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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.

2,242 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,242
Reviews: 998
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 218
Gots: 353 | FT: 19
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: 2,242 | Reviews: 998 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of russpowell
4.46/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one from batch 7695 comes courtesy of BARLEYWINEO, cheers

Pours chesnut/mahogany with 2+ fingers of mocha colored head. Just hints of lacing & head retention

S: Oak, vanilla, raisins & general bourbon scents

T: Dry, intense malt, slightlty charred oakyness, a little boozey warmth & vanilla up front. Leafy hops, raisins, & bitter chocolate as this warms. Finishes a touch too dry for my liking, with leafy hops, raisins, toasty malt & some more booozey warmth

MF: Rich, chewy, low carbonation & a general boozey feel

Drinks good for the abv & chewyness, just too dry to attempt session on. Very good old ale

Photo of ndekke39
3.26/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 oz bottle of this into my Mikasa ale glass. Comes from batch 7800, bottled on January 31, 2007. Looks like an apple cider with a thin, white head. Lots of sediment at the bottom of the glass - makes it look even more like cider. A little bit of retention. Smells like apples, brown sugar, caramel. Tastes of the same: some apples, caramel, but with a burnt center, almost like burnt toast. It's a little bit off-putting. Bit of bite from the alcohol at the back of the tongue. Fairly thick mouthfeel. Alcohol is pretty well hidden, so be careful when drinking this. The dark, sugary flavors mask the booze. The flavors seem a little unbalanced in favor of the dark, burnt notes, which makes this an okay beer, but not the best Ole Ale I've ever had.

Photo of bort11
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. Head stand about a fingers width leaving some chunky sticky lacing. Color is a deep dark brown, almost purple.
Smell is very bold with lots of dried fruit, raisins, caramel, and some toffee. Taste follows smell, and finishes with a warm boozy heat.
Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, great viscosity.
This is a really great sipper. Get it while you can.

Photo of Risser09
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

North Coast Old Ale 2007: on tap
Appearance: Pours a cloudy brown, murky and dark. This beer is opaque with a tan head that overflowed the glass. Patiently the bartender filled the remaining empty space in the glass.

Smell: Nutty with almond and pecans. Malt and rotten plums, raisins. Complex, even though the glass is so darn cold.

Taste: Pinchy with alcohol bite. Roasted almonds and charcoal fill the palate. An alcohol burn gives way to some pleasant hoppiness and a juicy finish. Complex and worthy of some serious aging.

Mouthfeel: Alcohol and flavor burst is immediate and is followed by a full bodied beer that is smoothe and juicy. The finish is a warming belt in the throat and stomach that lasts quite awhile. I will have to drink some water before hitting the road. Quite nice. Complex.

Drinkability: Great, provided you can survive the alcohol blast. This would be well paired with a very rich main course of meat, because it could cut through the protein flavors with it’s alcohol content. Also, it would follow through well to dessert and even serve as a dessert itself. Very good and worth trying and cellaring.

Photo of scoobybrew
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This was poured from the bottle into a tulip-like snifter glass. The color is a deep, dark, nearly opaque amber color. It pours out with a decent head that settles quickly and is retained well enough in a thin layer of foam. The aroma is strongly malty with a touch of alcohol to it. Extremely rich malty with an interesting complexity to it - some hops noted also along with some alcohol and mild oxidation. It has a thick, heavy body with moderately high carbonation.

This beer is an ass-kicker. It's not for the timid and definately not something if you're in the mood for something light. That said, it's a pretty tasty ale, but perhaps not as smooth as some old ales out there. This could be function of the age though (perhaps a bit young).

Photo of enfield249
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark Copper in color, very little head when it settles

S - Strong caramel aroma, some roast notes.

T - I do not get much of the caramel in the taste, I get some nice malt. Also, a strong astringent flavor, kinda like bitterness.

M - Full. Lots of alcohol warming that lingers, like a whiskey. Sharpness from the carbonation.

D - A good old ale, but I would not suck back a sixer of these. Good for a cold night in front of the computer however.

Photo of flexabull
3.93/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of leftmindedrighty. Thanks again!

Beer pours a murky brown color, with some floaters, and a small head.

Aromas are oak like, of stewed fruit, cereal grains, and booze.

