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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,240 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,240
Reviews: 998
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 217
Gots: 353 | 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:
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,240 | Reviews: 998 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of alleykatking
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to gratefulbeerhead for this gem. Eric thank you so much! Batch 1303 bottled on December 28th 1993.

A- Bottle hissed as the cap was popped...sweet! Pours a murky brown color with amber highlights when held to the light. No real head on this bad boy just some light bubbles on the top of the beer. Very very light spots of lacing with a lot of legs on this beer.

S- There is no real metallic over or undertones to this which I expected. While there is it is very light and in the background. Also, there is oxidation to this beer which gives it a light musty cardboard aroma which isn't off putting but very much there. Now the alcohol is very much apparent as well which seems to be overpowering and tingles the nostrils from the front of back being a little overpowering at first but calm down once the beer sits a little. Darker fruits such as plums, figs, dates, and light raisin notes soaked in alcohol also pop up and play hand in hand with the overall alcohol aroma. There is no hops whatsoever in this beer after 17 years of sitting around. Oddly for me I found a light almost bready base malt background buried deep in the backing of the aroma. Overall not what I was expecting. I actually think the aroma was better than I thought it would be (mostly due to the rusting on the cap itself).

T- This is where I think it got interesting for me. The inital taste for me was a lot of wet cardboard which was a major blow I thought. I let this one breathe for a little bit before taking another sip. The second sip had a lot of alcohol vapor attack my mouth before the beer even hit my lips. Once the beer hit my palate I got a ton of rum soaked figs and plums in the front with the alcohol being a little on the medicinal side. The alcohol transforms in the middle of the beer to bring forth more of a sweeter overall taste that mixes with a very light bready base malt. The ending of this beer comes through with some stale overall qualities. Raisins seem to be the biggest flavor but with a light medicinal alcohol hint to it. This isn't off putting at all but I would say adds to the overall dimension to this beer. There is a return of light wet cardboard notes but these only hint along with a light metallic tone that hints for the first time as the alcohol picks up in a borderline sickly sweet tone.

M- Medium heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is very low with this beer almost being flat. Sweet alcohol, light wet cardboard, and darker fruit left on the palate. Some light metallic lingering, sweet alcohol, hint of cardboard, and stale raisin left in the aftertaste. The off flavors in this beer I expected for the age. These don't really add too much of a distraction to the original flavors I think (which of course are more malt forward). There is medium heavy drying on the palate from the alcohol which I expected this to just make my palate bone dry.

D- This beer I think has stood up as well as a beer can for 17 years. I think it might be a year or two past its prime but still a nice sipping beer. The oxidation was almost like a base undertone for the entire beer. It didn't ruin the beer like I have said but added a little more depth to this beer. The drinkability I think is compromised a little by this as once the beer warmed to warm temp the cardboard became more intense. Overall I think this beer was a nice gem and just goes to show that Bell's was in it for the long run even 17 years ago.

Photo of silentjay
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a murky, muddy brown with a very small head which quickly settles to a spattering of film and leaves some spotty chunks on the glass.

very fruity smell with a brown sugar coating. some leather or rawhide as well. not my favorite, but very good for the style.

very fruity and leathery, again, with yogurt covered raisins, plenty of molasses and brown sugar and dark caramel. a bit of spicy hops come through and it finishes very sweet with toffee and molasses
with a touch of chocolate.

full bodied with just enough carbonation to make a presence and a bit syrupy swallow.

drinks rather well.. booze is evident throughout, can be a touch harsh at times, keeping this to a slow sipper, as it should be.

Photo of drizzam
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my good friend Cdkrenz for this generous offering!

A - Pours with a cloudy dark brown body, topped by a light tan one finger foamy head. When I poured it, it almost looked like this brew was on nitro. Excellent head retention and very generous lacing.

S - Sweet and alcoholic all at once. Caramel malt accented by a mild dark fruit aroma...and of course, that boozy alcohol aroma you might expect from a beer with 10.2% ABV.

