Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Third Coast Old Ale - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,036 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,036
Hads: 2,476
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 245
Gots: 467 | FT: 31
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Third Coast Old Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,036 | Hads: 2,476
Photo of Ri0
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured 12oz bottle into snifter, Bottled October 2014.

A - A murky brown/maroon with a thin 1 finger sand colored head. Spotty lacing and a thin ring form on the glass.

S - Wonderful aromas of sweet malts and dark sugars. Dates, raisins, brown sugar, caramel, toffee meld perfectly with mild hops.

T - It packs a good punch of sweet malty sugary sweetness, but the hops come in to give it a slight bitterness. Plenty of brown sugar, caramel and dark fruits. The hops are lightly citrus and bitter, just enough to keep this from being a sugar bomb. ABV is hidden.

M - Medium bodied, nice carbonation, a bit syrupy on the finish.

O - The flavor in this is remarkable and one of the best BWs I have had when fresh. Feels like it has 1-2 years already on it. Not nearly as hoppy compared to other American BWs. Highly recommend.

 832 characters

Photo of SerialTicker
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

$3.29 single bottled 9/5/14 and poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint 1/22/15.

Appearance: Pretty much beer bottle brown -- turns hazy red/orange when held to light. A quarter inch of head floats atop the beer, and there's some patchwork lacing down the glass.

Smell: Classic sort of dark fruit, caramel malt, and brown sugar sort of aroma going on. There is a fair amount of alcohol in the aroma too, which also seems pretty common in the style. There seems to be a freshness seemingly of hops in there, but I could just be confusing that with the dark fruit and brown sugary aroma. Very nice smelling beer.

Taste/feel: The bottle says Old Ale, but BeerAdvocate says American Barleywine... I guess I can see the confusion. Alcohol, dark fruit, and hop bitterness (without so much hop flavor) are there immediately. Throughout the sip, it's almost nothing else but alcohol and dark fruit until the finish, where there's a caramel kind of maltiness with the warming alcohol. Finish is dry, but also juicy... seems different each sip. The feel on this beer is extraordinary, with a silky smooth full body and subtle prickly carbonation... just perfect, to me.

Very well done Old Ale. The bitterness gives the American Barleywine vibe, but it's certainly an Old Ale in my mind, despite what Bell's description is. A great Autumn/Winter sipper.

 1,343 characters

Photo of Phoneguy
4.29/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 9/19/13. Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Beautiful reddish brown hue which is more red than brown when held in the light. One finger of head which faded quickly but never completely disappeared. Wonderful smell of malty sweetness, butterscotch & alcohol. Tastes of dates, alcohol. Initially sweet and finishes slightly dry. Light syrup mouth feel, low carbonation but not flat. Excellent Old Ale/Barleywine. I'm going to let the other 5 bottles age a few months to see how it mellows and probably pick up another six pack to age long term. Good show Bell"s!

 571 characters

Photo of Chaz
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours what appears to be a jet-black to the eye, and what is in fact a clear deep, ruby color when held up to a direct light. Topped with a nice couple fingers of densely-packed bubbly foam for a head, and exhibiting most excellent lacing when that head recedes.

Nose is an explosion of rampaging malts and hops! Seriously, it is dense. Dark fruit and tropical fruits mixed with boozy rum and vegetal phenols, combined with anise and fennel and dark chocolate and mint - OH MY! Seriously, it's good. Jam-my. Plum-my. Red and blue grapeskins and yeast and raisins and a bit of toffee, too.

It is by no means as hop-forward as many of today's American-style barleywines, but it is very consistent with the beer I drank in the prime of my drinking years (circa the early Oughts), and it is a good example of a traditional aromatic profile for such a beer.

Holy sweet, booty-plundering and rampaging MALTS on the first sip, Batman! This is even better than I remember it. Brisk, scrubbing carbonation*, and an absolutely palate-coating presence. This beer has taken up residence and it don't want none of your organic Balinese java, or 'Uncle Chaz's Miracle Supper' (burned no less than fifteen minutes ago, dammit) to interfere!

Dates, plum, raisin? Check, check, check. There's another dark-skinned fruit in here and it is eluding me, but the anise/fennel seed combo (did I ever tell you that I like fennel seed thanks to my Italian-adopted Ma? It's true!) is all up in this hizzouse like there's no tomorrow, and I am loving it.

Some tart cherry, a little bit of citrus (orange rind/marmalade... ), and something akin to "Hi-C" tropical fruit punch goin' on in here. And if that latter descriptor makes you a bit concerned for the silverware and jewelry you keep on you nightstand, never you mind, I'll be washing it all down with some White Castle sliders, later tonight.

