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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.

1,964 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,964
Reviews: 965
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 197
Gots: 267 | 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: 1,964 | Reviews: 965 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of alexgash


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

This, along with Maudite, were my first big ABV beers, and I first tried them a few years ago at Ashley's in Ann Arbor. Time to revisit this special beer. Murky, rusty body with a small light tan head. Smells of smoked beef, caramel malts, some sweetness and a little alcohol. Taste is rich and meaty, yet sweet. A little smokiness. Big hops follow and lead to a bitter finish. Sweet toffee lingers. Warming and delicious. Big mouthfeel, and surprisingly drinkable for its strength.

01-27-2004 18:50:53 | More by alexgash
Photo of maybrick


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%

Rich dark brown color and a very nice luxurious head were the first things I noticed. I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a 20 ounce "Pint" glass. A very strong alcohol nose is noted by this observer. This brew has a delightful start and good mouthfeel. It is semi-sweet like very dark to black carmel. I also detected some citrus and raisins.

The finsih is not what I hoped for - a clear alcohol burn on the back of the throat. I think of the new 2003/4 Victory Old Horizontal and how Ron has eliminated this. This brew would be stellar - above the clouds, if this alchol burn wasn't there. Overall a avery good beer and I beleive with some proper cellaring the burn will diminish, the tate become more pronoucned and balanced. I'll look forward to putting a few a way and trying them again in 6 and 12 months.


12-24-2003 00:50:34 | More by maybrick
Photo of beergeek279


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is a dark amber, with a foamy, spotty white head. The smell is mostly hoppy. The taste is a nice citrusy hop on top of the sweet dark malt backing, and the alcohol is not noticable. Mouthfeel is very creamy. Drinkability-wise, could have a few of these.

Definitely another solid offering from Bell's. A nice, warming old ale, that has the alcohol to warm but doesn't show it. Quite good, and one that I'll absolutely have again.

12-15-2003 04:20:06 | More by beergeek279
Photo of benmiliron


3.7/5  rDev -10.2%

I agree completely with CJRMellor below me here. You need to serve this warmer than right out of the fridge. The bitterness of the brew when cold is a tough chew. Very pretty dark red in the glass with a head that wouldn't quit.

When warm, it's a high gravity, hoppier, bitterer old ale, actually quite similar to Double Bastard. This has little sweetness though, and I recommend having it with a piece of cheesecake, if you're into the whole beer with food thing. You ain't drinking more than a bottle of this though, it's a commanding beverage.

12-14-2003 19:45:09 | More by benmiliron
Photo of faernt


4.53/5  rDev +10%

I have a fresh batch here. The color is mahogany. The head is blonde going to bronze ( I'd call it blonde but there seems to be a hoppy hint of green about it) The head is about 3/8" tall and dissipating to a full skim that looks a little like the surface of the moon. I've had this beer old and young and over the past eight years I've been drinking it it never fails to delight me (N.B Bias).

It has very little aroma. Nothing bad is noticeable but, by smell it doesn't give up its mystery. The taste is beguiling. The flavors blend in and out of hoppiness and maltiness. It is definitely a midwestern beer. The mouthfeel is substantial but not cloying. It is dangerously drinkable. Prepare to become wobbly.

11-28-2003 18:51:21 | More by faernt
Photo of winomark


3.88/5  rDev -5.8%

2002 Release

Appearance: Pours a cloudy deep copper with a surprisingly stable tan head.

Aroma: Rich, sweet malt. Strong alcohol aromas quite prevelant.

Taste: Lots of malt and alcohol sweetness with good amounts of hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Coating, rich and sweet up-front, with a pleasing, dry finish.

Drinkability: Way too rich to have more than one at a time, but if you want a great beer from a great brewery, seek this one out.

11-23-2003 01:04:36 | More by winomark
Photo of mikeys01


4.22/5  rDev +2.4%

The Third Coast Old Ale poured into the glass a very deep copper/dark amber color, with minimal head and modest carbonation. Aroma is fairly hoppy but very malty as wel, with hints of spice and alcohol coming thrugh. Taste is of malt and burnt sugar at first, then is quickly filled in with a piney hop bitterness and just a touch of alcohol. Not too heavy in the body and goes down fairly smooth except for some delicious residual hop bitterness. Probably worth cellaring a little while.

