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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.

2,236 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,236
Reviews: 995
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 218
Gots: 351 | 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: 2,236 | Reviews: 995 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Evocatus
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Is a dark brown-red when poured. Head was thin and dissipated rather quickly. Aroma was a mix of semi-sweet malts and fruits, but not of the citrus variety. Taste was initially fruity, with some malts and alcohol. The alcohol started to become more apparent as the beer warmed. Good amount of thickness, warms the body on a cold day. Overall pretty damn good taste and drinkability, especially considering that it has a 10% ABV.

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

Had a bottle in the fridge left over so heres what i found. 12 oz. bottle (batch 9358) poured into a wine glass a dark, chocolaty brown with a light, thin head and minimal lacing.Smelled of malts,fruits, slight hops. Tasted rich and malty and not overly heavy. Much fuller and tastier than the regular 3rd coast ale (as expected). Booze was more apparent as the beer warmed. I could feel the effects after a bottle! I like this beer and the drinkability is good for a strong offering. Much harder to get than 3rd coast and a lot of other Bell's brands for some reason.

Photo of jcnd9803
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark Copper with zero head. Floaters all around.

S: Malt and booze, period.

T: One word: heavy. Carmel malts and some fruit. I like malts and expected it, but this is heavy. It's like a meal!

M: Low carbonation. Heavy and malty in the mouth. The alcohol is present. Yep, it's an Old Ale.

D: This was an odd one for me. At most points I liked it, at some points I thought it may be too much. I said it earlier, and I'll say it again...heavy.

This is one of those beers that I always ask others what they think. It's heavy to me and not one I ever find myself in the mood for, but when I do drink it, I actually do enjoy it.

Photo of ATPete
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle

(reviewed from notes taken in 12/09)

Pours an amber/orange color with a small peachy tan head. Very rich, lots of caramel sweetness, raison/prune notes, rum, carmelized cane sugar, molasses and alcohol. A rich, boozy sweet mess that is very well made. I'd love to hold on to a couple for aging.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours brownish-amber with offwhite head that laces well, but isn't very thick. Nose has some caramel, citrus and a slight herbal quality. Palate gives up plenty of caramel and holiday nuts, with a caramel sweetness that carries into the sweet finish. Alcohol bites at the end.

Photo of alcstradamus
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Near black pour with a finger of head that recedes down to a thin collar. The smell is heavy malts, burnt caramel mostly along with some citrus hoppiness and noticeable alcohol. Perhaps even a bit of smoke in there.

The taste is roasted coffee bitterness, burnt caramel, pine resin, and a bit of tree sap. The body is nearly full, and carbonation is fairly soft creating a nice creaminess. Overall this is a pretty solid old ale, not really doing much to break the style mold but it sure does fit in nicely.

Photo of alpinebryant
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark amber / hazy brown with a small white ringing around the glass.

Strong cherry aromatics, caramelized sugars, booze and malt in the nose.

Taste of cherry off the bat, strong caramelized sugars that really take over as you let the flavors warm in your mouth. Definitely a strong booze flavor, some tobacco as well.

Mouthfeel of relative thickness - cherry lends itself to this, medium carbonation. you would not want more than one or two of these in a night, might need some TUMS if you did, but it is a tasty brew

Photo of rawthar
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle from my Bell's Dark Side Variety Pack into a Brooklyn tulip.

A- Very dark with a cherry oak color where the light finds its way through, the tiny bubbles stick around on the bottom of the glass long after the slight tan film of head dissipates.

S- The syrupy, cherry aroma hits first, but look deeper for some licorice notes and a bit of booze.

T- One of those beers that gets better as you make your way to the bottom of the glass, and goes best a little on the warmer side. The alcohol and the sweetness mellows out after the first few sips, replaced with a bit more of a subtle caramel favor, and just a tiny bit of hop bitters. Very complex.

M- Nice and thick, and just enough alcohol to give a slight pang to the inside of the cheeks if you let it linger.

D- One is enough to get you through dinner and take care of some of the after dinner festivities, to boot. At 10.2% abv, no need to pound it anyway.

