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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.

2,245 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,245
Reviews: 998
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 218
Gots: 355 | FT: 20
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: 2,245 | Reviews: 998 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of LOCAL
4.65/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into Duvel tulip glass

Apperance: Pours a dark cloudy maple color with a half finger tan head that disappeared quickly.

Aroma: Huge on dark fruit, malty, bit of marmalade.

Taste: Follows the nose. Buscuity too. The alcohol is very well hidden on this one. The flavors are very balanced. Reminds me of a barleywine.

Mouthfeel: VERY creamy and smooth. Heavier mouthfeel.

Overall: Extremely enjoyable brew. Its a sipper considering the ABV, but its hard to do that since you can't detect the alcohol and its soooo tasty. A beer I'm looking forward to getting again. It says its good for the cellar, but its good to go right now. Curious though to see what a cellared version would taste like.

Photo of Drew966
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Third Coast Old Ale pours a dark reddish brown with a tan head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is noticeable as soon as I pop the cap, lots of caramel malt and lots of hops with a touch of fruit. The flavor starts and ends with a fairly fruity flavor, hops come in strong right before the end and there is a good solid caramel malt base throughout. Alcohol is somewhat noticeable, but blends in well. Recommended.

Photo of ExMachina1
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

NOTE: this beer (batch #7800) had been cellared for over one year; during this time the beer threw off a LOT of sediment

a--deep dark amber and clear; off-white head settles down to a nice white foam that lasts the duration of the pint; nice lacing down the glass

s--winy and rich; molasses, dried fruit, vanilla; a winter's evening by the fire

t--strong flavors of dark, dried fruit and vanilla; malty sweetness is well-balanced by the bitterness; delicious and satisfying, but with constant remonstrations made by the 10+% ABV

m--full-bodied and warm; the alcohol is noticeable

d--good for a couple of droughts; however, this more a barley wine than an old ale

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

Batch 8727, bottled September 25th, 2008. Head to head with Founders Curmudgeon. This was had second.

A relatively fresh bottle. Poured into a snifter with yeast left in the bottle. Dark orange copper color, bordering on brown with a small off-white head that lasted for a few short minutes leaving behind some spotty lacing. Very earthy aroma, underlying spicy hoppiness, some caramel notes and light fruitiness. The flavor on this one is more balanced between between the hops and malt. Sweet, caramel, rum soaked dark fruits mix well with a herbal, green hoppiness all playing out in a field of booziness. Very thick and full bodied, almost syrupy, light carbonation, and nice alcohol warmth as it goes down. A very tasty concoction, and would like to have several more of these to age, as I think the big booziness would mellow out a bit.

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

On Tap at Ashley's in Westland:

A - 10 oz tulip. Very dark and cloudy almost maroon in color. Not a lot of head, but what was there lasted throughout. Left magnificant lacing.

S - Fruity, piny, and also picked up a few other spices.

T - Initially a huge malt presence that included tastes of fruit, maybe some pear and some apple. Then upon swallowing it, there is a major pine hops taste that fills the mouth. Alcohol is really present, as this is probably a very fresh and new keg. Very well balanced Barleywine, which will become more balanced with age and will also lose some of the alcohol taste.

M - THICK! Almost like eating a meal when you finish one of these. Very chewy beer. The hops aftertaste is what really makes this one stand out though for me.

D - Very big beer. Session... NO WAY. Sitting and enjoying one of the most delicious Bell's beers I've ever had though was VERY enjoyable. This is a great beer to enjoy while relaxing and truly realizing what a fantastic brew has to offer.

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

Batch 8723 - Bottled Sept. 5, 2008. Quite fresh.
Reviewing as a Barleywine.

A - Sniftered. Pours a dark mahogany with ruby highlights. The head is nice and thick, sitting at about 3cm of cream-colored suds. Good lacing and head retention.

S - Major piney hops... christmas trees. A deep, sweet, fruity malt base peers through the back. A touch of booze.

T - Sweet malty background, alcohol present. Dry finish, made up of sticky, sappy hop oils and alcohol heat. Lots of caramel/toffee notes here and there. A really big brew.

M - Thick with good carbonation. Bell's nails it yet again.

D - This is a huge brew, and when it's fresh, it's incredibly flavorful on every level. Reminds me of Double Bastard where everything's cranked up to 11.

Notes: This gets a lot better with age. The nose gets sweeter, the booze and hops mellow out, and it becomes a toffee-sweet malt bomb. Fresh, this thing is a beast.

