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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.

2,043 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,043
Reviews: 969
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.44%
Wants: 207
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: 2,043 | Reviews: 969 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Arbitrator
3.18/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Arbitrator, May 14, 2010
Photo of joshstevens87
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a chestnut brown red with a quarter inch or so whiteish head
S-some dark fruits with some caramel and molasses and a bit of an alcohol burn
T-much like the smell very sweet with a nice complexity and a assertive alcohol presence
M-a heavier hoby with a bite of caronation
D-a excellent tasting beer with great complexity without being too heavy definately plan on cellaring it for a bit

joshstevens87, May 13, 2010
Photo of clayrock81
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a leather couch brown body with good carbonation that slowly dies and leaves a nice head and some lace patches. A malty aroma of mostly caramel and some breadiness; touch of roasted malt along with some herbal hop bitterness and fruitiness. Extremely smooth, has a great balance as the beer goes down easy (I'd say medium bodied) with a good amount of sweetness (caramel, hints of vanilla and chocolate) but has a bready, dry finish that is also derived from a dark fruit and herbal hoppy bitterness. Has some stickiness and the finish is perfectly crisp and dry thanks to large (and largely hidden ABV). A great beer in summer so I wish I had it in winter and this is a must for anybody.

clayrock81, May 08, 2010
Photo of Soilworker
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. Still fresh, just bought this from the store; batch #9525.

A: Cloudy amber brown with obvious yeast particles suspended in the liquor. There is a two finger light reddish brown head. Moderate head retention

S: Rich sweet caramel malts with hints of raisins and prune and light citrus hoppiness to it. Definite presence of an alcohol pepperiness. I get a strange freshness in the aroma that I can't quite place, maybe from the hops and alcohol.

T: Beer was little warm at this point but thats prolly for the best. Intensely rich and bold sweet maltiness right up front but accompanied by a definite hoppy (maybe citrus, its hard to tell) bitterness. You can definitely notice the alcohol on this one. Finish is predominately bitter and hoppy but still a sweet maltiness lingers with it.

M: Chewy and almost coarse. Very big beer here.

D: Huge beer with a high ABV so this will hold back the drinkability of this one. Other than that I found it to be quite enjoyable for the style.

Notes: Huge beer and it may have helped to have this one on a colder day as opposed to a pretty hot day where its kinda hot in my room. Still this was one of my first old ales and I thought it represented the style ok but I could definitely see how age would mellow out the harsh hops a little. Can't wait to see how this ages after a year or so.

Soilworker, Apr 30, 2010
Photo of emmasdad
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Finally an opportunity to try a beer I'd wanted to try for years, long before I'd heard of BA. Pours a deep, dark brown color, with tinges of red around the edges and a quickly dissolving off-white head. Aromas of cocoa, caramel, raisins and maybe cola. A little sweet dark malt on the palate, along with toffee, a little cherry and coming in late a little alcohol warmth. A pretty nice beer, but not quite up to my (quite possibly unrealistic) expectations.

emmasdad, Apr 30, 2010
Photo of TCgoalie
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky copper brown color. There is virtually no head with an absence of carbonation. A large amount of sediment went into the glass as I did not realize it would have residual particles.

The smell is that of rich malts which dominate the scent. There is a presence of prunes, raisins, and a large dose of honey and molasses.

I now feel as though I didn't even need to taste this beer, the smell tells all...except some hop bite. This is definitely a tasty old ale and the slightly chalky hops near the end encourages drinkability as it mellows the sweetness. I also detect a bit of toasted oats in there somewhere.

This is a full bodied beer with a slight drying in the aftertaste likely due to the well hidden booze.

This is very drinkable considering the style and ABV. The thing that tips the scales for drinkability is the balancing that the hops give. I would drink this again...yum.