This wasn't my favorite of the six varieties that came in the case at first (Expedition and Double Cream being the top) but the second might have turned me around. Gave the third to a good beer drinking buddy, and I think the last is going into the cellar.

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Big deep brown, almost black, beer. The head seems to never fully go away. A thin film and large collar remain.

S- The smell here is really faint. Maybe some cherry and dark fruits and alcohol.

T- Spicy alcohol, caramel, vanilla.

M- Warm and boozy. Sticky and sweet. Slick finish.

D- Nice warming winter night cap.

Photo of Lunch
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz. bottle purchased at Shangy's in Emmaus, PA into my Bell's tulip at the appropriate temperature (02/03/10).

A: Pours a deep, clear,ruby red with some nice mahogany highlights. Capped with a one finger off-white head with slight retention and little lacing.

S: Nice aroma of caramel, toffee, sweet malt, traces of vanilla, and burnt sugar. There is also a hint of booze as well.

T: Sweets malts hit the palate first with layers of caramel, toffee, and burn sugar. Alcohol is present with a nice warming character.

M: Rather syrupy and full-bodied with creamy carbonation.

D: Good drinkability, but the sweetness and 10.2% abv hold it back slightly.

Overall this is certainly an interesting and flavorful beer with a nice degree of sweetness and rich full flavors. Recommended.

Photo of OneDropSoup
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter: Translucent reddish-brown with bright red highlights, a thin ring of head, no lacing. Looks pretty hazy, & when I look into the bottle I can see why.

Smells of strawberries & brown sugar, vanilla, slightly mineral. A swirl reveals a slight cooked veggie funk, bread crust, light saltines (like Play-Doh? Whuh?).

Taste is restrained caramel & vanilla, slight bitterness like grape or cherry skins, big heat from booze. A lasting toffee flavor takes over midway through & really dominates.

Smooth feel with heat from booze, some pleasant carbonation. I didn't realize how high the ABV was going in, & the big booze is a taste & feel to grapple with. Very tasty otherwise, but I'm guessing some aging would do this well.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A-the beer pours a clear dark ruby red with a darker tan colored head that has little retention and leaves a little lacing.

S-the nose brings a toasted biscuit malt aroma that has some sweet caramel as well. some dark fruits come in next with some burnt sugar and hints of molasses. there is a light hop presence at the back bringing notes of grass clippings and citrus hops.

T/M-relatively full body and extremely smooth. it is well carbonated to make it easy drinkin. the alcohol is quite present at the finish and the taste brings a light earthy caramel with alcohol soaked dark fruits. this needs to mellow a little. there is a light hop presence at the finish with a touch of citrus and some hop bitterness.

D-i can see this really coming alive with some age. the flavors present are good but always accompanied by the alcohol taking away from them.

Photo of ckeegan04
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled December 2008

A - Deep caramel color with a thin brown head. Head slowly fades to a thin foamy cap. Surprisingly good lacing though. Slightly murky with a fair number of floaties hanging around.

S - Rich caramel malts wth a noticeable alcohol smell. Hints of vanilla. As it warms a trace of burnt sugar comes through.

T - Rich caramel malts and a noticeable but not overwhelming alcohol burn. Hints fo vanilla as well. Very earthy tastes.

M/D - Full bodied and rather slick in the mouth. Alcohol is noticeasble but not overwhelming. Rather drinkable for a >10% ABV beer.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this goodie in a trade with nflmvp. Thanks Steve! Bottle dated November 9, 2007.

Poured into a 7oz. snifter.

Appearance: An impressive pile of tan foam forms atop a polished, mahogany body. Head retention is respectable; retains as a thick crown. Body is very hazy but rich in color, especially when held to light. Stringy lacing. Looks nice.

Smell: Molasses, red currants, pine resin, tobacco, and earth. Smooth and hearty. Alcohol is apparent, but not at all distracting. Great balance.

