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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.

1,019 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,019
Hads: 2,418
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 240
Gots: 444 | FT: 29
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,019 | Hads: 2,418
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(packaged 09/05/14 - poured into a fat Chouffe tulip)

L: expecting a lot of hop flavor - the head on this is thick and damn near rock solid, reddish-tan in color... deep rusty red hue to the liquid, touch of (hop?) haze... barnacle-grade crusty lacing... keeps a messy, but steady cover of foam

S: big, juicy hop and ester notes... nice balance of intense dark crystal malts, some toasty-roasty notes... mild perfumy scent like an old ladies purse... hint of toasted grain... almost a raspberry fruit spread going on

T: superb finish with that raspberry, minty-spicy hops, and one of the most magnificent, 3D caramel flavors I've tasted in a U.S. brew - I mean, there are a few layers to its flavor, from light to dark and a few points in between... homemade, fruit brandy-like soft boozy glow in the aftertaste; grassy/earthy (ashy/gravel), nearly meaty sugars hanging around as well... overall, flavors comparable to the textbook American barleywine, but very much exceeding the lot in depth and, for lack of a better term, complexity - excellent showing of plant-like flavors to establish counterpoint with the requisite fruity/caramel sweetness that's core to the style

F: satiny, luscious plumpness with soft, fuzzy frill on the edges... bedroom flow... suggestive of, but not quite syrupy - bitterness and laid-back alcohol seem to level that out... a little to easy to knock this back at its age

O: this may be my new favorite American barleywine, going toe-to-toe with the '12 Brooklyn Monster bottles that are floating around town right now, that are killin' it softly with some room-temp Stilton... I'll be coming back for more (1,642 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark burgundy color. The head is a finger high, and mocha in shade. It's not only wonderfully creamy, but the retention isn't bad either (for the ABV, that is). In addition, a consistent ring of lacing is left on the glass. (4)

Smell: Holy crap, this smells incredibly sweet. The malt backbone...isn't a backbone, really, more like an exoskeleton of caramel, brown sugar, nuts, and even chocolate. However, the ester character is the real punch in the face: it's ridiculous how much cherry, fig, and raisin I'm also getting. Touches of leather and alcohol also come through. Sure, it smells great, but is it going to be too much? Or will it show a modicum of restraint? (4)

Taste: Yep, it's sweet. It isn't just sweet, actually - it's also spicy and a little boozy. It starts off with plenty of caramel and brown sugar sweetness. Eventually, it will evolve into dark fruit esters, then some spicier malt notes, and finally alcohol. A lot of alcohol. The booziness subsides a little bit after opening up...but only by a bit. It's just okay right now - there's some depth to be found, but not much balance. (3)

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy on the tongue, while it's dryish and warming going down. It doesn't quite burn the way its alcohol flavor would suggest. Carbonation is low, as well. A true example of a slow sipper. (3)

Overall: Right now, it's drinking pretty harshly. But you know what? A year of aging will fix that. Everything is here to be a great barleywine, it just needs less palpable alcohol presence. I'd buy it again...but only to age it a couple years. (3)

3.25/5: Trust me, age this one (1,660 characters)

Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Looks nice. Complex ruddy ochre color. Head just short of being smooth and bubbleless like latte top. Didn't seem exceptionally long-lasting. Deep chocolate and oak notes contribute to the palate before sipping. My tongue notes: beets, allspice, and tart cherries; Spicy tannins and noticeable wood elements. The spice and oak definitely give the sweet toffee, etc. elements a grounded earthiness. Could be cloying on a hot summer night, especially after beer has warmed a bit. Velvety, otherwise, with good carbonation. (521 characters)

Photo of logicalparadox
2/5  rDev -51.1%

Not for me.

Deep reddish brown, it's rusty, almost bloody. Good head that leaves beautiful lacing and sea foam like stickiness. it looks pretty.

Bitter and roasty to the point of reminding me of grilled chicken gone wrong. The alcohol is right up front, only subdued by the astringency of the brew. Boozy, to be sure. Warming on the way down, but harsh if you're not into that sort of thing (which I'm not).