TCgoalie, Apr 30, 2010
Photo of tegelaar
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a bit darker than a porter with a small head that disappears. No noticeable lacing. Smells sweet and rich. Dark fruits and a hint of tobacco. Taste is very bitter with a big sweet finish. This thing explodes with malty flavor and is very rich with a big bite. The alcohol is well hidden. It was a bit too much for me and it made it hard to drink.

tegelaar, Apr 30, 2010
Photo of DAllspaw
3.35/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

pours a deep mahogany with light brown head, not too much and good lacing. Certainly looks the part of a true sipper.

Smell is heavy with raisins, figs, toffee, very noticable malty presence.

Taste is very malty but with so much going on, raisins, caramel, hint of chocolate.

I enjoyed it, but am hoping some age will smooth the alcohol, very pronounced at this point. I didn't verify but suspect this is a batch from this winter and will keep down until fall winter, hoping for less noticable alcohol. A very complex sipper nonetheless and hopefully worth waiting for.

DAllspaw, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nutty dark brown that fades to ruby red at the edges, with a robust and slow-receding khaki head.

S - Loads of caramel malts, with dark fruits and a strong spirit somewhere between rum and brandy.

T - Loads of burnt caramel, with a hint if acrid bitterness. Not really complex at all, just the caramel. None of the dark fruits I normally love.

M - Very thick, as thick as some stouts I've had and perhaps too much so for the style.

D - Pretty good old ale, but not as nutty or darkly fruity as I generally like. Very caramel-forward, which just isn't my preference.

NYCWheatFanSC, Apr 15, 2010
Photo of vdread
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my bottle of Third Coast Old Ale is a little over three years (10-26-06) old. the design on the bottle is brilliant. it pours dark brown with a thin tan head that lingers reluctantly, eventually winding down to a thin collar. huge chunks of sediment float throughout.

smell is rich with caramel and dark fruit like raisin and cherry.

taste is rich, smooth, very sweet/syrupy with notes of bitter cocoa powder, brown sugar, plums, and raisins. alcohol is present, but not hot. hops are slight, but still hanging on after all this time. hints of sourness surface every once in a while. when warm, rich, bready tastes become more apparent.

mouthfeel good, full, low carbonation. leaves notes of dark plum and a slight alcohol burn.

+ definitely a keeper. beers like this make me love Bell's and wish that it were distributed in Texas. one of the better old ale/barleywines i've had.

thanks JDV for the chance to try this beer

vdread, Apr 10, 2010
Photo of WeedKing4
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a dark amber brown that is slightly clear. Smells of strong beautiful beer, but the taste isn't strong at all. It tastes of caramal dark fruit in a way, and its quite smooth. No hint of the 10.20% at all. A very good old ale overall and glad I got to try this one finally.

WeedKing4, Apr 10, 2010
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 Beerandraiderfan
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good dark brown appearance, red hue in the light, tan/beige head, average, compact lace.

Aroma is sweet alcohol. Good hop presence in the nose.

Taste, boozy and hoppy. A very complimentary barleywine in the Bigfoot tradition. . . malty, sweet, bitter, hoppy, alcohol. Mouthfeel a little more complex than Bigfoot, but easier to drink. Something makes it smoother, vanilla, maybe cinammon, I dunno, but this beer gets easier to drink. Might even be thicker malt wise than Bigfoot. Seems expensive, but upon reflection of how big of a beer it is, quite affordable.

Beerandraiderfan, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of BravoTwo
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, with tinges of red. Very minimal tan cream head that minimized down to almost nothing but a light film on the very edges of the glass.

S - Dark, dried fruit, spice notes with a very complex nose

T - Fruitcake fruit, dark candy, figgy with spicy notes. Edges of vanilla at times with darker, caramelized malt. No noticable hops presence. Big flavor.

M - Thick and viscous, slick and oily on the tongue.

D - For a 10.2% beer, this beer is deceptively drinkable. Balanced and drinkable for a strong old ale.

BravoTwo, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of Sallerj
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is dark reddish brown, without much head. It smells like cherry, cocoa, and apple. It has a complex and surprisingly mellow flavor with lots of bitter fruit and dark sugar. Everything fits together very well, and it goes down very easily for such a strong, flavorful beer. Delicious.

