Third Coast Old Ale | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale
2,810 Ratings
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

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."

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,810 |  Reviews: 1,139
Reviews by ariceclemson:
Photo of ariceclemson
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of TBCE
4.91/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best brews I have ever had. Pours a dark amber color with a finger of foam. Smells of dried blackberries, orange, lemon, and caramel. Taste has small hint of sweetness and cocoa, along citrus flavors. Very complex. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated and smooth. Overall an outstanding brew. Highly recommended.

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Photo of DeFaz
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I admit that my review may be of limited value due to my inexperience with the style and because I had this on cask, which I am not used to. This was the 2013 version (aged two years). Great smell of caramel, toffee, and faint alcohol, along with some fruit. The taste, which really concealed the alcohol nicely, did appear to have some complexity, but wasn't as appealing as the taste. The mouthfeel was really the low point, as it tasted thin and undercarbonated, although again this being on cask probably played a role in my dissatisfaction with the mouthfeel. To me, this seemed quite overrated

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine March 2007

One of the brewery's biggest beers, and a cold-weather beer for sure. They dubbed this one a "brandy of ales" and suggest that you cellar it.

The viscous liquid pours slow and the tiny bubbles roll to the top to form a stellar tan head. Deep-brown color with garnet edges shows clarity; the yeast was not the least bit disturbed and stayed in the bottle. Very sweet aroma; a tad boozy with slight sherry and fig undertones. Brown bread and baked apples in the nose towards the back. Lush, creamy, smooth mouthfeel with a semi-syrupy body. Caramel sweetness to start; suggestions of burnt raisins, ripe dates, black currants, and cocoa powder come to mind. Modest hop bitterness, there to help balance. Some warmth from the alcohol adds a bit of spice, middle to end. Finishes sweet, with dark malt and ripe fruit.

We couldn't think of another beer to have during a chilly, single-digit winter night. It's definitely a warmer, and certainly a beer that has a lot of cellaring po- tential. We intend to do just that, though our willpower will be tested. A simple Danish blue cheese with figs was a superb pairing.

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Photo of SB2017
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Wonderful color, almost syrupy, but with a meager foamy head with no lace. A woody, sour nose with a lot of malt. Heavy on the malts on first taste. Sweet, savory, and almost like chewing on cedar. This beer is nuts. So much flavor, utterly distinct, boozy, with a delicious finish.

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Photo of Jjski
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An epic non barrel aged beer. Vintage 2014. New to Upstae NY, bells distribution
Garnet, brown
Aroma of banana bread, figs, caramel
Tastes of butterscotch brandy pudding on warm dark grainy bread
Feels smoothly viscous: perfect,

This beer already acts like a 4 year old bigfoot or curmudgeon. The tastes are different in each, but I am overwhelmed by the complexity exhibited in this freshly brewed, non-barrel elixir. hops are not as high as bigfoot, and old ale brashness is already a bit blunted. The effect is pulled off with deftness while retaining a huge flavor, malt forward and deep. If fresh American barleywine floats you , in its DIPA characteristics ( and I do like that), this beer strays. It acts old beyond its age. The hops are strong, but way muted , used for beautiful bittering. Not an aromatic hop hit.

I bought a case and will relish the effects age will have on this masterpiece.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Been holding to an old bottle of this for years. Finally decided to crack it tonight, in a side-by-side tasting with it's newly born brother: a 2014 and a 2018; a four-years-old with a brand-spanking-newborn.

Appearance: beautiful light-cherry color that was nearly transparent with the new, and opaque for the old, with a beautiful beige head that nicely complimented the liqueur. There was almost no head retention for the old one, and lasting head for the newborn.

Aroma: Out of the gate, and cold, the aroma of the newborn is awkward, yet the aroma of the old one is complex. Interestingly enough, nearly the reverse is true once they reach room temperature: the newborn is bright and complex, whereas the old one is still very mellow, with tons of dark fruit aromas coming through, and sweet to boot. I was getting a bit of sourness in the old as well, like sour cherry.

