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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.

2,238 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,238
Reviews: 997
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
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: 2,238 | Reviews: 997 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bbothen
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

Pours a nice dark caramel color with a small i finger deep nunnly tan colored head.

Nice soft caramel malt aroma with some hints of brown sugar, some fruitiness, raisin, toffee. Smells like a delicious caramel candy dessert.

The big caramel sweetness is up front with some hints of apple, earthy hoppiness, slight booziness, some spice, baked cinnamon bread.

Full bodied, thick, smooth, chewy, slight carbonation.

Drinks fairly easy for a big ass 10+% brew.

Nice sipper for a cold day. Or any day for that matter. Enjoyable.

Photo of Naugled
3.94/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, unsure of vintage.

A-Straw brown slightly rocky head, hazy light brown color. Avg for style

S-Sweet caramel and dried fruit aroma

T-Thickly sweet, raison plum tones. Candy flavors come through, butterscotch mostly. Needs more hop flavor. A little hot but not out of style,

M-Very full mouthfeel with some late bitterness that becomes more pronounced as it warms. Sweetness lingers.

D-Good drinkability for an old ale.

I would think this is a good aging beer. It lacks complexity at this stage, aging may help that.

Photo of Gehrig
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Muddy mahogany body with a thin, durable finger of light tan froth; nice lacing on the Duvel tulip. Rich, malty nose full of fruit, roasted caramel malt, chocolate, vanilla, and berry. The taste offers so much--sour, sweet, fruit, spice. Berry emerges more than I expected, with ample caramel, chocolate. Just great old ale. It's very smooth, creamy, rich. The high ABV (10.2%) catches up halfway through, but this is really delicious, enjoyable old ale, maybe the best I've had.

Yet again, Bell's has produced a gem. This takes a solid place next to HopSlam and Two Hearted as the very best from Bell's.


Photo of djeucalyptus
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a dark, woody, earthy mahogany with a dulce de leche colored dense one-finger head with impressive retention. It slowly fades to a ring, leaving ample sticky lacing down the glass.

Heavy sweet mapley caramely malt, golden raisins, cherries, dark wood, a touch of smoke. peat and tobacco, and more fruit - pears and apricots. a hint of spice and a touch of herbal hops.

Taste is really sweet up front with burnt caramel and maple syrup. Hefty roasted malt backbone, and a pleasant hop bitterness. Alcohol is subtle and just a touch warming. Dark fruits. raisins, dates, cherries. Woody, smoky, leathery. More sweet than the average old ale, and also more of the heavy dark wood/leather. A bit light on the floral/hops.

mouthfeel is impressive. smooth and clean, with an unexpected hint of crispness. a nice touch of hop bitterness and a slightly dry alcoholic finish. Not syrupy, chunky, or astringent as some old ales tend toward.

This is definitely a standout. A bit sweeter and a bit toward the barleywine side of the Old Ale spectrum, but a solid example of the style none the less. Definitely need to seek out a few more bottles of this one.

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

Real solid one to two finger head, languidly takes its time resolving, leaving lots of sticky lacing in its wake. Cloudy chestnut brown in color with a tint of red or burnt orange at certain angles, fully opaque. Viscous texture in the nose, warm honey and molasses, scones, dates and golden raisins, rum cake, spice jars which have sat in grandma's cabinets since the 70's, outside of a touch of grapefruit zest the hop presence is indistinct, if not absent for it. Full-bodied, clings to the palate like a life raft, yet, somehow avoids heaviness. Much more milk chocolate and carob here, plays well with the sugariness in the cherry, plum, raisin, date flavors. Licorice and baked cinnamon spice play a role as well. The carbonation content in its support, breaks up the clinch like a boxing ref. Just as in the nose, the hops exert their presence through the finish but do not necessarily coalesce into distinct qualities. This allows for a cleaner finish while concurrently not staunching the sweet fruitiness, which remains its primary attribute.

Photo of optiontwo
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into snifter Batch 7695

Appearance: Dark glowing ruby, almost brandy colored. Quarter inch off-white head with decent retention and a bit of lacing.

Smell: Malts. Sweet, thick, sugary malts. I'm taking into account that this bottle is probably a year or more old and I have had a fresher version but now that this has aged a little bit it's malt city. Lots of sweetness, some bourbon like aromas, and a bit of woodiness and floral.