Photo of thekanna
3.74/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown syrup with almost a gelatinous texture, it's so thick. There's minimal head.

Smell: Strong phenols and dark brown sugar. Hints of anise, clove, pepper, molasses and other dark & thick aromas. I can almost chew the smell.

Taste: Overall, very dark and bitter (how I like my coffee... and my women). Sugars don't carry though as well. Biting hop bitterness at the end. I wouldn't call drinking this "drinking"... it feels more like I'm chewing on a dark chocolate brownie made with no sugar.

Not a bad brew; feels like it could be enhanced with a bit more sweetness.

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

Batch 8135

A - pours a dark, ruby with a very minimal head
S - smells of sweet sugary, caramel malts and a lot of dark fruits
T - This has pretty powerful tastes. Bell's Third Coast Ale tastes very sweet up front. I detected some sugary, caramely malts and darker fruits. The piney hops were still very noticeable and present on the finish. This was pretty hot but the alcohol became less noticeable as I drank it.
M - nice and creamy
D - this one is a sipper for sure. At the high abv it is hard to have more than one. I don't know if you would want more than one anyway due to the bold tastes. Great ale and I will definitely buy again.


Batch 8943 (almost exactly two years old): tons of floaters - the flavors have really started to meld together and this beer is coming into its own. Taste is sugary, caramel malts up front with some nice dark fruits. The hops have started to fade but are still there. Can't wait to see what more time does this.

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

Dark amber pour, some dark creamish head. Quite a bit of malt, barrel like tones and booze in the nose. Malty but not too sweet, some brown sugar, peat, raisin. Nice and sticky, just a hint of some red fruit, very nice hop character toward the finish. Rather clean finish considering the stickiness. This was nice to me with respect to other barley wines in that it was not overpowering with the fruit flavors. No sourness. Definetely closer to an old ale, which it was an excellent one and believe it will be even more excellent with some aging.

Photo of schellsbeer
3.11/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I have been waiting to try this one for a while now. Thanks to my good friend Greggy who through this into a 6 pack for me. Excellent.

A - Good. Very dark orange to light brown in color. Huge head that when disappears, leaves a nice lacing around the class. Not clear but cloudy all the way through. Large amount of sediment left in the bottle of the bottle as a result of conditioning.

S - Malty. Very little hops noticed. Sweet bread with a touch of brown sugar....like the bread was just made but then put into the refridgerator.

T - This is where all of the peanuts count. Wow...very strong complex beer. Alcohol is indeed noticed. So many flavors, I don't know where to start. Most of the strong taste comes after the ale is allowed to start its path down the throat. This is when the tastebuds and nose start firing messages to the brain all at the same time. Bitter but not too much for an Old Ale. Nothing like an IPA. Malt is present. This beer took some time to make.

M - Seems a bit thick for the style. Sort of like pudding. I expect this with a milk stout but somehow, the mouthfeel is just a little too thick. It is like tasting sour bread that hasn't been given the proper time in the oven to cook. This is the lowest score for me. A little too heavy.

D - The bottle states that this is 10.2% alcohol and BA says that it is closer to 9%. Either way, one bottle is enough even for the diehard. Slow down and enjoy the taste. Just don't dwell on the mouthfeel. If you do, you won't like this beer. Enjoy it for being from Bells and the care that went into making it. So many flavors....maybe too many.

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle...

A- Pours a rich mahogany with an off-white head about a finger thick. Carbonation is light. Great lacing on the glass.

S- Aroma is sweet, with hints of prune, carmel, and a slight hop character.

T- Starts sweet at first, with lots of toffee, fig and dried fruits. The finish is more than I expected. The hops blast the tongue with a bitter, almost piney taste that lasts for minutes after each sip.

M- This beer is not only full-bodied. It hits the palate and stays there. Very viscous.

D- Delicious brew. TCOA is a great sipper for for a cold night by the fireside. It will be interesting to see how this beer tastes after a year or so of age.

Photo of waltonc
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one of my favorites from back in school in Ann Arbor. Probably the first "craft" beer that really stood out from the pack for me. The one I'm enjoying tonight has been aging since last year. I'm not sure that it benefited from aging.

A: Hazy red, caramel, brown color with a fair amount of fizz on top. A ring of suds sticks around for a while after pouring.

S: A lot is going on in this - caramel, toffee, piney hops, fruits, and alcohol, among others.