Highly rated, so maybe I'm just not a fan of the style. I've not had many barleywines that I've enjoyed, so I'm not shocked, but disappointed nonetheless. This is the first barley wine that I've had that packed this kind of intense roasted character, though. While I'm not a fan, I can see how that might be a bonus if you're into it. (746 characters)

Photo of pat61
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%

Rich malt, caramel, and dark dried fruit on the nose with a whiff of alcohol.
Pours deep chestnut under a 1/2" light tan head that quickly dissipates.
Offers up a palate full of toffee, biscuit, hints of chocolate, dark dried fruit, citrus, very faint coffee from the roast, rich and filling.
Chewy, below average carbonation, creamy. (334 characters)

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

The beer pours a dull dark brown with copper hues and a thin tan head that fades quickly. The nose is fruit and caramel grain sweetness forward, with a hint of metallic bitterness, and booze as it warms. There is similar sweetness that dominates the palate while drinking, but also biting bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is where this beer seems to suffer most - lowly carbonated yet metallic, bitter, and slightly soapy - attributes which don't not make for a pleasant finish. It's otherwise relatively drinkable for being a big beer with an abv that creeps beyond 10%. I admire the style in a non-barrel aged, accessible, six pack format, but prefer other examples more. (680 characters)

Photo of cornmuse
3.74/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottled dated 9/19/2013, poured into a snifter on 7/31/2014.

Appearance: Dark, iced coffee with a tan, thin head and very slight lacing. Just what I expected from a barleywine.

Nose: caramel, barley, raisins, slight leather over notes of orange, apricot and clay

Taste: sweet, resting on the middle of the tongue and leaving a slightly bitter and sour (in a good way) trail to a dry finish with plenty of warmth from the alcohol (10.2 ABV).

Mouthfeel: Creamy and thick. Viscous is a word that comes to mind. It's a cool July evening, but I definitely see this working magic in the cold months because of the warmth and long finish.

I liked it a lot, but didn't love it. We'll put a few in the long-term drawer and see how it ages. (745 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 9/11/13; poured into a snifter 7/25/14

A: Cola brown. A tan half finger head that dissipates to foam. Light lacing.

S: Dark fruits (plums, dates, raisins, figs), molasses, brown sugar.

T: Follows nose. Chewy, thick, robust, hearty. Syrupy. Almost bourbon-y. This one means business. The aging really improved on the smoothness.

M: Medium to heavy with light carbonation.

O: A stellar sipper. Really mellows as it warms. Recommended. (450 characters)

Photo of sommersb
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 07-02-2014
Freshness: Bottled by 09-19-2013
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Received in a trade

Appearance has a murky reddish-brown beer with a small tan head. Retention and lacing are low.

Smells are of rich malts, brown bread, caramel, chocolate, molasses and dark fruits.

The taste has notes of oak, vanilla and molasses, plus woody hop character. It also has a tannic quality that adds some acidity and bitterness.

Mouthfeel has a lively carbonation and a medium body. The finish has flavors of dark fruit sweetness and more of the tannins that adds acidity.

Overall a nice nightcap of a beer but the tannins were a negative. (687 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Owl House in Rochester, NY.

Pours a crimson red/brown, with a small quarter inch head, and not much lacing.

Smells like caramel, toffee, booze, dark fruits soaked in rum.

The taste is similar, and fairly smooth and unassuming. This is not a barleywine that knocks you over the head with strong malt flavors. It's slightly boozy, with smooth caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and dark fruit flavors. The alcohol present isn't negative, it melds well with the dark fruit flavor to suggest cherries soaked in brandy or raisins soaked in rum. It's nice. Not too sweet. This doesn't really taste like an American barleywine, however, seems to have more in common with one of the English persuasion.