Mouthfeel? This one grabs ahold of you and don't let go until it's throttled the last bit of pork rind, shredded carrots, and (what the hell else did I put in that Fricassee?) organic brown rice from your memory. If "Heavier-bodied" is an adequate descriptor, then consider this the Webster's definition. It is a bigm rich, pungent beer, and the mouthfeel follows. It is not as dangerously-drinkable as some of the lighter-yet-stronger offerings I've had lately, but is definitely drinkable if a heavier, boozier concoction with a lot of character is up yer alley -- and I think that Third Coast Old Ale might be up yer alley!

In short, this is a good beer. I haven't sampled it in close to ten years, now, and I have never rated it beyond some scribblings on a napkin that I had at the bar with me on one particularly cold night in Minnesota winter when I spilled a full Libbey pint on Mr. Larry Bell while drunkenly gesticulating my day on the sales floor at the Polish Liquor Barn. Alas and alack!

Like I said: I think this beer might be for you...

*Bottle coding places this at September or October 2014. I forget the exact date, and the bottle's already clear across the living room, smashed into a million pieces next to the recycling bin. HUZZAH!

P.S. Thankstomodernchemistrysleepisnowoptional.

 3,205 characters

Photo of mchegash
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - 4/5
A deep red color, perhaps a hint of brown. It looks red-brown in soft light, but totally red in bright light. A small amount of head. Slightly clear, also the darkness of the color makes in harder to see through. A medium amount of carbonation can be seen rising up through the beer. Overall a good look, the color is the best aspect.

Smell - 3.9/5
Strong hops aroma (piney), along with sweet malts, perhaps resembling the malt smell of a quality amber. The malts smelled "red" to me, though this could just be my mind playing tricks on me, since I already know the color. The malts smells is fairly fruity, cherries being the fruit that comes to mind. There is also a discernable alcohol smell (not unexpected at 10.2%).

Taste - 4/5
A very nice balance between malts and hops. There is a piney, resinous hops presence, but also a taste of deep, dark, sweet, slightly fruity malts. The beer is suprisingly sweet. Some alcohol taste as well.

Mouthfeel - 4.1/5
Medium to full-bodied, perhaps leaning more towards the full-bodied side. The feel is slightly syrupy, but also fairly crisp. A moderate amount of light to moderate carbonation. Overall the feel is quite nie

Overall - 4.3/5
This is a great beer. Very nicely balanced between the hops and malts and fruitiness and alcohol. It has a nice fairly full-bodied feel. There is nothing really to complain about this beer.

 1,393 characters

Photo of delta490
4.46/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep murky brown with a slight reddish tint. There is a thin cream-colored head that dissipates quickly leaving only the slightest soapy lacing. The aroma is rich, full of dark fruits and slight alcohol. The taste is equally delicious as it smells, with just a hint of hops to balance it all. There is a modicum of carbonation and there is a nice thickness to the body.

 377 characters

Photo of watermelon
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass bottled on 9/13/13

A: Dark clear carmel color with and off-white head.

S: Lost of malty sweetness and booze

T: fair amount of alcohol even though its been aged for over a year some dark fruits some hoppy bitterness and some molasses.

F: thick and viscous

O: Decent barley wine especially for the price, I've only had it with age so I would be curious to try it without.

 404 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sep 2014 bottle, opened Dec 2014.

A - Really nice looking beer. Chestnut body with deep copper tones. Fine off-white head has ok retention and lace.

S - Sweet nose. Caramel, yellow raisins, soft warm booze (maybe a light cognac), and light brown sugar.

T - Really nice. Drinks like a bright American barleywine. Earthy woody hops, caramel, burnt chocolate, sweet macerated raisins, honey, and warm liquor.

M - Smooth, soft, medium-light body with appropriately low carbonation.

O - A delicious beer and a great Americanized take on the style.

 554 characters

Photo of ksimons
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-mahogany with a thin layer of light tan head that disappears quickly to leave a bit of lacing around the top

S-dark rich fruits, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, and some bourbon notes

T-similar to the smell with a heavy dose of dark fruits and caramel backbone but with a moderate amount of hops throughout that is a bit harsh in the finish

M-medium to full body, light to moderate carbonation

Overall I really like this beer, the aroma was really terrific. It would be interesting to compare an aged bottle to a fresh one.

 529 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Maduro's in Madison, Wisconsin. Served in a tulip glass 11/29/2014.