Sallerj, Mar 29, 2010
Photo of billab914
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Poured brown, slightly ruby in color with a thin scattered white lacing on top of the beer.

The aroma is sweet with caramel malt and dark fruit really coming through. A small amount of alcohol is present but not as much as I expected. The taste is full of dark fruits, with some raisins, plums and figs all present. It has a warming alcohol finish to it with some hints of vanilla.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with below average carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it has some very good flavors to it which really helps the drinkability. A very nice slow sipping beer that I really enjoyed after dinner.

billab914, Mar 29, 2010
Photo of katan
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz into a snifter. the first review generated as a result of the Iowa beer equity law

A- Pours an amber, to almost brown color. Very opaque. Head formation is strong, appearing off white to brown. Retained at a film.

S - A very potent sweet smell of raisins, orange, and some bready yeast notes. Some phenolic notes are present.

T - Starts off very sweet, malty as heck. Some yeasty notes mid-stream, a light amount of hops. Finishes with a hefty phenolic tone, and some very bready almost starchy sweet malts. A bitter aftertaste lingers on the tongue.

M - Very thick and creamy. Sugary, clinging and sticky. Not much carbonation bite- but the body is present.

D - A dessert beer would be my best description of the drinkability. One and done - too sweet for a session. ABV is obviously strong. Not too filling.

katan, Mar 28, 2010
Photo of kirkpjr
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Batch 9385. Reviewed this one alongside one aged for a year. The review is of the fresh one

A: Pours a half finger head. Deep copper/amber color. Very little lacing.

S: Dark fruits and candied malts. Belgian yeast scents. A hint of alcohol. Fruits open up more as it warms.

T: A very bitter front end. Dark fruits bring up the end and stick in the aftertaste. Very boozy. Fruits open in the taste as well as it warms.

M: Moderate carbonation. Mild hops stick to the tongue. Hotness stings on the way down.

D: Thick, boozy beer. It was a very tough task to try and finish both of these versions side by side.

kirkpjr, Mar 27, 2010
Photo of BeerGodz
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: Dark brown color, medium head with decent retention & good lacing

Smell: Dark fruit, sweet malt, caramel

Taste: Up Front: All kinds of dark fruit. Finish: Malt, booze

Mouthfeel: Full body, low/medium carbonation, thick & creamy

Drinkability: Just a little on the sweet side, which was more of an issue as it got warmer

Overall Impression: One of the few ales that I enjoyed less as it approached cellar temp. Still enjoyable though.

BeerGodz, Mar 26, 2010
Photo of scottyshades
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is going to be my first review with an oversized wine glass, so I'm hoping it won't throw me off my game.

A: Pours a dense and opaque "stained mahogany" color. The tan head is fluffy and retains for a little while before dissipating, leaving nice blankets of foam along the glass. Very beautiful looking beer.

S: Surprisingly complex nose, there is a lot going on here. Strong dark fruit aromas greet the nose at first; fig, raisin, plum, pear, and some light apple. Next there is an underlying caramel and chocolate malt base that lends a bready and doughy aroma. Residual sugars are notable along with a healthy dose of alcohol. The yeast provides some spicy characters as well (almost yields a Belgian resemblance) with notes like spearmint.

T: As soon as the first sip went down, you get that warming sensation in your chest from the alcohol. Interesting flavor profile that seems to separate itself from the nose a little bit. I did not get vanilla in the nose, but I taste flashes of it occasionally. There is a strong presence of burnt notes; burnt malt and burnt sugar. Caramel, sour rum-soaked raisins, figs, dates, toffee, a little espresso, and a big bitter bite. There seems to be a decent rum or brandy character in this brew, and as it warms, alcohol becomes apparent making it a little boozy at the end.

MF/D: Thick, viscous, and creamy feel. Lingering sour/very bitter mid-palate and finish.