T & M - The aroma was true to the taste. Caramel malt plays nicely with a dark fruit component. There seems to be a bit of piney hop toward the back end to help add to the complexity. Of course, that boozy alcohol smell presented itself with a warming effect in my throat and stomach. Creamy, slick mouthfeel.

D - This is a good barleywine from Bell's. Sure, there are better ones out there, but this one is no slouch. A highly drinkable example of the style.

Photo of adamette
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle that I purchased as a single at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor, Ohio a few weeks ago for $2.67 into my Brewery Ommegang gold rimmed Westvleteren Style goblet. Batch 9958.

A Light brown, brief head over a dark caramel, mahogany body that glows a deep red in front of direct light. Good look. I would not expect a significant head on a beer of this style. 4.0

S Sweet molasses from the barley malt that is pleasing and inviting. 4.0

T Absolutely explodes with molasses sweet goodness! There is also a bitter finish that lingers for about a minute after my most recent sip and the alcohol is not very well hidden (that is not a complaint, just an observation!). 4.0

M Big, huge beer that hammers the taster with big molasses sweetness and alcohol. The rough bite at the end of the taste that lingers into the aftertaste is noteworthy too. By the way, all of that is appropriate to the style. 4.0

D Not very good. Be it the 10.2% ABV, the huge sweetness, the alcohol burn or the lingering bitterness, this is a one and done for me. 2.0

Notes: Glad to try this Bell's beer that I have seen in stores many times but finally got around to drinking tonight!

Photo of alkemy
4.46/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is murky copper/red with a fairly thin yellowy tan head. Smell is sweet with toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and some spicy yeast aroma. Smells like a boozy malt bomb. The taste has burnt caramel, toffee, a bit of grapefruit, plums, figs, and finishes with a lingering espresso note. It's sweet, but not at all of the power I anticipated. At 10.2%, the alcohol is very well hidden. Creamy and full bodied, with just a bit of thickness to it. This is a really good beer. The smell led me astray, but the taste brought me right back. As easy is this is to drink, it could really sneak up on ya.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review is from notes composed on 12/15/10.

Third Coast Old Ale pours a quite dark ruby-mahogany-brown into a snifter. This color really appeals to my eye. A dark tan head fizzles away quickly and leaves a sinewy and hazy film on top. I can barely see sparse carbonation bubbles moving slowly through the darkness.

Dark fruit aromas lazily waft from the glass. Plum, raisin, fig, and dark cherry combine with big brown sugar notes, caramel, and a little anise. Large inhales of this beer reveal a hefty alcohol burn on my nasal passages. Also emerging from the smell are hearty sweet breads, cinnamon, and other sweet spices.

Big, sweet, comlex malt flavors douse my palate and keep spreading their goodness in my mouth well past the end of the sip. Caramel, brown sugar, connamon, raisin, and sweet breads all blend with a clove flavor and an alcoholic heat that linger on the tongue as long as the sweet malt does.

Oooh, yeah, this is a really great mouthfeel. A creamy medium to full body combines with just enough of a boozy bite on the sides of my mouth to add some extra zest. This really warms the mouth and the soul.

This is a beer that I will definitely be having again and again. I'm pretty sure this is of the '09 vintage. That said, I'll be searching stores to see if there is any of the '10 batch left. I don't think I would drink more than one in a sitting, but at the same time the a.b.v. is well hidden in this brew.

Photo of Pellinore1
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, deep amber into a Bell's tulip. Produces about a finger of light tan head, which slowly fades.

Very muted, but otherwise pleasant smell coming off this beer. It hints at fruit, and a bit of caramel sweetness.

This beer opens with sweetness and fruit, and a hint of roasty malts, but then a bit of booziness and hops comes through. It leaves a pleasant bitterness on the tongue.

A medium-bodied beer with some nice carbonation.

Drinkability is good, but somewhat limited by the evident alcohol. I would love to try this again with a year or two of age.

Photo of bbkd3b
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter... Feels good to get away from the pint glass every so often.

A - Pours out a thick, murky auburn color with a 1-finger tan head... Nice retention. A good, thick lacing all of the way down.

