1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

2,142 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,142
Reviews: 976
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.44%
Wants: 207
Gots: 309 | FT: 18
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Third Coast Old Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,142 | Reviews: 976 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WeezyBoPeep
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay chalice. Is that the right way to consume this one? Do I care?

A: Pure chocolate brown with floaties, thick and dark with little to no head.

S: Dark fruits, almond butter, smokey malt and sharp cheddar cheese hit the nose in a wave of bizarre, intriguing me to sip, so I do...

T: Malty with a thick and rich mouthfeel immediately. Tons of dark fruits- prunes, figs, stewed apples, black cherries and burnt brown sugar.

D: I feel like I could drink too many of these at over 10% alcohol.

Value: You get what you pay for with Bell's.

WeezyBoPeep, Aug 20, 2010
Photo of AventinusCam
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this one day rummaging around in a small beer store around the University of Pittsburgh. I was surprised I saw an old ale there and decided to give it a try.

A- Slightly dark copper color.
S- Malts, alcohol, and spices...and lots of them.
T- I was so surprised how good this beer is. So many damn flavors going on it is almost hard to pinpoint them. Very complex. Extremely delicious.
M- Thick to say the least. It has the consistency of syrup and you can certainly feel it on your lips after a sip. Tremendous.
D- I could MAYBE put two of these down in a night. A long night. It is just too rich and complex to do anymore than that. It would be gluttonous.

Overall...I truly enjoyed this beer. I was expecting a good beer, but I got a fantastic one. Gotta love bottle shop surprises.

AventinusCam, Aug 19, 2010
Photo of kbutler1
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft. Stopped in the brewery and had a little sampler of several beers. Darker reddish amber color with a tan head. Sweet dark fruit aroma. Taste transitions nicely to a hoppy finish after the sweetness. Medium mouthfeel. Lingering taste. Very tasty.

kbutler1, Aug 19, 2010
Photo of Lerxst
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a hazy copper with a 1/2" khaki head that has fair retention and leaves a lot of sticky lace.

S-Dark fruit, brown sugar, molasses, a bit of booze, toffee.

T-Rich caramel malt, dark fruit, a bit of spice, brown sugar and molasses, but its not overly sweet at all.

M-Full bodied, creamy but with a crisp carb bite.

D-For a big brew, this one goes down easily.

Another job well done from the fine folks at Bell's.

Lerxst, Aug 07, 2010
Photo of beerdrifter
3.43/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at Save-On, a great beer store in Mentor Ohio. Deep dark brown-red pour with quickly fading head and decent lacing. Earthy, herbal nose with lots of dark fruits, molasses and alcohol. The taste is much the same with the dark fruits being the star. Rasins, dates, prunes along with molasses and brown sugar. If there was an attempt to hide the alcohol it failed. It warms from start to finish. Between the alcohol and the syrupy mouthfeel, it's not all that drinkable. With that said, it's another decent beer from Bells, but just a bit too sweet for me.

beerdrifter, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of innersanctum
2.53/5  rDev -38.6%
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.

innersanctum, Aug 02, 2010
Photo of Snamnoum
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - its a very murky reddish brown with tons of sediment, not much head and loads of sticky lace.

Smell - molasses, alcohol, tobacco, smoke, yeast, fruit, and dark malt.

Taste - much like it smells, sweet brown sugar/molasses maltiness right upfront, by followed dried fruit (raisins) and then bitter hops for the finish. Alcohol seems to peak right in the middle at it is very present and fairly liquor-like (whiskey/bourbon)

Mouthfeel - Fullbodied with moderate carbonation and chewy feel.

Drinkability - while I would definitely get this again its not my favorite style and I find more than one of these in a night to be taxing. That said, I'm cellaring 4 of these and believe that will make a huge difference as it will help mellow out the alcohol and therefore allow the other flavors to come through. Seeing as how Bell's recommends this themselves on the bottle its kind of a no brainer

Snamnoum, Jul 30, 2010
Photo of nickadams2
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A_Pours a very deep dark brown.Almost black. Huge billowy khaki colored head that dissipates into a thick ring.Nice lacing.

S_Strong aroma of sweet malt, brown sugar,clove and figs. Alcohol smell present as well.

T_Not as sweet tasting as the smell would indicate but sweet nonetheless. Nice balance of caramel malt , dark fruits and booze. Nice alcohol burn but not off putting.