Medium bodied, smooth, sweet mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

This is fairly tasty, but not in the upper echelon of barleywines/old ales that I've tasted. (858 characters)

Photo of Bone53
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 9 month old bottle into a snifter at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit

Appearance: Rich brown color with a one finger tan head that dissipates quickly. Great lacing

Smell: Caramel, toffee, figs/dates. Gets richer as it warms

Taste: Sweet malts upfront, dark fruits in the middle, and syrupy molasses character to finish it off. I don't get hops until the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied; Thick and creamy, almost velvety. very little alcohol detected

Overall: I don't know if it's because this particular bottle is 9 months old, but I don't get any alcohol burn that others mention. This is a malt bomb and don't pick up hops until the aftertaste. I enjoy the transition of flavors between caramel/brown sugar, dark fruits, and molasses. The latter gives off a very nice touch and is what made it exceptional in my opinion. I imagine a bourbon aged version would be spectacular. A great barleywine, a real sipper, and another solid big beer offering from Bells (976 characters)

Photo of StaveHooks
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a Prairie Teku glass
Bottled on 8/7/13

A - Pours a dark mahogany red with a small tan head on top. Throws a few specks pf lacing.

S - Toasted barley, burnt brown sugar, fruity, cherries, figs, dates, loads of caramel, bready yeast.

T - Sugary brown bread, toasted caramel barley, molasses, burnt toffee, sticky raisins, dates, dark sweet bread, dark fruits, slight hint of cocoa, bittering hops seem to add a kiss of citrus. Finishes toasty, bitter and the sweetness dries out at the very last second.

M - Medium to full body, sticky and syrupy at times, low to medium carbonation.

Aggressive flavors of toasted barley, sticky and sweet with more hop presence than I expected. It's like a Barleywine/Dopplebock combo. If you like aggressive beers pick this one up. (791 characters)

Photo of cbutova
3.81/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured to a tulip and a pint glass with a dark brown, red body. A small off-white cap rises to about half a finger with a silky texture. Head retention is decent but it falls to the smallest of rings. Tiny ring leaves spotty lace.

S- Fairly strong aroma of aged ale. Dark red fruits, raisins and caramel majorly provide the aroma for me with some nice toasted and cracked grain malt hints. Tiniest hint of alcohol. Hops are here in the tiniest of capacities.

T- Malty base of caramel, toasted grains and even a bit of roast. Brown sugar comes in quite strong as well. Fruity aspect of raisins, figs and prunes. Spicy and herbal hops make a surprise appearance in the finish. Slight grapes, apples and cinnamon.

MF- Fairly thick body with a creamy and foamy texture. Carbonation is medium-high with a crisp and somewhat silky feel. More carbonated than most other examples of the style I can think of. Slight alcohol warming resonates on the palate.

Hmm. A nice play on Old Ale but perhaps a bit over-carbonated and hoppy for me. It just feels so much different from the style that I know but a good beer to drink after all. The toasted brown sugar malts are nice and it almost reminds me of a super strong Brown Ale. (1,223 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
4.09/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a relatively clear but close to opaque mahogany in color with light amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some garnet red highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy tan head that reduces to a very large patch of thin film covering almost the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of toffee, caramel, and dark fruits (dates and prunes).

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramel and toffee malts with a light amount of sweetness and a hint of dark fruit (dates and prunes). There is an earthiness which I am assuming is from the hops towards the finish and light amounts of alcohol that lingers.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Upfront the beer is rather sticky with some light amounts of dryness and alcohol warming in the finish.

O: This is a very nice and enjoyable barleywine though there is a lot more complexity to the aroma than there is in the flavor. This would probably be even better with a little more age on it. (1,135 characters)

Photo of TastyAdventure
3.36/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - murky dark brown, paper thin head

Smell - big malty sweetness, dates, prunes

Taste - big sweet, cloying, molasses, big yeasty bread, mild dates, prunes, some alcohol burn

Mouthfeel - cloying, not much carb

Overall- this beer makes me realize I am starting to drift away from giant beers... (307 characters)

Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Pours a murky reddish brown with a one-finger foamy white head. Light amount of sticky lacing.

S - Lots of booze, caramel malts, and light dark fruit.

T - Taste is a nice blend of sweet dark fruits, caramel malts, molasses, and alcohol. Finish has a nice earthy hop bite.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Nice creamy mouthfeel.