S - First thing I smell is sugary, dried fruits. Some notes of raisins, and it has a twist of wooden character. Hard to figure this one out, but it is a damn fine smell.

T - Now, I taste this beer, and I think - "What in the-?!" Never had a barleywine before, but this is crazy. Very sweet flavor, like sugar-coated fig with a great kick of raisins. This is seriously tasty stuff... Complex. Hint of boozy alcohol, but nothing too over the top. Awesome job.

M - Thick, somewhat syrupy body. The beer itself is unbelievably smooth, it just slips up and down the tongue. Carbonation is low, low low... Not flat, though. Also, this beer is unbelievably warming. It was 18 degrees here overnight, and I started to feel like I was going to sweat. No joke.

D - Drinkability should not be this high for a beer this strong. Seriously, it's ridiculously smooth. The only thing hurting it is the alcohol content and the fact that I'd never drink one on a warm day.

Overall/notes: Awesome beer! Definitely good for winter drinking. As my first barleywine, I must say, this very nearly blew my mind. I really must have more from this style. As it stands, this is just outstanding.

Photo of RedSpecial1
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beers pours a dark cloudy, ruby with a small off white head. The nose is mostly alcohol, definitely a brandy-ish character. The taste is typical barleywine: warm alcohol notes and malty. Fairly heavy mouthfeel, which works in this style. A drinkable beer, but due to its high ABV and heavy body, definitely a sipping beverage.

Photo of Rifugium
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA

A: Hazy brown color, with a dissipating head.

S: Sweet, sugary, with some dried fruit.

T: Fruity and sweet, but not overbearingly so. Alcohol bite.

M: Medium body, a little bit syrupy.

D: Moderately drinkable.

4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into snifter, batch 9458, Nov 20th 2009
A: Pours a big and bold brown haze of a body. Gleaming on the lighter level of things, the light turns this brew into a nice and deep opal appearance. The light also show very lit carbonation and a bit of suspended sediment. The head holds for a couple of minutes and retreats to the foamy layer around the rim. Tightly formed bubbles, create sticky lacing.

S: A very robust aroma, creating many layers of dark fruits. The front is a medium to high intensity, with a full middle of a dried fig, raisin and date warm puree. Off aromas leave a clean roasted character.

T/M: The first thing that comes to mind on the front is a goat cheese stuffed date, wrapped in bacon. As the nose suggests the dry date and fig aspects are present, also a bright dried plum in the body.  It is juicy and has a nice fruit mouthfeel, while still having a creamy finish. Also lingers quite nice and exposes some dry and toasted aspects. 

D: Overall this is a really good offering from Bell's, nice with a touch of age on it. I felt that the nicely balanced flavors got me coming back. Regardless of the Abv, a nice sipper.

Photo of dbtoe
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint
I mostly prefer lower ABV beers but do enjoy a bigger beer every now and then. This one really nocked my socks off. I couldn't believe I liked it so much. Great tasting and pretty darn strong, loved it.
Look is a reddish brown with a finger and a half of creamy head.
Smell is pretty much Carmel with a hint of fruit.
Taste is very balanced and very complex. Allot of flavors in here, sweet and bitter, I get brown sugar, Carmel, dark fruit, orange peel, and finishes with alcohol. Let's just say yumm.
Feel this is a medium to thicker body with lower carbonation. A definite bigger beer that ends up smooth.
Drink this should be a sipper but I find myself taking bigger drinks and it is gone faster than it should be. Oh well sipping is for hot tea anyways.

Photo of Jayli
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 11/30 poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours a hazy caramel color with a one finger of khaki, sudsy head. Head recedes somewhat quickly leaving no real lacing to speak of.

S: Nose is somewhat fruity, raisin, prune, molasses, and caramel.

T: Taste starts with a fruity cherry, strawberry note.. what? Hmm but not bad. It's quickly followed by a hearty caramel, and molasses flavoring that really takes of the middle. Finish has a hint of grain, with a big dose of raisin and prune and some booze.

M: Medium body, low carbonation, silky body.

D: Goes down easily, big kick, somewhat filling, nice representation of style. I highly enjoyed this beer but the 10.2 kicked my arse - this is a one bottle only beer for me.