A- Medium-dark caramel body. Clear. One finger white head with good retention time. No lacing. [3.75]

S- Rich citrus, stone fruit hop aromas mixed in with sweet caramel and toffee. More sweet than aromatic. No graininess. Rich, intense, delicious. [4.25]

F- Dried stone fruit, dense caramel flavours, toffee, raisins. Nice complexity. A nice earthy bitterness on the back end that helps balance out the sweetness. [4.25]

M- Medium bodied, smooth and mildly dry. Good carbonation. Easy to drink especially for a 10.2% ABV barleywine. [4]

O- Very nice American style barleywine with a nice hop presence that complements the big malt bill better than most American barleywines. For what it is, it drinks great and is a very nice value. Would recommend this one. [4.25]

Final score: 4.20

 867 characters

Photo of OrangeMen
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Deep maroone, burnt amber, murky and dark. Fairly transparent when held to light, glistens. Pours half finger thick slight off-white, slight tan head. Little lacing on sides of glass.
Aroma- Big notes of figs, raisins, dates, plums, all sorts of dried fruits. Malt forward sweetness, caramel, toffee, slight toastiness. Underlying earthiness, slight bitter and piney resinous hop character.
Taste- Burnt caramel, toffee, molasses, huge malt sweetness. Dark winter fruits accompany and accentuate flavors. Leathery earthiness, bready, hop bitterness resides on the back end.
Feel- Full bodied mouthfeel, thick and creamy. Incredibly smooth and rich.
Overall- Just a wonderful depth of flavors, rich and deep in character. Thick, sweet malts have a wonderfull toastiness and richness, while the dark fruits add a great sweetness to the beer. There is a slight hop bitterness present in its current state, but by no means does it add too much bitterness. There is a great balance to this beer, warming alcohol touch as well.

 1,033 characters

Photo of 57md
4.02/5  rDev -2%

Had this in a mini-vertical with a fresh 2014 version and a year-old 2013 vintage.
Brownish copper color. The nose is bready with a sweet note as well. The flavor profile is dominated by maltiness and a perfectly sweet finish – very pleasant but not too much. This beer is imminently drinkable (and downright dangerous) at 10%+.

The only major differences that I noticed between the two samples were that the sweet notes were more muted in the aged version and the aged version was a touch dryer. I think that I like the freshie better.

 543 characters

Photo of SFNC
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%

A 2012 vintage. Smells and tastes similar to a good doppelbach. I think the age must have shaved off some rough edges. Sweet, without being cloying, strong, without being overpowering,

 187 characters

Photo of swoopdog
5/5  rDev +22%

A - Transparent brown with a good carbonation causing some tight bubbles in the middle. Minimal lacing and very faint alcohol legs.

S - Nice bourbon upfront some smokiness and vanilla, caramel and chicory.

T - Dark fruits maltiness and roasted breadiness upfront and some vanilla hit the middle of the mouth before leaving you with a faint hopiness at the back end where you get just a bit of that bourbon flavor at the end of a pull.

M - Much thinner than it drinks with minimal heat. Syruppy sweetiness and sticky drinks incredibly smooth for 10.2%.

O - This is an incredible barleywine and has a real nice drinkability and smoothness that can get someone in trouble if they weren't careful. I would put this up next to Bigfoot in style.

 745 characters

Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%

Poured from a 32oz. growler into a snifter glass

Pours a medium brown color with reddish hues to it, very little bubbles or head. Maybe it was because this was from a tap and not out of a bottle but i was surprised at how amazingly smooth this was for a (just barely) 10+%abv barley wine. Not quite as in your face as some barley wines I have tried, but not in a bad way. The taste has prominent notes of malt, fig, raisin & plum with a slight bite on the finish. Slightly sweet up front and very smooth. I did not think it had much of a boozy taste to it, but after finishing 16oz. I was definitely feeling it. Overall I thought this was a nice, if not slightly lighter barley wine. Recommend giving it a try if you come across it.

 740 characters

Photo of Neorebel
4.7/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Third Coast pours an astonishing shade of auburn with distinctly red highlights. The head is thin, but fluffy and inviting. I did notice some sediment, but I believe I have been holding on to this bottle since 2011, so that may have played a factor.

The aroma is sharp, alcoholic, reminiscent of bourbon, but one can definitely pick up fruity aspects, such as apricot, and there is a caramel element within it as well.

The initial wave over the palate feels very soft and smooth - malty, bready, with a touch of vanilla. The center of the flavor releases complex dark fruits, red wine, and baker's chocolate. The finish, a surprising amount of citrus and pine hop flavor, with a drying bitterness and a certain woodiness.

The flavor lingers nicely and despite the ABV and aroma, it is shockingly easy to drink. I must say in closing, that this is one of the best Barleywines I have ever tasted!

 900 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 9/05/14 so it's almost exactly 7 months old. Too fresh, perhaps, but what the hey....
Deep amber in color. Kind of a murky, dark amber, in fact. Carbonation is fairly low - it borders on the nonexistent. Thin, patchy head. Not the prettiest brew I ever saw, but again: what the hey...
OK, this tastes GREAT. Initial impression is malty sweetness and caramel. The alcohol is obvious but not off-putting. Just when you think you have this one figured out, you're hit with a lingering citrusy bitterness which is just a great way to finish.
This beer is a tad rough around the edges - might be a candidate for the cellar. Betcha it gets even better with age.

 679 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.53/5  rDev +10.5%
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 -19.5%
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 -2.4%

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 -51.2%

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 +12.2%

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 -8.5%

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 -8.8%
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 -1%
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

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,036 ratings.