Taste: Bitter caramel, burnt sugar, maple syrup, anise, and a background of sweet cherry. Those seem to all come through at once, not in that order. The taste lingers in the mouth and throat, with a definite warmth from alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy with a long finish and some hot alcohol.

Drinkability: One is enough for me, not because of the high ABV but because it's so thick and sweet.

Overall: For some reason I was under the impression that this brew was a barley wine but now I know in fact it is an old ale. A style which I've only had a couple of but would now like to try more. If you feel like drinking something burly, go for this.

Photo of mnstorm99
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As I pour this nice dark cloudy amber brew into my Darkness snifter I notice the single finger white head that forms. Sit the glass on the counter and take a look as the head seems to stare at me as if it says "WHAT"? I bring the glass to my nose, but not too close as the head makes it hard for me to really get in there, I notice mostly floral aromas from the hops, but this one has a definate carmel and biscuit charater to it. The beer whispers, give me a try...so I do. The taste is nice and malty up front, similar to an english BW, but there is a bigger hop presence. Spicy, floral hops play slightly with my palate, with a full bodied mouthfeel and an oily coating going down. This brew is way too easy to drink at 10%+ ABV, but a little too thik to sip all day.

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

Thanks marvin, been looking for this one a while!

Pours a deep carmel with just hints of reddish tint on the edges of the glass. Virtually no head, islands forming on the brim.

Deep medium malt. Barrel aged? Smells bourbon almost. Slightest hop character. I swear there is oak in there.

Deep. Yummy. Bitter and not quite sweet, but warming. I need a class on identifying Old Ale characteristics.

Full bodied, deep warm and smooth. Amazing balance for 10% ABV. I could drink this warm ... I just might ;)

I just love Old Ale's. I dont think there is a better brew. This one is by far my second favorite, only to Hardy's. Definately want more.

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

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear oversized wine glass. Single purchased from Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.60.

A: Very dark mahogany with impressive 1-finger beige head with surprisingly good retention and lacing for a high ABV beer.

S: Delicious aromas of fig, date, rum, toasted caramel malts, and floral and leafy hops are most prominent, but some berry-cherry, vanilla, and black licorice aromas are there too.

T: A real belly-warmer and for the barleywine lover who really like a phenolic, alcoholic brew. I really enjoyed this super malty, dark fruit flavor laden brew. Raisin, current, and fig/date soaked in rum are followed by vanilla and strong hops bitterness with both a floral and herbal, minty finish.

M: Exceedingly smooth with superb carbonation, malty aftertaste lasts for a very long time.

D: A delight as it is complex yet drinkable due to its exceptional mouthfeel. It does have some harshness in the alcoholic nature of the flavor and aroma, but embrace it and you will love this brew.

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

Pours a cloudy, deep amber color with lots of suspended yeast apparent. 1/3 inch head of an light yellow color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, hops, some fruit, and possibly some raisins. So far it fits the style of an Old Ale quite nicely. Smooth and slightly thick mouth feel with an average carbonation level preset. The hop bitterness is noticeable up front and adds a nice initial kick to the brew. The sweet malts come through strong and then the raisin flavor mellows out the alcohol to create a smooth finish. There's a definite dryness in the aftertaste, due to the alcohol. As you progress through the beer it become even more drinkable and smooth. The hops also come through a little in the aftertaste. Overall, a complex flavored beer with quickly changing flavors and a smooth drinkability. Whoa, this is worth a try - yum.

Photo of biggred1
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy chestnut colored body with a nice foamy tan collar that leaves minimal lace on the glass. Smells of raiseny alcohol and spice, vanilla and roasted malt. Tastes much like the smell, rich and smooth toffee with a nice heavy buttery mouthfeel that coats the mouth and throat nicely, warming alcohol is not really hidden but doesn't need to be. Very drinkable for the style, begs to be sipped, preferably in a snifter on a cold day.

Photo of Yesac
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received on trade from jwinship83

A - Cloudy caramel color. Small thin head with some lacing.

S - Chewy big malt character with a alcohol presence.

T - Matly overall. Woddy notes, raisins. Some pine and spice along with the 10.2 ABV making its presence with a welcoming warmth.

M - Medium thick coating on the palate, slightly sticky, light carbonation.

D - Easy drinker and smooth. I'm usually not a fan of high ABV taste but the way it's pulled off in this beer is excellent.

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

Batch #7236 -bottled on 2/8/06

Brown with hints of ruby red throughout. head pours thick and creamy, but dissipates into a thin white film on top. Somewhat cloudy, and some yeast or proteins float around.