Overall, complex and tasty, but a little too intense for my palate. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but this brew became very sour and bitter and almost undrinkable as it reaches warmer temperatures. I will still keep one for the cellar and be faithful for a few years.

scottyshades, Mar 18, 2010
Photo of Daniellobo
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A nice old ale, a bit rough around the edges, but very pleasing.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Simple front label design with a black and white forest illustration. Back label includes a minimal narrative noting main intent and cellaring ability. Shows bell batch number (9385, which as per their website is bottled on October 14, 2009). Notes Alc. by Vol. (10.2%) Served into a snifter.

A - Amber brown pour with a short ecru head, low retention with a surface memory a little lacing.

S - Sweet and fruity smell. Malt notes, and an orange-clementine solvent whiff coating it all. There is something else in that orange solvent and nice touch that is so familiar and yet I can´t put the memory to it.

T - Taste picks and expands the nose impression with a sweet caramel range and a rich fruitiness with a distinct tangerine, boozy, and almost solvent like touch.

M - Full body, fairly smooth an creamy with an alcoholic final texture woven with good carbonation

D - A rather nice sipper, works well for the style and has an stimulating range to go along.

Notes: A bit brash around the edges but this could really take an extraordinary shape with some aging.

Daniellobo, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of BamaBeerBuff
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very deep red/brown color with a very creamy and milky head produced by fine-bubbled carbonation. Retention is good but lacing is minimal (presumably due to ABV).

S: A boatload of caramel malt and a fair presence of citrus-oriented hop presence and some alcohol, but it's lacking the fruitiness and delicacy of some of the better old ales.

T&M: Bitterness is a little bit harsh, with a large malt presence to boot. Hop flavor isn't as strong as say a barleywine, but the attending bitterness is there. Burnt caramel and brown sugar malt flavors are well appreciated, but with perhaps a touch too much hop presence and alcohol burn. A heavy body and creamy, full mouthfeel are appropriate and welcome.

D: Bell's old ale is a good beer, but it seems more to me like a hybridized old ale/barleywine than purely an old ale. I think a year or two in the bottle could do it some good and I've socked away a 6 pack for this purpose.

BamaBeerBuff, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of SFLpunk
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown glass pry-top. Back label is number 9358. Brought this back in my suitcase from Chicago earlier today. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Pours thick and dark mahogany, very little light penetration. Thin creamy tan foam. Nose is rich and sweet smelling. Lots of dried fruits, figs, dates, dark brown sugar, malt extract and vanilla beans. Palate is sharp and prickly with alcohol. Sweet, rich and thick. Flavors are focused on caramelized malt tones and less of the dried sticky fruit. That vanilla bean flavor is prominent with tanned leather notes and some light citrus hop notes on the finish. The flavor is a lot like plum shisha tobacco.

Tasty and would love to see this with 2 years on it, but alas, I only have one bottle and now I have none.

SFLpunk, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a New Belgium tulip glass.

A: Deep dark ruby brown, topped with a quarter inch of silky sandy brown head. No lacing but some decent looking legs.

S: Bits of cherry, loads of raisins and spice, nutmeg chief among them. Almonds work their way in here as well.

T/MF: Almonds, cherries covered in brandy, more raisins some soft boozy heat. Mouthfeel is quite slick and coating but leaves the tongue only the least bit sticky after the beer is gone.

D: Interesting beer, not quite on bar with is comparable North Stock cousin, but a decent beer nontheless.

bluemoonswoon, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale purchased at Boo's in Columbus, Ga.
appearance: reddish brown with a creamy tan head.
smell: buttery rum, some fruit in there. Some nose on this one.
taste: Similar to the nose but not up to expectations. Still very nice.
mouthfeel: creamy, med full with some carbonation.
A few of these are going in the cellar. Wonder what this'll be like with some age. Good to great?

3/7/13 Update: Just popped my last 2013. At 3 years this is a different beer. Just outstanding, rich, mature, balanced. My 2011's will be sitting for at least another year.

cindyjeffsmith, Mar 09, 2010
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,043 ratings.