Beer has a really dry fruit tartness and a whiskey like flavor. There is also a touch of creamy sweet malts. Finish has an alcohol kick and warmth to it.

Mouthfeel is thick and prickly in the mouth.

Drinkability is good. This beer is kind of an ugly duckling. It doesn't look very nice in the glass, but this is a big full flavored Old Ale. I prefer others in the style though... Old Stock is one that comes to mind.

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

Pours mahogoney brown with a relatively thin and some lacing. No worries about any of that for the style and abv. The nose has some noticeable alcohol, but more brandyish than raw alcohol, dark treacle, dark fruit and some sweet maltiness. Some bittersweet maltiness up front, followed by burnt sugar, and then a long dense piney bitterness. Extremely bitter and delicious. The mouthfeel has substantial heft and punch, even for the style. I love this beer, its probably my favorite old ale, but it is too intense too drink many. That said, its delicious depth of flavor keeps drawing me back.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.38/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

as of this writing there are 313 reviews so I'll focus on what stood out the most to me: HOPS. If you were to blindfold me I'd be thinking american barleywine, not old ale. Cellar it for 10 years and then I think it'll be more in line with the style. I scored it on my preferences to the style. Call it an ABW and the taste and smell scores go up accordingly.

Photo of bigman147
3.34/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Cloudy reddish brown. Some yeast sediment. Head is thick and off white. Lacing gives was to a residual ring that persists.

Smell: Sweet raisin and cherries. Slight alcohol nose. Very complex but I am at a lose for words.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Malty sweet. Hop bitterness is sharp and lingering. A slight chalky drying mouthfeel. This doesn't taste as good as it smells. Carbonation is light and doesn't seem to fit.

Drinkability: Mouth coat and alcohol makes this beer difficult to drink. It may be good for the occasional tasting but I think it isn't the best representation of style.

Photo of nickfl
2.58/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Dark reddish brown, pretty much opaque. Good sized tan colored off white head.

S - Nutty and malty. Lots of brown, caramel notes and maby a little bit of wild funk or possibly a butter aroma. I wish I had someone here who could recognize diacetyl as I think that may be what I am detecting, but I have never been able to pick it out.

T - Buttery. Lots of hops, almost fatty and greasy flavor. Makes me wonder if I had poor luck and got a really oxadized bottle.

M - Very slick and mouth coating.

D - Not sure what to think about this. Right now I feel like this beer was a horrible mistake. I don't know if it was infected, abused, or just bad but I got this one from the Bells Store in Kalamazoo so it shold be as good as it gets. Maby with a few years of ageing it would turn into something a bit more satisfactory.

Photo of sullysbeer
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Aroma: Very complex nose composed of Huge caramel, melenoiden, peppery hop, malty, raisins, alcohol, and sweetness.

Appearance: Clear reddish mahogany with a tint of light brown. Has floating particles if poured before the last inch of the bottle. Then when I poured the last bit from the bottle it became very cloudy from the yeast.

Flavor: Huge caramel malt flavor. Sweet but well attenuated. Very large alcohol presence gives a spiciness along with the hops. Very large floral hop flavor. A spicy hop bitterness that doesn't linger too long and gets masked by the sweetness. Raisin and peppery esters.

Mouthfeel: Large bodied. Light CO2 due to the fact that this beer is bottle conditioned and has a large alcohol content.

Overall Impression: This is my favorite beer brewed by Bell's. This is one of the beers that got me started in homebrewing. Very complex and full of flavor. This one is categorized as a Barley Wine style. If you can't stand big chewy beers pass it my way!!

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

The beer pours a deep, dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a warm, malty scent that screams burnt toffee and an elevated abv.. The taste is good. It has a smooth, malty flavor that goes down slow and warm with a sweet burnt toffee finish. This is one tastey beer. It's highly complex and full of flavor. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. It's got it all. The aroma is addicting and the taste really comes through. Nice job guys.