O - A really nice Barleywine with a nice balance of flavors. A nice sipper. (420 characters)

Photo of StLeasy
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled September 10th, 2013. Halfway through, about an hour and a halfway after pouring, so it's ~60*F and IMO, at its most flavorful prime. (March 9 2014). Poured into a 16oz tulip.

Appearance- Poured aggressively, a deep brown with two fingers of brown head.

Smell- Grassy caramel.

Taste- Sweet, burnt, caramel, dark fruits, then pine. Crisp resiny aftertaste. Very little alcohol presence

Mouthfeel- Slightly thin for the style.Creamy at first, but quickly thins as it warms and oxidizes. Almost watery as I'm writing this, but that is expected 90 minutes after pouring.

One of my favorite beers in one of my favorite styles. Very sweet and malty with a bitter finish. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys strong ales/barleywines, or scotch ales. (764 characters)

Photo of FLima
3.91/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Amber reddish color with a thin beige head with low retention.
Aroma of dark and red fruits, licorice and port wine.
Intense flavor of prunes, caramels, charred wood, red fruits, house wine, fig, raspberry, smoked, roasted and toasted malts. Very dry and bitter aftertaste.
Medium to full body with low carbonation. Alcohol of 10.2% is harmonic with the beer. Sticky feeling.
Beer with good complexity and lower drinkability given its sweetness and sticky flavors, partially expected from the style. (499 characters)

Photo of Craigory
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

32oz growler fill (2011 keg) from Green's Piney Grove, poured into a Stone Old Guardian glass.

A: Pours a deep reddish-brown body that reveals a bit of auburn when held to the light. Forms ample beige head, which slowly recedes to a solid cap. The cap last throughout the beer, and leaves a little lacing along the way.

S: Toffee, caramel, burnt sugar, dark fruit, and little alcohol. I've certainly smelled better, but this hits all the right notes.

T: A hop bites hits first, but this quickly gives way to toffee, burnt sugar, dark fruits, and a bit of smokiness. Bitterness lingers on the finish. Really, apart from a bit of hops at the very beginning and end, this leans more toward an English Barleywine, featuring a really nice dark fruit flavor and some burnt sugar notes.

M: Plenty big in the mouth without being too sticky. It definitely coats all over, yet it doesn't quite force one to sip slowly.

O: This is a really nice English Barleywine, with just a bit more hop presence than typical examples of that style. The smokiness is a nice touch, and prevents the beer from coming across as too syrupy-sweet, despite the toffee, burnt sugar, and dark fruit flavors. I'd like to try one fresh to compare, as this 2011 vintage is drinking marvelously. (1,264 characters)

Photo of brutusmuktuk
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown ale with an off-white head. Has a pleasant, sweet aroma characteristic of barley wines. Taste is caramel, and towards the end of the beer there’s a stronger hint of sweet fig and syrup. There’s a touch of bitterness to further add to the complexity. I enjoy this, and I wonder how it will be after aging. (319 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 02/11/14 notes. On tap at The Jeffrey in NYC; $8 for a 10oz pour in a tulip.

a - Pours a somewhat murky reddish brown color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, wheat, oats, plums, figs, toffee, caramel malts, toasted malts, bread, and alcohol. Nice nose, lots of dark fruits and malts.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruity malts, caramel malts, alcohol, bread, grains, toasted malts, toffee, wheat, dough, earthy notes, light spice. More caramel and booze than the nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Light booze to it.

o - Overall a very nice old ale. Lots of dark fruits and caramel throughout. Alcohol is a little noticable but it doesn't hinder drinking it. Would have it again. (757 characters)

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.92/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled September 2011, drank February 2014.

A - Dark, nearly opaque brew, with a mild, light tan head that produces minimal lacing.

S - Strong, very strong hit of malt and alcohol, with powerful notes of dried fruits. Particularly prunes. My wife, who was sitting next to me on the couch when I was drinking this, complained that the smell was less than appetizing. I don't agree, but it was somewhat overwhelming.

