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

1,057 Reviews
For Trade:
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

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."

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,057 | Ratings: 2,569
Photo of grub
4.7/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a nice reddish gold colour, with a thin white head.

great aroma. sweet, and slightly fruity. noticeable but not overpowering alcohol presence. hint of raisin. rich, bready malt character.

taste is all about malt. very rich and malty, but no sticky sweetness. good, balanced bitterness. noticeable alcohol presence, but it's not overpowering and balances well against the bitterness and maltyness.

overall another great beer from bell's. really liked this one, and wished i didn't have to drive so i could have had more!

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

Holy maltness, shbobdb! That's malted malt on malty maltedness! And . . . THAT'S what I'm talking about!

12 ounce bottle -- thanks to shbobdb for hooking me up with this over-the-top malt-bomb.

Appearance of opaque dark cider and port wine under a generous off-white head that fades to a solid ring, and leaves heavy thick lacing.

Smell of thick malt, sweet and vinous, with only a back-note hint of hops.

Taste is more of the same -- sweet, thick, heavy malt, lightly toasted with buttery smoothness.

Great mouthfeel -- thick, round, full.

What a great beer!! Bell's has hit another grand slam.

NOTE: At 9.0%, this SHOULD be classified as an American Barleywine. It fits the style MUCH better than Old Ale. Compare:
American Barleywine http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/19
Old Ale http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/79

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sweet vinuous aromas are present as the beer is poured. A very inviting caramel raisiny smell faintly like a tawny port. The beer is a dark copper to brown and burnt orange around the edges in the light. A medium to heavy body is full of more sweet caramel malt flavors with the same prune-like vinouous qualities. The alcohol is quite prominent in the taste, but not in an unpleasant way. In fact, for as strong as I can sense the alcohol in the taste, I am enjoying it quite a bit. An outstanding old ale that always calls me back for more.

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Photo of GnomeKing
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is like badass candy: it has a Tootsie Roll color and two of the most prominent flavors are root beer barrel candy and werther's butterscotch candy. And oh, yes, there is alcohol. The alcohol taste comes through strongly--this brew will appeal to quad lovers.

I like quads and other strong beers, but this one didn't blend its flavors as well as I would have liked and the tastes were a little off. Try it, nonetheless.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I entered the batch id number into the batch search engine, it told me my six-pack was bottled on 1-13-05. So this beer is over a year old!!! What a pleasant surprise. Batch #6722.

Appearance- Pours only a brief film o' foam and leaves a rinf o' foam for about one and a half minutes. Color is a deep amber mixed with earthen clay.

Smell- Very molasses like sweetness. Somewhat surprised I could detect some strong toasted malting.

Taste- Flavor start out like a cooked apple, more liek well warmed. This then leads into a fruit cake covered with some VSOP brandy. The dark fruits then duel with teh established malts and then a light bitter finish mixed in for extra complexity.

Mouthfeel- Pretty pillowy. The sweetness mixed in with some pronounced malts and a little hops is very nice. This beer is an awesome nightcap. Great for sipping and thinking.

Since this beer is already one year old, I will age two from my six pack and hope this beer ages like wine...hahahahaha

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (thanks to Hogtownharry for this one): Poured a murky brown color ale with a medium foamy brown head with great retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt and light bitter hops is very well balance. Taste is a mixture between dry figs, sweet caramel malt with a nice hops finish that is more subtle then what I was expecting based on some previous rating. Body is full and it seems like the beer had not been filtered, which is always a big plus. Alcohol was well hidden. Overall, this is probably one of the finest American barleywine that I have had the chance to try.

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Photo of ahking
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Note, I am reviewing a two and a half year old bottle of Third Caost Old Ale. I have to say this beer holds up most excellent and is worth cellaring a bottle or two for 1+ year. Rich caramel color with a thin white head. Aroma is full of hop spice, plums, raisins, and alcohol. Flavor is characterized by roundness, juicy plums, piney hops. Great mouthfeel. Drinkability is a bit lower due to high ABV.

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Photo of sopor
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 6722 bottled 1/13/5, drank 3/3/06. Blessed wonderful at a year old!

Pours thickly, a mahogany tinted amber with a thin yellow/tan head. Lots of sediment swimming around, but no complaints from me!

Almost cloying sweetness with tangy raisin notes are noted in the smell. A very good indication of what's to come!

