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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.

2,189 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,189
Reviews: 980
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 209
Gots: 318 | 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:
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: 2,189 | Reviews: 980 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Metalmonk
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 7695. Which means I didn't have the self-control to cellar it very long. And hot damn, am I glad I opened this now--it made my day.

What a beautiful color, a deep, deep caramel-brown with an extremely creamy head that lasted much longer than I would expect from a 9% beer.

Woody aroma, some chocolate-covered caramel. In a blind test I'd guess by the aroma that it was a barleywine. It's nice, but I expected more in this area.

Oh wow...what an absolutely beautiful-tasting beer. Caramel, molasses, maple, butterscotch, Hall's cough drops...while somehow avoiding any kind of overbearing sweetness. That's the beauty of this beer: its overriding elements are sweet (with a little mustiness from the yeast) but it's completely mellowed by the magicians at Bell's by whatever process they've used to brew this baby. I imagine even those not usually into sweet beers would love this, because the sweetness merely accents all the other stuff going on. It's also rather port-like as it warms. Very complex, and rather than slamming you with obvious flavors, this beer just GLOWS.

The finish is amazing, extremely earthy and spreading out forever. A thick, hearty mouthfeel is just perfect for the flavors, leaning toward syrup, and it would be incredible on pancakes if thickened up somehow.

Phenomenal. A sipper for sure, given it's thick mouthfeel, high alcohol content and ridiculous complexity. Bell's has another winner here.

Photo of Wasatch
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another awesome brew from BuckEyeNation.

Batch 6722

Pours a cloudy brownish color, nice carbonation, nice little off-white fizzy head, some lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, hops, nice caramel, maybe some spices. The taste is sweet malty, with a chewy mouthfeel. Medium body. Very drinkable, a nice Old Ale from Bell's, highly recommended.

Photo of peabody
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours out very very dark with a finger of tan suds with lots of nice lacing around the pint glass.
Smell is cherry and walnut and mabey a chocolate strawberry sunday.No strong yeast but the Malt is the star here. There is grape and raisin here. Great smelling beer.
Taste is a malty cherry cordial with a bitter bite. Coffee or burnt toast.Sweet and malty with lots of alcohol to warm the head.
The mouthfeel is very malty and warm. Sugar is present here but subdued by the alcohol. Very warm drink. Recommended for a cold winter's night.
One might be enough.

Photo of bjohnson
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unfortunately I've forgotten who aided me in acquiring this fine brew. Thanks to one of those stellar mid-west traders for the chance to sample this.

A: Pours a muddy rust almost brown color. A bit too red to be just brown. Expresso like cream colored head that has nice retention.
S: Raisins, figs, dates, and prunes. Sweetness that balances out the fruity notes. Nutty maltiness comes with a swirl of the glass. Also an interesting soft floral aroma.
T/M: Nutty, raisins, prunes, and sweet caramel topping flavors. Pretty hefty bitterness stings the palate and leaves it dry in the finish. Boozy spicyness is present here. Quite balanced considering the hefty malt profile. Thick and coating. Above average body.
D: An interesting old ale--a sipping beer. Nightcap worthy. Does Bell's make a bad beer? High abv is noticeable, but only subtle spicyness informs you of it's strength.

Photo of foureyedgeek
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 7236, packaged February 8, 2006. Poured in to a pint glass.

Dark mahogany brown with orange highlights when held to the light. Small finger and a half of tan head that fades quickly to a ring of bubbles, only light lacing, kind of a disappointment in looks..

Smell is sweet, earthy and woody, with notes of molasses and raisin, an obvious whiff of alcohol.

Tastes of rich malts,more molasses, just a slight bitterness in the finish. Dark fruits abound and a touch of booziness present, too. Complexity develops as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is thick and 'chewy'. Drinkability is ok, though the big character of this beer, combined with higher ABV limit me to one at a time.

Photo of kenito799
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a goblet

Pours a rich dark brown, transparent with a few little yeasties a-floating. Tan 1 inch head, recedes leaving creamy lacing along the side of the glass.

Aroma warm and malty, caramel and chocolate, and more subtle, complex winey aromas. Soft carbonation, smooth, (wow how nice this would be from a cask!)...Flavor emphatically states that this is a premium, expertly crafted brew. Lovely balance of caramelized malt, floral hop aroma and bitterness, sweetness and bitterness doing a long long tango in the finish, neither predominating, the taste goes on and on, and so drinkable: you can't wait for the next sip. 9%? Undetectable. Beautiful effort.