Taste: Starts out sweet with molasses, brandy, and pine. Finishes bold with long-lasting leather, earth, and woody hop flavors. Aftertaste is huuuge - a total punch to the mouth! I had to take breaks between sips to give my mouth a chance to recover. This old ale is not for the faint of heart (are any old ales?). Great transition. Great balance. Flavor profile could be more complex, but all in all I dig.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, lightly carbonated, rich, oily, sticky, messy... I love it. Aftertaste and mouth-coating are amazing! Finishes on the dry side, but this doesn't feel like a 10% ABV beer. An easy 5.0.

Drinkability: After several rough days at school, this made me forget it all. Maybe my state of mind played a role, but I thought this was fantastic. Excellent beer!

Photo of PDXHops
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a very deep color, hard to describe but a shade darker than mahogany. A half finger of cream colored head reduces to a skim that is revived fairly easily, but doesn't leave much in the way of lace.

Loads of fruity and sweet aromas- tart green apples, yellow cake, a little cherry, a little vanilla, a few slices of banana, toffee, a touch of alcohol. After all that sweetness in the nose, it surprises me with a sting of bitterness right away that keeps things from becoming cloying. Plenty of warming alcohol, but it fits in very well with the overall flavor profile. Big toffeeish and dark brown sugar sweetness, loads of dark fruitiness, but it gets kinda creamy with smooth vanilla notes at the finish.

Overall impression: Enjoyable big beer here. Too bad the bottles aren't dated, as this seems to be a good candidate for cellaring.

Photo of DigitalHype
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

355ml (Stamp: 9458 )

Muddy brown color with no head.

Very nice aroma. Coffee and muted floral hops.

This is a big ale. Stonefruits and honey. The finish is a little sharp. But, at 10.2% ABV, still very well balanced. This seems like one that would age very well.

Slightly sticky and feels very big when you drink. Excellent texture. But don't let it warm up to much.

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

First off, wow that picture for the BA profile of Third Coast Old Ale is creepy.

Batch 9358

Poured into Bell's snifter.

Pours a small beige head. Fades down fast. Color is a dark ruby hued caramel.

Aroma: Cherries, vanilla, some oak notes, cookies, toffee, with some heat. Very big flavor.

Taste: Wow, this is a pretty big beer. Lots of fruit notes. Cherries, oak, and vanilla. I also get cookies and spices. Some licorice and toffee. Lots of malts.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, rich, warm. Medium bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends warm,but relatively clean, a little dry.

Overall, this is a solid beer and I think it will develop in a year or two even more. It is fairly drinkable and I am glad I have more. It will be hard to hold onto these for a few years.

Photo of jdg204
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visited my good friends over at Abe's Cold Beer in Bethlehem for the first time in a long while and was excited to find this brew in stock! I'm becoming more and more of a Bell's fan and I was excited to try their Old Ale.

A: Lovely, hazy dark brown color with a beige head that left plenty of lacing.

S: Caramel, roasted malts, and a faint alcohol smell made for a nice aroma.

T: The dark caramel flavor shows up first and is just a bit too sweet for my liking, it is balanced by a lightly roasted flavor. A nice bitter/ hoppy undertone provided a nice finish. Pretty unique for an Old Ale, which in my experience are usually more strong and hoppy while this trended to more sweet and rich.

M: Medium to heavy body with good carbonation.

D: A pretty nice blend of flavors add up to make this a solid brew choice. A bit too sweet for my tastes, but I always enjoy Old Ale's and this was a bit of a different take than others I've tried so I enjoyed the experience. Amongst the Old Ale style brews I still prefer GD Hibernation and HOTD Adam, but a this was a good offering. A good brew that most beer lovers should try if for nothing else to expand their knowledge of Old Ales.

Photo of pmccallum86
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with a small head.

Smell is boozy, tons of malt aromas dance around.

Taste is complex. Some caramel and toffee notes, tons of big malts. Alcohol comes through as well. A nice winter warmer.

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy, medium carbonation and smooth finish.

