1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

2,190 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,190
Reviews: 980
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 209
Gots: 319 | FT: 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Third Coast Old Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,190 | Reviews: 980 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kjc51478
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Appearance is nice mahogany with light head.

S: Aroma is sweet with plums, caramel, some cereal, and alcohol.

T: Taste is complex with huge malt bill consisting of dried fruits, caramel, some cereal notes, and a subtle hop bitterness and a slight booziness.

M: Palate is full-bodied, a little alcohol astringent, mild bitter finishing.

O: Great Barley Wine!

Photo of rundocrun
4.93/5  rDev +19.7%
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!

Photo of ChugginOil
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale

Pours burnt toffee and settles a very dark ruby with fingers worth creamy colored head. Leavea sticky lacing.

The nose offers caramel aromas along with sweet malts and sone booze but not as much as i thought there would be.

Molasses and caramel are dominating side by side with some sweet malt and a bit of dark fruit, balanced with some hoppy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is very thick and full bodied. A bit of carbonations plays a part too.

Overall, great brew but not out of the ballpark or worth the $16 price tag. Great for the style tho.

Photo of jmdrpi
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, stamped batch 9458 - bottled in Sept. 2009

chesnutt brown in color, with ruby highlights. 1/2" khaki colored head. decent lacing, good head retention.

sweet aroma of toffee, caramel, raisins. similar flavors in the taste, but it finishes fairly dry though. taste improves as it warms. quite smooth, thicker body. not hint of higher ABV.

cellaring as done it well. flavors have melded nicely.

Photo of cosmicevan
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to both bsuedekum and CruisaC who both recently sent this brew my way! Batch 9958.

a - popped the top and filled my capt lawrence tasting tulip. Beer poured a plum like red that was deep and ominous in the middle and lightened up along the edges of the glass. The head was the classic thin off-white barleywine which built as the beer settled in the glass. Lacing was pretty slick leaving sparse traces of where the beer once was.

s - heavy syrupy malt presence with nice sweetness. Caramel really jumps out. Some dark candied fruit lies in the background as well. Brown sugar...and it actually kind of reminds me a bit of hair gel, but it smells quite good.

t - wow...now THAT's a BEER! delicious and unique. Brown sugar, nutmeg, caramel and dark over ripened fruit. The flavor is juicy and bold. VERY dopplebock like.

m - thick malt presence. The booze isn't all the evident, but leaves a tingle in my mouth.

o - this ain't your pappy's barleywine. This is bold and refined. There is a lot going on in this beer but I feel that it is probably pretty accessible since there isn't any in your face sweetness or thickness that is commonly found in a barleywine. Don't get me wrong, it is a legit beer and as a barleywine it is full and rich, but not a bomb. At times I felt that the booze was really evident and at other times I felt like I was drinking a product by welch's so you get the vibe that this is dangerously drinkable and tasty. VERY dopplebock like.

Photo of OnThenIn
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer pours with a tiny tan head that dissipates quickly into a dark brown body that has a hint of red in it.

S: The aroma is lots of dark fruit and cherry pits, with a bit of sweet, bready, caramel as well. It smells a little earthy, like an apple orchard after the season is over and some of the apples are just lying around. Really reminds me of autumn for some reason. It makes me think of a doppleback with more complexity.

T: A lot more bread and toffee in the taste, with a definite alcohol presence and more bitterness than I was expecting, which ended up being a good thing due to the need to balance out the big, sweet flavors. Definitely a little bit of that dark fruit maybe mixed with a little bit of citrus upfront, but all dark fruit and bready malt and alcohol on the back end. Solid.

M: It is thick with just the right amount of carbonation. Really solid mouthfeel for this kind of beer.

D: Today was a cloudy, rainy day, so this seemed like the perfect beer for it. Phenomenal beer for this day and just really enjoyable. Great mouthfeel.

Photo of
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a dull reddish brown, red around the edges, with almost no head to speak of.
Aroma of sweet caramel, dark fruit, dates, buckwheat honey, and just a touch of grapefruit and pine from the hops. Mouthfeel is a touch viscous, rich.
Flavour is malt sweetness upfront, toffee, dates, figs and just enough resinous hops bitterness to balance it out.
Very drinkable for a barleywine. Alcohol is not overbearing, just warming.

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.

Photo of steve8robin
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this on a trip to OH. Love Bells, love Barleywines / Old Ales. Let's see. 12oz bottle...

A: A murky deep brown color with a tiny head that fades quiclkly to a lace on top of the brew. Good.

S: A nice caramel / toffee scent upfront followed by a slight spicy apple. A nice malty sugar scent on the backend. Good.

T: A hot boozy caramel upfront with some watery malt blended in. A slight metallic booze in the middle with some slight apple and earthy bitterness on the backend. Good.

M: Medium body with a heavy carbonation. A bitter dry finish. Decent.

O: All in all, this is a good beer. Not the best of the style. A little too hot and not as well hidden as I would've like, but it's decent. It's like a movie that you enjoyed going to see in the theater, but you're not about to go out and buy it. Now that, but related to beer.

