1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,828 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1828
Reviews: 956
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%

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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Third Coast Old Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,828 | Reviews: 956 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of CRJMellor


4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

Serving type: on-tap

05-23-2004 03:38:55 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of tar


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2004 14:57:08 | More by tar
Photo of merlin48


4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2004 11:56:58 | More by merlin48
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2004 02:43:34 | More by oberon
Photo of silenius


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2004 20:42:47 | More by silenius
Photo of rabidawg


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2004 04:42:55 | More by rabidawg
Photo of BeerResearcher


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

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

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2004 05:05:01 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of pheurton


4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2004 13:23:50 | More by pheurton
Photo of Morris729


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received as part of BIF 2.5.
Pours a murky brownish color with a short tan head that quickly fades into a thin lace composed of large bubbles. Nose is sweet dark fruit blended with some earthy tobacco and spicy alcohol. Fairly full-bodied with little carbonation creating a bit of a chewy texture. Taste begins with dark raisins, black cherries, and figs followed by some leathery notes and a bit of wood. Some winey notes are present towards the end along with a bite of raw alcohol in the finish. An enjoyable brew that is meant to be sipped slowly. Thanks to marc77 for the sample!

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2004 04:08:42 | More by Morris729
Photo of PhantomVodoo


4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tan head that left some lace. An almost red amber beer. Yeast sediment.
Aroma of rich caramel malt, fruity hops and alcohol.

Taste shows a rich, sweet caramel and toffee malt backbone. Hint of vanilla. Solid hop balance adds plenty to the character of this beer. Finishes nicely. Batch 6000's little brother.

Plenty of body. Thick and creamy mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.

Overall, this is a good old ale. Tastey, with lots of character, nicely balanced and drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2004 06:23:39 | More by PhantomVodoo
Photo of cerevisiaephilus


3.43/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beer was really cloudy. Not very appealing. It had been in the fridge for 36 hours since it was purchased...I figured that was long enough for it to settle out. I wish mouthfeel and drinkability counted for more than appearance because I don't think appearance is so important...anyway.

Nose really nice. Some alcohol, definately some hops...not really clear what I'm smelling though.

I think the taste is really disapointing. Definately bitter. Not very clear what kind of hop taste is there though. No fruitiness at all...just kind of an astringency actually that isn't very pleasant. Maybe its just the overwhelming hops. Should let this one age I think to get the most out of it.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2004 01:21:12 | More by cerevisiaephilus
Photo of CortexBomb


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

Pours beautifully hazy brownish-red with some head and plenty of carbonation in evidence. The aroma is strong and varied with sweet roast, caramel, and alcohol all lending character.

Taste is a hops wallop, lovely malts, a hint of grapefruit, what I can only describe as nut shucks, with an intense and bitter finish and an alcohol flavour that sneaks in about midway and sticks around till the finale. The taste of this reminds me of Rogue's Old Crusty, yet toned down a notch, which in my book is a good thing.

Mouthfeel is approaching thick without quite getting there, but it has enough carbonation to keep things interesting while the drinkability on this is moderately good but not great, old ales are made to be sipped, not quaffed, and Third Coast is no exception.

Third Coast is borderline between an old ale and a barley wine for me, but why sweat the small details? This is tasty regardless of what style you classify it as and show's that Bell's is fully capable of doing more than just the stouts that it is best known for.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2004 01:20:56 | More by CortexBomb
Photo of assurbanipaul


4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a perfect old-ale color (mahogany), cloudy with a thick, creamy head. Aroma of sweet malts, hops, butter, caramel, mild fruits and old alcohol. Laces the glass all the way down. Makes me look forward to it.

Tastes just like it should, reminiscient of a fine Belgian ale. Rich malts, sharp hops, bready, woody, great balance and depth of flavor. Butter, caramel, light maple syrup, candied fruits but with a slightly yeasty, bitter finish. Rum, fine bourbon or a quadrupel would be what I compare this to. Flavors are never heavy, coming out more as it warms, remaining delicate in spite of itself. Should definitely be a cask beer.

