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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.

2,048 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,048
Reviews: 970
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.44%
Wants: 209
Gots: 292 | FT: 17
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: 2,048 | Reviews: 970 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Crosling, Oct 16, 2004
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.

ken3c, Oct 13, 2004
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.

ppoitras, Oct 12, 2004
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.

redmosquito, Oct 07, 2004
Photo of Rastacouere
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.

Rastacouere, Sep 27, 2004
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

TastyTaste, Aug 28, 2004
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..

ZAP, Aug 19, 2004
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.

nomad, Aug 11, 2004
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.

Gueuzedude, Jul 28, 2004
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!

RoyalT, Jul 22, 2004
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.

99bottles, Jul 21, 2004
Photo of Shaw
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My friend and co-worker's girlfriend brought a sampler of Bell's beers to us down in Florida from Indiana. Adam, thanks for sharing. I always love trying new beers.

This old ale has character. From the dark color and thin head, to the complex aroma, finishing with the sublime flavor, this is a beer to savor. There is a lot of alcohol flavor in this ale, so be warned. I actually thought it was a lot stronger than advertised. It sure tastes like a 10%+. Some beers mask their high ABV. Third Coast Old Ale doesn't. I taste spice, syrup, malt and a lot of other flavors I can't describe in this beer.

I lowered the drinkability score because of this beer's sweetness and high alcohol content. My friend Alec gave this beer the anti-Schafer award: It's the beer you drink when you're drinking one beer.

Shaw, Jul 02, 2004
Photo of abents
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark reddish brown with nice white head and good lacing. Smells of fruits and malts, but not a whole lot of nose here. Much more impressed by sight than smell. Taste however is unreal. Very deep flavor with sweet malts leading into a nice fruity hop flavor. Alcohol taste is present but the beer is so smooth it's great. Full bodied and very creamy, very good sipping beer. Not too many of these for me though, 9% is a lot.
Tasty offering, good winter beer for me. I'll have to remember this one in the future.

abents, Jun 15, 2004
Photo of Sammy
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Top of its style. Cloudy auburn brown with lots of foam. Hopped up with Cookie dough, mint, rum, dates and fig, ice cream mouthfeel, a little hop bitterness. Complex real flavours that overcomes alcohol. Citrus and vanilla aromas. Mint vanilla aftertaste.
Had a 3-year old aged bottle about 7.5 years later and its very mellow and nice.

Sammy, Jun 13, 2004
Photo of Wildman
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bell's:

This beer poured a very dark murky brown color with minimal head and little lace present. An aroma of malt, hopcs, caramel and dark fruit. The flavor consisted of malt, hops, caramel and unknown dark fruit. It had a medium body and an overall very sugary sweet aspect to it, maybe due to time in the tap/keg. It had a bittersweet finish to it.

Wildman, Jun 01, 2004
Photo of blitheringidiot
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Huge head over a delectable dark mahogany hazy pour covered with a khaki craggy 2” head sticking to the sides like a paint job. While enjoyed, the head scoffs at the notion of sticking to the glass, but hangs in there. This pour has a upside down waterfall of suds that rush up, quickly tapering to a microscopic bubble flow. Profiles do not get any better than this. A+ for head retention.

Dark fruit scents of black cherry and apricots. Not a huge nose from this Strong Ale.

This is a complex offering of dark malts and hops. Mostly the caramely sugary sweet malts are up front, followed by a “trying to put my finger on it” hops. Definitely some plums and dark fruit in there. Dry lingering sugary residue aftertaste.

Basically, this is a barleywine with a thick pancake malty profile. Thick is an understatement.

Last swigs: My oh my, how these BELL’S have beautiful pours. Reminds me more of a double bock or in the ball park of a Barley Wine, just missing the awl-kee-hawl bouquet mark, rather than its nomenclature old ale. This is a caramel malty & syrupy warm winter sipper.

*** UPDATE ***
Busted out a bottle from the ole cellar. Smoother than 1st reviewed. Some tobacco notes developed.

Beer is good. Happy strong beering.

blitheringidiot, Jun 01, 2004
Photo of shapudding
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a rich reddish brown with an amazing amount of sediment playing around in there. Light head reduced down fairly quick in my pilsner, went to mostly a light cream colored ring. Just the right amount of carbination. Scent and taste of dark cherries. Nice dark flavorings, good and toasty tasting. Dark cherry, some fruit, caramel and coffee. What lingers is a bit of cherry and burnt toast and a teensy bit of chocolate in the background. The more I sip I think I'm tasting a bit of woodiness. Great and thick, full bodied, but not too heavy. Good full mouthfeel, a bit chewy. Very nice tastes

shapudding, May 26, 2004
Photo of CRJMellor
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber with no head. Very syrupy.
Aroma is deep malt base with some dark fruits and orange notes.
Flavor is heavy caramel and some dark citrus fruit notes cut with a resin and pine hop note.
Mouthfeel is sticky sweet front moving to a moderately bitter finish.
Drinkability is very high for a high ABV beer. Not outstanding but very good.