Photo of Mario61Aler
4.53/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle 10.2 ABV
S - Slightly sweet notes of carmel and fruit blend was so complex I had to swish and smell 4 times and still can not really say what all the aromas are. Nicely blended.
A- The color poured a medium dark brown and was cloudy with a light tan head that stayed for 3 to 4 minutes .
T- Slightly sweet flavor followed by a grapefruit taste, that lasted quite awhile.
M- It has a full body, creamy texture, that was soft on carbonation, and finished bitter, with a long finish.
O- This is great! I didn't do my homework on this one first, just thought, hmmm, subdued label, Bell's, go for it, give it a try. A Barleywine! Wow, Now I have another style to explore.

Photo of brown2cu
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer poured a nice mahogany. A small sheet of foam covered the top of; no lacing. A lot of yeast can be seen floating around due to the bottle conditioning process.

S: Incredible! I detected a lot of caramel maybe some brown sugar but the most outstanding notes were fruity in character. Expect a hoarde of dark fruits sweet plums and tart raisens. Very low bitterness and surprisingly subdued alcohol notes.

T: Nice and sweet. Plenty of dark fruits again and perhaps more brown sugar. Again not a lot of alcohol in the taste which I find interesting considering the formidable ABV.

M: Smoothe and sticky. Creamy as it warms to room temperature. The alcohol is detectable right after consumption with a warming blooming sensation that ensnares its way through you guts.

O: Overall I found this beer delectable. My one suggestion is to get a six pack and let some of these age for a couple of years. Another pointer: drink these on a cold day the wonderful warming sensation would be appreciated more fully. I think I have to dissagree with the title of barleywine because there is really no noticeable hop presence; old ale is much more fitting.

Photo of Lauthaha
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a beer taster (4 ounce) for maximum enjoyment.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful burnt caramel/pure mahogany color. Very active carbonation visible through the very dark liquid. Head is a lightly-toasted-marshmallow color; after several minutes, there is a thin coating covering the entire surface of the beer, with slightly raised head around the edge of the glass. Pretty decent head retention for a barleywine.

Smell: Roasted caramel and dark fruits. It may be psychosomatic, but I swear I smell toasted marshmallow in there too, haha...only a slight amount of alcohol in the nose makes this near-perfect.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow. Simply amazing. First sip is electric; aromatic bitters/herbs/hops spike the tongue with flavor. As the carbonation begins to build up, the chewy caramel malt character unfolds. Gently sweet, and never overpowered by the intense ABV. What a sipper!

Overall: Considering the high ABV, this beer has TREMENDOUS drinkability. I'm drinking it at about room temperature, and that's perfect for sipping...which is about all you should do with this beer...sip slowly and enjoy!

Photo of PEIhop
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a beautiful dark chestnut that is hazy with a minimal head.

S - Roasted/burnt malt, dark fruit, but these aromatics are trumped by caramel/toffee notes

T - Begins with a nice malt character with the amazing caramel notes. Quickly, these initial tastes dissipate leaving a warm alcoholic finish.

M - Full-bodied, very creamy/viscous, nice carbonation

D - A good beer from a great brewery. A nice interpretation of the style.

Photo of AgentZero
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown/red color with minimal head. No real stick left on the sides, but it has the look of a barleywine.

S - Dark fruit and a lot of caramel. Something that makes me think of carroway seeds for some reason. Burnt sugar and a little bit of english on it, don't really know how else to describe that.

T - Solid tasting beer with good burnt sugars, candied fruit, dark fruit, and some phenols and ethers. Little bit of a hop bite to it.

M - Smooth, sugary, good carbonation, good for the style.

O - This is actually a very solid beer, if not a bit sweet. I'd love to see this one in some barrels.

Photo of Gosox8787
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into my Smuttynose tulip at room temperature. 2007 vintage, Batch # 8211.

Appearance: Cloudy burnt caramel brown in color. Not much of a head. Nice thin beige lacing forms and stays around the glass.

Aroma: Toasted malt, fresh bread, and deep dark fruit complexities throughout. By now most of the alcohol is subdued and only provides a small kick. Big caramel sweetness throughout.

Taste: Toasted malt notes definitely are strong here. A touch of astirgency and bitterness from the toasted character. Caramel and dark fruit sweetness round out and balance the flavors. A tad watery toward the end with an herbal, leathery finish.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and a bit syrupy, but with ample carbonation (even after over three years).

Overall, a really enjoyable, smooth barleywine. Plenty of complexity and strong interplay between the toasted and sweet characteristics. I could definitely see this being a tad hot fresh, but it is definitely drinking well now.

Photo of Janderson91
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch #9958, bottled on 08/25/10. Enjoyed on 03/23/11. A little over half a year old. Looking forward to this one.

A - Dark red/brown muddy color that you can't see through at all. Lots of floaties and no head with very little lacing.

S - Caramel, dark fruits, alcohol, slight hoppiness. Big on the caramel.