Smell is brown sugar, dark ripe fruits - figs and plum predominate. Hints of pear there too.

Taste represents smell. little hop presence. very smooth. a little heat from the alcohol in the finish. notes of oak and wood hang around too.

mouthfeel is syrupy, but not overly thick. well carbonated.

Photo of glid02
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer at Brawley's in Charlotte.

Pours a hazy and flat copper color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a thin ring around the glass that doesn't leave a whole lot of lacing.

Smells of sweet malt with herbal and piney hop aromas. Every now and then I'll get a whiff of grapefruit, but the herbal hop aromas really stand out.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet malt up front that's followed shorty by herbal hop flavors, with pine and citrus flavors in the background. The ending is bitter, but there's also a sweetness that sticks around for a bit after the sip is finished.

Mouthfeel is good. The thickness is good and the light carbonation makes its rounds without any problems. Smoother than I was expecting.

Drinkability is good. I'm not all that familiar with the style but I'm not a huge fan of the large amounts of herbal hop aromas and flavors. Still, it's easy-drinking for such a high ABV.

Overall this is a very good and unique beer. Worth a shot.

Photo of daliandragon
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one I've wanted to try for a while but saw for the first time at Whole Foods over the weekend. With temps outside in the high teens, this seems like the perfect time for an Old Ale. I live in the South, mind you.

Pours a gorgeous amber tinged dark brown, with a cloudy body full of chunks and sediment and absolutely opaque. The head pours and laces nicely but doesn't last long. The nose is malty with herbal tones and hops in the background. Dark fruits, particularly raisins and figs are also noticeable.

The primary flavor at first is smoke, with tones of caramel and burnt, and hops bringing up the rear. The malt is dryer and less fruity than in the nose. The texture is thick but not overly so, and finishes bitter and a bit oily.

Enjoyable and well made, I could enjoy this all winter if I can find it.

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

My 300th beer review.

Appearance: Opaque brown body, thick khaki-colored head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Very sweet, citrusy. Notes of grapefruit and pineapple. Strongly yeasty, astringent with alcohol. An interesting and deep aroma with plenty of unexpected notes that nonetheless are intriguing.

Taste: Very "hot" with alcohol, beneath which are intense hops and a malty backbone. Sweet, dry on the finish. Leaves a somewhat fruity and dry aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Thick, with moderate carbonation and a strong hoppiness.

Drinkability: I like this beer fresh, but I'd be fascinated to see how well it ages. I may cellar a few for a year or two to see if the alcohol becomes less prominent over time.

Photo of HopHead84
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 8211, bottled November 9, 2007 and stored at 55 degrees. Pours a deep amber with a small beige head. It is not transparent and there are miniscule suspended particles among the traveling bubbles. The aroma is of sweet malt and although isn't barrel aged I do smell some oak and whiskey. Some citrus hops are still lingering.

Flavor is of sweet caramel malt and dark fruits. Other noteworthy flavors are dates, vanilla, and figs. The alcohol is quite potent and very noticeable in the finish.

Medium full bodied with a low level of carbonation and a vinous mouthfeel.

I have one more bottle of this vintage and I look forward to seeing how it is holding up in a year.

Photo of tburkhart
3.72/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been aging/haven't had a chance to get to a 6 pack of this beer for a few months.

Pours a very murky brown with a few floaties. It does appear a bit thin/oily which concerns me.

Smells of raisins, dark fruits and malts.

Dark fruits come through quite nicely on the palate. I'm getting next to no hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel if pretty good. There is enough there to let you know your drinking a beer.

Very solid beer from Bell's (go figure). Kudos.

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark ruby red beer with a nice haze, with a great creamy frothy head. The head is something I would hope to see with a barleywine, creamy and clingy.

S- Smells a lot like a barleywine, nice sweet herbal smells. Raisins are one of the fruits that is mostly prominent to me. The hop smell is great as well as the earthy maltyness.

T- Malts for sure, with the great fruity tastes. Dates and figs mostly this time. The hop citrus bite comes in here, it isn't over powering, but just right. The sweet malts are nice, but the more I drink this the more the hops seem to be a dominating taste, especially on the tongue.

M- The hop bite truly gives your tongue a thrashing. Other then that the feel in the mouth is good.

D- Easy to drink for sure, and its tasty.