M_Thick and creamy. Definitely a mouthful.

D_ One is enough for me. Definite winter beer.

nickadams2, Jul 24, 2010
Photo of jrallen34
3.38/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2008 bottle into an orval glass...Pours a watery medium brown, very light highlights, not much head...The aroma is pretty dead, lots of alcohol, light figs and caramel...Taste is light alcohol and chalky, not a ton going on, a little tough to drink..

jrallen34, Jul 17, 2010
Photo of decadance
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Eccentric Cafe

A - A wonderful mahogany hue with about 2 inches of head.

S - I have to say this beer is one of the best smells I have had. It has the smells of sweets, toffee and some fruits.

T - It lives up to the smell. There is a nice back end of malt and hops.

M - It is smooth. Shockingly smooth. It coats, but does not destroy the palate. This is pleasant.

D - Only have to mark it down a but here because of the ABV and the nature of the style. I am left wanting more, but know better. An excellent example of the style.

decadance, Jul 12, 2010
Photo of mdwalsh
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a few months ago at Zipps, let it age a bit more in the cellar, but I'm now trying to clean some of that out.

A: The beer is a deep, pomegranate juice red with a just off white, creamy, lacey head on top. Very attractice in a tulip with some nice little active carbonation. Perhaps there's too much head though.

S: A sort of winey, fruity aroma dominates, perhaps some from grain, but I fear infection or oxidation. It reminds me of an apple ale or something. While the strength is appropriate, I'd like something a little more mellow.

T: The flavor matures a little better, no real signs of infection that I can detect, just some underattenuation (as expected) and some yeastiness. Still some cooked fruitness too it, it reminds me of a fruit bread. A sipper, and something that would appeal to a wine drinker.

M: Nearly syrupy. I really like it, though perhaps a hot, sticky summer day wasn't the day for this. Low carbonation, very nice. Would go great with a hearty stew.

D: Considering the ABV, pretty good. It's filling, sippable, and does exactly what it's supposed to do.

mdwalsh, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to both Michael and Mark for sending me bottles of this in recent trades.

A: The pour is a slightly cloudy mahogany color with very little off-white head. It ends up being a thin ring around my snifter.

S: Plenty of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee right off the bat. A little bit deeper there are plenty of dark fruits such as plums, cherries, and maybe some figs.

T: A toasty malt and sugar flavor with a moderate bitterness. A good bit of brown sugar and toffee along with a mixed bowl of dark fruit flavors. Really well balanced between, overall.

M: The body is medium to full with a slight warmth to it. The carbonation is low to medium.

D: Though this definitely packs a punch, this is a dangerously easy to drink old ale. I'm happy to have another bottle of this to stash away.

womencantsail, Jul 03, 2010
Photo of regspeir
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

batch9385 into a standard pint.
Pours a one-finger nearly white head which dissolves into just an island of foam. Lacing is pretty scarce as well. Odd, since bubbles hang all over the place within. Nose is lots of malt, plus raisins, banana, rum. Taste starts very sweet - brown sugar, raisins, grapes, caramel, then some breadiness with some bitterness, dryness, and warming in the finish. Mouthfeel is heavy with lots of carbonation. This is a sipper but nicely complex (interesting) brew that I have had before and will seek out again.

regspeir, Jul 02, 2010
Photo of Spica66
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing Batch 9358, bottled on 9/23/09, 10.2% ABV:

A: Dark amber color, beautiful head, lots of lacing.

S: Very malty smell. Maybe some fruitiness, not a lot of hops.

T: Very malty taste. There are more hops in the taste than you get in the nose. Slightly sweet caramel taste with fruit notes, but hard to pick out which fruit.

M: Never had a barleywine this smooth before. Plenty of carbonation keeps your tongue alive, too.

D: High alcohol makes it a one-a-night for me.

I remember the first time I had this was at an Eccentric Day. Nobody warned me it 10+% and I needed help home after a couple of Eccentrics and few of these...

Spica66, Jun 27, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

I'm from Illinois...we only have a third OF a coast. Damn Michiganders and their snobbery and braggadocio! This bit of evidence pours a very dark ruby brown topped by a tiny layer of ecru bubbles. Some minor particulates congregate at the base of the snifter. The nose comprises maple syrup, molasses, oak, and black cherries. The taste holds notes of everything just named, along with brown sugar, red apples, and a bit of leather. The body is a light heavy, with moderate carbonation and a surprisingly watery feel (I expected something thicker). Not bad at all for an old ale, especially one so readily available.

