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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.

2,279 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,279
Reviews: 1,007
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 223
Gots: 372 | FT: 23
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: 2,279 | Reviews: 1,007 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,279 ratings.