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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

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2,323 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,323
Reviews: 1,017
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 225
Gots: 386 | FT: 25
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: 2,323 | Reviews: 1,017
Photo of dgugliuzza
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
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
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
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 -5.1%
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 -6.8%
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
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
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
3.52/5  rDev -14.4%
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
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
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
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of maddog13lb
4.82/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a strong flavorful beer. Can often overpower the flavor of any food eaten with it, so it's best when sitting with a friend having a chat.

My favorite beer by far, but extreemly hard to find. I plan a trip to Bell's brewery every once in a while when this beer is in season just to get another taste. Sure wish this beer was more widely available.

Appearance - Dark brown, not much head.

Smell - Multiple aromas. Definitely can smell the high alcohol content.

Taste - American Barleywine accurately describes this beer.

Mouthfeel - Begins as a fruity taste, ends dry.

Drinkability - If it's on tap, it is a must try... bottled doesn't do it justice. Can't have too many because of the high alcohol content.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL.
2003 vintage. This beer was brown with an off white head. The aroma was on the light side with hints of sweet dark fruit and caramel. There was a nice strong pine flavor that married well to a classic Barleywine dark fruitiness.

12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL.
1999 vintage. This one poured black with no head. It seemed thick and oily. The flavor was similar to the '03 except the pine hops were softer and the sweet maltiness was a bit more complex. Some caramel and toffee notes surfaced above the dark fruitiness.

Photo of Miketwolf21
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Why do appearances account for twenty percent. What is an ugly beer? And wouldn't we be biased towards clarity and color other than brown. Some of the best beers are brown. Brown is a bastard of a color. But who cares.
Bottled 11/9/2010 (3 months old)
There was plenty of carbonation to reveal warming plum brandy and nice caramel malts. This is complimented by the smell of sweet bread. The spicy hops hide underneath.
The flavor is exactly as it smells. Very well integrated flavors. Almost too well integrated... But there is a really delicious flavor of sharp aged cheddar cheese. Seriously. See if I am just crazy or if that is true. A little too sweet but that means that you just don't drink too much and you pair it with food. I have not had an aged third coast, but this tastes plenty balanced already. I feel as though it may become too much of a malt bomb if I let it sit. But I do love malt bombs...
Mouthfeel is great. A very rich and chewy body, without being too syrupy. Thank god.
This does however best enjoyed one at a time. The heavy sweet tooth this beer has maybe too much after a couple.

I went through this six pack in 3 months and found it to be the best six pack barleywine/old ale other than Hibernation Ale by Great Divide. This is a great malt bomb however

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

I bought a 6 pack of this during the holidays and have been nursing it since. I like barley wines but I don't get to try them often so this is a treat. Its in the single digits in mid Michigan so a big barleywine seems fitting. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into my chalice. Batch# 9958, Born on August 25th, 2010. 6 months old. Price $14.99.

A- I really like the label on this beer. It reminds me of skiing down the runs at boyne mountain, looking down them and seeing the branches and roots sticking out of the snow, good times. This beer pours a deep brown mahogany color with a thin layer of tan head that faded to a super thin ring that left a little lacing.

S- The aroma is full of malted barley, it really does dominate the aroma as I have come to expect from American Barleywines. I also picked up some brown sugar, dark fruits and a hint of caramel.

T- Just like the aroma the malted barely dominates the taste also. Caramel sticks out more then it did in the aroma. The caramel is followed by some nice dark fruits and a slight hint of citrus hops that has faded. There is some boozyness to this brew as expected but after 6 months it has toned down a little and is quite pleasant and a little warming. The flavors are complex and balanced nicely.

M- This brew is thick and chewy, just how it should be. It also has descent carbonation.

D- This beer is a sipper so I would probably only have one unless I was on a mission to get drunk. A little too sweet and warming to have more then one.

Overall I would say this is the best barleywine I have had to date, I liked it a lot. The flavors are on point, complex, and balanced very nicely. This is truly the cognac of beers. I noticed that after 6 months the booze calms down a little and lets more dark fruits and caramel flavors come through more. I will be setting aside a bottle or two to see what another 6 months does to this brew. It's a little pricey at 15 bucks a 6 pack, but it's worth every penny, this is a beer I would love to have in my fridge at all times and I would for sure buy it agian. Great job Bell's, making great beers like this is why you are my favorite brewery.

Photo of EricCioe
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this in anticipation of the great blizzard of 2011. I've had a few since the snow started and I got snowed in and had nothing to do but warm up with this and some vidya games.