Mouthfeel: as expected, the newborn is bright and lively, medium bodied, while the old one is incredibly smooth and sits heavier on the tongue.

Taste: Newborn: almost harsh, and definitely awkward, with a very bitter bite to it and with a bit of ripe fruit coming through. Old: lots of dark fruit, a bit candied, but not as sweet as some barleywines, the difference of which I appreciate.

Overall: Although it may not be realistic, I chose to rate this beer based on the best qualities of both the old and the newborn, making it an all around amazing beer. I loved tasting it in an old VS new side-by-side tasting, but if I had to choose I'd take the old over the new, hands down. It seems that this beer needs time to settle down.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: dark amber with ruby brown highlights; a few fingers of fat tan head drape lace down the glass

S: sweet rich malts suggestive of dark fruit and caramel, somewhat earthy and rustic

T: full of fruit and malt, soft dates, caramel and toffee, edges of shellac and sweet herbs; modest bittering, vague hints of cocoa maybe?

M: full-bodied and smooth - intense mouthfeel - soft and lush caresses, lingering aftertaste begs for more

O: excellent - highly recommended - I had a bottle dated 10/08/14 , so with about 6 months on it - sublime drinking experience

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Third Coast Old Ale has a rather thin, cream-colored head, a semi-clear, red appearance, with powdery sediment, throughout, and minimal lacing left behind. The aroma is of rich nougat, dates, light fudge, and plum, and the flavor is of those elements, riding alongside tea notes, brown bread crust, plum skins, golden raisin, some golden sherry, and a noticeable, balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is fairly heavy, and Third Coast Old Ale finishes in the dry realm, but not as a particularly dry item.


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Photo of andrewh995
3.26/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark red with a small off white head. Smells of molasses, malt, caramel, and sweetness. Tastes insanely sweet and of, caramel, toffee, sweet malt, vanilla, and light booze. Medium-heavy body with medium-light carbonation. Overall this is a decent barleywine but it’s just way to sweet in my opinion.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
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!

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.41/5  rDev -17%
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 Mindcrime1000
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a single-serve bottle into a tulip.

The pour is pretty darn close to perfect--definitely spectacular. A deep, hazy/murky mahogany with just a touch of garnet highlighting, with a finger-and-a-half tan head that gives way quickly, but steadily, to exquisite lacing throughout the drink. It leaves a steady trailing of froth as it is consumed.

The aroma is strong, forward, and complex--perhaps just a touch "busy." Malts very forward with burnt sugar and caramel notes, followed by cocoa, tobacco, anise, some surprisingly-present hoppiness, and just a touch of solvent booze. If beers that lack "nose" turn you off, this is the beer for you, because not only are all of these elements noticeable, but the aroma is about as "in your face" as I've had with this style.

The flavor is right up against the line between "old ale" and "barleywine." This one is definitely a batch that could use a touch of aging, so I won't mark it down for the "bite," but there is no doubt that this is a "burner" rather than a "warmer" in its youth. The early "strike" of the booze notwithstanding, there is a great measure of complexity going on here to match the "nose." Malts are again very forward, with toasted marshmallow, cocoa, bourbon, and then creamy vanilla notes, followed by anise, tobacco, leather, and oak. Very evocative of a barrel-aged offering, no doubt because of the extra booziness. Very sweet initially, but with a sneaky hoppy bitter finish that becomes more pronounced at higher temperature. Maybe a few too many things going on to be a truly special offering.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly, and disappointingly, thin. The carbonation is nice, and, combined with the "lean" of the booze, helps prevent the brew from being sticky, but I wanted a little more chew.

Overall, this is a fine fusion of the old ale and barleywine traditions. I want to try one after it's had some time to mature, because I suspect it will get a "spectacular" instead of "pretty damn good" rating when I do.

