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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.

2,289 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,289
Reviews: 1,010
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 223
Gots: 373 | 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: 2,289 | Reviews: 1,010 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of zeff80
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, dark burgandy color with a small, short-lived, tan head. Left some soapy trails of residue.

S - It smelled of alcohol, caramel and rich malt.

T - It tasted very sweet and of rich caramel malt. The alcohol taste was also quite present.

M - It was very soft and smooth, almost port-like. It was medium to heavy-bodied.

D - This is a great ole ale. I'm glad I grabbed 3.

Photo of becktone
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Eye: Bell's does it again, you can't ask for more. Perfect creamy tan head with great retention, and very nice lacing as well. Color is brown with red highlights, and is clear.

Nose: Full aroma but rather weak. Chocolate, dark malts, and some dark fruit are present as well as alcohol notes, warmth. Something dark and sweet that is very familiar, yet I just can't put a finger on it. Not much more.

Tongue: Strong beer, yes this is a strong beer. Okay, so in the finish, after I've gotten over the initial shock that I knew would be there(this is the second to the last of the sixer)with the first sip of a strong malty and highly alcoholic brew, I get some chocolate notes. Alcohol is apparent. Dark fruit flavors are in this brew. It warms as it goes down, alcohol plays a big part in the flavor of the beer, giving it a warm bittering and astringent taste that would be perfect on a cold winter night whilst sitting in front of the fire. Hard to describe other than that, big dark malts, dark fruits, and sharp alcohol.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Full bodied and heavy on the palate with low levels of carbonation...any more carbonation that what is here and this would be very strange, any less and I think that it would have more of a liquor character. Flavor lingers on the palate long after it has been swallowed, somewhat of a burnt flavor-dark and alcoholic. This is a perfect cold weather beer, during the summer...uh not so much so. This is one that I'll definitely be buying and drinking once the cold and snowy winter weather hits....the perfect drink to warm up with after shoveling snow or trekking through it.

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

Pours a deep ruby color with a nice full caramel colored head. Head falls rather fast, minimal lacing.

Sweet malt aroma, brown sugar, caramel and a bit like brandy.

Sweet full flavor. Nice sweet malty flavor up front with the taste of raisons and a warming alcohol middle (not too powerful though) finishing in mild sweetness. Wait long enough and your left with a slightly bitter hoppy flavor in the mouth.

Full bodied, thick and smooth in the mouth with a sight alcohol feel and moderate carbonation.

Very nice. Think I'll stash one away and let it age a few years (if I can wait).

Photo of robbyc1
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was packaged November 9, 2007. Pours a nice amber, small head. Deep looking.

Yes, this smells like a brandy, with a bit of hops, deep dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Beautifully balanced. Tastes just like the nose, very deep malt, bit of hops, easy sipper. Would love to find a six pack of this, maybe not this late in this year. Lovely, one to keep.

Update: Oct. 2008, found a six pack at a Binny's! Several tastings confirm my rating. Balanced on the finish, neither sweet nor bitter, just right.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. 06/19/08. Batch 8269.

Pours a burnt amber color. A half finger of beige head forms, which fades slowly leaving moderate lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee, and sweet malt.

Taste is very, very nice. Lots of sweet malts, caramel, and toffee. Within that, there's a whole bunch of different fruit flavors - cherry, date, prune, fig. A slight boozy presence lingers underneath creating a subtle warming.

The body on this one is equally nice. Smooth, full, and somewhat thick yet not chewy. Low carbonation and a clean finish. Drinkability is also good. The alcohol is barely present in the taste. And it goes down very smoothly.

Probably one of the best old ales I've had, especially for the price. I'd love to get a couple of these to set down for a couple years.

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

An absolutely alluring deep ruby body with solid head. Lacing is Stick-eeee!

Dried apricots, buttered bread, caramel and a less-than-boozy brandy aroma.

Sweetness is controlled and the alcohol, while detectable, is not overwhelming. Hops are the shocking aspect, punctuating the finish and holding their piny, strength for a spell. Brown sugar lingers which acts as a counter-balance to a somewhat rye theme throughout. Excellent.

Old ales aren't supposed to be particularly effervescent beers and this certainly isn't. Thick without being terribly viscous and a pleasure to drink on a cold evening.

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

Pours a deep amber to copper with a dirty brown haze and a light tan head. Smell is deep and complex. Raisin, fig, cherry, plum. Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and hints of toasted bread. Light oak, wood, vanilla type scents; traces of spicy alcohol, similar to a fine whiskey in the background. Taste is just as great and really needs no explanation. Unbelievable stuff. Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a slight thickness and full body. Very great stuff overall. Surprisingly drinkable.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

Batch # 8269

Listed on the bottle as 10.2% abv.