Very drinkable for a beer this big, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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

Bells is hit-or-miss for me. Some styles they do, they knock out of the ballpark. Others are just very lackluster and need improvement. This is one of their better efforts. Whether this is an Old Ale or Barley Wine, this is a quality beer. Here is my review:

A: Pours a dark, thick reddish brown. Head dissipated rather quickly. Very hazy and murky with no light penetration.

S/T: The aroma is very malt forward with a decent amount of sweetness. Some caramel, toffee, dark fruit and some alcohol. Taste is even more complex. The sweetness is very prominant. Tons and tons of malt flavoring. Lots of caramel, toffee, coffee, brown sugar, and some toasted malts. Somewhat earthy tasting. There is some fruit going on as well. Maybe some plum and raisin. Very complex, but could have used a bit more hop character to balance the sweetness.

M/D: Mouthfeel is pretty full-bodied with a syrupy texture. Flavors just stick to the palate, even minutes after the sip. Drinkability is about as good as a beer of this calibur can be. In other words, its a sipper. One is probably enough for the evening.

This is a solid interpretation of the style from Bells, and easily one of their better beers. This beer is loaded with nice flavor and complexity. If you like Barley Wines, Old Ales, or Scotch Ales, don't hesitate to check this one out.

Photo of ocelot2500
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany, almost black with a small tan head that leaves enough lacing.

Smells of dark fruits with some molasses, burnt sweetness.

Tastes of dark fruits, brown sugar, all rounded out by a burnt coffee taste. Plenty of roasted flavor to be had with a big malty body and the dark fruits play well. Alcohol is hidden very well.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Photo of mtnbikerpa
3/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with no freshness date on the bottle. Poured a cloudy amber color with only about an inch of head that disappeared quickly. Strong prune is the only thing I smell. Caramel, prune, malts flavors. I am sorry this bottle was a drain pour for me.

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

12 oz. bottle poured in 4 oz. increments into my DFH signature glass.

A: Clear medium amber beer that becomes hazier, due to sediment, during second and third pours. I should have decanted this beer or poured more carefully. Not an impressive head or lacing, which is understandable, considering the style, age, and abv.

S: Delicious. Big caramel up front mixed with dry fruits, especially raison, and sweet maltiness. A little boozey in the nose, too.

T: Lucious caramel and raisiny sweet malts that give way to some leathery and earthy notes. A little bitterness at the end, but it elevates everything to a crescendo. Long, malty finish and a bit warming.

M: This beer is a little over a year old, and is still well carbonated, a little too much for my liking, but it does pop the flavors. Full mouthfeel.

D: TCOA goes down the hatch too easily to allow me to call it a sipper. The only thing slowing me down is my appreciation for its complexity.

I've always been struck by how well and how quickly this beer ages. Qualitative difference between a new bottle and one aged one or two years. Required brew for beernuts into cellaring.

Photo of BB1313
3.76/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is an interesting beer to say the least. Nice appearance w/ dark brown hues and nice head and lacing. The smell wasn't weak, just wasn't into it. Lots of sweet raisins and plums. This reminds me more of a barleywine than an old ale. Thankfully it doesn't taste like it smells and has a nutty flavor to it. Very sweet! I wouldn't recommend drinking more than one of these. Just what you would expect from a big Bells beer. This makes a great sipper.

If you are a barleywine/old ale fan, I would definitely seek this one out.

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This bottle is a year old, give or take… I think the mellowing effect of the aging (even a year) is slightly detrimental to this beer, as the big bold flavors found in the fresh bottling need not be tamed.

A – Golden-ruby-amber, slightly opaque but not cloudy, with a sudsy tan head and a bit of lacing. Nice.

S – Compared to the fresh bottling, the caramel malt and the roasted tones are more prominent, and the sharp, bitter hops have gained a subtlety. There is still a good booziness and oldness, but those are a bit resigned too.

T – It tastes very bitter-hoppy at first, then hot, old and boozy, then finishes with notes of dried dark fruits and golden tobacco. Nice malt sweetness present as a balance throughout.

M – Thin / viscous and lightly carbonated; pretty standard, but good.

D – This is at the top of the heap for me in terms of delicious sippers.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,236 ratings.