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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,937 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,937
Reviews: 965
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 193
Gots: 264 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,937 | Reviews: 965 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of skybluewater


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky reddish brown, apple cider color. Smells of caramel, as well as a touch of that "special" Bell's smell. Taste is like a malt bomb going off in my mouth, one with hops on the inside to slay my tongue with. There's a bit of woodiness, and some caramel as well. This is a highly drinkable brew for ABV level.

Wow, another Bell's beer I like. Never thought that would happen. Indeed, this is a very tasty brew, one that warms me up on a cold winter's night.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2005 04:07:36 | More by skybluewater
Photo of trancefishy


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

This is a review of a TCOA that has been cellared for 2 years now. served at cellar temp, 48-52 degrees, and warming.

appearance is much like that of the younger beer, deep nutty brown, nutty head with tight bubbles and nice lacing.

aroma is knock your socks off thick. definately the smell of a boiling vat of carmelized brown sugar, really pungent and sweet smelling.

taste is incredibly sweet and resinous. the malt is the key player here, with it's brown sugar taste, but you still have hop action, but in form of something that reminds me of sticky pine sap. there is a nice piney aftertaste as well, which tastes like eating gingersnap cookies followed by some butterscotch ice cream topping.

mouthfeel is you know, not remarkable, but fits the beer. drinkability is, well, i wish this came in 750s.

i'm glad i put these suckers away. this is the first tasting, and i'm certainly glad i have more tucked away :-)

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2005 22:46:31 | More by trancefishy
Photo of necoadam


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

Poured out a deep amber/brown color with a nice head to go along with it.

Smell consistd of a ton of malts and a nice dose of hops in this one. Some nice caramel also floats around and a hint of spice too. The smell was very rich and I knew this was going to be a big bodied beer.

Taste was good. Big roasted malts start out upfront and does last for quite awhile. Some caramel and hops start mixing in towards the middle and last until the end. Some fruit tones also start mixing in as well. Towards the end it felt like I could start chewing this beer.

Mouthfeel was full bodied alright. Chewy texture and left a good coating around the palate.

I gotta say this hit the spot on a cold winter's night. I don't think I would be able to handle a second bottle though, don't see how anyone could for that matter. But this is pretty good stuff.

Thanks F'monk!

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2005 18:55:50 | More by necoadam
Photo of kmpitz2


4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a slightly oranged brown color with a small ring of beer that sticks around nicely. The nose is really fruity, with a big malt presence as well. There is a bit of mandarin orange or tangerine. The flavor is very nice. A very malty flavor, but with a piney hop finish. Wow. Very interesting beer. The feel is super thick and syrupy. What a nice beer. For a beer sitting at 9%, this is very good. I think I like the old ales

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2005 03:06:16 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of resirob


3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up two bottles of this excellent Old Ale from a Holiday Beer Swap with some friends at work.

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Deep, murky brown – like old, well-worn leather. Thick, creamy 4 cm head settles to a 1 cm ring with a creamy skim coat on top of the beer. Nice lacing throughout.

Smell: Caramel malts, pine and citrus hops, and a whiff of alcohol all swirl around to form a nice hint of what’s to come.

Taste: Sweet, toasty caramel maltiness up front that melds into a long, spicy hop finish. Warming alcohol bites in the middle, then fades into the background through the finish. Brash at first, the beer mellowed slightly as it warmed.

Mouthfeel: Full and creamy, but not too thick. Just right!

Drinkability: The higher alcohol content detracts from the drinkability a little, but it is still a good sipper.

Overall, this is a very tasty sipping beer that will definitely warm a cold winter night. I will cellar the remaining bottle, and see what a little time does to the character of this beer. A solid Old Ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2005 02:10:25 | More by resirob
Photo of Tballz420


4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This guy has a thick, murky, dark brown/purple body, with shortlived, small white head. Bits of sediment float about. The scent is a chocolatey malt one. The taste is thick chocolate malt, huge bitter hops, alcohol spice. Some fruit tones, grape/raison. Somewhat thin mouthfeel detracts from the overall beer. Pretty good overall though, reminds me a lot of barelywine.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2004 19:26:23 | More by Tballz420
Photo of budgood1


4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a turbid, cloudy, sediment hazed rust colour...a thin tan head appears momentarily...quickly dying down to a thin layer of lace. the lace seems to want to stick around and add a mood of festiveness. subtle smoke and fruit aroma...yeast and alcohol are alright by me. delicate boxed chocolates and candied cherries come to mind. strong solvent and alcohol flavours, rum soaked cherries, raisins, and figs...brandy slathered fruitcake...sweet roasted nuts washed down by a shot of whiskey. alcoholic ginger bread cookies. port wine. this is a massive winter warmer brewed to ward off the below zero temps and satisfy the barley wine lover in us all. mouthfeel velvety and the body full and quite ample. some bitter hops add even more zest to the profile, making this a tasty and highly drinkable old ale...just a taste treat and an ample buzz maker. the perfect brew for an extremely cold december evening. i could drink ale like this all winter long and never shiver.

thank you to feloniousmonk for providing this bottle!