Photo of bruachan
3.52/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

the head on this is isn't exactly towering, though the lacing was decent. hazy garnet

i feel like i might pick up some candi sugar—something belgian—in the aroma. brown sugar

sweet, sweet—very fruity—and bitter. the hop presence is significant up and down. there...right there, at the end: nut

warming. waayy hoppier than i would have expected. that's not the bad part; there's a little syrupy thing going on

Photo of Toddv29424
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a very dark brown color with a moderate head. Interesting lacing on the glass as the beer (and the head) goes down. The smell is very rich, and reminds me of a Belgian tripel: heavy on the candied fruits, and fruity hop notes as well. Lots of sugar in general. The taste is equally huge, and a little off-putting at first. The same candied fruits and dark malts dominate the first part of the tongue, and the second part is mostly alcohol. The lingering tastes really leave nothing to be desired, and provide a great coda to the beer. An impressive offering.

Photo of trem0lo
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Even though I bought this beer today, it is was packaged in February of 2006 according to Bell's website, making it more than a year old.

Poured an opaque, dark tea color into my pint glass with a light cream-colored head. Very good looking beer--I rated a 4 because of the light/dark color combo and the fact that the head lingers throughout the entire experience.

Smells strongly of roasted malts with a citrus undertone that stings the nostrils. Coffee, caramel, toffee, and raisin scents come through nicely. It just begs to be consumed.

Taste upfront is sweet, with roasted toffee and caramel flavors smothering your tastebuds. The hops balance the sweetness and come through very last on the palette--its spiciness combines with the toffee and caramel to linger a bit after swallowing.

Mouthfeel is thick yet silky, adding to the drinkability which is excellent. The high alcohol barely peeks through all the caramel goodness, making it easy to enjoy 2-3 of these in a session.

Overall, a delicious barleywine, especially for those with a sweet-tooth. Easy to drink and the sweetness is well-balanced for those who don't enjoy the sweeter side of beer.

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

Pours a tea color with greater than a full finger dark brown head that resists fading. A nice amount of lacing observed.

The smell is syrupy caramel and sweet molasses.

Full bodied, the mouth feel is malty with a balanced hop characteristic.

The flavor is very much like the sweet caramel smell.

This one is a god drinker. The 9% ABV is well hidden.

Photo of rockwell
2.63/5  rDev -36%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle has #7695 on it which I assume is the batch number.

Pours a deep, cherry-oak color with a almost burnt-orange head. Also has two-fingers of solid foam, with intricate lacing.

Roasted notes on the nose, with hints of cherry and tobacco.

Something is very unbalanced in this beer. First few drinks are very hot. The malts seem to be fighting with the hops and not balancing each other out. Very resiny, lots of herbal, earthy undertones. But the finish has a very weird, alcohol/hop kick to it that is throwing the whole thing very much out of balance for me.

I had very high hopes for this after the initial pour, but overall seemed to be unbalanced. I'll revisit this with another batch to make sure I didn't get a mistreated bottle.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.86/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This old ale is good and warming. I feel North Coast’s Old Ale to be less drinkable and less complex in flavor but somehow possessing a more appealing bourbon flavor. To each his own, and this beer is still quite good..

This beer pours a hazy ruby red with a little bit of head which quickly fades to a soapy residue. Aroma is a rich malty sweetness with abundant sweet bourbon smells (delicious). Flavor is somewhat sour upfront with some bitterness in the middle, and bourbon-ness at the finish. Mouthfeel is dry and warming.

Photo of beersabound
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mcallister fo this one! It pours a beautiful brown with orange highlights and edges. The head was tight and lasted a good amount of time. The aroma is of toffee and caramel with some earthy hops. The flavor is powerful and long lasting. This is one for a cold night by the fire with a friend. The toffee and caramel come out in the flavor. The fermentation seems pretty clean. The mouthfeel is round and soft. It lingers in the mouth nicely. Even though it is 9% and very full flavored, when it was gone my wife and I were somewhat suprised and considered another. But we restrained and will enjoy the second one later. This is a big old ale that could stand up to a cigar and provide some sweetness to add a little contrast to it. Otherwise, it is dessert and a good one at that. Only the strongest stilton or other blue could hold court with this.

Photo of hero27
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle.
Batch 7695.

Pours an opaque, dark amber..dark tan head. Oily consistency.
Bold earthy overtones in the aroma.
Thick caramel malts, bittersweet chocolate, nuts, and subtle dark fruit flavors creep in. The finish is slightly hoppy and kicks this beer up to another level of complexity. ..all blends together magnificently.

