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

Not Rated.
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

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2,392 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,392
Reviews: 1,033
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.22%
Wants: 234
Gots: 424 | FT: 29
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002

From Bell's website:
"Third Coast Old Ale is a cellerable American-style barleywine that has notes of dried fruit and caramel embedded in a rich malt background that will grow more complex over time."
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,392 | Reviews: 1,033
Photo of longarm
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: A relatively clear brew with dark reddish, orange hue. Head retentention poor, likely due to high alcohol content. It dissipated quickly, but left a nice ring around the glass after subsequent sips.

Aroma: A healthy dose of candied sugar, very mild green apples perhaps due to aceteladehyde, but it's not bad. Something close to vanilla appears there as well. A noticeable amount of sherry is evident, possibly indicative of oxidation, but it's certainly not a detriment in an Old Ale. Overall it has a very appealing smell.

Flavor: A little spicey with subtle hop bitterness and moderate alcoholic heat at the finish. A little sour as well. Otherwise quite difficult to pin down flavors. Complex and bold, it still leaves me somewhat confused and desiring something more to balance it out.

Mouthfeel: A little cloying...the lack of carbonation leaves it a little sticky for my preferences. Probably the weakest part of the beer.

Drinkability: I've tried this beer twice now and generally enjoyed it both times. It's obviously not a session beer, given the alcohol content and cloying nature, but it's still a good brew. A strong cheese might help balance things-out. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of Star80
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours out a deep, copperish red color. Head dissipates and leaves a thin lace on top. Smells like molasses, dark ripe fruits, and vanilla. Tastes very balanced, but hops still have a say in the flavor. I really wonder how old this beer is, or how long it was aged before it was bottled...always a mystery with Bell's. At any rate, all the flavors seem to come together well and this is one of the better balanced beers I've tried. The initial strong sweetness gets beat out by the bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is fine. This beer reminds me of an American Barleywine; Old Foghorn to be specific. Has less citrusy hops, but the smell and taste is quite similar to me, and of course this is not a bad thing!

Photo of beveragecaptain
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark reddish brown color. There is a nice head initially, but it quickly fades. The aroma is very malty, like caramel and toffee. There is also a bit of a funky smell, a little like cheese, but that makes it sound unpleasant when it's really enjoyable. The flavor is very sweet and malty at first, like a barley wine. Some dark fruitiness. The finish is spicy, and there is a burn from the alcohol. Very complex flavors. Full mouthfeel. I don't know if I could drink more than one of these, but it's hard to look at this as a fault, since that one is so good. Great beer.

Photo of blitz134
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’ve had this one for quite a while (nearly 2 years), it’s a hold over beer I’ve been saving from when I spent some time up north. I’d been saving it for something and that something came out to be just because. But I digress…

I’m unsure what else you could ask for in the look of an old ale. This beer looks like someone dumped some dirt in a glass and swirled it around with its mud brown color and some relatively large chunks floating around in perfect suspension, barely kept aloft by a little carbonation. Little head, but that was to be expected.

The smell is sweet with malts and a sugary caramel and some apricot hints with a slight musty smell. Nothing over powering. Taste has a bit of alcohol sting to it, that definitely hasn’t gone away over the last two years. Slight hoppy bitterness still lingering around as well. A bit of spiciness stings the tongue and finishes with a yeast flavor. I really enjoy the complexity of this one as it is slightly different that the other barleywine style brews I’ve had.

Mouthfeel is slightly oily but isn’t overly heavy. Drinkability is brought down a bit by the overly warming effect of the alcohol. This is a good beer but not more than one in a night for me.

Photo of BeerFink
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Filling my glass with this murky brownish red brew, a thin off white head forms. Lots of malt in the nose, sweet caramel and alcohol, along with some citrous hops. Malty smooth taste, caramel with molasses kicks up a sweet note. Complexity is added with cloves and other spices mixed with alcohol. Citrous hops finish it off with a nice dry bitterness which mingles well with the alcohol. Alcohol produces a pleasant warming of the face as this ale is digested. Tight carbonation rounds out a good mouthfeel and balance the big malts. Definitely a great winter beer, but I would enjoy this all year round.

Photo of mattcrill
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BA brother cmaruschak for the chance to sample this beer.

Appearance: Deep, dark crimson with little yeasties in it. Thick fluffy head that fades to little islands of tan carbonation.

Smell: Plums, carmel, a whiff of alcohol. Definitely amped up on the malt end of things.