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2004 01:29:56 | More by budgood1
Photo of vladtheimpaler

New Jersey

4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Cloudy brown, nice tan head. Nice hoppy aroma, with overlapping pine, citrus, and carmel in a melodious blend of scents. Flavor is sharply hoppy, with a heafty dose of malt coming through. Hop flavors linger as you drink. Lots of hops in this one. Could perhaps age a real long time. the malt is nice and slick providing a creamy mouthfeel to balance out the almost overwhelming hops. I could see this becoming a bit tiresome on the palate after one so not perfectly drinkable, but real nice nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2004 02:07:30 | More by vladtheimpaler
Photo of benito


3.48/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not to be confused with Bell's other Third Coast Ale...

Pours a mahogany brown with good head, very opaque though I get hints of amber in the appearance. Quite a handsome pour!

Smell is unremarkable, but the aromas upon tasting bring out a strong toffee-sweetness, almost syrupy that is mixed with a catching bite towards the beer's end. The flavors are not too complex on the palate which makes this slightly more drinkable than your average old ale but also less intriguing. The carmel/bitter finish does a good job of hiding the typical 'alcoholic' aftertaste that you get in many subpar strong beers.

My friend managed to drink two of these in one sitting, but I'm not sure that I'd go back for a second glass until a very cold winter's night... I'd also like to try this with a cheese plate sometime.

Try on tap if possible; six-packs are $15+.

Serving type: on-tap

11-25-2004 13:53:50 | More by benito
Photo of Skidz


4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a nice, crisp orange brown and sits a chocolate/burnt orange-brown with a small tan head, fading to a nice skim

Smells nice and roasty with dustings of chocolate and caramel. Some fruity esters and a light touch of alcohol.

Tastes malty up front and picks up a good amount of bitterness and roastedness fairly quickly. Toasted almond skins and walnuts blend with the sweetness of apples and grapes. Alcohol touches the toungue, but fades, barely noticable. Hop spiciness all over the mouth. Finish is dry and boasts plenty of spicy flavors.

Soft and creamy in the mouth with crisp carbonation in a medium-full body. Good feel overall, quite drinkable. Highly addictive and stimulating. Flavors are well balanced and make for a tasty treat.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2004 20:54:07 | More by Skidz
Photo of twilight


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to TikkiGodxxx for the sample.
Pours a near opaque with tons of yeast floaties all around. Sweet toffee aroma with a syrupy sweet smell that is nice and comforting.
This is the type of barleywine style beer that I like. Thick and chewy with some soysauce sweetness but without being overtly syrupy. Harsh hop bitterness in the finish that reminds you that this beer is for sipping...

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2004 03:31:26 | More by twilight
Photo of IrishRedRock


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

Murky amber bodied brew with a thin wisp of lace; typical barleywine aroma flows forth - sweet toffee, piney hops, a rich malty candy sweet aroma and alcohol. Thick and coating, right on for the style. Flavor lacks the complexity of the best barleywines, but this still has some nice points. Has a crisp hop bitterness in the finish to balance the sweetness of the malts. Alcohol is hidden well. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice barleywine indeed.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2004 01:04:09 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of lackenhauser


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

Poured a muddy amber color-has to be the yeast in it. Even before I poured the dregs of the bottle in it was cloudy. Very nice malty aroma-great caramel sweetness prevails. Somewhat vinuous. Big malty flavor. Almost treacle like in the flavor. Touch of alcohol in the finish. Good full body to it. This is a very drinkable beer-I can see it sneaking up on you in a hurry. Well worth trying several times.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2004 23:11:48 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a four-finger light brown head that fades slowly leaving gobs of lace. Cloudy amber color with a bunch of chunky bits. Light-medium carbonation. Nose is malty. Full bodied. Starts smooth and sweet, Finishing with a slight bitterness and some alcohol overtones. $2.49 for a 12oz bottle from Liquor Barn Lexington, KY.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2004 02:22:17 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Crosling


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3


Rich, deep aroma of lava flowing slghtly burnt caramel, chocolate, plums, red apples and cinnamon, possibly.