A: Pours a dark and cloudy ruby-brown color with a small, yet creamy light-khaki colored head. This one leaves a small amount of lace on the glass.

S: Rich and inviting aromas of caramel, tobacco, raisins, cherry, molassas, figs, vanilla, brown sugar, and plums. The passing hint of an open humidor.

T: Unbelievable flavors of, caramel, vanilla, rum soaked raisins, oak aged cherries, roasted malt, sweet bruised plums, molassas, figs, sweet pipe tobacco, a hint of char, and a slight whisky-like alcohol flavor.

M: Starts big and sweet, takes on a dry & roasted characteristic during the middle, and then the finish brings a dose of alcohol burn (not overwhelming, just right) before turning sweet once again.

D: The strength of this one creeps up on you as you drain the glass. Definately meant to be enjoyed after a big meal and certainly not before! Its' many savory facets make for a fantastic Old Ale.

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

Think you don't like strong old ales? This will make you a believer. This is an outstanding beer that will appeal to the hard core yet will be accessible for those unfamiliar with rich, high-alcohol styles like this.

It pours a dark but clear red with a small head. The aroma reached out with the dreamy flavor of a tobacco shop - smells of cherry and tobacco, like my grandfather's pipe smoke. The taste is rich, and bold, like a mouthful of dark, woody cherry syrup. As it warms, hints of raisins and dark plums come to the front. The mouthfeel is rich and velvety, like a cup of rich coffee.

Put this beer in a brandy snifter or a good red wine glass. Sip it and savor it, gather the aroma before drinking. It is like enjoying a delicious and smooth brandy or scotch before the fire.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint; batch 8211

Pours a murky, reddish-brown amber. Tiny bits of yeast suspended in the body, a small off-white head bubbled up and subsided quickly.

Sweet, fruit, raisins, caramel, light grapefruit hops and a bit of booze. Smells tasty.

The flavor mimics the nose for the most part. Figs and raisins, caramel, grapefruit and a sweet alcohol finish. Very well-rounded.

Full-bodied, chewy and complex.

At 10%+ this beer is not to be taken lightly.

I know this bottle is probably a good 5-7 months old, but the flavors really melded together nicely to form a sweet, boozey, old ale.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Murky reddish, brown color, with short 1 finger head that faded to a film over 5 minutes. Decent lacing.

Smell was wonderful - started with ripe apple and grape, and as it warmed, the alcohol started coming through accompanied by sweet, butterscotch candy. Very rich!

Taste had a slight hop bitterness - in a good way. Very well balanced with sweet maltiness ... best way I can describe is caramel apples soaked in brandy. Ended with a light smoky finish. This one draws you back!

Great mouthfeel - good level of carbonation, not too sticky given the style and ABV.

Drinkability was good for the style, but definitely not a session beer. Really enjoyed this one, as I have with all the big Bells.

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

Thanks to BuckeyeNation for this extra, sent to me a while back. This is a batch 7800 bottle, website states it was bottled on 1/31/07.

Pours dark amber with almost an inch of foam.

The aroma is full of fruits like raisins, ripe peaches, dates, figs, and ripe apples. There's a bit of spices, I'm picking up a bit of cinnamon, and faint citrusy hops. The malt profile has quite a handful of caramel, and then there's the toasted malts and raw bread dough. After a few moments there are some hints of ripe cherries, every fruit seems ripe. An aroma of bread and toast rush to me, literally, as I spilled about a fourth of the beer on my desk and on me...after the clean up I go back to my glass and I begin to single out some grapes and brown sugar.

Taste is big with fruits and toasted, caramel, and bready malts. There's a good dose of sweet raisins, prunes, and bitter apple skins. A bit of alcohol heat near the finish but nothing obtrusive. Some spices are present in the middle and also brown sugar. The aftertaste and finish has some tasty toasted bread. Feels very smooth on the palate, good level of carbonation. Pretty good but I think it could use more time to mellow the initial bitterness.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass
A) Mahogany in color, slightly murky and opaque. Pours a yellowish-tan head with a little lacing apparent, good retnetion.
S) Malty and carmelly with alot of underlying complexity, you could smell it for an hour and not pick up everything.
T) Earthy hops, and carmelly. Nice malty sweetness balances the oak aged feel and herbal charecteristics of this old ale. A significant amount of fruits come out of the taste also.
M) Thick, wet and syrupy, lingering and sticky, good characters in an old ale
D) A good beer to contemplate in front of the fireplace

Photo of Halcyondays
4.59/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, shared with BA chefscott79 and others on May 27, 2008 at Beachwood BBQ, thanks Scott for the opportunity. Batch 7124, bottled November 14, 2005,

A: Pours a deep maroon, solid off-white head with light lacing.