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

2.8.2006 batch

good solid 1 finger of off white head, lots of stuff floating around in there (drunk sea monkies I suppose), lacing is very good, head retention is decent, deep brown with glowing ruby tone, a nice looking beer.

dark almost chocolate covered wood aroma, a good amount of earthiness, the alcohol is detectable but melds nicely into the aromas here, adding a compliment, not a detraction here. the smell is deep and intense, maybe even a little splash of dark rum in there, again the beer scores well here.

taste etc...
somewhere between raisins and prunes in the flavor, the alcohol has more of a warming effect than a flavor effect (although you do sense it), a nice layer of cocoa powder-esque flavor coats the toungue in the aftertaste, the mouthfeel is nice and full, and the carbonation is spot on, it carries the beer enough but yet is not jumping up and down yelling "I am carbonation hear me roar". This is quite good.

great. I'll have to age some and see how it does, as far as being a "young" old ale I would prefer this to Old Stock Ale from North Coast. Try this as a digestif after a nice holiday meal.

Photo of Osiris9588
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle witht he batch ID of 7236, brewed on 2/8/06. Pours a muddy mahongany with rusty, ruby undertones. The Offhead head is quite creamy, showing decent retention and leaving some thin wisps of lacing.

The aroma is very malty and yeasty, with distant notes of black currant and cherry, along with a bit of caramel and smoke. The flavor follows the aroma, along with strong candied notes, some figginess, flutters of nuttiness, and a phenolic bitterness.

The mouth is medium-bodied, and quite complex and bold, a nice balance of sweet and bitter aspects. It's not overly phenolic or astringent as some Old Ales are want to be. The balance makes it rather drinkable, yet still not a brew that one might down more than a couple of during an evening.

Another winner from Bell's.

Photo of seebus
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - served in a 12oz bottle with a picture on the label of a chilly winterscape. pours deep brown with ruby hues and a pancake batter-colored head that disappeared within minutes.

S - smells like a rich, heavy fruitcake (think positive).

T - almost candied fruit sweetness. toasty maltiness is in the background as it goes from sweet to a lightly hoppy and alcoholic finish.

M - good body. at first it seemed on the thin side, but that was just with respect to my expectations.

D - it's a little raw. with the high alcohol, i would like it a little more mellow.

i'm going to throw 4 of the 6 in the basement and let them relax a bit. i would buy this again.

Photo of Darkale
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, cherry brown body, mocha head that bursts out and then fades to a thin skim. Aroma is nutty and sweet. Thick and chewy in the mouth - one can definitely understand the allusions to barley wines in previous reviews. Coffee and acrid chocolate mix with sweet, cool malt. Hops tingle as you swallow. Powerful sipper. Marvelous. Is it a barley wine? Is it an old ale? Compared to other old ales that I have seen reviewed, I'm tempted to say old ale... but a marvelous cold weather beer in any event. Well done.

Photo of gmfessen
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Paid $2.49 for a single bottle, beer pours a dark amber/mahogany color with lots of yeast floaties. Beer has minimal thick head with lacing that coats the glass. Smell is slightly sweet and is of chocolate, raisins and a very slight tinge of alcohol. The taste is initially very pleasing, fruity with a nice hop balance... but then the alcohol taste takes over and leaves a burning sensation both in the mouth and throat. The 9% is pretty apparent. Tongue feels slightly numb. The mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, with very little carbonation. Overall I would have to say this is a beer to be drunk in moderation.

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle received in a trade with Phatz.

A: THe ale is a deep red-brown color, muddy and murky with some ruby red highlights. The head came in at 1.5 fingers but quickly reduced to a small white ring.

S: The nose is a bit of a disappointment, as it yields only a brief hint of malty boldness.

T: The ale has a big strong malty taste, thick with chewiness. The malts are concentrated, giving the ale a grainy sweetness that sticks in the mouth. The maltiness gives way to a strong alcohol content late in the sip. Mixed in with the alcohol is a strong hop bitterness that flourishes just after the alcohol.

M: A great deal occurs tastewise, especially as the ale warms up. The malt strength gives way to a nice hop and alcohol mix that packs a wallop.

D: The 9.00% abv is tough to swallow, hurting the drinkability. The hop flavors, as they emerge, redeem it.

Photo of phisig137
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep mahogany brown, almost black until held to the light, with red highlights. One finger head with little retention falls leaving nice lacing.