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Photo of froggyfrog
2.6/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle packaged Feb. 8, 2006. Beer served in a snifter glass Nov. 17, 2006.

A: Floodwater mud and rust with a 12 iron head composed of silken web-like threads of viscous fluid which slather the glass and adhere to the walls when swirled.

S: Brown sugar and alcohol prevail.

T: Unexpected. Still somewhat sharp in flavor, this beer is overwhelmed to a degree by hot alcohol. Thin caramel and earthy hop oils argue for time. There is also a spot of sticky dark red fruits like plum or cherries.

M: Slightly conflicted. Weight is thin yet lips are left sticky with a dry alcoholic finish.

D: I like a strong beer but this felt overpowered by raw alcohol and not balanced by an appropriately aggressive flavor profile.

While obviously a well-made beer, this Old Ale really didn't hit on any of the flavor components that I was looking for. To echo the advice of previous reviewers: Cellar this beer - 9 months is not enough.

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Photo of Beermanmiles
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I look for in a good barleywine is flavor over alcohol. If the alcohol takes over the taste like in Speakeasy's barleywine (see review) I believe it lacks quality. I had this beer a craft bar in Albany, it is somewhat difficult to find outside of a bar. Either way, this is my favorite barleywine, I prefer it over any barrel aged barleywine because the mouth feel of this beer has a thin fizzy bite as opposed to a syrupy thick taste like bell's saturn. This beer taste similar to Stone's barleywine; Old Guardian. The thing that makes it better is the refreshing taste. I almost taste some sort of citrus. It is unlike most barleywines in that way. If you want a barleywine that is not barrel aged, get this one. If you want any beer in general and this one is on the menu, get this one.

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Photo of HellsRanger
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I was totally surprised, and upset at the same time to see someone else had the same idea I had...and it was to age this beer, and that is exactally what "HopsAreDaMan" did !!! Kudos to you are Da Man !!! We were right in doing this !!!
I myself did not aged as long...I started with a 10/03/15 Third Coast, but still the same results.
I found the aged old beer was by far the best, and more complex of the two "new vs. old, and cant wait to do this that I now it works for the best on this beer.
What else can I say...other than try this beer in the CELLAR for sure!!!!
Way to go again, fellow cellarer. Yahoo drink up & enjoy!!!!

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Photo of swoopdog
5/5  rDev +21.7%

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.

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Photo of SawDog505
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a 13 oz tulip glass at near room temperature bottled in late 2015 from what I can tell. Pours a magnificent mahogany with a 2 inch sticky light tan head that leaves amazing lace.

Smell is caramel, toffee, fig, biscuit, brown sugar, oak, and vanilla.

Taste follows lots of dark fruit, vanilla, fig, oak, biscuit, brown sugar, toffee, and caramel.

Mouthfeel is a little larger than medium, moderate carbonation, not really dry, and excellent drinkability for a sipper.

Overall this is a very nice beer and thanks @jzeilinger for sending this very sophisticated and we'll made old ale.

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Photo of BenHoppy
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fresh I wasn't a huge fan nor was I @ 3 years but aged 2 years wow what an amazing beer. Dark ruby red in appearance with caramelized candy fruited sugar in aroma. Flavor is very similar to smell with flavors of dark fruited figs and dates, chocolate, caramel, smoked malts, candy sweetness, molasses, and hops. Very good and do suggest aging for 2 years.

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Photo of DragonsMilk
3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice brew but....I'm curious how these hopped up old ales / barleywines get labeled as such, to me they fit the style known as American Strong Ale like Stone's Arogant Bastard series is considered. Once the bittering hops are introduced the names old ale and barleywine just dont accurately describe what your drinking in my opinion.

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Photo of rockwell
2.63/5  rDev -36%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle has #7695 on it which I assume is the batch number.

Pours a deep, cherry-oak color with a almost burnt-orange head. Also has two-fingers of solid foam, with intricate lacing.

Roasted notes on the nose, with hints of cherry and tobacco.