Taste: Plums, carmel, candy corn follow the smell. Some cloves and pepper in the middle. A drying and powdery finish with maybe a brush of alcohol. Yeast notes pop up here and there.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. Coats the palate. Almost syrupy but not in a bad way. The carbonation tempers this.

Drinkability: Pretty big so drink slowly. A nice sipper and a great night cap.

Thanks again to cmaruschak for the chance to sample this.

Photo of mntlover
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a redish dark brown color, almost a mahogany with a small tan head
that falls to a ring of bubbles that leaves some sparse lace.
Aroma is dark rum soaked fruit floating in dark caramel malt with alcohol and hints of hop resin mixing with some yeasties.
Taste is quite nice malt mixed with mollasses, caramel, even some maple some alcohol that reminds one of spiced rum. Finish is bitter some hop resins mixed with some peppery spices for a little kick that mingles with the alcohol flavor and ends with some earthy yeast flavors sticking to the tounge.
Man this is a big tasting full flavored brew that goes down smooth and quick very nice. Mouthfeel is medium full very nice feel in the mouth while drinkability remains great goes down smooth and fast hard to just sip this one. Many thanks to merlin48 for this sample it is a winner.

Photo of malty
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz. long neck - no freshness date.

Pours a murky copper/orange with multi-sized bubbles that comprised a 1/4 in. head - nice lacing.

Scent is carmel apples drenched in brandy.

The taste first of all is WARMING. Robust heavy malts balanced nicely with a dry hoppy ending. Kind of like a nice (hoppy) dopplebock with a more kinetic body. Alcohol warms right through to it's long finish. Carmel once again then prickly hops - nice.

Mouthfeel is quite perky given the high alcohol. Medium carbonation with a full body.

Drinkability is well above average due to it's nice balance of malt/hops. Again, the alcohol isn't shy - but masked well with the hearty ingredients.

Overall a nice fall/winter ale that's definitely not shy. I really dig the solid hop backdrop that accompanies this strong ale. It comands a $13.99/6 pk. - but it's meant to be savored (I guess). Nice job Larry & gang!

Photo of gimmehead
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an amber brown with a thin beige head. Not much lacing. The aroma is of big caramel malts, strong fruity esters and yeasty bread. As it warms it gives off a sweeter, raisiny aroma. This beer has one of the best noses I have had the honor to appreciate. The flavor is very good, but doesn't really mirror the nose. It's more malty, tasting of caramel and cereal grains, slightly resinous. I also pick up clove and a growing raisiny taste. Spicy. Underscored with a bitter pine hop balance. Brandy-like alcohol finish. Full bodied and very mouthcoating. This beer will warm your innards. The only "problem" I noticed is that the raisiny sweetness tends to be a bit cloying after two or three. Overall, a tasty brew that I highly recommend.

Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a hazed amber with not much head to mention.

The nose and the taste of this beer don't match up completely, but I found that enjoyable. Buttery maple syrup, rich caramel in the smell.

Then assertive piney hops in the front of the first taste, with malt characteristics matching the nose: i.e. caramel, maple syrup. Alcohol lends a spiciness, and a slick mouthfeel. Dry finish. A little sticky.

A nice surpise, and one I'll be sure to pick up again.

Photo of karst
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A barley wine with deep amber color with orange-brownish inclusions that separate from the surface and swarm in the bottom 1/3 of the brandy sniffer. Described as brandy of ales, this beer has vintage character and will mature in the bottle at cellar temperature for years.
Original Gravity: 1.098 yields an Alcohol by Volume: 9.0% got to respect these big numbers.

Overwhelming aroma of butterscotch/toffee brought back memories of candy making at my Aunt Fern's in the '50's. Huge malt flavor dominates the majority of the taste curve finally dropping abruptly as hops clean the palate.

Wow - another favorite for my cellar.

Photo of santoslhalper
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Pours an exceptional reddish amber with a creamy off-white head.

Smell: The smell is mostly caraml popcorn. Strong, powerful caramel popcorn.

Taste and Mouthfeel: The taste is a wonderufl mix of oak and caramel, with deep, subtle complexities. The flavor last for so long, but continues to keep my interest forever. As the beer warms, the flavors become more pronounced and robust. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.

Drinkability and Overall: A wonderfully rich and smooth Old Ale. Powerful as all hell, but still smooth and well rounded. I can't wait till the other one in my cellar has about 6 years of aging. Yumm... Anyways thanks to PatYoda for the bottle. God bless this beer.