Thick and chewy, full bodied but leaves the palate clean. Very easily drinkable in spite of its high ABV. It has a mild alcohol taste that would probably get resolved with age (bottle is undated). Feels like it has already been sitting in a cellar for decades.

Many thanks to trbeer for introducing me to fine Michigan brews.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2004 04:34:05 | More by assurbanipaul
Photo of WVbeergeek


4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a beautiful chestnut appearance, just awesome seems Bell's lives by their slogan "if beer was meant to be filtered we wouldn't have kidneys" on this one. Cream colored foam forms nice and thick billows out of my tulip shaped chalice leaves collar of lacing and continually with each sip completely coats the glass. Aroma: Pine cone scented touch of hops rich in alcohol and fruit combo, hints of chocolate and bready yeast make for a complex session for the senses. Taste: I am guessing the hops were even more influential in the overall flavor profile early one in it's conception, however now the mellow balanced blend and pure drinkability is insane. This beer is beefy a nice smooth piney bitterness and sweet loads of malt are magnificant. Mouthfeel: Succulent beer like a prime rib, full bodied and full flavored smooth mellow carbonatiobn nice. Drinkability: For nine percent alcohol by volume and this much flavor here, I can't believe how incredibly drinkable this beer is. Thanks to aaronh for bringing it into my grasps, wow.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2004 01:03:43 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of aaronh


4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep garnet color, topped by a yellow-cream head. The head slowly fades to a thin collar of foam. Wonderful sweet malt aromas coupled with a fair amount of hop spiciness. Fruits and a touch of peat as well. The taste is amazingly smooth. The strong, complex aroma and higher ABV had me prepared to be slapped, but instead I get a subtly complex beer. The alcohol is there, and there's a slight bit of piney fusels, but there also seems to be a bit of hop-inspired pine as well. A slight caramel sweetness precedes this melange of pine resins. Hints of roasted grain and chocolate appear in the aftertaste and then gradually fade. The mouthfeel is silky smooth, with just enough carbonation to keep it from becoming syrupy. Drinkability is much too good for a beer with this amount of alcohol. The light flavors, great aroma, and perfect body could make a drunkard out of you when combined with the drinkability and well crafted strength. I have had this beer in my posession for 8 months. What a treat.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2004 02:25:43 | More by aaronh
Photo of zerk


4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours chestnut with a thin head that leaves behind quite a bit of lace. Aroma is caramel and molasses with some dried fig. Flavor is strong and complex, with caramel, molasses, rum, and a fair amount of hop bitterness in the finish. Body is medium full with medium carbonation. It would be excellent if the finish were slightly smoother... the alcohol is quite noticeable. All in all, this is a very good winter warmer, and would be a great beer to age.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2004 01:00:26 | More by zerk
Photo of babyhobbes


3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a nice auburn color with a small lacy head. Smells slightly of alcohol and burnt caramel. The taste is hoppy and there's a bite of alcohol. There is a caramel-y taste too. This started outreal bitter but now that it's a little warmer it's not so bad. This is thin in the mouth.

This is another great Bell's beer. I could easily drink a few.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2004 00:45:15 | More by babyhobbes
Photo of alexgash


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This, along with Maudite, were my first big ABV beers, and I first tried them a few years ago at Ashley's in Ann Arbor. Time to revisit this special beer. Murky, rusty body with a small light tan head. Smells of smoked beef, caramel malts, some sweetness and a little alcohol. Taste is rich and meaty, yet sweet. A little smokiness. Big hops follow and lead to a bitter finish. Sweet toffee lingers. Warming and delicious. Big mouthfeel, and surprisingly drinkable for its strength.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2004 18:50:53 | More by alexgash
Photo of maybrick


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich dark brown color and a very nice luxurious head were the first things I noticed. I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a 20 ounce "Pint" glass. A very strong alcohol nose is noted by this observer. This brew has a delightful start and good mouthfeel. It is semi-sweet like very dark to black carmel. I also detected some citrus and raisins.

The finsih is not what I hoped for - a clear alcohol burn on the back of the throat. I think of the new 2003/4 Victory Old Horizontal and how Ron has eliminated this. This brew would be stellar - above the clouds, if this alchol burn wasn't there. Overall a avery good beer and I beleive with some proper cellaring the burn will diminish, the tate become more pronoucned and balanced. I'll look forward to putting a few a way and trying them again in 6 and 12 months.