Pleasantly cloying sweetness of long boiled amlts comes onf rist, added to by flavors of black cherry, raisins, and touches of molasses. Hops bitterness is there, but well-balanced to the super sweet maltiness. Flavors od roasty and slightly coffee-like malts make an appearance in the pleasantly dry, slightly bitter aftertaste. Alcohol is barely noted, but obvious after a couple of drinks.

Body is full, but no "heavy". Carbonation is light but stings the tongue under the liquid velvet of this beer.

Be careful with this one, very drinkable for how high the abv is. You notice the alcohol, but this stuff goes down smooth anyway!

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Photo of jlh8643
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper color with sediment floating around. A small light tan head that disappears to almost nothing. The aroma is malt dominated. Plums, raisins and figs mix it up with a fair amount of bitter hops. The alcohol just about jumps up and grabs ya. Malty sweet almost cloying. Would like to see a bit more balance between the malts and hops. The alcohol is quite prevelant too. I would probably only drink one of these at the end of a session and be done.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled through the efforts of Murrayswine and UTBIF.

Pours an amazingly clear and copper red colored ale. No real head formation though.

Smell is malty and smoky very much like a Scottish ale. Additional aromas of toasted wheat bread, figs, raisins, soy sauce, black pepper and mushrooms? Sniffing hard for fruit scents I can detect cherries and brown sugar, not a super fruity version of the style.

Taste is fairly sweet and very malty with a strongish taste of dark molasses. This is a beer that gets sweeter and more bitter as you drink it, a novel effect. There is a soy sauce taste to this that I normally consider a flavor defect. After a while this gets a spicy taste that I can't quite describe correctly; think very green and fresh black pepper.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Not a bad ale here but not outstanding either. If you see it on the shelf go ahead and try it but don't put a lot of effort in too getting this one.

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Photo of sleepingbear
3.2/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Old Third Coast Ale
Malty thickness with a sweet tinge that burned of alcohol, not a wimpy beer. A sherry thing for sure was kickin in this.
Even with my sporting a thick patch of chest hair- this beer was a little too much for me to drink alot of it- but it was a good thing to try. Bell's other Third Coast is more my speed. But for what this beer is it's excellent.

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Photo of Schooly
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No date, but looks like it sat around for at least a year or two at the distributor. Not a bad thing though for an Old Ale.

A careful pour into my Duvel snifter/tulip yeilds small amounts of floaters...Mmm toppings.

A: Deep mohogany and clear with some suspended yeasties dancing around as I agitate the thick liquid. What little head remains swirls in the glass around and around tempting me to take a sip...

S: Boozy and malty, no hop presence detected.

T: Very complex with piles of flavor climbing on top. Caramel notes, sherry, and something else in the background I can't make out (maybe some chocolate), but tempts me to take another sip...Mmmm. Alcohol burn a tiny bit as it goes down.

M: Slightly thick on the palate. To be expected with this style, but still somewhat smooth.

D: A bit too easy to consume given the ABV, I could down another right now, but I'd probably not enjoy it as much as the first.

I've had a few "Old Ales" and so far this one's the finest IMO. I look forward to trying many more of this style. I might have gotten lucky and gotten an older bottle, I will try to seek out a newer one to compare.

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Photo of macpapi
4.48/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was fortunate enough to find this fine, fine beer on draft at our local multi-tap facility in town. Third Coast Old Ale is a nice murky brown to amber colored liquid. It has a small tannish head, decent bubble activity and pretty impressive lacing. The smell was nice. Roasted malt with a bit of a hop pull. As the beer warmed, dark fruits--raisin, plum and cherry--were all present. The taste is fantastic!! It was malty with a lot of hoppiness. Great full taste. Alcohol content is also notable, but not overwhelming. The presence of fruit-- plums and cherries--was also there. Very balanced and complex flavors. In the mouth B.T.C.O.A.was bitter, full and potent. Impressive again. Overall, I would have to say that the potency of this Old Ale makes it a sipper. One or two a night would certainly be enough. That being said, this is a great beer. It is tasty, bold and smooth all at the same time. To drink one of these is to appreciate what beer is all about.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.67/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed 20 ounce wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a deep dark murky copper coloration. The head was thin and cream colored. Thin streaks of lacing remain on the glass. The beer had major particles floating in the glass.