Something is very unbalanced in this beer. First few drinks are very hot. The malts seem to be fighting with the hops and not balancing each other out. Very resiny, lots of herbal, earthy undertones. But the finish has a very weird, alcohol/hop kick to it that is throwing the whole thing very much out of balance for me.

I had very high hopes for this after the initial pour, but overall seemed to be unbalanced. I'll revisit this with another batch to make sure I didn't get a mistreated bottle.

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Photo of oberon
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

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Photo of Shawnadams330
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of don1481
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into my standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark red. Through a glass, darkly, indeed. Half inch of foam lasts but doesn't overwhelm.

Smell: Sweet smell. Cognac-ish. Definitely boozy. Little hints of fruitiness, but nothing that's particularly close to matching the booziness.

Taste: Sweet, slightly boozy, yet with a surprisingly hint of bitter to the finish. It masks the 10.2% ABV quite well.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, but not obnoxiously so. The bitterness definitely lingers in the mouth well after each sip. Maybe a sort of clay-ish aftertaste.

Overall: Yes, this is something that I'll age in my basement. It's pretty darn good, but I wonder how it'll be in a year or even 6 months. I look forward to revisiting it.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.82/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Absolutely magnificent! The body is a dark, luscious brown with tons of sediment and the head is tanned and generous. As the foam receded it left a wonderful lacing on the inside of my glass and settled into foamy, bubbly pits on top of the liquid.

Smell – This is a very complex monster. First off, not necessarily in any order, I noticed the mature woody notes. Not that vanilla wood that you get from breweries trying to impart false wood or vanilla flavors in their ales. This is the wood of old.

This is a malty beer with some really big fruits. The aroma contains a fascinating mix of dark fruits, like plums, dates, raisins, and the much-sought tobacco, lighter fruits such as apricots, bananas, and cherries, as well as some easy summer fruits like melon.

The malt itself is heavily-toasted and sopped with alcohol. Not the throat-burning type of booze, but more like the tinge that you get from a good port. It definitely has some portly winey notes for sure. All around, this is one of the most complex and well put-together noses that I’ve ever smelled.

Taste – So, take the description under “Smell”, and make the following changes: add a bit more alcohol, take out the summer fruits, change the “heavily-toasted malts” to “slightly roasty”, add a bit of bittering hops (just a bit), and insert the phrase “full as shit” a few dozen times. There you have it – my interpretation of the taste of this beer.

Also, interestingly, I mentally noted the absence of simple sugars from the nose (other than a bit of cane) but found some brown sugar and caramel at the taste. This defines the term, “complete package”.

Mouthfeel – Almost full-bodied with a wonderful but very light carbonation and some very significant dryness at the finish.

Drinkability – I can’t believe no one has sent me this beer yet. Shame on you all! They should make you taste this before you get your mug icon. This is what “Old Ale” is all about. This has great cellaring potential as well.

Comments – This awesome ale was in good company in the trade I did with feloniousmonk. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better . . . it did. Thanks a heap for all the great beers that you managed to squeeze into one box.

PS: How does this compare to the great ones? Well, bigger but not as sweet or quite as smooth as Old Stock or Skullsplitter, better balanced but not as big (flavor wise) as Arrogant Bastard, more drinkable than Deschutes (Jubilale), more traditional than Old Woody, lacks the balanced yeast but is more drinkable than the N’ice Chouffe, smoother than Decimator (as if that’s a challenge), beats Traquir House Ale in complexity alone, is most reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, and one small notch below Double Bastard.

Update – I originally had the 2003 in 2004 and so had an opportunity to taste a rightly-aged 2005 in the spring of 2006 thanks to the generosity of BeerGuy. This sample had a little bit more alcohol sting in the mouth, which I love with the style. Other than that it was right on, so I’m raising the Mouthfeel to a perfect 5.0 and calling this one of the best beers I’ve ever had!

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 2,810 ratings