It pours a dark amber brown but for the few I've had I can't get the head to stick around. There is little lacing. On the nose the predominant notes are more English barleywine than American: big bready notes, raisins, toffee, biscuits, a nice mixture of sweet smells with a little bit of wonderful head behind it. It reminds me of J.W. Lees on the nose, which is one of my favorite noses on all beers. On the tongue the same sweet bread as the nose is the first thing that stands out, but underneath and behind that is a wonderful, subtle hop white noise. In the mouth it's kind of syrupy but there is a nice alcoholic, carbonated spikeyness that follows it and sticks around forever. There are other beers at similar alcohol levels that are more drinkable than this, but that's part of the charm for it this week. The alcohol that kind of kills the large-scale drinkability is the thing that warmed me up after a stroll through 3 foot drifts.

One of my favorite barleywines, a nice quiet corner of the Bell's catalog.

Photo of ramseye4
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A=Gorgeous. Pours a beautiful medium brown with an incredible 2 finger head that sticks around. Great lacing. One of the best looking beers I have ever seen.
S=deep malted barley, a bit of sweet fruit, lots of caramel
T=This is a bit of a doozy, as a lot of barleywines are. Very heavy on the malt, with a lot of alcohol, very boozy. Some darker fruit in there as well. Definitely a sipper.
M=Very highly carbonated, sticky, full bodied
D=The strong alcohol taste and high ABV make this one you would only want one or two in a night

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

I poured this bottle into a pint glass. it did not have a bottled on or bb date but it did have the markings under the ABV that is: 9958.

A- Poured this into a nice pint glass. It pours a think and plentiful dark amber. It gave a nice inch maybe a little under in tan head that dissipated quickly. A nice opaque brew is left, that when held under light shows a lot of sediment left in the glass. Im guessing this is a bottle conditions brew.

S- I get a nice full flavor that is nice malted barley. Hops are backing up the front note and give a nice aroma. Citrus almost of orange of something heavier... Another grapefruit. I do get a bit of an alcohol aroma from this brew, I am not surprised, its a good 10.3% ABV.

T- I think i am getting this brew as fresh as it comes. It has been at my local store for maybe a week and it was almost gone so i felt compelled to buy it. I get a lot of malt. Nice, roasted. A bit of toffee and carmel. But its all light. I get a lot more hops that i thought i would from a barley-wine. It is fully encompassed, hops, malt, citrus, a dry and grain like finish. It is definitely complex, there is a lot going on here and its hard to put your finger on it.

M&D- A full character. I'd love to have this beer all year long. It is a great beer for a long night especially when its cold. I think the people in Michigan got something right. Maybe its in the water. I get a nice hit in the back of my throat, a bit of carbonation makes it tickle all the way through the drink. I would love to let some of these bottles age a bit and see how it mellows a bit. Up front, it is definitely something i would like to see after it had mellowed a bit.

Photo of janders1
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- I poured this into a snifter and this beer is a nice golden brown with a medium head and lots of carbonation. You can also notice some sediment on the bottom.

S- I spent a lot of time smelling this beer. It has a very high alcohol content and you can smell a little bit of the alcohol in the aroma. To me this beer has a very strong apricot smell to it also.

T- This is definitely a beer to sip on. It has a very strong aftertaste with hints of caramel and malts.

M- After a few sips, the alcohol definitely gets more noticeable, but it is still not overpowering. The carbonation is strong and tingles the tongue.

D- This beer is easy to drink and is a pretty good barleywine.I would definitely recommend this. Bell's Brewery doesn't really make a bad beer

Photo of welldigger888
4.1/5  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.

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

A - Dark tawny orange color with a healthy sized, creamy, foamy, fairly thick and dense, white head. Plenty of sediment. Great retention leaving a nice layer of lace.

S - Strong caramel smell along with rum soaked golden fruit and orange aroma. Some toffee and other citrus (grapefruit). Faint alcohol presence.

T - Like the nose, there is a large caramel presence with citrus flavor, some rum soaked golden fruit, and hints of alcohol. Some toffee. Hops are there, but not strong, slight herbal and floral flavor. A bit of spice and some spice.

M - Medium body with average carbonation. Warming and slick.

D - Definitely wanted to sip this. A little to sweet, coating and warming for me to drink too much of this.

Notes: 9525 bottled in Jan. 05, 2010. Not bad. Hops and alcohol had a slight presence even after a year. Not my favorite beer but not bad. Fruity and caramel with some flavors resembling some spirits. Worth a try and if the price were good, I would get it again.

Photo of beachbum1975
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from the Root Cellar. Batch #9958.

Pours dark brown, but when put to the light it's a gorgeous, cloudy mahogany. Nice tan head with good retention.