Smell: Where do I start talking about the smell? This beer has a whale of a complex smell profile. The beer has the smell of tropical fruits and berries. A fantastic malty sea of malt goodness. There is a slieght alcohol smell to the beer but nothing offensive.

Taste: The taste is as expected. The beer had a very small hop profile. The hops provided just enough bitterness to prevent the beer from being cloyingly sweet. The beer is a sea of malty sweetness. There is a vague taste of bananna and berries floating around in the beer. The alcohol was present in the taste as a slightly spicy compliment.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer was a full bodied treat.This beer is a very alcoholic brew. The beers alcohol is well encorporated in the beer. This is a very drinkable beer treat.

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Photo of hustlemuscle
4.44/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber, almost maroon. Tremendous floaties, huge dark chunks of particulates. Thin even head, oddly gray. Receeded to a thin film.

Huge sweet cotton candy nose, with a gentle undercurrent of hops.

Big big flavor, swirling candy transforming into a slightly earthier flavor with an ending hint of piney hops. Conjures visions of warm dark places.

Smooth and dry, with a touch of tartness. Alchohol makes it's presence known at the very end. A heck of a brew, the sort of quiet contemplation, or a nice afternoon by the fire.

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Photo of budsboy
4.29/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours rich, dark red. Vigorous pour leaves only a small tan head and lots of floating chunks.

Has a woody, earthy smell. Horseblanket maybe. Toasted bread, coriander, dark fruit, whiskey. Subtle but very interesting.

Taste is just as earthy as the aroma. Mellow roasted malts and a tart, sharp tang of fruit, a wallop of alcohol, then a slowly declining bitterness. Leaning slightly toward the sweet side.

Full bodied. Lots of malts add some serious weight.

This is an experience that is not easy to come by. I won't pass up many opportunities to enjoy this fellow. Warming alcohol and complex flavors to boot. Good stuff. Bell's does it for me again.

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Photo of ski271
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

At a seminar a couple years back, Larry Bell referred to this beer as the brandy of their beers. Pours a murky dark brown with a medium-large, light tan, foamy, slowly diminishing head. Excellent rings of lacing. The smell complex and wonderful. Thick malts with a light hop and alcohol presence and a little sweetness to the aroma. Caramel, dark fruit, vanilla and tobacco. The taste is more of the same with all sort of flavors swirling around your mouth during and long after the sip. The malt flavors are great, supported by fruit and alcohol esters, with the hops imparting just enough bitterness on the finish to balance out this otherwise malt bomb. It has a medium-full body, delicate texture that turns lightly dry and soft carbonation. A wonderful beer that I really wish I could find around here.

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Photo of Derek
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was looking through the fridge for something with American Hop flavour... I'm glad I found this one! (Note, fridge is kept at 45F, which is certainly a little cold for this one).

A: Slightly hazy copper, pours with a little off-white head. Although there's no retention, it does leave some lace.

S: Sugary candy with a little piney hops. As it warms, the alcohol becomes more pronounced... a little sherry-like.

T: Brown sugar/treacle sweetness are balanced with a wack of hop bitterness. Plenty of pine-resin flavour from the hops. There's certainly some residual sugar from the malt, but it's not at all syrupy, leaving a little vinous/raisin flavour. As it warms, the alcohol begins to come to the front, helping to balance the flavour.

M: Moderate to heavy body leaves plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. The carbonation is on the low side of moderate. Somehow it doesn't seem completely together. Perhaps it could use a little time to age.

D: I'm enjoying this big brew, but one is enough.

Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of yelterdow
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A true rarity here on the East Coast... I found this in a bottle at Monk's Cafe back in June '05 and brought it back home with me. Here I sit, seven months later, ready for the experience.

Served in a Chimay chalice at cellar temperature, leaving the sediment behind in the bottle for now.

Appearance- A beautiful display... a deep, cognac-bordering-on-red... on a rough pour, the head fights its way to almost two fingers. There is an interesting, gelatinous viscosity to this beer, and chunks float precariously in suspension, as if frozen in the moment.

Smell- Initially, my nose gets apricots and fruitcake... the similarity here to De Dolle's Stille Nacht is intriguing.