Serving type: bottle

12-24-2003 00:50:34 | More by maybrick
Photo of beergeek279


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is a dark amber, with a foamy, spotty white head. The smell is mostly hoppy. The taste is a nice citrusy hop on top of the sweet dark malt backing, and the alcohol is not noticable. Mouthfeel is very creamy. Drinkability-wise, could have a few of these.

Definitely another solid offering from Bell's. A nice, warming old ale, that has the alcohol to warm but doesn't show it. Quite good, and one that I'll absolutely have again.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2003 04:20:06 | More by beergeek279
Photo of benmiliron


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

I agree completely with CJRMellor below me here. You need to serve this warmer than right out of the fridge. The bitterness of the brew when cold is a tough chew. Very pretty dark red in the glass with a head that wouldn't quit.

When warm, it's a high gravity, hoppier, bitterer old ale, actually quite similar to Double Bastard. This has little sweetness though, and I recommend having it with a piece of cheesecake, if you're into the whole beer with food thing. You ain't drinking more than a bottle of this though, it's a commanding beverage.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2003 19:45:09 | More by benmiliron
Photo of faernt


4.53/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have a fresh batch here. The color is mahogany. The head is blonde going to bronze ( I'd call it blonde but there seems to be a hoppy hint of green about it) The head is about 3/8" tall and dissipating to a full skim that looks a little like the surface of the moon. I've had this beer old and young and over the past eight years I've been drinking it it never fails to delight me (N.B Bias).

It has very little aroma. Nothing bad is noticeable but, by smell it doesn't give up its mystery. The taste is beguiling. The flavors blend in and out of hoppiness and maltiness. It is definitely a midwestern beer. The mouthfeel is substantial but not cloying. It is dangerously drinkable. Prepare to become wobbly.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2003 18:51:21 | More by faernt
Photo of winomark


3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Release

Appearance: Pours a cloudy deep copper with a surprisingly stable tan head.

Aroma: Rich, sweet malt. Strong alcohol aromas quite prevelant.

Taste: Lots of malt and alcohol sweetness with good amounts of hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Coating, rich and sweet up-front, with a pleasing, dry finish.

Drinkability: Way too rich to have more than one at a time, but if you want a great beer from a great brewery, seek this one out.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2003 01:04:36 | More by winomark
Photo of mikeys01


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

The Third Coast Old Ale poured into the glass a very deep copper/dark amber color, with minimal head and modest carbonation. Aroma is fairly hoppy but very malty as wel, with hints of spice and alcohol coming thrugh. Taste is of malt and burnt sugar at first, then is quickly filled in with a piney hop bitterness and just a touch of alcohol. Not too heavy in the body and goes down fairly smooth except for some delicious residual hop bitterness. Probably worth cellaring a little while.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2003 03:17:01 | More by mikeys01
Photo of Boilermaker88


3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked up two Third Coast Old Ales while in Indianapolis, IN. On the back of the label it states, “perfect for the cellar” or something close to that effect. Third Coast Old poured a murky, turbid brown color with a creamy ½” thick head that was pretty durable and left some nice webby lace.
The smell was quite sweet, of carmelized candy, molasses, some vanilla notes, and bready caramel malt. Some light bitter hops notes and a modest alcohol aroma also were present. The taste was a big (and disheartening) departure from the aroma. Lightly sweet up front, the dominant flavor was bitter and harsh. The candy and vanilla notes easily picked up in the nose were muted in the taste and instead, a prolonged astringent, medicinal flavor clung to the palate. Swirling and letting stand to warm a bit did nothing to improve the taste profile. If anything, letting it warm did more harm than good. The feel was full and creamy with a noticeable alcohol warmth.
Third Coast Old Ale was a bit of a let-down. The appearance and aroma were superb but the raw, medicinal taste was a real detractor. Perhaps this beer really is better after spending some time in the cellar. That’s where number two is headed for few months (or longer).

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2003 17:20:45 | More by Boilermaker88
Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,828 ratings.