Photo of Onenote81
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany, with just a bit of light coming through along the edges. 1/4 inch head, that dissipates to a thin sheet. No lacing present.

Smells of raisins, caramel, wine, with some obvious sweetness. Nice crisp mouthfeel. This leaves a pleasant warming feeling in the stomach. Great for the cold months (even in NC).

Taste of raisins, plums, caramel, and some grape-like wine characteristics. This is a good beer for sure. I'm not an expert in Old Ales by any means, but this is a good one.

Photo of saintwarrick
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Exactly one-year old bottle according to the web site, this brew pours a dark crimson with some floaties and a thin off-white head covers the body and leaves a nice lacing down the glass. Port comes along in the aroma, some sweet wine and butternut rum, cookie dough and brown sugar. Taste is razor smooth, a bit sweet, with all the aforementioned flavors. Very malty with an understated bitterness at the end that keeps the brew well balanced. Alcohol is noticeable and grand but not overwhelming or distracting, just nice and warming.

Very easy drinking brew for a sipper, not distractingly bitter like some old ales. A well crafted brew I'll gladly seek out again.

Photo of schoolboy
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I bought some of these-I guess it was about a year ago-and drank some and put some up. So I am drinking a year old bottle. My memory isn't that good, but I think it was much ruder before, but this is pretty nice. Not at all rude.

I just had a Dogfish Head 90 and now this, so I will be pretty happy soon, but this is a valid comparison. They aren't the same style, but they are of the same caliber. Both are exceptionally good strong brews.

Dare I say I like the Bell's better? It's not so sweet and has SO much character. There is a oak or smokey taste in there. It is really fine. I may have to make a pilgrimage to Michigan some time.

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

this is a cloudy brown, with a slightly golden cast. No head. A tiny little bit of lace. Carbonation bubbles float leisurely up along the sides of my goblet.

I should have let this warm a bit before pouring, so now it's sitting on my kitchen counter. I am trying to be patient and let it sit for 10 minutes or so to warm. The torture! The agony! But it will be worth it, I'm certain.

Warm, it's clearer. Still looks lovely.

Nose is toffee and raisin. Currant. Maybe a bit of clove? Sweet. Not much alcohol.

Drinking it, the alcohol is more present. It starts out with a toffeelike sweetness, then brandy-like alcohol comes across, then fruit comes forward. Raisin and currant again. Not tasting the clove that I smelled.

Depth is a bit lacking ... I want more from an old ale. I can't help but wonder how this would be with a couple years on it -- maybe age would smooth it out, but nothing's forward enough?

Mouthfeel's great.

It's actually a little too drinkable -- old ales should force one to sip them, and this I don't feel I have to.

Photo of spointon
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this one from a 12oz brown bottle into a tulip pint glass.

A= This ale poured a hazy dark orange/amber color with a 1/2" creamy off-white head (aggressive pour down the middle). The head slowly dropped but never disappeared completely, leaving streaks of lace on my glass.

S= Lots of sweet caramelly malt aroma underneath a dark raisin fruitiness and a lot of alcohol. Also some vinous character comes through as well.

T= As in the aroma, the up front flavors were a heady mix of caramel malt sweetness and ripe dark fruits (plums, cherries, raisins). Midway through a faint oakiness began to dance around the edges and never really went away. The hops were bitter, but not to the point of distracting the tongue from the malty goodness of this beer. The finish was long, dry, a bit hot on the alcohol, and full of that delicious oakey-vinous character.

MF= Heavy side of medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and relatively crisp mouth feel (though not sharp in any way). Very warming in the throat and chest area.

D= This is a great beer! While I cannot say I could or would want to session this beer, it was very drinkable for such a huge ABV. A perfect cold weather sipper or nightcap.

Photo of abfraser
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one holds a special place in my beer drinking career. It was my first love, the one that got me totally into drinking the good stuff. My review may be biased by that, but who the hell cares. It's still a great beer.

A: Dark ruby, mahogany. Nice thick foamy head.

S: Amazing stuff. Deeply complex. Fruity, caramel, raisins. Some cherry as it warms up.

T/M: Delicious. All the smell and more. Sweet caramel malt backbone gives way to nice dark fruit flavors. Mouthfeel is full bodied, perfectly in balance

D: The quintessential winter beer. This is the benchmark for me in this category. It's not a hop bomb like many others, just a great sweet, malty, strong ale.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,238 ratings.