T: All of the smells above. This is a pretty sweet beer that is balanced well with the pine hop bitterness.

M: Pretty thick, with medium carbonation.

D: Can't drink more than one at a time, but these are nice occasional treats. I love Bells, and I love the fact that I don't have to by your big beers in bombers of 750 ml bottles. 12 oz is the right serving size for this and the bigger Bells stouts. Please expand your distribution.

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

Batch 8269

A - Clear dark ruby amber body with one finger of off white head

S - Toffee and molasses with some noticeable booze

T - Toffee and caramel in the body. Malty and creamy flavor with some booze.

M - Medium body with light medium carbonation

D - Pretty enjoyable. Good winter beer to have around. Will probably do really good with some age.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. It pours an interestingly brown color that looks quite amber when held to the light. It is deep enough to almost be opaque. A 1/4 inch head forms and lingers to a thin lace.

The smell is as expected from an old ale. Healthy notes of fruit and alcohol. I also get a good nose for hops, which makes this intriguing.

The taste was a part that I quite enjoyed. It has the caramel sweetness with a nice level of alcohol, which blends smoothly together. The sweetness can be a bit much after a while but ends with a hops note.

The mouthfeel is not too heavy, but a full body with a good level of carbonation. Something about the way the taste lingered on my tongue kept me from rating it higher. Overall, I think this is a very drinkable beer and look forward to enjoying again in the future.

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

12 oz bottle, Batch #8723 poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, mildly cloudy mahogany color with some initial carbonation and very little sediment. Cream colored finger width of head that slowly dissipates to a ring of large bubbles and splotchy thin film. Light streaks of lacing.
S: Excellent barleywine aroma, rich and complex. Sharp smell of hops and alcohol, backed by dark fruits and malt.
T: Very sweet, malt and caramel background balanced by a strong hop flavor in the finish. Throughout is a strong port-like flavor and the dark fruit from the smell, in particular cherries, are very strong. The finish is dry and dominated by hops. Overall, great balance and mouthfeel is highly carbonated and full, but not overly thick. Alcohol is extremely well hidden, extremely drinkable.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle

Appearance: Slightly hazy dark amber brew with lots of super fine-grained sediment. This beer is capped by a thick, dense light beige head with decent retention and nice lacing.

Smell: Hoppier than expected. On Bell's website this is listed as a Barleywine...hmmm...Anyway, the primary aromas are of American hops (Cascade maybe?) backed by vibrant candied fruit aromas and a hint of sharp alcohol.

Taste: I don't know what I was expecting, but somehow it wasn't quite this. There's massive fruity tones (dried cherry and maybe fig and raisin) backed by piney hops and all supported by a sugary, caramelly sweetness. This is really somewhere between an Old Ale and a Barleywine...whatever it is, it's smooth, rich, and hides its 10.2% abv pretty well. The finish is hoppy with a lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, rich, and coating.

Drinkability: One (or two at most) and done.

Conclusion: The only complaint I have with this beer is that the finish is a bit abrupt, with the hop bitterness really killing off any lingering flavors. Other than that, it's a well crafted, complex, and tasty (I especially like the dried/candied fruit notes) Old Ale/Barleywine.

Photo of kinger
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a beauty this old style ale turned out to be. Sparkling dark amber pour with a thin white film and very little lacing. Slow carbonation and a considerable amount of sediment, but no worries man. Sweet malty aroma, sugary with a punch of alcohol. It's almost good enough just to sniff away on this, but alas it must be tasted. Intense flavor explosion of sweet caramel, candied sugar, floral hops, and even a touch of citrus goodness. Oh my there are more than a few layers to this and it all melds wonderfully. Full bodied, the alcohol makes it's presence once again in the finish. Exceptional.

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

Batch # 8269 packaged Jan 11-2008.
A cloudy deep amber/peach pour with a head that disappeared quickly. Lots of sediment floating around, mmm. Aroma is hops, caramel malt sweetness, and dried fruits. Citrus, pine, molasses,pepper,and other spice come through as well.Thick and heavy bodied with good carbonation and a creamy sticky mouthfeel. Flavors of honey,caramel,biscuts,rasins,some very mute citrus tones,oak ,, very complex,the flavors change as it warms,no real strong alcohol hints at all, very very good,a little on the sweet side to drink several at one sitting,but a top notch offering for sure... Thank you Mr.Bell

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,245 ratings.