S: Nose is outstanding, it's so good you could write on book on it. Definitely one of the 5 best smelling beers that I have ever had. Caramel malt, oxidized paper, Madeira wine, sherry, toffee, candied raisins, rum, just a lot of things going on, doing my best to describe them.

T: Very similar to the smell, a taste that reminds me a lot of an aged English barleywine, ala J.W. Lee's. Light fruit, cherry especially goes along with the malt and vinous notes for a ride on the tongue. Even though I only had about 5 oz. of this ale, it is rich and tasty enough to get a full flavour profile, I defintely wish I could try more.

M: Carbonation is quite light after 2.5 years of aging, allowing the flavours to shine through, light ethanol, strong, thick at times, but not cloying.

D: An outstanding beer from Bell's. The 3 beers I have had from them in the past have all been outstanding, I just wish they were available within 1500 miles of me. Definitely a sipper, very complex, just sit back, relax and enjoy the great flavours of this awesome old ale.

Photo of doubleipa
4.72/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Creamy, light brown head. Heavymalt, dark bread, burnt, dark chocolate, and stron gcoffee. No hoppiness. Light dough and some licorice. Initial flavor was lightly sweet, acidic, and bitter. Texture was oily and with a full body. Carbonation was flat. Excellent old ale, no alcohol feel. Great long aftertaste and loads of malt and coffee.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is deep brown with some amber, little head and nice lacing. Scent of caramel, raspberries, oak and alcohol. Taste is malty with light caramel and oak. Hops and some yeast in the finish. Mouthfeel is clean and light, which lends to the high drinkability.

Complex indeed, but very drinkable and pretty light. This one would be better saved for the winter time, maybe with a little age on it. A damn fine brew with a great balance and huge character. Recommended.

Photo of kzoobrew
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured brew at cellar temp

Deep amber in color. Pours with a decent sized tan head leaves a tan ring and laces nicely.

Smells very malty rather nutty. Almost a leather smell.

Taste- big time malt bomb but it is some what balanced with a hoppy bitterness. Definite spiciness to the brew with slight dark fruit flavor.

Mouth feel- not overly heavy for high abv brew definitely full bodied. It is something to sip on. Low carbonation does help.

Drinkability- nice complex brew to enjoy slowly. Bottle shows abv @ 10.2%, although it drinks rather easy.

The rest of the sixer is sitting in the cellar, I am anxious to see its progress over time. I really enjoy the brew, will re-review once it has time to age.

4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Body is a warm deep brown with amber tones that show through when held to light. Head is an inch and a half of fat spicey tan colored active bubbles with nice retention. Nose is full and inviting with all sorts of sweet malt going on including hints of candied plum and carmel pie crust. On first sip you inediately get flooded with bold richness and a balanced battle of bitter and candy like sweetness. This beer is warm and nicely complex with layers of minerals, spice, sweetness and even piney hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is zesty rich and does have a nice hop, dry bitterness. This is a very attractive and sophisticated beer to drink. A perfect winter sipper for a variety of palates.

Photo of Deuane
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Suprised to find this on tap at Elephant and Castle Pub, New Cumberland.

A-Murky, dark brown, almost opaque. Has a nice thick tan head that reduced to a thin cap leaving heavy lacing. A very interesting and mysterious looking brew.

S-Complexity abounds but all in a muted way. A sweet caramel malt blast followed by a nutty aroma with some interesting spiciness. Dark fruits come thru too with some plum and raisin.

T-More complex than the aroma as the flavours get to roll around in the mouth and get detected. All the compexity in the nose with the addition of an nice alcohol warmth and the spice gets identified as nutmeg. A finishing twang of a bitter hop bite at the swallow and aftertaste.

M-Full bodied with a very nice smoothness. Despite the the alcohol warmth the brew goes down very easy.

D-Very nice. A fully comlplex beer. I am sure a little aging in the bottle would make this beer even better. A truly interesting and worthy effort by Bell's. Glad to have had the chance to score this on tap.

Photo of PatrickJR
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into oversized snifter.

A - Poured a dark copper, almost opaque, with small head receding to patchy cap, no lace.

S - Sweet malt, alcohol, with a medicinal touch.

T - Fairly sour at first, followed by a barleywine sweetness, accompanied by coffee and chocolate notes, with a touch of hops in the finish.

M - Pretty thick with little carbonation.

D - Though this beer tastes quite good, the high ABV makes itself known during the finish. One of these is enough for me for that very reason.

This beer reminded me a lot of Flying Dog's Barleywine with slightly more sour and bitter characteristics. Doesn't blow me away, but it does make me a little more interested in old ales.