Photo of woosterbill
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 7238 (if memory serves; definitely from early 2006) into a pint glass. Thanks, Matt, for sharing!

A: Clear reddish-brown body with a finger of creamy tan head. Nice.

S: Rich, smooth aroma of caramel, sherry, chocolate, toffee, and general deliciousness.

T: Deeply complex flavors of toffee, brown sugar, raisins, leather, spice, and fruity booze. Wow.

M: Smooth full body with good, soft carbonation. Great.

D: A little hotter than I expected from a nearly 5-year old beer, but still a solidly drinkable Old Ale.

Notes: I really enjoyed this beer the only other time I tried it (fresh from the brewery, in a single), so I was really excited to get to try a bottle with a few years on it. It did not disappoint. The depth and complexity of flavors was really top-notch, although it was still drinking pretty hot. I sampled it immediately after an 08 North Coast Old Stock, and even though that beer was both younger and stronger it was still a bit less alcoholic tasting. All quibbles aside, though, this is a magnificent beer that ages gracefully. I'll have to pick up a six-pack the next time I'm in Bell's distribution area.


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

Now this is a good beer, been on a bit of a dry spell in finding some new stars. Served in a Palm tulip glass.

Cloudy amber with a bit of red that shines through - looks a bit like a barleywine. Finger of head and tremendous lacing remains throughout the drink. Nose is a little bit bitter, you can see some of the subtle hoppy character here.

Starts nice and sweet malty, with some very subtle citrus. Slight hint of hops, but really this is just a well rounded flavor. Medium body, very easy to drink, particularly for the high ABV.

Photo of Duhast500
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch # 9958

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a over-sized wine glass.

The color is dark and very cloudy maroon with some reddish highlights and a small wisp of head that cleared out pretty fast and left a small bit of lacing.

The smell is a bit an orange flavor at first. To my surprise there is a light, airy fruit flavor that is a bit like oranges or orange peel in the nose. Some juicy malts are in behind, holding up the set work before leaving a trail of sweetness in your nose for a minuet of two.

The taste is malty at first with a airy malt flavor that seems to pop a bit. There is a nice juicy flavor that continues from the nose, the orange seems to be gone but there is a slight tomato flavor that is mixed with some pears and a bit of a malty finish.

The feel of this beer is pretty big. It has some drinkable, juicy feel to it but also has some complex flavors that add up to a beer with legs. It goes down well but seems to register itself as a beer with a punch.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Man I don't know how they do it but mixed this in a sixer for 10.99!

A - deep mahogany wood color with a half inch or less of head that clears to a mild ring. Low carbonation

S - Smells like a good old ale. You get a slight wood funky smell along side of sweet malt.

T - Ow wow that's smooth. The ABV is well concealed with a woody base and sweet malt. The hops really mellow out the ABV in the finish. Loved it

M - A sipper indeed but I felt it had a dangerous medium body that would turn dangerous in a beer of this magnitude.

D - Hells yeah I would drink it again! And like I said before it would be 10.99 so whiles supplies last I would get a few more. Great ale!

Photo of tgorgz
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P: This was poured into a snifter as a celebration of a recent election victory.

A: It appears a very dark amber, even a dark ruby red with hues of light brown. There's only about a half-finger head on this beverage, and it seemed to last for quite some time. Perhaps it was the pour.

S: The first hit is carmel, followed by nutmeg and a healthy dose of malt.

T: This beer tastes relatively how it smells- You're first hit with a sweet carmel taste, followed by the nutmeg, and then the malt. As you're drinking a beer with >10%, you're going to finish with some alcohol. The alcohol finish is there, but certainly not as strong as I was expecting.

M: Certainly not a macro-brewed "watered-down" feel. You feel like you're drinking, well, a quality craft beer. It's thick, but not particularly chewy. It's heavy, but not "too" heavy. Overall, a generally thick, well- made ale.

D- This is definitely a "sipping" beer. Something to b savoured and enjoyed with friends. However, make sure not to have too many of them:)

Photo of cdkrenz
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep reddish copper body with a light tan head of moderate stamina and modest height.