11-20-2003 03:17:01 | More by mikeys01
Photo of Boilermaker88


3.1/5  rDev -24.8%

Picked up two Third Coast Old Ales while in Indianapolis, IN. On the back of the label it states, “perfect for the cellar” or something close to that effect. Third Coast Old poured a murky, turbid brown color with a creamy ½” thick head that was pretty durable and left some nice webby lace.
The smell was quite sweet, of carmelized candy, molasses, some vanilla notes, and bready caramel malt. Some light bitter hops notes and a modest alcohol aroma also were present. The taste was a big (and disheartening) departure from the aroma. Lightly sweet up front, the dominant flavor was bitter and harsh. The candy and vanilla notes easily picked up in the nose were muted in the taste and instead, a prolonged astringent, medicinal flavor clung to the palate. Swirling and letting stand to warm a bit did nothing to improve the taste profile. If anything, letting it warm did more harm than good. The feel was full and creamy with a noticeable alcohol warmth.
Third Coast Old Ale was a bit of a let-down. The appearance and aroma were superb but the raw, medicinal taste was a real detractor. Perhaps this beer really is better after spending some time in the cellar. That’s where number two is headed for few months (or longer).

11-10-2003 17:20:45 | More by Boilermaker88
Photo of ngandhi


4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

All northern brewer with a firm, sweet malty backbone. Though NB (or whatever hop is in there that is reminiscent of NB) is a bit rough as a flavor (sort of woody, occassionally medicinal even), its assertiveness is precisely what this beer needed. Bell's actually lists this as a barleywine (despite its name); it is far tamer and doesn't have any truly wild hop elements. Incredibly balanced for such a big beer. I would have liked to have seen more hop complexity (and, from my own brewing experience, I'm just not the biggest fan of NB), but Larry Bell is a master at making good beer out of anything. His talents (and those of Alec Mull) shimmer brightly from this glass of sunset.

Relax, relax.

11-02-2003 21:34:58 | More by ngandhi
Photo of Bighuge


4.7/5  rDev +14.1%

3 year old sample: (tasted on 8-2-02)

There are some huge ass globs of shit floating around in this beer. I've had this one for about 2-3 years so maybe that has a little to do with it. Other than the globs of shit, this brew is a scarlet amber color and throws out a head that just rims the glass, but laces nicely nonetheless. There are a couple of globs floating on the surface looking like islands also. There are some malt aromas noticed, but nothing that really stands out. The taste all but makes up for the appearance and aroma. Very nice. Not like the Central Waters BW I just had, but pretty good. Thick maltiness. Candied apple like sweetness. Centennial like bitterness. All wound together tightly. There are some vinous and fruity chatacteristics here. And a cedar wood like dryness. Maybe a little vanilla too. Body is about medium-full and this is fairly drinkable for a barleywine. Another solid effort from Kalamazoo.

Fresh Sample: (with ratings adjusted accordingly) tasted on 3-26-03.

This is one muddy looking dark murky brown beer. Almost like swamp water or something. The head on top is big and pillowy and light tan. A deep,thick malt aroma penetrates my nasal passage with ease. The mouthfeel is slightly carbonated and smoothly creamy. Body is close to full. My first impression on tasting is the huge caramel malt load. I start to think this BW is going to be dominated by malt, but lo and behold, before I know it, I'm catching some big bitter characteristics. Seems like a West Coast kind of bitterness....maybe Centennial or Chinook. But it's there and it's nice. Some other flavors I pick up to a slight degree are molasses, rum, dates, alcohol and fig. Pretty nice tasting brew.


I've just tried a super fresh sample of this beer and it rocks. I've adjusted my ratings accordingly, again. Huge ass caramel malt load. Obtrusive hop bitterness and flavor. They say to cellar this, and I will, but this is damn good in its rawest and purest form.

10-31-2003 05:37:55 | More by Bighuge
Photo of francisweizen


4/5  rDev -2.9%

This is a rusty, red coloured brew with a nice, yet compact, white head of foam. The aromas really jump out at you with this bad boy! Their are some heavy malt and hop aromas as well as some aromas of alcohol, spices, and fruit. The taste is very spicy and malty with a hint of booze in the mix as well. The mouthfeel is thick and rich, but not overly sweet or cloying. The drinkability is pretty damn good for a barleywine as well. I'm not sure if this is a vintage version or a fresh one.


09-26-2003 07:30:08 | More by francisweizen
Photo of dwarbi

New York

4.55/5  rDev +10.4%

Consistently thick, malty, white head. Awesome lacing. The beer is a cloudy, rusty, reddish liquid. Robust aroma and taste. Clean finish, but leaves a fantastic aftertaste. The high alcohol content is not apparent. I could use a few six-packs of this stuff!

09-09-2003 00:03:27 | More by dwarbi
Photo of Mitchster


2.9/5  rDev -29.6%

OG=1.098, 9.0% ABV.