Succulent, coating, full bodied, numbing malt flavor with notes of deep caramel, plums and red apples. The finish is long, lingering and finishes with a lingering brandy sweetness. Chewy. Phenomenal.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2004 01:24:20 | More by Crosling
Photo of ken3c


4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a red-brown color with a thick rocky tan head that stays around awhile. There are many noticeable floaters in this dark murky brew.

A quite pungent caramel malt aroma fills the glass. There is a hint of fruitiness and alcohol.

There is a quick taste of burnt malt that turns sweet and shifts to bitter with a long dry citrus finish.

It's surprisingly smooth with light carbonation, a full body and a sense of warming.

I really enjoyed sipping this beer. I can't wait till the next one.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2004 03:45:40 | More by ken3c
Photo of ppoitras


4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" of tan head over a somewhat murky orangey-amber brew. Head shows resiliency, it's hardly moved since I poured it, lacing is good, great for the style. Aroma is deeply of sweet malts, with dark fruit notes as well. Taste is upfront somewhat vinous and sweetly of malts, not unlike a sedate port, then a goodly amount of piney hops character shows up and works hard to balance everything out. Mouthfeel is good for an old ale, and drinkability is good and, well, scarily so.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2004 02:04:28 | More by ppoitras
Photo of redmosquito


4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish amber with an off white head. The tiny bubbles leave a decent amount of lace. This is a warmng beer indeed. Aroma starts of with a wine like scent that gives way to woody malt, as it warms it picks up a nutty aroma as well. The flavor starts out with a burst of bitterness followed by nutty, toasted, toffee malt. There isn't much hop flavor but you don't miss it with the malt complexity. It has a nice lingering warm mouthfeel. This is definitely one of Kalamazoo's shining stars, and a great example of what craft beer can achieve.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2004 21:41:43 | More by redmosquito
Photo of Rastacouere

Quebec (Canada)

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

Deep brown, nice beige 1cm foam, mostly lasting, sticky. Subtle yeasty aroma. Good hop and malt balance. Complex toffee and caramel cookies interplay. Everything happens when taking a sip though. Incredibly tasty, intense dryness, herbal, grassy, biscuity (graham flour). Huge green pine bitterness. Intense centennial (and more) citric side (orange, grapefruit). Decadent creamy texture, very smooth despite the high carbonation. Big multi-faceted barley wine.

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2004 15:22:04 | More by Rastacouere
Photo of TastyTaste


4.65/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Unknown vintage, most likely 2003:
Murky dark brown color, there is a suspension of yeast noticable. Head is about 3/4", looks like the head on a rootbeer float. Smell is storng of alcohol, raisins, and a wood-like smell. Taste is very vinous, with strong alcohol presence that comibines with a nice hops finish to produce a very concentrated burning flavor. Awesome beer, big and foreboding, i wish i had purchased more than a single, but oh well. Excellent, much better than third coast beer

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2004 18:34:31 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of ZAP


4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage...

Pours out of the bottle like a bottle of motor oil....thick and heavy....muddy brown color...little head...nose is much softer than the Bells 6000..mainly sweet caramel malts...

The body is full....much more hops on the taste than the nose leads you to believe...still very blalanced and big...a nice caramel led maltiness...a hint of honey sweetness mixed in....the hops are piney and raw...they combine perfectly....

This is a badass beer....Bells 6000 is considerably better in my opinion but that should take nothing away from this tasty treat...it's only August but it feels like late Autumn and this seems to fit the day perfectly..

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2004 22:14:53 | More by ZAP
Photo of nomad


4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 vintage

This wonder is a dark amber ale dominated by medium-brown tones, showing very thick and slow lace off of an impressive head for an aged ale. Sits well in a snifter.

Smell is a wilderness of musty hops and deep caramel and toast creating sense of cinnamon, old woodpiles, and a dark bittersweetness. The hop funk is a herbal blend of, seemingly, both UK smooth and US pungent varieties. They interlock with the thickly dark roast and sweetnes of the malts impeccably well.

On a thick, soft, and smooth palate, this beer delivers just more of what your nose gets: lush caramel malt flavors with bittersweet edges and a fine toast presence from beginning to end. Wrapped up in are hop flavors bringing herbal and floral dryness along with raspy, fruity notes too. Most impressive are how are the moderately dark malt profile interacts with the earthy yet highly savory hop load.