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

Dark mahogany with a solid one-finger yellowed head. Aromas of bread, citrus, toffee, dark fruits, and rum. Some bitterness upfront in the flavor...dark and lightly sweet. Big chewy malts - caramel, iced-coffee, nuts, raisins, and a slight hint of charred wood. There is a hoppiness to balance, herbal and citrus sweet, adding an increasing bitterness to the taste. Chewy and sweeter as I sip. Finishes dry, like roasted nuts. Fullish mouthfeel, a bit warming in the throat.

This bottle says 10.2%, by the way, though its strength is very manageable. Pretty well balanced all around.

Photo of t0rin0
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have no idea how old this bottle is but I would guess a year or two.

The beer pours a deep red color with some brown foam. The head lingers for a bit and leaves a little lacing. The color and head on this beer are so nice that I would like to give it more points but there was just too much crap swimming around in there. Lots of yeast chunks.

Aroma is very malty and a little of fading hop presence. The malt actually seems like its maturing. This is part of the reason for the first sentence.

The taste is very nice indeed. It tastes aged. The bitterness is mellow and the beer is kind of tangy. Some crystal malt present as well as some fruitiness. Can't find any spices but that may have faded. At this point I don't know whether to call it an old ale or a barleywine.

Body is medium thick with ample carbonation. Again, I would have given more points if it weren't for the yeast chunks. Despit that however, it was very drinkable.

Photo of CrellMoset
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: A ruddy, orange-brown, surprisingly clear, with a fast-fading one-finger head that leaves almost no lacing. Looks thick, syrupy, and sweet.

Aroma: This one's definitely a malt bomb. The aroma is overwhelmingly sweet and sticky, with caramel malts being predominant, and other slightly toastier malts also being noticeable (toffee, even a slight roasted coffee-like presence). Dark fruits - grapes, apples - and other fruity notes, bitterer, imparted by a formidable hop bill aren't far behind.

Taste: An initial burst of dark and dried fruit sweetness - apples and grapes are very prominent, with pears and figs or raisins hiding around the perimeter - and lots of sharp, prickly alcohol - not warming, just very sharp. The middle and finish are fairly bitter for an Old Ale - lots of hop sharpness and plenty of that piney, citrus peel oil. An intense combination of flavors, intensified by the sheer quantity of every element that's present.

Mouthfeel: Kinda all over the place, with a rough profile, random bubble size. The body's full, but it's not as heavy or as thick as it may look like it should be. I actually don't think that this is a bad feel for this kind of beer - something smooth and creamy would likely be similar to cough syrup.

Drinkability: Likely where this beer falters the most, but that's not unexpected. What's there is very nice, but this one is a sipping beer, and it's so extreme in so many departments, I likely wouldn't have more than one.

A robust, bold, cellaring beer if there ever was one. It's definitely approachable - it has something for everyone, with lots of fruity sweetness, lots of complex malt notes, lots of good hop overtones, etc. I'm planning on picking up a sixer to cellar - it's very obvious that this beer will change with age, and it has the alcohol content to age gracefully.

Photo of pwoods
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. brown bottle, purchased at Party Source, poured into a tulip. 8135

A: Pours a nice show leather with some visibility when back lit. 1 finger of like toffee colored head forms and holds pretty decently. Some patchy lacing throughout.

S: Deep malt complete. Loads of raw flaked grains in the mix. A large mixture of spices mixed in as well. A hearty alcohol presence.

T/M: The rich malt character mixed with the spice blend and demanding alcohol attitude really make this complex. Maybe a little over the top. Plenty of peaty notes and maybe a splash of faint smokiness. Body is full but not heavy or chewy. Alcohol lends a great depth to things as well as a warm belly.

D: Robust flavors and a defined alcohol side make this a slow sipper and, as on par for the style, a night cap. Really diggin' Old Ales, lately.

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

A_Pours a thick looking cloudy brown with a tight one finger head. This dissipates rather quickly into a splotchy swirl of a cap which manages to stay there to the last drop.

S_Mostly caramel malts with a bit of alcohol vapor as well. Hints of pineapple and iodine shine through as well. The aroma is fairly sweet and barley wine-esque.

T_Sweetness reigns upon the first sip. Caramel and sugar appear. This is followed by a nice medium level bitterness. It is a subdued floral hop presence that shows through with a strong background bitterness. As the beer nears room temperature subtle hints of pineapple, cola and a bit of funky umami appear.

M_Slightly syrupy but not so much so as others of the style. The carbonation is on the lower side of medium but is enough to prevent it from becoming too sticky.

D_Another winner from Bells. Having lived on the other two coasts I have to say that the beers produced from the Third one are excellent as well. This is an approachable Old Ale yet not without subtlety. Thanks to pimpp for the sample.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,289 ratings.