S - Apricot, raisin, plum, all lined with leafy hops.

T - Strong leafy and grassy hops to start and fading as each pull goes down. There's an obviously solid malt base as evident by the sweet pungent flavor.

M - Sticky throughout and slightly coarse in the finish. The feel is exactly how I hope all strong ales would go down.

~ This is a sipper, one with which you wanna take your time and savor. If you can get your hands on it, I say nab it.

Photo of Thanby
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle, vintage 2009, one year old.

Pours a dark chestnut brown with a good amount of tan soapy head that sticks around.

Smells of nutty caramel malt, barley, a little bittering hops in the end.

Taste is strong roasted barley, somewhat bitter, caramel and hops in the end.

Overall still pretty stong after a year, but still absolutely delicious. I'm glad I have more to continue aging. I think three years will be perfect.

Photo of LairdChisholm
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a deep, opaque, mahogany brownish color witch copper around the edges. There is a one finger brown head that has very good retention and leaves behind excellent lacing.

S - Not too strong here but it does smell good. I get some roasted malts followed by some dark raspberries and cherries. Alcohol is also present.

T - There is a lot of stuff going on in this beer. First, dark malts come out strong with dark fruits mostly consisting of raspberries, cherries, and plums. This is followed by a strong, bitter hop layer layer with some citrus notes of lime and a touch of lemon. The bitter aftertaste seems to linger on forever. A little boozy all around.

M - Medium to heavy. Good amount of carbonation.

D - This one is a sipper and cracking open a second one right after the first is not the first thing I want to do. The boozy taste isn't the most appealing thing but this beer has a lot more good than it does bad.

Photo of sitarist
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky brown with amber highlights. Thin off white head, almost tan. The head falls to barely a ring that leaves a chain of lacing.

The aromas are subdued and very wel. balanced. The aroma reminds me of raisin bran. It is sweet and fruity with a malt backbone.

The flavors like the nose are subdued and balanced. Sweet, and desert-like...I taste Figs, brown sugar, and raisins in a bourbon-custard-caramel sauce. Bread Pudding?

Big body, but not too heavy to enjoy...carbonation is there but doesn't get in the way. Washes over my tongue nicely. Smooth.

Its cold out and this is just what the doctor ordered. This beer is a world class sipper. It is sure to warm you on a cold night without being overbearing. Very well balanced.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a chestnut brown color, a little murky with some ruby highlights and nice cap of tan foam. The aroma is full of toasted caramel malt and dark fruit. Some doughy notes are mixed in as well. A full bodied brew as it rolls, literally, across the tongue. Dark and sweet and flavorful, this thing bursts through the center and leaves a little bitterness and warmth at the end. This beer makes a great sipper: flavor, without being too sweet, a little boozy too--appropriate for the snow that is falling outside.

Photo of NeutroMan
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown color, almost opaque. Minimal head and lacing. Lots of malty sweetness in the aroma, along with a smorgasbord of dried fruits like apple. The first sip is where the complexity of the malts comes through: nuts, caramel, molasses are what I can detect. Bitterness is surprisingly high although it doesn't dominate. Alcohol is present too, like a Port or Sherry, and is a bit overwhelming at first. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a little syrupy, with obvious alcohol warmth. The high ABV limits its drinkability, but this is a perfect beer for a cold winter night. I actually decided to fire up the fireplace after opening this ale.

Photo of NODAK
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma is varied and big. Some floral hops, caramel, dark fruits, toffee...and some alcohol as well. Thick but balanced.

Pours a copperish color in the glass with a small head...doesn't last very long.

Mouthfeel is rather syrupy. Flavor profile has a large malty caramel, toffee sweetness with dark fruits paired with a decent grapefruit hoppiness throughout the body of the beer. Finishes with a bit of a cutting bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste for a while. Alcohol is very well covered up when you consider the ABV. It only shows minimally near the finish.

Pretty tasty and drinkable beer. Reminds me a bit of a malty DIPA.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,240 ratings.