Murky, dark-amber in color, forming a tall, rocky, whipped dark-beige head with awesome holding power and sticky sheets of lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma...intense floral and piney hops, sticky amber malts, molasses cookies, faint sensation of alcohol, pumpernickel bread dough, caramelized sugar, dark honey. Mouthfeel is syrupy and oily with a dense body and slick finish. Taste...as per aroma...there is also a peculiar resinous buttery hop note towards the end with the suggestion of almonds. The hops predominate initially, creating the sensation of West-Coast intensity and harshness (i.e-Centennial). The suggestion of ripe dark fruits doesn't quite have the intensity to balance the hop levels. The alcohol is harsh and medicinal, with no fusels. As it warms, it worsens...there is no improvement in balance, and the alcohol becomes even more dominant. This is definitely a sipper for a cold, lonely winter night as you watch the snow sadly obscure your recently shoveled driveway.

This is a hearty Olde Ale. I have drank cellared versions of this brew and aged bottles are better, however the young batches just don't have any balance and are harsh and medicinal. If you like west-coast offerings along the lines of Stone, you will enjoy this one. This is my least favorite of the otherwise exceptional Bells lineup, but still a kickass brew.

09-04-2003 00:26:15 | More by Mitchster
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

This bier has a deep mahogany hue, and is clear throughout (so far; I see there is some sediment in the bottle, yet to be decanted). Head is an extremely fine, thin layer of tan bubbles, and lacing is fairly minimal. The aroma is an amalgam of rich, sweet malt, with strong hints of caramel, nuttiness, and a noticeable alcohol aspect. Some whiffs of hops come through late, seemingly a bit citrussy. The body is not quite full, yet still very respectable. The carbonation is fine, creating a creamy-smooth sensation on the tongue. The caramel-maltiness evident in the nose also comes to the fore taste-wise, as well as a brown-sugary sweetness. Mid-sip, a fruitiness (dark and tropical) becomes slightly apparent, and a palate-pleasing dose of piney hops tickles the throat on the way down. A late swirl and addition of the bottle yeasties transformed the clear bier into an opaque, coffee-ish liquid. The resultant flavor was more chocolatey. Quite a nice little bier, here! Thnx to feloniousmonk for the offering. Prosit to #600!!

overall: 4.4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


09-03-2003 20:27:46 | More by Bierman9
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


4.3/5  rDev +4.4%

Presentation: 12 ouncer, long neck brown bottle. The single obverse main label has a black & white picture of snow covered woods. No freshness date or strength listed.

Appearance: Poured into a goblet, the head is massive and continues to expand for some time, even after the pour. An off-white beige mass that at first creates a domed head, which soon rescinds to a very smooth looking ½” thick collar covering. The body is a clear amber-brown color with some orange-chestnut hints when backlit. Immense quantities of lacing and strong levels of carbonation are always present.

Nose: Pungent alcohol, strong dominant and virile. Sweet chewy caramel is the lasting odor that I find stays around, at other times, chocolate, soft dark fruits and tartness raise their heads

Taste: A warming punch in the mouth from the kick-off, this offering does not even wait to be swallowed before it heats you up. Roast Malts that have a smooth chewy caramel middle, which transforms into a bitter finish that has very strong lingering liquorices ending.

Mouthfeel: Warming, on the lips, in the mouth, the throat and stomach. In short this is a strong Strong Ale that throws its proverbial alcoholic weight around start to finish. Powerful but smooth entrance with an almost velvety texture when it sits on the tongue.

Drinkability: The strong alcohol and sweet nature make this Old Ale more of a sipper, but it is an excellent beer to round the day off with. Very nice.

Overall: Another enjoyable Old Ale, which is very well put together.

Thanks to BigHuge for supplying this one, much appreciated.

09-02-2003 04:27:24 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of beerguy101


4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

Medium amber color, medium head. Malty aroma. WOW. ZIP ZANG ZOWIE!! This is a big bold full-bodied barleywine. Malty and hoppy. Malts are caramel and toffee. Hops are spicy. Well balanced. Taste is full, and nearly chewy. Very nice beer. There is no alcohol bite despite the Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter, with a slightly alcohol bite.

08-26-2003 00:42:03 | More by beerguy101
Photo of granger10


4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

This one poured a amber/brown color with a very small head. Not much carbonation going on either. The aroma was exceptional because it seemed to change every time I smelled it. The taste was also quite complex. Lots of different sweet malts in the flavor which mixed well with the spicy alcohol which was very apparent at the finish. Flavors didn't mix quite as well on the tongue as they did on the nose but that was it's only downfall. Another success from my favorite in-state brewery!

08-24-2003 13:31:22 | More by granger10
Photo of Dogbrick


4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

This brew pours a dark brownish-orange color with a very thin light beige head. The aroma is strong malt with a little raisin and caramel. The body is very robust, with flavors of malt, peppery alcohol, berries and brown sugar. There is a lot going on in the flavor but it all meshes well. The finish is a little tart for my taste but I imagine an older bottle would be more mellow. I will definitely try this again.