TMoney2591, Jun 22, 2010
Photo of Spiekerbox
4.53/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Reddish-brown, poured with a larger head that i was expecting. head is rather thick and slowly goes away leaving a lot of lacing all around the edges of the glass.

S- Sweeter malts and a touch of citrus hops, other things there that just don't stand out enough for me to identify. There is also a slight boozy smell but nothing that is overpowering for me.

T- Malty and sweet up first with a bit of a hop bitterness at the finish. The flavor is very much like caramel, but the other malts help to balance the flavor out. Quite a bit of an alcohol presence here, but with a 10.2% beer I would expect it. The flavors are there to complement the alcohol warming and it almost helps some of the taste to come out and quickly makes the bitterness go away.

M- Much lighter body than I was expecting, makes big drinks easy to take if you want a big rush of flavor. There is also a good amount of carbonation here. The beer has a creamy texture that sticks to the mouth after you finish the drink.

D- Quite an enjoyable beer, very easy to drink and makes me want to keep drinking even though I want to take my time with it. I feel like I could have a few of these in a night with no problems at all. I wouldn't call it a session beer only because it has way too high of an ABV and a session with this bad boy would knock me out, but it would be a fun time until then, this beer is great and I will have to enjoy another in the future.

Spiekerbox, Jun 22, 2010
Photo of buschbeer
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured into a pint glass to one finger of tan head. It is a deep reddish brown. The aroma is strong toffee malt with some breadiness. The taste is all malt. I get some buttery toffee and almost a smokey peat taste on the finish. I get hints of alcohol from time to time, but it is masked pretty well. I love the viscous mouthfeel. I'm treating this beer as a sipper.

buschbeer, Jun 20, 2010
Photo of boomer31
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 9385.
I've had this beer a few times and am finally getting around to reviewing it.

A - Reddish brown hue with quearter inch beige head that sticks to the glass. A lighter color than other old ales I've had. I also see some hops lingering around the bottom of the glass.

S - Sweet caramel malts and a hint of citrus hops. The malts are really nice here and remind me of an english b-wine.

T - Sweet malts at first and a very nice hop bitterness that dissipates almost immediately. The aftertaste is again a very light bitterness but the main flavor here is malt. This is a great beer to have with friends anytime of year.

M - Smooth and sweet with a very nice light carbonation.

D - Sweet but very drinkable. The sweetness comes a bit heavy after half the bottle but no need to split this one.

Overall a very good beer, hoppier than I remember, maybe too hoppy for an old ale. Also sweeter than I remember and maybe sweeter than most old ales. Actually a much better beer than I remember having last year.

boomer31, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of Gyle41386
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's a bit of a pleasant surprise when I receive readily available beers that I have yet to try as extras in trades or in BIF's. Whether it's the lack of hype, or the assumption that said beer will just always be there, there are plenty of world-class beers that I see every time I walk into my favorite stores that I haven't picked up yet. Bell's Third Coast Old Ale was one of these, until I received a bottle from PerzentRizen. So, thank you, Aaron, for the kick in the ass. Batch 8723, bottled September 5, 2008. My mouth is already watering.

Pours a dark red with orange highlights. Not a giant head, but maybe a finger's width of plush beige foam. The retention is pretty decent...I've still got a bit more than just a halo midway through the glass. Paint roller quality lacing on the glass - big sheets with smaller, broken up lines in between.

The aroma is strikingly boozy at first, which is a bit scary, even with this topping 10% ABV. After a few swirls, Third Coast begins to smell like rich toffee and brandy-soaked dark fruits. There's also a nice little sweet (caramel) and bitter (citric hops) duel going on. Always a bonus to discover much more complexity after being taken aback by the initial whiff. I shouldn't have doubted you, Bell's.

Before I even begin to describe the flavor, I must first mention drinkability. Despite an abundance of complex flavors and a formidable alcohol content, I'm putting Third Coast away at a slightly slower clip than I drink Two Hearted. It's immensely drinkable. Suggestion: Let this warm up a good bit before even opening the bottle...I had a difficult time slowing down enough to let it warm.