Taste- The first thing I notice is the humongous flavor... before any tasting notes come to mind, the flavors are just enormous. A sweet, intense, fruity maltiness gives way to a huge but elegant barleywine hop bittering... near perfect in that the pendulum swings hard but accurately for the style. After the swallow, the gustatory sensations are those of a year-old Bigfoot... but that's where the similarities cease. Juicy, rich, fruity, loaded with flavor... especially going into the mouth.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Heavy and chewy in the mouth, with just enough tongue-tickling carbonation to keep it interesting. The emphasis on this beer throughout this tasting was on weight and concentration of flavor, which both soared in each category. Not as complex as other greats in this area, but very well done.

Paired with a hefty chunk of Colston Bassett Stilton... life really doesn't get much better than this.


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Photo of GreenWBush
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2003.

Bell's TCOA pours out an indescribably alluring deep, leathered brown with red glints. Suspended globules of yeast everywhere. Slow rising carbonation. 1/4" head. Abstract cave-paintings of lace.

Nose is filled with maple syrup, oak, vanilla, pine sap, candy syrup, saguaro cactus honey. Nary a trace of alcohol to be detected. Smells like a liquid beer cookie.

As with other aged big beers i've been experimenting with, all the hop bitterness has aged away into a silky syrup consistency which either works or doesn't with the aging malt flavors. Molasses comes through predominantly in this particular example. Noticably different than it used to be...intense cherry pie-filling flavors too.

Luscious mouthfeel...sugar sweet liquefied gumballs and gooey malts with a tiny bit of remaining bitterness balance. Outstanding. But i'm still trying to figure out exactly where well-aged (and well-calmed beers) fit in the parthenon of the beer experience.

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Photo of PatYoda
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle is at least a couple years old, but I'm not sure how old.

Pours a relatively clear brown with ruby highlights (kept the yeast in the bottle) with a minimal bit of foam around the edges of the glass.

Smell is some sweet cookie dough, caramel malts, alcohol and grapefruity hops - very mellow and yummy smelling. Only gets better as it warms also.

The taste is extremely complex. The same sweet caramel malts and cookie dough are in there along with some raisins for sure. All this sweetness is countered by a pretty strong hop bitterness, and some hop and alcohol spiciness. There is definite burn going down, but not as bad as a lot of old ales I've had. The finish also includes some candied pineapple and grapefruit hoppiness even after at least a few years on this bottle. The mouthfeel is medium to thick with very little carbonation which really works well for the flavors involved. This is definitely a sipper, but still one I could have a few of over the course of an evening. Very impressive offering.

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

Reddish brown colour topped by a thin lace of off-white foam. Even with the meager head, it managed to produce spotty lacing throughout. Warm, malty aroma, lots of caramel and toffee with a hint of alcohol and hops. Complex maltiness with low bitterness. Fig and cherry round things out a bit. Alcohol melds well with the rest of the flavour and adds to the character. There's also a creamy, honey sweetness in the finish -- this also seems to add to the body. Finishes with lingering alcohol warmth. Full bodied with low carbonation. Well attenuated, so the mouthfeel is smooth with being sticky. A top notch old ale. Try it if you find it.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a very dark reddish-brown color with almost no head. The aroma is a nice balance of malt and hop with neither taking control, but both working in harmony with each other. The taste is just as balanced as the aroma, but stronger in all facets. The sip is balanced while the finish and aftertaste are slighlty more bitter than sweet. The mouthfeel is full bodied with nice carbonaiton. Overall, this brew is perfectly rinkable now (when it is a couple months old), and I can only expect it to get better with age.

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Photo of rousee
3.42/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One of my first 2 review beers.

It has changed dramtically since my previous try. These reviews are from 2 bottles I received in a trade with Frozensoul327. Thanks Erik.

Firstly, the color has gotten much darker and it is maybe even murkier than before. It is now a caramel color. It still has a nice head and holds it quite well. The taste is not as good. It is more sour and acrid and just lacks the smoothness it had fresh. the smell is still a tremendous maltiness akin to an American Aventinus. The decreased smoothness hurts the drinkability and mouthfeel some.

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Photo of unclederby
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= Dark, hazy amber with little head retention even after a vigorous pour. Lacing was minimal...
S= Sweet, caramal malt profile. A faint bouquet of brown sugar and dark fruit, and a bit of alcohol too...
T= Again, sweet and caramel-like - with a faint hop bitterness. Tasty, but i can't detect alot of flavour specifics.
M= Thick and chewy, with a bit of alcohol burn. Nicely carbonated.
D= This thing is easy to drink alright. Tasty, but i just find myself a bit underwhelmed... this ale is unfocused and confused.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 1,057 ratings.