Full body, silky texture. The 9% abv is noticed, but not overwhelming...would be a great winter warmer.

Truly a stellar beer from Bells.. one that is worthy of being mentioned in the company of Two Hearted, Expedition, and Hopslam. A must try.

Photo of oelergud
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy ruby brown body, tan head of medium bubbles. Good retention and great lace.
Very strong sweet raisen, brown sugar and prune notes. The alcohol is apparent.
The taste is sweet and strong raisens and alcohol. As the beer warms flavors of almonds, nuts and bitter dark chocolate.
Sharp and dry mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.


Photo of jslot38
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Batch 7695.

Appearance: A majestic looking beer at first pour, with a remarkably large head from a strong pour. The head is a nice light tan colour, khaki like. The body is a murky deep wooded brown, with a few dark cherry and ruby touches. There are some particles suspended in animation.

Smell: This beer just begs to be consumed, toasted malts are surrounded by caramel and dark berries.

Taste: A sipping beer certainly, fills you with a warming alcohol presence. Sweet malts and a smoked background dominate the flavour. No hops presence, which is fine as the focus is clearly on the malts. Nuts, toasted bread, caramel and toffee all find their way through.

Mouthfeel: Certainly up there with some of the best beers I've had. Hits with an intial zing of carbonation, and then really mellows and smooths out as it flows on the tongue.

Drinkability: Like I said before, this is a sipping beer, but that doesn't take away from it being a great beer, and one that is certainly drinkable, just not in great quantities. Would love to throw this one in a closet for a year or so and see what it comes out like.

Photo of biegaman
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 6722, courtesy of HogTownHarry. Aged a full 2 and a half years.
Pours with lots of floaties. Considerable clairty otherwise, especially given the style. No head, dotty lacing that doesn't stick around for all that long a time. Aroma of sticky/chewy caramel, toffee malt, and alcohol. All things considered it is not overly favourable. Not much aftertaste either. Flavour offers a variety of malts on the bill. Some caramel notes, strong taste of over-ripened apples. Really, not all that great...I would consider revisiting fresh.
I'm sure this beer is better than what this particular bottle offered up. Normally, if I sample an aged bottle that hasn't seemed to old up I wouldn't bother rating it - it wouldn't be fair. However, the label read "perfect for the cellar" so I listened to it, waited patiently for some time, and as it turns out... it wasn't.

Photo of asabreed
4.67/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Not freshness date (and I wish that was clearer on single Bell's bottles), but I'm pretty sure this is fairly young.

Appearance: I didn't realize how murky and dark this would be, and I'm surprised to find it almost opaque--a deep dark amber color with dark, melted chocolate (though not motor oil-like as in RIS) tones also. Leaves some nice spotty lacing around the glass, and I hope the rich-looking body will represent in the other areas.

Smell: Dark, roasted, unsweetened chocolate, rich caramel, toffee, figs, sugary cookie dough, bread crust, rootsy earthiness (not sure how to articulate this), black licorice, ripe pineapple, hints of vanilla and pumpkin pie, a bit of rye, chocolate covered cherries, some piney hops, and much much more. Thankfully the sweeter elements are coming out more, holding the hops, I hope, to balance some of it upon tasting. Very balanced and complex, though, just like an old ale should be.

Taste: There's a nice balance now in the fresh state with the hops curbing all the sweetness: the dark chocolate, thick caramel, pumpkin spice, molasses, cookies, hints of black licorice, rye bread crust and earthiness, and some citrus hops (rather than the pine) in the nose, which are the catalyst in making the finish as sticky as it is. Again, extremely complex with many things coming to fruition as it warms, and I think, thankfully, the hops aren't overdone now, which would makes this, for me, a huge candidate for the cellar.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, chewy, and coating, with enough carbonation to make it velvety and extremely rich.

Drinkability: I'm not sure what's been going on lately, but old ales are becoming some of my favorites. Maybe because to me they're the closest beers to something like a good scotch (though some, of course, may liken other styles to a description like that). At any rate, this one's great fresh, and I can imagine as the hops dissipate a little bit the malt sweetness and complexity will blossom into greater depths. Looks like it's time for a 6-pack to cellar.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,242 ratings.