Photo of Gaisgeil
3.22/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I had such high hopes for this brew! I've heard many a great and wonderous things locally about it, as if it were some legend or myth from the days of yore. Now I'm left wondering why it's so highly regarded. Maybe my palate just isn't read for the flavor profile here.

Pours a murky brown in color with a thin off-white head. Nose is fruity and very strong in the hop department, quite piney, roasted malts and very rich in alcohol. Taste is really very powerful, but not in a particularly good way. There is a strong sourness going on here, combined with the strong pine hop character and the alcohol bite this brew makes my whole face pucker. I had a hard time throwing back the whole serving. On the positive side, it had a very fresh character to it and was quite smooth in the mouthfeel department. I also enjoyed the piney flavor, especially where it was present in the aftetaste.

I concede that it's possible I'm just not ready for this brew, but all in all it really does nothing for me in the least. Maybe I'll return at some later time and find out for sure. Until then, more for everyone else!


Photo of meathookjones
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Old Ale is definitely a style I should have more. The good ones are so complex and tasty and this was no exception. Pours out a ruddy brown color with sediment floating about and a half-inch tan head slowly forms on top. No lace and minimal head retention. Aroma is a mix of ripe sweet fruit and a bit of smoke. Some chocolate and roasted malt were noted as well. A really a strong pleasant smell begging you to take a sip. Sweet caramel malt and a light fruitiness start off the taste. There is a strong smokiness throughout the flavor that adds great depth to this. Finishes with a sweet caramel malt. Some alcohol was detectable at times but never enough to detract from this tasty brew. Mouthfeel is thick, creamy and a bit sticky. This stuff is so rich and smooth I could sip on it for hours if I had enough bottles. Definitely one I wish I could get locally because it is such a treat. Many thanks goes to nogoodreason for this gem.

Photo of LuckySevens82
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of feloniusmonk.
Pours a murky apple cidery color. Very small head, but what is there created some pretty impressive lacing.
Smell is ripe fruit (apples, pears, plums), caramel, and a bit of toast. There is a noticable alcohol presence in the nose.
Taste is bready malts, a little fruit, a slight hop bitterness, and a whiskey-like alcohol kick.
Mouthfeel is slick and smooth, the beer coats the tounge and I can't say that this is a bad thing. This is a fine beer to have on a cold night, or any night for that matter.

Photo of ypsifly
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz with no dates into a goblet. Brown with dark amber on the edges with a small white head that quickly fades. I've dealt with this one before and knew a forced pour was needed to get some froth. Some lacework happening here.

Smells of caramel syrup, lightly roasted malt and citric hops. Alcohol is there the whole time. Not a turnoff, but it let's you know you're in for a ride. There's some notes of yeast and more alcohol as it warms.

Starts off sweet with a building dryness that almost turns sour. The alcohol makes things a bit awkward. Has that characteristic Bell's hoppiness. I like the dryness, as specially as it builds towards the finish, but the booze throws you off for a second. I can see why cellaring this one is recommended on the back label. I bought this as a single but am now considering going back for a sixer to stash and sample every few months or so.

Nice full mouthfeel on this one. Not chewy or very carbonated, but perfect for the style.

The 9% abv lowers the drinkability score for this beer. One could get too 'faced too fast.

Photo of SupaCelt
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This stuff poured out like syrup into my glass. Highly viscous like 10w30 or some sh*t. Half a pinky's worth of head was just blown away into a whirling dervish by the alcohol vapors. Whoa! Floatation devices cloud the mixture's deep amber body. I love the dirty looks this beer is giving me.

The smell throws off some serious caramel. Alcohol is detectable as well. Not a turn off by any means, just a preamble of sorts. Smell's like a fermented caramel apple with most of the emphasis on the caramel twangs.

The body of this old ale is surprisingly the most notable aspect. The flavour seems to follow the lead of the texture and mouthfeel. Like brandy and cream. Very pleasing. The warmth is a great effect. Perfect for a cold winter night. The taste is quite a bit of caramel. Dark roasted and alcoholic. Rich and savory. This stuff moves like gelatin; it has wonderous thickness.

Drinkability is something I am not really looking to test too thoroughly. I could easily see things getting out of control with this one. This is a recipe with the power to transform you into that infamous drunk uncle at the family Christmas party. Really nice stuff.

