:40:27 | More by don1481
Photo of BeerNutz324


4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle into a chalice

Ap- pours a dark reddish brown mahogony type color with 3/8 inch off white had that doesn't last too long. The head clings to the glass pretty nicely though.

Ar- dark malts, cherry, figs, cognac, plums, figs,

T- Not as hop forward as other BW's but still there and is balanced almost perfectly with the dark fruited malt. Te alcohol is there but at 10.2% it's hidden fairly well.

M- perfect carbonation for this style, a tad sticky, medium-thick bodied and the alcohol definitely warms the mouth on the hold

O- a really solid barleywine, very balanced and a great sipper. Maybe the best BW I've had

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2013 18:31:03 | More by BeerNutz324
Photo of Abinlp


4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - a somewhat hazy, opaque reddish brown. Nice color really. Tight and lacy, but minimal head, which I like. It disappears quickly

Smell - a sweet aroma. Very malty, caramel nose. Almost cognac or sherry scented, as someone else noted on point. Which is surprising because I don't notice the alcohol in the nose as you'd expect given the ABV.

Taste - Dates, fruit, caramel, and malty. I don't detect the bitterness and hops that others do. But enough to even out the taste almost perfectly.

Mouthfeel - Its viscosity is just right for the style. The alcohol doesn't overwhelm as one would expect.

Overall - The beer rocks. Its definitely an aperitif sort of drink. Sipped slowly and savored. I think the balance is spot on. For the style the beer is, if not truly a characteristic example, an outstanding representation. I love it

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2013 23:50:15 | More by Abinlp
Photo of MDDMD


4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A-red amber color with a nice light tan head and decent lacing

S-caramel, toffee, dark fruit, hint of spice, biscuit

T-caramel malt, toffee, figs, raisins, toasted bread, mild bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-smooth and easy drinking, enjoyable sipping BW! Good value.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2013 00:02:12 | More by MDDMD
Photo of cjgiant

District of Columbia

3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: dark ruby brown, looks maybe a slight cloudiness, hard to tell for sure. Some sustaining head and decent lacing
S: had trouble getting much at first; mainly dates and figs, little clay undertone
T: starts with a feel of toasted bitterness underneath a date/fig front. I get a little fortified-wine like taste in the back that seems tied to the alcohol making a presence, which also lends to a fleeting alcohol-soaked cherry twinge. The middle is bittersweet, burnt brown sugar, molasses.
M: a stronger dry-bitter pull than I expected. The dry pull is usually welcome, but the bitterness doesn't quite work with the malt flavor, for me (reminds me of being a similar sensation of OJ shortly after brushing).
O: the strong tastes mellowed as the beer warmed, with the fruity notes in both nose and taste strengthening. For me, a little less or better balance of bitter and sweet would bump this up a notch.

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2013 22:58:52 | More by cjgiant
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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,831 ratings.