T - Similar to the nose but more balanced. Very caramel and sweet up front with some dark fruitiness. Then finishes surprisingly dry with some hop bitterness.

M - Great, very full and near syrupy.

O - Overall, another good one from Bell's. Would probably be better with some age.

Photo of MNJR
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish-brown, not much head and little lacing. Appears almost still, with low carbonation. Smells of sherry or light port, berries, and malt. The taste is very good and strong, with raisins, tannin-like hints, brown sugar; woodsy, slightly bitter, spicy, slightly tart, and fruity. The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and slightly syrupy. Not complex, but does have subtlety. Not an exceptional find, but a very interesting beer. I feel like it should be a bit more rewarding, but it is still nothing to knock. Overall very good. I'd want this occasionally, which is how it was meant to be enjoyed.

Photo of dgugliuzza
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip...

A- Pours a vibrant reddish brown with a nice two finger deep head. The head is tan and very bubbly. Small stream of carbonation coming from the center of the glass to the top.

S- Smells of toasty malts and caramel. Very sweet and bold. Hints of dark fruits. Faint piney hop aroma.

T- Tastes much like it smells. Sweet, toasty malts up front followed by some dark fruits and caramel. Has a bitter, piney hop finish with a bit of oakiness. Finishes with a slight estery alcohol bite that is not overly hot. It's very easy to recognize the wonderful balance.

M- Soft and creamy with medium carbonation. Goes down as smooth as can be for a barleywine. Leaves an oakey finish on the palate.

D- A fantastic sipper of a barleywine. Great blend of sweet toasty malts and oakey, bitter hop finish. I will no doubt be putting a few of these in the cellar.

Photo of dk83022
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking out of a tulip glass.

A- Beautiful caramel and almost cola like color. Against some light, it picks up some deep red.

S- Nice malty aroma.

T- Great ale with subtle hops. A little sweet.

M- Great body. Doesn't loose taste after 1st sip.

D- Prime sit down beer. 1 or 2 would be a night max.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look - dark reddish brown in color, with about a finger's worth of khaki-colored foam that dissipates somewhat slowly.

Smell - Very malty and seasoned, but the spices aren't too strong. Maybe some fruitiness too.

Taste and Mouthfeel - fairly bitter from the start, then sweeter in the middle with a bit of a muskiness too. Bitter in the finish and aftertaste too. Texture is well-balanced and a little more on the creamy side.

Drinkability - a little too bitter for my general taste, but complex and interesting. Taste itself is good.

Photo of sweett3k
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bell's brewery sure does make some great brews. This beer pours gorgeous in a pint glass. Nice dark brown color with a creamy head. Tone of carmel and chocolate. Very rich tasting beer, diffinitely a sipper. Stong alcohol smell and flavor. A one of a kind beer.

Photo of birderbeerer
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque deep copper to ruby with a three-finger, thickly creamy and frothy, off-white head.

Not much to report on the smell. Caramel and some dry malt, load of sugar, and definite alcohol.

Taste is nice and rich. Loads of caramel and french toast. Super sweet. Subtle hop presence on the finish. And there's a nice layer of sticky aftertaste from the hops too. The thick malts and tangy hop accent go together well.

Rich and hearty. Highly enjoyable drink. 10% abv completely hidden other than it's somewhat filling.

P.S. I had one aged about 14 months, but it had gone bad.

Photo of homebrew311
3.5/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Enjoyed this at the Eccentric Cafe on my recent trip to Michigan.

A: pours a deep golden with a reddish tint, thin head, good clarity, some lacing

S: faint molasses, bit fruity notes with notes of licorice, deep earthy hops, some caramel character as well

T: big hoppy bitterness up front, a bit abrasive, big sweet malts follow it up with molasses and caramel. This is very sweet, almost cloying.

MF: this one is almost syrupy with the low carbonation and thick body

D: this is a little too sweet for my liking, lots of earthy character and sweet notes, just a little too much for me.

Photo of Wegomlegging
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this recommended from my local beer & wine place, not bad. Slightly cloudy dark leather color with a weak head. Only prominent smells I could detect were strong hops and a slight malt. Flavor was very good, bitter hops all over the place but still could taste the malt and sweetness. Mouthfeel was slightly cloying but it works here. I'd say it's fairly drinkable, but it leaves a lingering bitterness that never leaves your tongue. I'd say this is nice with buffalo wings or something else that will counteract the sloppy hops. Overall a good beer, but not sure why it's labeled an "old ale."

Photo of Aiptasia
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My second sampling from bells. Pretty good barleywine.

A: Pours a nice red ochre color into my trusty beer mug. 2" head foamed then dissipated to a decent lacing, then dissipated after 2 mins.

S: Lemongrass with a malt sweetness from caramel notes.

T: Banana esters on this one, rum, dark caramel. Hopsy bitter finish that lingers long on the tongue.

M: Rich and full bodied. Softtly carbonated.

D: Drinkable but definitely needs a pairing of food of some sort.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,190 ratings.