Aroma is full of alcohol, as well as some leather and chocolate. Very alcoholic nose hampers it a bit though.

Flavor is tasty, yet a bit retrained. Tobacco and leather combine with a slightly vinous character, and finish fairly bitter for an old ale. Sherry notes are present as well, despite this being a new bottle. Warming from the first to the last sip. Mouthfeel is a little thin for the style, but drinkability is quite good.

This old ale does not have the same complexity or concentration as others out there, such as Old Stock, or Thomas Hardys, but it is still a damn fine beer. This one should age quite well, especially once the alcohol presence falls a little. Another great beer from Bell's.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks melbatoast93 for this trade.
I love Old Ales...even if some start to blend with others and even when some seem like nothing else.
This one pours a very dark amber with a moderate white head that melts to a ring of sticky lacing.
Aromas are typically dark fruits...raisins, plums, prunes, and caramel.
Taste is again caramel and raisins with a bit of sharp, bitter, hops on the end which serves to clean the palette and dry the mouth rather than leaving it cloying.
No sense of alcohol in either the taste nor the swallow.
Probably only in the after effects.
Nice warm old ale.
Like it.
I am told this one is at least a year old because the label still says Kalamazoo Brewing. It has held up marvelously and is a wonderfully smooth old ale.

Photo of mjc410
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour into my La Moneuse glass raises a one finger tan head that quickly falls to surface lacing. The glass lacing is thick, but, alas, slick. The beer's body is a deep, nearly opaque red-brown, with noticeable floaties here and there. The nose, which forces itself upon me from a foot away, is heavily laden with caramel, sugar, juicy dark fruits, spicy alcohol, and perhaps a bit of citrusy hops. The taste is very herbal and orange-flavored, with some mild alcohol bite. Also, notes of pine. It seems I'm picking up some cranberry and cherry, as well. Ends with a dry bitterness. The mouth is quite full, and the carbonation smooth and light. Quite a nice ale!

Photo of froggyfrog
2.58/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle packaged Feb. 8, 2006. Beer served in a snifter glass Nov. 17, 2006.

A: Floodwater mud and rust with a 12 iron head composed of silken web-like threads of viscous fluid which slather the glass and adhere to the walls when swirled.

S: Brown sugar and alcohol prevail.

T: Unexpected. Still somewhat sharp in flavor, this beer is overwhelmed to a degree by hot alcohol. Thin caramel and earthy hop oils argue for time. There is also a spot of sticky dark red fruits like plum or cherries.

M: Slightly conflicted. Weight is thin yet lips are left sticky with a dry alcoholic finish.

D: I like a strong beer but this felt overpowered by raw alcohol and not balanced by an appropriately aggressive flavor profile.

While obviously a well-made beer, this Old Ale really didn't hit on any of the flavor components that I was looking for. To echo the advice of previous reviewers: Cellar this beer - 9 months is not enough.

Photo of scott
2.93/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3


Very nice pour of a murky bodied dark brew with a foamy head that receeded later with minor lacing.
Smell was innocuous and bland, with bready malted notes.
First sip was juicy fruit meets caramel meets plum.
As it sat(because I wasn't eager to drink this) it became a poor quality brown ale. When I think olde ale, I am expecting almost a barley wine. This was not true to form.
I love Bell's, but many in their profile taste like the same beer (Best Brown/ TCOA/ Consecrator/ Hell Hath) with minor adjustments.
This was a syrupy mess on the tongue after the initial hop sting.
Boring, Sidney. Boring.

Photo of Phatz
4.63/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I allowed this beer to warm for a while and served it in my snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful dark brown color with a brown - ruby hue and a creamy tan head. Loads of lacing.

Smell: Sweet and dark. The sugars and hints of wood and alcohol lead my mind to think of rum or brandy. The scents are like plum raisin, cherries molasses and hints of nuts, earthy hops and rich malts. WOW!

Taste: Warming alcohol, sweet sticky syrups and rich sugary toasted flavors and dark fruits, maple syrup, toasted caramel and a splash of chocolate are balanced by the drying alcohol, vanilla and wood (cedar maybe) and the gentle hop presence. This is a very tasty big Old Ale.

Mouthfeel: Big rich warming chewy mouthfeel is full and sweet yet surprisingly dry. Overall, it balances itself nicely but certainly teeter-totters.

Drinkability: This is no doubt a sipping beer. Put this one in a snifter and sip it as you do nightcaps. This one seems to catch up to you quickly but mmm is it a treat.