08-18-2003 14:12:04 | More by Dogbrick
Photo of ipogios


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%

A thank you flies out to feloniousmonk for sending me a fresh sample of this beer. Pours a red-amber colour topped by a medium tanned head. Aroma consisted of chocolate, caramel & pear hints.
The taste is dominated by caramel but don't expect this beer to be very sweet. It has a sweet character but there is also some bitterness in the taste that makes this beer special. The alcohol of this beer limits the number of bottles you can have in one night. I must admitt though that the beer is quite drinkable, very smooth and creamy. Very nice brew

08-10-2003 09:35:54 | More by ipogios
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh


4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

Appearance: Poured a deep, rich-looking amber in color. Lots of tiny milky-white chunks floating around. Thin layer of white head swirled on top of the beer and does a nice sheeting action on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Leaping out of the glass! All sorts of aromas assault you. Thick, chewy caramel, bready malt, sweet chocolate, dark and ripe fruits. Do I also detect a pine cone? Spectacular.

Taste: This is one strong and thick beer! Aromas are followed nicely by the flavors, which consist of a huge dose of sweetness, mixed with the very noticeable alcohol warmth, capped by a dark chocolate bitterness that sorta "breaks off" the flavor, leaving little behind. My only downside for this beer was how sweet it was. Kick up the bitterness a little and it'd be even better.

Mouthfeel: Initially it's very smooth. Very "chewy" mouthfeel with a thick coating on the palate. At the end, however, it changes quickly to an almost dry and crisp feeling. Quite unique.

Drinkability: Definitely a sipper. Alcohol highly noticeable yet doesn't dominate the taste profile. Another good example of a beer that changes its characteristics as it warmed. Took a long time to drink this one...not because I didn't like (far from it!), but because it is a complex and very tasty beer.

Another big success from Kalamazoo!

08-03-2003 01:09:13 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
Photo of jcalabre


3.78/5  rDev -8.3%

I originally reviewed this beer in the last year or two. I am writing this review from my notes.
big thanks to DankbreweredDank for this one.
This pours an opaque mahogany color.
The flavors are malty, w/ hoppy along the way. This is a true winter beer, a real belly warmer

07-26-2003 15:09:20 | More by jcalabre
Photo of Brent


3.55/5  rDev -13.8%

Pours a murky walnut brown with some spooky looking brown chunks floating about. Aroma is, well, spearmint gum? I can't quite put my finger on it, but it has some sort of gum aspect. The alcohol is already announcing itself. Do I press on? Flavor is sharply bittersweet with some odd aromatics. Alcohol is a bit harsh and high octane. An old ale that seems to march to the beat of a different drummer. A good beer, but low on the drinkability scale simply because it becomes a bit overwhelming at the end.

07-25-2003 15:01:02 | More by Brent
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Pours a very cloudy brown. Maybe it's just me, but I think I see some muted purple tones in there as well. Small head with no retention.

Very raisiny and sweet smelling, yeasty, but not all that inspiring, really...

But the taste - where to begin? I need a taste-timeline to help sort out all the flavors and their order of appearance. So let's see - we start off with a quick burst of caramel and molasses, gets very bubbly with a sharp sourness. Alcohol presence comes through after that, followed by a brief mix of malt and sourness. Then the bitterness pops in and quells all that. As the hop blast subsides, a smoother bitterness and charcoal taste develop towards the back of the tongue, like burning embers from a fireworks blast drifting down to the ground slowly...wasn't that exciting?

Very coating mouthfeel, solid and syrupy. Vapory feeling at times, too, letting you know this has a high abv. Surprisingly big carbonation for as little head at the outset.

The drinkability really depends. If I'm eating, I could do a pair of these after dinner, but generally one per evening is the proper call. Now, the next time I see this, I'm buying several, which I think speaks well of its drinkability when asking myself, "Would you buy this again?"

I would and I will. Cheers.

07-13-2003 21:41:32 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of SheepNutz


4.05/5  rDev -1.7%

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep brown with 1 finger of head, and a little bit of lacing left on the glass. The smell is fairly strong on hops, with some caramel and citrus. The taste is strong on both hops and alcohol. It also has a fruity yeasty taste. Very strong on the palate. The mouthfeel is thick and strong. The drinkability is a little low, and this ale doesn't hide the 9%.

07-07-2003 19:49:32 | More by SheepNutz
Photo of TheDM


4/5  rDev -2.9%

This brew had a strong fruity alcohol aroma. When poured, this brew yields a small light brown head of small and medium bubbles with a cloudy dark brown semi-transparent color. It had a strong initial bitter taste that settles into a cacophony of tastes.

07-06-2003 07:49:10 | More by TheDM
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,964 ratings.