T - A spine of alcohol and malt runs throughout. with a decently balanced hit of dark fruit, raisins and prunes foremost, very sweet, but not cloyingly so, combined with a closing solid bitter note, making this something you can swallow, not just sip.

M - The real trick here is that Bell's managed to prevent this old ale from blanketing your mouth with a cloying sweetness. Each swallow runs its course and leaves your mouth ready for more.

O - I can recognize that this brew is a top notch barleywine. I cannot imagine how hot it would be fresh, but with 2 1/2 years on it, things have settled in nicely. I am not a huge fan of the style, but I recognize the talent exhibited here. Another fine brew from Bell. (1,134 characters)

Photo of BierJager89
4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown, practically black, with a tan head.

S: Old wet malt, some dark fruits and a touch of orange in the nose. Typical of an old ale.

T: Pine, raspberry, strawberry, fig, plum, malt, orange peel and nutmeg.

M: Full bodied and a touch harsh, but pretty good.

O: A delicious old ale. I've only had a few of this style, but they tend to be very good, especially when aged in bourbon barrels. I'd love a taste of a bourbon barrel aged version of this. (465 characters)

4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle to snifter. Packaged on 10/12/12, Batch number 11400.

[A] Pours dark mahogany brown with low visibility showcasing amber edges and a degree of transparency, The head is light tan in color and modest in size, but the retention is longstanding in half collar form and there is a light amount of lacing that grabs the glass.

[S] Over ripe, bruised and beaten stone fruits mixed with an entire jar of molasses and set on the stove to simmer. Lots of dark, toasty bread crust aromas waft from the glass as well.

[T] Deep, dark fruit, molasses, leather and burnt sugar. Light notes of oxidation coming across like an aged port or sherry. Complexity is fantastic as each lingering moment on the tongue reveals a new dimension to the flavor. Plum, fig, prunes, raisins and more.

[M] The mouthfeel is spot on for my tastes. Thick, luxurious body. Low carbonation. The bitterness is perfectly balanced with this brew which is sweet on the end and sticks to the tongue and doesn't let go.

[O] Forget about the 10.2%. You wouldn't ever guess it. Third Coast Old Ale is very, very enjoyable. Especially at this age. I wouldn't mind having a few more of these bottles lying around. (1,185 characters)

Photo of JamesShoemaker
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter and stemless wine glass. Bottling date of 9/13/13. I picked this up from the Triple Deuce in Mount Pleasant for only $9.99/sixer. Obviously it was an error in my favor!

A - deep, dark browns, semi-translucent. Not unlike a Scotch Ale, very reminiscent of BBA brown ales or Wee Heavys, Backwoods Bastard, CW, etc. The color isn't particularly appetizing, and the appearance isn't particularly striking. Some foam lingers on the side of the glass, a little haze and carbonation on the top, but otherwise pretty tepid. I swirl the liquid around in the glass and the carbonation bubbles rise in disturbance.

S - a lot of peaty malt on the nose, sweet stickiness, caramel, butterscotch, meat, smoked malt, toffee, and caramelized onions. A deep whiff yields booze at the end, burning the nose. Again, not unlike a BBA Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy, but more interesting because the ingredients are dynamic. A lot of sweetness pervades, but there's a savory element too that's just touched upon.

T - again, sweet and savory. The taste is especially complex, a good balance between sticky candies (butterscotch and toffee) and the savory elements (smoke, beef, peat, etc.). I'm really in disbelief, because TCOA tastes like it's been whiskey barrel aged, but obviously it hasn't. A very complex level of taste produced by a non-BBA beer. Impressive.

M - quite smooth, despite the high alcohol content. The sweet notes in the taste make this beer frighteningly drinkable; the bitter elements don't play a role at all in the MF.

O - I'd be interested in aging one of these (inexpensive) bottles for a short period of time, otherwise I can tell that TCOA is going to fall off with prolonged age. Bell's has really achieved something pretty great here with a composite style that mixes elements of BW with stouts, Scotch, brown, and old ales. (1,867 characters)

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
91 out of 100 based on 1,019 ratings.