Sweet caramel, light fig, prunes and a nice peppery hop aroma.

Wow, the complex caramel backbone on this one is amazing. That's how it starts, amazingly dark and sweet. As the flavor settles, toasted malts come forward and lead into mild bitterness from the hops.

The mouthfeel is great. Thick and chewy with ample carbonation. Very enjoyable.

Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Modest head that settles to a single layer of minute bubbles. Leaves a thin blanket of lace on the glass after each sip. The color is ruby-brown. Light passes, but not enough to determine the clarity.

Brandy-soaked raisins aroma. Rich, molasses-like nose that portends of the alcohol kick to come.

Rich flavor that starts off barely sweet with lots of darker caramel. The alcohol is potent and evident, but it isn't the predominate flavor. The finish is surprising--lots of peppery hop. The aftertaste is a balanced blend of the malt and hop. The body is rich without any oiliness. A stunningly easy barleywine to drink.

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

A: Poured a dark, wood-stained brown, that became more ruby-red in color as I peered at it in front of a light source. The healthy beige, one-inch head left behind a substantial amount of gooey dried bubbles as the beer melted away into a froth.

S: Deep dark caramel scent, partnered with tons of dark fruit such as raisons, prunes, dates, and a good amount of high-pitched bitter hops.

T: Very malty as opposed to hoppy on the taste. There was not a bit of roughness to this ale at all... quite the contrary actually. For my tastes, I actually wished the hops had more kick to them. If you really like your barleys nice and malty, then this is your brew. Dry on the finish, yet still smooth as hell.

M: The alcohol heated up after a few sips, but still deserves applause for its subtlety overall. The carbonation was nice and prickly for the malt-bomb that this was, and the lacing was ridiculous.

D: Not the best barleywine I've ever had, but it's damn near up there as one of the smoothest. Bell's doesn't produce many duds.

Photo of engagechad
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this bottle as a single from Corks and Kegs in Richmond, VA - packaged approx 1 year ago

Poured into a DFH snifter, very cloudy reddish brown with little chunks of love floating around and the head was slow to form and hefty

The nose on this brew is of minty champagne with loads of malt. It was unlike anything I've smelled in the beer world. I called the wife over more than once to smell!

Amazing to drink, very smooth, ethanol is present but not overwhelming for a 10.2%. Big malt flavors

I had a hard time putting the glass down with this beer


Photo of slowbie
3.54/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Bottle has a batch number of 9970 which according to the website means it's been in the bottle for 3 months.

Pours a light brown color with a smallish head that dissappears quickly.

Aromas of dark fruits, bready malts, and alcohol.

Taste starts with the dark fruits but fades to hops and malts fighting it out. Not a harmonious blend IMO.

Good mouthfeel for a barleywine, thick enough but not too sweet. Moderate carbonation suits the style well.

Good drinkability. I might have caught it at a bad age but I am not very impressed by this beer given it's rating.

Photo of aasher
3.93/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This bottle was from batch #9958. It was poured from the bottle into a pint glass. It was very murky raisin in color and didn't let much light pass through it. It smelled of sweet malt and candied fruit. It didn't feature any type of hops at all. It was kind of candied sugar and molasses like in terms of the nose. I'm sure it mellows out with time. It drinks kind of sweet and has the candied fruit thing going again. The alcohol was definitely present as I tried to pick through the flavors. It dranks well for both the style and content. I think I need to try this with some age on it. It was pretty good but still pretty fresh for a barleywine so that may have affected what I thought. It would have been more drinkable if the alcohol weren't so noticeable. It was good though.

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

Poured from bottle (batch 9958) to snifter.

A: Deep, cloudy brown/dark amber with some notes of ruby red. Barely any head, but that's to be expected.

S: First thing I picked up on in the nose was a huge aroma of sweet malt. Dark fruits, fig, a lot of raisin, molasses. The hop aroma is a lot more subtle than I expected. The booziness definitely comes through in the smell, but it's pretty well hidden.

T: Flavor follows the aroma very well. Brown sugar, sweet, caramelly malts, raisin. Some bitter, spicy hops at the back of the tongue make themselves known, but they don't dominate the taste at all. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

M: Slight carbonation and a bit of a lingering warming feeling left from the booze. Smooth and creamy. Aftertaste of the sweet malt and raisin with a slight hop presence.

D: Great for sipping. You'll feel the alcohol more than you'll taste it. Definitely very drinkable, but one is enough for me.

I was expecting a more hop-forward barleywine, but this was a great surprise. I'll absolutely be buying this again, as well as committing some bottles to the cellar. Can't wait to try it again as it ages.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,323 ratings.