So, to the flavor. A very, very malty brew. The sweet caramel from the nose is very prominent, but, in a weird twist, there's a solid toasted malt character in the finish, which is pretty dry. Somehow I didn't see, or smell, that coming. This reminds me a good bit of a 2007 bottle of North Coast Old Stock that I had a short while back. Sweet malts, dark fruits, and a restrained, yet warming, alcohol presence. There's a really solid bitterness midway that adds an extra dimension, as well as excellent balance.

Body is probably a bit lighter than it should be. It's not quite huge and chewy like I thought it would be, but it's pretty close, and still syrupy. It falls just shy of what I'd call full. Low carbonation level makes for a silky smooth drinker. Warming sensation from the alcohol, but not even close to being as harsh as that initial smell. To be honest, aside from the warmth, the only time I really noticed the alcohol in Third Coast was while having to hit backspace a few dozen times while typing my review.

Yet another stellar effort from Bell's. This is an outstanding candidate for aging, and next on my list for cellar purchases.

Gyle41386, Jun 10, 2010
Photo of haddon
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

nice beer! pours a auburn brown with a nice thick, frothy head.

citrus, vanilla & thick malty aroma.

flavor profile has a plethora of notes: vanilla, mint, fig, rum that really balances the alcohol

full, creamy mouthful with nice amount of carbonation

very drinkable beer considering its an old ale. perfect way to end the day as a nightcap.

haddon, Jun 02, 2010
Photo of Xul
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 3.5: Pours a slightly hazy dark ambert, capped by a one finger pale beige head. Head is quick to dissipate but leaves behind some light lacing.

S 4: Sweet caramel base with a lot of dark fruits - raisins, figs and plums - with a very light piney hop character.

T 4: More moderate caramel base up front, with the same dark fruits, along with a hint of tobacco and some light bitterness. The finish circles back to sweet caramel.

M 4: Full bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

D 4: The beer shows its strength but goes down rather easily.

Xul, May 31, 2010
Photo of Bitterbill
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Freethyhops. Thanks Riley!

12oz bottle, batch? 9458? The only numbers I found on the label.

A cloudy reddish brown coloured brew with about an inch of off white foam. Nice lacing and good head retention for a beer in this abv range.

The smell is grainy and fruity, some toffee, some caramel, a bit of bitterness that is dark chocolate/cocoa like. A good to great nose with *some* alcohol peeking through the more whiffs I took.

The taste starts off sweet with caramel, toffee and chocolate but gets decidedly more bitter from dark chocolate/cocoa and a note or two of some citrus hops. Wow. The flavours are interesting to say the least. Threw me for a loop for the style. Wow repeated. Now the abv is starting to show some prominence with a butt load of warming. This would be a great brew to sip on during the darkest and coldest of winters.

Medium close to full bodied, with lightish carbonation.

Drinkability? There's a delicate balance between how good it tastes and how strong a brew it comes across as. I'll split the difference and say it's pretty good. 1 at a sitting is all I can fathom...

Bitterbill, May 27, 2010
Photo of jwhawkins81
3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Batch # 9385 bottled on 10/14/2009 tasted on 5/3/2010

Aroma - Dark fruits sweet malt with a light hop citrus notes

Appearance - Dark red with a thin tan head not a ton of carbonation, which is probably to style

Taste - A lot of flavor with sweet malts dominating the flavor with a slight bitter aftertaste for balance. Not exactly smooth or well balanced. The beer was overly sweet with the sour finish being distracting.

Notes - Maybe this is a style I don't like, because I hate rating beers poorly that I suspect might not be a style I generally just don't like.

jwhawkins81, May 20, 2010
Photo of glazeman
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 9458, poured into a glass

A: Dark brown with a one finger off-white head that fades into a swirl of bubbles with a collar and very minimal lacing. Some translucency and a reddish tint when held up to a light source.

S: Initially I notice sweet smell of grapes, and then on a deeper level get a whiff of pine.

T: Mostly sweet malts, but not overly sweet with some alcohol warmth at the finish. Carmel and grape are the dominant flavors, though there is some bitterness in the mix as well.

M: Viscous, smooth, and warming.

D: Not an overly complex beer, but very tasty. I would definitely recommend this beer and will buy some more next time I see it in the store.

glazeman, May 17, 2010
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
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,142 ratings.