Note: this was fresh but I do believe it would hold up nicely in the cellar. I put a couple there and I will let you know in a year.

Hope this is helpful.

Photo of terrabyte
3.5/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy and very dark brown/copper color. There was a small, dark-yellow foam.

Aroma was sweet with dark fruits, sugars, and alcohol.

Flavor was sweet with brown sugar and maple syrup. Dark fruits like plum and black cherries. Although not painful with the sweet, sherry alcoholic bite, it was a very warm alcohol feeling in the throat and chest. Sweet finish also seems to contain flowers and some bitterness.

Mouthfeel was creamy, well carbonated. While the flavor was strong with alcohol and syrupy, the feel was not at all.

Drinkability was high for this type. It had all the characteristics of similar brews, but the alcoholic bite just wasn't there. The syrup and sweetness were only present, not overwhelming.

Photo of ybnorml
3.33/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very cloudy brown beer with some amber highlights. Has a small off white head. The aroma has a strong alcohol character to start. With ahint of sweet dried fruit in the background. That fruity dried fruit note in the aroma starts out on the tip of your tongue. With the alcohol washing it away quickly. Leaving behind a dry hop bite with a hint of nutty malt in the back of your throat.
thank you bruskiator

Photo of thelagerheads
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

$7.99 for a mixed 6
12 oz bottle
Good Time Party Store
Northville, MI

Batch 7236
Feb. 2006

I know, I know...practice patience and cellar it for a year or two and you'll reap the benefits. Well, I might be dead in a year and who is going to write this posthumously outside of a saint or a clairvoyant channeling my ghost from the beyond? Besides we're talking about a guy who wears his boxers out to the point that they turn into g-strings. I'm no sophisticate by any means. So I'm drinking this beast out of a dixie cup with a crinkle straw and...there's an alcohol presence from commencement to the finale. Within that shroud of alcohol is caramel, a welcomed mellow and slightly spicy hop, a splash of citrus and everpresent chunks of debris floating in all directions like homesick amoeba. Swish them around voraciously and watch an infected head appear and the taste mellow considerably into an almost watery caramel nut cake batter.

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler. I bought a sixer for $15 which is high, but I trusted the BA buzz. Now I'm not sure where everyone's coming from, I just didn't like this beer all that much.

The problem's not in the appearance, a huge creamy head over a ruby red beer. The smell and taste are more to blame, both kind of suck and aren't as caramelly or malty or rich as previous reviews led me to believe. Mostly this beer tasted bitter and roasted and icky.

I'll cellar the other 5 beers for about 5 years to see if they improve. I can't see choosing this over anything else in my cellar anyway.

Photo of bigbubba
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a nice brown beer with a hint of red. There's about 1/4" of nice thick ivory head. There are quite a few tan floaties swimming about, and a couple dark orange dots where the sfuff from the bottom got stuck in the head. The smell is sweet and candylike, I know there will be some hops, but the smell doesn't come through. The taste is where the hops appear. At first it is smooth and sweet but the hops kick in and the sweetness is gone. The hops are very assertive. Maybe it's just the hops they used but it is a bit much for my taste. I think these will be great after a bit of time in the cellar. Mouthfel is very good. Drinkability is average, but I'm sure it will get better with age.

Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A perfect nightcap, best one at a time.
Allowed to warm to a cool temp., maybe 50-55º.

Pours a deep mahogany, spotty lacing flecks the rim of the glass.

Aroma of burnt malt, caramel, and sweet liqueur.

Taste is rich, toffee and malt mostly. Hops linger in a ghostly bitter finish. What takes centerstage is the velvety butterscotch mouthfeel that wraps you like a blanket with every small sip. Every time I drink one, it takes at least 30 min. to finish. The alcohol is apparent, but well integrated into a heady, intoxicating liquid. Voodoo in a glass...

Can't wait to try one aged in a couple years.

Photo of kajerm
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this at an informal tasting yesterday; there was, by a wide margin, more beer than there were people. It was a very good day.

Pours dark and opaque, with an average-sized tan head that looks about good enough to eat. And it wasn't teasing-- heavy, malty, and delicious. Just a hint of fruit, and a little ethanol-- but it's balanced out nicely. I know it's there without having it knock me on my ass.

Mouthfeel is heavy and luscious; you can eat this beer like prime rib. Again, though, not TOO heavy.

I could drink these pretty much indefinitely, but I wouldn't call it a session beer. After two of these, you couldn't really enjoy the third.

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,189 ratings.