CRJMellor, May 23, 2004
Photo of tar
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, reddish brown with a one centimeter thick off-white head. Lots of sediment is suspended in the beer and is lofted upward by the rising carbonation bubbles. Very nice sweet, fruity (cherries, plums) aroma, with hints of the high alcohol mixed in (hints of a bit of a burbon like smell). Syrupy smooth mouthfeel. This is a great tasting full-bodied beer. Sweet malt comes through first and then the hops join in with a bit of a dry finish. Fruity flavors then and linger nicely in the mouth. Taste only improves and becomes more complex as it warms. This is certainly one of one of my favorites.

tar, Apr 28, 2004
Photo of merlin48
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazed, auburn orange body, with a three finger, beige head, a result of an overly aggressive pour. Lots of sticky lace is left all over the glass.

Aroma is initially of a lot of assertive fruits, highlighted by a strong note of honeydew melon. Citrusy hops quickly make their presence known.

Mouthfeel reveals a medium to full body, a tingling carbonation, and a restrained vinous character.

Taste is pleasantly complex. There is a strong malt presence, mostly caramel and some toffee. A sweet fruitiness dominates the palate early on, and is replaced midway through, with a powerful hop presence, with lots of pine and grapefruit character. The high abv is also apparent, but is nicely masked for the most part. The finish is dry and mildly bitter, with a grapefruit rind aftertaste.

This is an excellent, strong old ale, but not in the English style, at least not at this young age. This Bell's reminds me more of a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, or Bell's Two Hearted Ale. I would guess that with a year, or three, of aging, this will be an exceptional, strong old ale in the English style. At this stage, the hops are still strongly assertive, which is not meant to detract from this wonderful ale. Get a case of this, and cellar it for awhile. You will be glad you did.

merlin48, Apr 24, 2004
Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby red with a creamy,sticky head,aromas of dried fruit and of brown sugar a nice robust aroma.Wow what a nice rich complex beer flavors of fruit and dough with some big alcohol notes as this beer warms.A big hearty beer meant to be drank to warm you up,big and chewey just awesome!Thanks AKSmokedPorter for this great brew from the home state.

oberon, Apr 22, 2004
Photo of silenius
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I purchased one of the newer bottles with one of the neck labels. Rumor has it that this means it comes from their newer facility.

The beer is a slightly cloudy dark reddish brown with glints of orange. Light passes through it, but that's about it. On close inspection, one can see bits of yeast solids floating around merrily.

The head is ivory and quickly falls down to a thin layer coating the entire top of the beer. The head gradually gets "spotty" in a way that reminds me of a bacteria culture. There is minimal lacing on the glass.

The smell is floral hops and some sweet brown sugar in the background.

I love the taste of this beer. It is a hoppy sweetness which is not over the top. It does not challenge you at all. It is warm and inviting and pleasant. A comfort beer.

The mouthfeel is pretty darn thick and viscous which I find very appealing in this style.

Hitting the bottom of the glass makes me want to get another one. One of Bell's finer non-stout offerings. Not to be confused with the lackluster Third Coast BEER.

silenius, Apr 03, 2004
Photo of rabidawg
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy chestnut ruby with a soft tan head that settled slowly to a skim. Sheets of lacing crown this brew. Significant carbonation.

Smell: Caramelized sugar with vanilla tones. Spicy yet subdued. Hops aren't so much smelled as sensed. Raisins and figs abound.

Taste: Initially prickly on the tongue. Sweet, dark fruits and candied pears hit up front. The sides of the tongue are the first to feel the hops, with the back of the tongue feeling the brunt of their force. These hops hit like a sledgehammer, no matter how jaded your palate may be. Definite honey in the finish, with a lingering green bitterness that erases any memory of the first sweet sip. Smoky and good when rolled through the mouth. The alcohol becomes more noticeable when held in the mouth, as its vapors find their way into your nasal cavities.

Intense beer, and one that I'd love to sample again. Many thanks to feloniousmonk for this flavor explosion.

rabidawg, Mar 29, 2004
Photo of BeerResearcher
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle. No freshness date.
It pours a unique dark and cloudy pine pitch amber. A fast fading beige head leave behind trails of spotty and patchy lace.
A fresh-cut piney smell fades into an authentic Old Ale sweet malty aroma of perfumy hop and alcohol.
This brew almost begs you to cellar it. And now that it's open, I know why...damn!
Sweet toffee and bready malt flavors blend with candy sugar, a light taste of prunes and dark sipping rum.
Potent and edgy whole hop taste reveals a sharp white grapefruit bitterness. A hint of black pepper and faint salty taste act as the perfect compliment. Throughout this rating process, I've adjusted my numerical values several times. It's a beer that deserves a long time to age. And if you're unwilling to age it, at least take the time to review it slowly.
Thank again to Feloniousmonk!

BeerResearcher, Mar 18, 2004
Photo of pheurton
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

super hazy brown tinted with orange-red hues. big suspended chunks of yeast. fairly lively carbonation struggling to the top through the murkiness. enormous malt aroma of candied apples, caramel and heavy molasses. huge chewy body that remains somewhat lively from fairly active carbonation. intensely malty flavors engulf the user...mostly apple, passionfruit, and carmel flavors...then comes a big a fairly aggresive spruce hop bite. bitterness manages to come through and linger for awhile.

this is one big ass beer, and i expect nothing less from bell's. a great wintertime sipper that is packed to the gills with flavor. a must try for any barleywine lover.

pheurton, Mar 16, 2004
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,048 ratings.