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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.

1,048 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,048
Hads: 2,531
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.61%
Wants: 252
Gots: 495 | FT: 30
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

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: 1,048 | Hads: 2,531
Photo of JebBeerFish
3.41/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To my limited palate, hoppy for a BW or for an Old Ale, (BA classifies as a barley wine but it is called an old ale - go figure), Fairly bold flavors, alcohol significantly present but not unpleasantly so. A sipper for sure, Fair amount of bitterness, not getting any caramel,

I intend to age rest of 6 pack and see if sweeter flavors emerge, Glad I bought, I'll judge after aging whether I'll buy again.

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Photo of Andrew041180
3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First off, this is a beautiful color. I like the aroma. Flavor was good, but not my style. Just too malty (I know this is how it's supposed to be). I couldn't tie it to any particular flavor that I am familiar with, just general maltiness. Nice feel too it. Alcohol wasn't very pronounced, although certainly present. I can certainly see why people like this one.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bells in California, nuff said! Out of a 12 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

A small head forms and dissipates to a mere froth on top this chestnut brown beer. The beer smells fruity, like dates, raisins, grapes, topped with toasted brown sugar around its edges. I'd call that nice.

Third Coast leans to the sweet side. A slap of alcohol joins the molasses, dates, and brown sugar which tag along the ride for much of the journey. Yet not too sweet, and not too boozy. The beer also offers nutty flavors and a modest bittersweet finish, which keeps the beer in form. A little boozy, although not annoying boozy. The beer is full bodied and chewy, and is a pleasurable (slow sipping) drink.

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Photo of keithmurray
3.63/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage

Appearance - murky reddish brown liquid with tan head

Smell - raisin, caramel, brown sugar

Taste- molasses, brown sugar, caramel, raisin, fig

Mouthfeel - medium plus body, medium carbonation, sweet, sticky, upfront, astringent finish

Overall - this beer was okay, but I'm finding the flavors not to mesh well and unbalanced. Won't repurchase

Price Point - $3/12 oz bottle

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

Sweet, big and very nice barleywine. Slight bitter finish but to me, this falls more in line with an Old Ale or English style BW vs. American BW as its listed. Very solid and enjoyable big beer.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.26/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This one poured a pretty brown and amber looking color. Not much of a head and a tiny ring like lace that disapated. Perhaps I poured it wrong, but I'll let it go because this is a neat looking brew.
A warm and inviting aroma of jam like fruits and toast. Also caramel and toffee. The first thing that hits me regarding the taste and feel is the fullness of the mouthfeel, the warmth, the near viscosity and smoothness. Fruity sweet taste, caramel malts and toffee. This is balanced by an alcohol content that is there but not too boozy. There is also a small but significant amount of bittering hops. This is a monster of a brew! Full bodied, sweet and malt forward and hearty. Another great one by Bell's!

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A bottled on date of 10.25.14

L - Creamy and thick, brown sugar, molasses. No head and some sharp bubbles. Lots of sediment/yeast floats down to the bottom

S - Sugar! Sweet, caramel. Slightly boozy

T - Caramel, toffee, sweet. Booze is pretty well hidden for 10%. Tasty!

F - Full bodied and thick. Low in carbonation.

O - An amazing beer fresh. I have 5 more I am going to age and crack 1 a year for the next few years!

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Photo of kissmybunniebutt
4.74/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Beautifully light Barleywine-esque ale. Rich and hearty but bright on the tongue. The aroma was sweet, figgy, and mildly sour. The texture just coated your tongue perfectly. Not too thick, not too thin. The ABV gave it a bite that really cut the richness well. Nicely done.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.65/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Dark brown/ruby draft pour (from October!) with off white head and great lacing in 12oz snifter. Baked plum pudding/sweet malt notes. Sweet malt and stone fruit flavors. More complex fruit and malt as liquid warms. Medium mouthfeel and a little alcohol bite. Overall, like drinking a lite barley wine style - complex and excellent.

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Photo of MIbeer27
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle, dated 10/30/14

Bottle poured into snifter a deep amber color and a minimal, quickly dissipating off-white head.

Aroma is huge dark fruit (raisin, plum, fig) and caramel, bready malt, along with some brown sugar and faint alcohol.

Taste follows the nose exactly, joined only by some pleasant warmth from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is massive and syrupy, with a medium-high amount of bitterness jumping in briefly, but ultimately giving way to the malt on the finish. Carbonation is on the lower end.

Overall, Third Coast Old Ale is my first experience with a barleywine and an excellent one at that. The drinkability of this beer is scary good and the syrupy mouthfeel is outstanding.

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Photo of KomodoDragon
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep cloudy brown with settling sediments. No, not the prettiest picture. Cane sugar smells and sweet maltiness with burnt sugar, some molasses, in the taste. Warming alcohol gives way to a moderate bitter finish. A bit chalky in the aftertaste. Very much an american barleywine, a a wonderful one at that.

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Photo of rangerred
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a very dark brown with a tiny light tan head. Some splotchy lacing on top but good foam around the edge of the glass.

Aroma is dark fruit and burnt sugar. A touch of pine and oak notes but it is all very weak. I was really hoping the aroma would pop a little more than it does.

The flavor has a huge shot of hop bitterness right off the bat. The hops really overwhelm whatever subtle flavors might be present. As the beer warms, some more dark fruit and oak comes through but it is still hampered by the bitterness. Sweet and pretty thick mouthfeel with some alcohol warmth on the finish.

Overall, I had very high hopes for this beer and feel a bit let down. Maybe a couple years on this will ease the bitterness but I feel like there are some really good flavors buried in there.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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,

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,048 ratings.