This beer is a magic mystery tour involving a maltily complex English ale, possibly and a pungent American ale, and that's more good thing in my book. The only old ale in the States better than this one might be an older bottle of the same beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2004 20:26:36 | More by nomad
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy amber color. This is lightly carbonated and has a wispy amber-brown head. There are thick juicy aromas of aged malts, figs, raisins, and a bit of alcohol at the end. This has a medium body up front, which leads to a fuller mouthfeel in the finish, it almost coats my mouth. There are lots of dried fruit notes here (fig, and raisin predominantly), but a huge malty contribution is here as well. The malt goes from a sweet caramel note up front, right through to a dry toasted malt finish. The hops in this are somewhat restrained, but there is a definite contribution in the flavor, and a hint of bitterness in the finish. The dry maltiness in the finish is quite intriguing, it is what really jumps out for me. Right now this beer is a malt lovers dream.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2004 20:17:21 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of RoyalT


4.83/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Absolutely magnificent! The body is a dark, luscious brown with tons of sediment and the head is tanned and generous. As the foam receded it left a wonderful lacing on the inside of my glass and settled into foamy, bubbly pits on top of the liquid.

Smell – This is a very complex monster. First off, not necessarily in any order, I noticed the mature woody notes. Not that vanilla wood that you get from breweries trying to impart false wood or vanilla flavors in their ales. This is the wood of old.

This is a malty beer with some really big fruits. The aroma contains a fascinating mix of dark fruits, like plums, dates, raisins, and the much-sought tobacco, lighter fruits such as apricots, bananas, and cherries, as well as some easy summer fruits like melon.

The malt itself is heavily-toasted and sopped with alcohol. Not the throat-burning type of booze, but more like the tinge that you get from a good port. It definitely has some portly winey notes for sure. All around, this is one of the most complex and well put-together noses that I’ve ever smelled.

Taste – So, take the description under “Smell”, and make the following changes: add a bit more alcohol, take out the summer fruits, change the “heavily-toasted malts” to “slightly roasty”, add a bit of bittering hops (just a bit), and insert the phrase “full as shit” a few dozen times. There you have it – my interpretation of the taste of this beer.

Also, interestingly, I mentally noted the absence of simple sugars from the nose (other than a bit of cane) but found some brown sugar and caramel at the taste. This defines the term, “complete package”.

Mouthfeel – Almost full-bodied with a wonderful but very light carbonation and some very significant dryness at the finish.

Drinkability – I can’t believe no one has sent me this beer yet. Shame on you all! They should make you taste this before you get your mug icon. This is what “Old Ale” is all about. This has great cellaring potential as well.

Comments – This awesome ale was in good company in the trade I did with feloniousmonk. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better . . . it did. Thanks a heap for all the great beers that you managed to squeeze into one box.

PS: How does this compare to the great ones? Well, bigger but not as sweet or quite as smooth as Old Stock or Skullsplitter, better balanced but not as big (flavor wise) as Arrogant Bastard, more drinkable than Deschutes (Jubilale), more traditional than Old Woody, lacks the balanced yeast but is more drinkable than the N’ice Chouffe, smoother than Decimator (as if that’s a challenge), beats Traquir House Ale in complexity alone, is most reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, and one small notch below Double Bastard.

Update – I originally had the 2003 in 2004 and so had an opportunity to taste a rightly-aged 2005 in the spring of 2006 thanks to the generosity of BeerGuy. This sample had a little bit more alcohol sting in the mouth, which I love with the style. Other than that it was right on, so I’m raising the Mouthfeel to a perfect 5.0 and calling this one of the best beers I’ve ever had!

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2004 02:28:34 | More by RoyalT
Photo of 99bottles


4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperance: Stunning. The body is a mahogany soaked with brown and topped by a clinging and rampant head of light tan that rises, sinks, and settles to a clumpy lace.

Smell: Divine. Sweet malts and fermented sugars that give a scent almost like St. Bernardus Abt 12. Very rich and sweet nose, decandent and sultry with a whisp of alcohol.

Taste: It's difficult to recognize this as domestic. It has the look, feel, smell and taste of a true Beglian masterpiece, and yet, I know it is made in Michigan. Awesome. The taste is mostly the rich and sweet malts that give way to maple syrup, carmelized sugar, sweet plum, brandy, finally ending in an aftertaste of sweet malted barley and playful alcohol. Damn. Fantastic.

Mouthfeel: Suprisingly smooth and easy to quaff, even though it has obvious viscosity and depth. I'm floored by the mouth and drinkability of this one. Very much in the style of the world-class Belgians.

Drinkability: Very good, as was aforementioned. I wish I had more of these for the cellar, as the label advocates. In any case, this is a very special beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2004 19:36:00 | More by 99bottles
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,937 ratings.