Photo of chugamugofsud
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a cloudy amber with a medium head that faded into yeast wisps. The smell was very caramel/malty with a light note of some roasted nuts. The taste covers the alcohol well but the beer needs to be drank while cold, it becomes offenseive to the mouth after warming (the aftertaste becomes foul).

Photo of whartontallboy
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Contrary to other reviews, my bottle poured with no head. Looks like a melted caramel, and smells about the same. Fruit, malt, and some piney notes are in the nose as well. The taste is about what the smell would lead you to believe, lots of malt and caramel with the high ABV really coming through in the finish. Some smokey flavors couple well with the candied fruit. Very nice! Mouthfeel is a little lacking; like I said, this bottle had very little to no carbonation, so I might need to try again. Overall, though, a very tasty sweet high ABV winter seasonal that I won't mind drinking again to "research the carbonation."

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Secret Santa 2004 #4

A very fizzy sounding pour.

A solid finger of flat top beige foam rests upon a cloudy light brown-red body. Sediment abounds.

A very strong and sweet aroma, like walking into a candy shop (but not a chocolate shop).

Taste is delightfully malty, rich and sweet but not at all cloying. Liquid caramel. It hits the tongue and slowly seeps to every corner of your mouth, coating everything and ever so slowly fading away. A very mild and comforting sense of warmth (particularly on this single digit night), but no alcohol burn.

Mouthfeel is dead perfect for the style, full and solid.

Good drinkability, not a strong ale which twists your face after a sip, this you can take a healthy pull on.

Another very good beer from Bells, they continue to impress me. Michiganers have it good.

Photo of crookedhalo
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy copper-to-mahogany brown with a light tan colored head. Caramelly and malty with maple syrup notes and a cedary hoppiness. Predominantly sweet, yet hoppy, there is a complex burst of different flavors ranging from blood orange to pine sap. Quite nice. It has 100% of what I'm looking for in an old ale; High malting levels and high hopping levels. Better at cellar to room temperature.

Photo of skybluewater
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky reddish brown, apple cider color. Smells of caramel, as well as a touch of that "special" Bell's smell. Taste is like a malt bomb going off in my mouth, one with hops on the inside to slay my tongue with. There's a bit of woodiness, and some caramel as well. This is a highly drinkable brew for ABV level.

Wow, another Bell's beer I like. Never thought that would happen. Indeed, this is a very tasty brew, one that warms me up on a cold winter's night.

Photo of trancefishy
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a review of a TCOA that has been cellared for 2 years now. served at cellar temp, 48-52 degrees, and warming.

appearance is much like that of the younger beer, deep nutty brown, nutty head with tight bubbles and nice lacing.

aroma is knock your socks off thick. definately the smell of a boiling vat of carmelized brown sugar, really pungent and sweet smelling.

taste is incredibly sweet and resinous. the malt is the key player here, with it's brown sugar taste, but you still have hop action, but in form of something that reminds me of sticky pine sap. there is a nice piney aftertaste as well, which tastes like eating gingersnap cookies followed by some butterscotch ice cream topping.

mouthfeel is you know, not remarkable, but fits the beer. drinkability is, well, i wish this came in 750s.

i'm glad i put these suckers away. this is the first tasting, and i'm certainly glad i have more tucked away :-)

Photo of necoadam
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out a deep amber/brown color with a nice head to go along with it.

Smell consistd of a ton of malts and a nice dose of hops in this one. Some nice caramel also floats around and a hint of spice too. The smell was very rich and I knew this was going to be a big bodied beer.

Taste was good. Big roasted malts start out upfront and does last for quite awhile. Some caramel and hops start mixing in towards the middle and last until the end. Some fruit tones also start mixing in as well. Towards the end it felt like I could start chewing this beer.

Mouthfeel was full bodied alright. Chewy texture and left a good coating around the palate.

I gotta say this hit the spot on a cold winter's night. I don't think I would be able to handle a second bottle though, don't see how anyone could for that matter. But this is pretty good stuff.

Thanks F'monk!

Photo of kmpitz2
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a slightly oranged brown color with a small ring of beer that sticks around nicely. The nose is really fruity, with a big malt presence as well. There is a bit of mandarin orange or tangerine. The flavor is very nice. A very malty flavor, but with a piney hop finish. Wow. Very interesting beer. The feel is super thick and syrupy. What a nice beer. For a beer sitting at 9%, this is very good. I think I like the old ales

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
92 out of 100 based on 2,392 ratings.