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

2,697 Ratings
Third Coast Old AleThird Coast Old Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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."

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-28-2002

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Ratings: 2,697 |  Reviews: 1,102
Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.52/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Pint glass.
Batch 10672 Bottled 9.14.11

A - Pours a very dark amber with a one finger tan head.

S - Roasted malts, sweet smelling. Not much here.

T - Sweet dark roasted malts, that is about it.

D - Low carbonation, average body. Sweet with mild flavors.

O - Not bad, but nothing special.

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Photo of dbossman
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark ruby-brown hue with a steady head, lots of bubbles, a good amount of sediment, and great lacing

S: Roasty, slightly burnt malts: brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, caramel with a touch of woodiness too; no booze to speak of--quite mellow

T: Lots of sweet bready malts--a touch burnt--with some dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, and toffee; really bready and dry with fruit undertones; a touch of alcohol presence but quite mild; also, an odd peppermint and chocolate presence especially on the back end

F: Such a pleasant thick, chewy, body--nice to see the mouth feel complement the bready chewiness so well

O: Such a mellow (this does have a year on it) old ale; bready and malty and pretty darn delicious

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch #8135, acquired via trade from feloniousmonk so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, brown sugar, dark fruit and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of brown sugar, dark fruit and caramel. Then there is a bit of alcohol sting and a hearty malt character. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, there are better choices in the style but this is still a solid stronger beer.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a 16 oz. snifter.

A- Dark amber, almost brown. Light tan 1 finger head with very little lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet malts and dark fruits.

T- Sweet candi sugar, amber malts. Dark fruits are there with a very slight hop bite at the finish.

M- Full body, creamy and a little syrupy.

O- Not sure if I would call this a barleywine, especially not an american barleywine! Does not have that hop presence like most barleywines do, but it is a good old ale with lots of sweet malts.

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Photo of DBoone
3.4/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle with 9458 stamped on it. Bought this beer about 2 years ago @ Chevy Chase liquors in DC area.
A Poured in small snifter very little carbonation ie head. Nice dark brown mahogany color.
S Figs, raisins, molasses, chocolate alcohol, good.
T Chocolate on the back of palate, maybe some figs? No alcohol noticed in taste.
M Thin, light
O Glad I tried, might buy again if available, not something I would search for to have again.
Wonder if aging helped or hurt this barleywine?

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

Bought a six pack of these, going to try to withhold from a couple and age them. This one is fresh and poured into a snifter like the bottle suggests. It comes out a rich chocolate brown with a finger of tan head. The retention is pretty good, as with with constant ring of bubbles.

Buttery biscuits, granola malt, and a load of roasty pecan nut flavors fume from the beer at first whiff. More raisin and fig fruity esters come through on top of a bagel-like backbone. Complexity is modest which is somewhat of a let down, but it is definitely a pleasure to take in. There's evidence of the 10.2% alcohol, but no real drama involved.

Pronounced fig, sugary raisin, brown sugar, and brandy kick the mouth in the uvula upon entry. Everything as whole turns into a roasty pecan pie. The hops deliver nothing more than a phantom dry bitterness of earthy nature. The overall flavor is good, but lacks bold hoppiness.

The thickness of this is immense, as it is almost a challenge to direct it to the throat. Carbonation is mellow but sufficient throughout. It is marvelously smooth and leaves the mouth with a jacket of film long after the beer has lazily slid it's way down the hatch. All eventually leaves the party, leaving the host with a slightly dry feeling.

Everything here is done well. The body, feel, and drinkability of this beer are spot on. However, the flavor leaves something to be desired. The hop intensity seems dim for how fresh I am sampling it. It's a solid beer, but for me doesn't live up to the hype. With Bell's logo I wonder what they could have made it, perhaps I'll find out when I break one out a year or so from now...

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Photo of PokerGod
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

First off, I'll be the first to admit, I do not have a ton of experience with Barleywines so I'm going to try to be as objective as I can. I hear this is a good one.

Appearance- Dark, caramel, slightly transparent. Muddy looking like a good Scotch Ale. I love a good Scotch Ale so hopefully thats a good sign. Not much for head, but great lacing left over on the glass.

Smell- Sweet, inviting, caramel, candy. Love the smell. yet some bready malts with maybe a hint of alcohol scent.

Taste- Again I have very little experience with barleywines, but it tastes like a doppelbock to me. Malty bready with a strong alcohol bite in the taste. A very lingering taste with a sweetness to it as well.

Overall- A very pleasant drink, that I really enjoyed. I would have again for sure. A great beer for sipping and enjoying.

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Photo of tykees88
3.35/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark ruby red brown color. No head. Alcohol legs is all I get for lacing.

S- dark fruity smell and a booze smell.

T- Taste a little hoppy up front. There is an apparent raisin flavor and a plum sugar flavor followed by a hard booze flavor that I don't care for here.

M- It's medium bodied, it's slightly chewy, but it's pretty good.

O- It's ok, but just pretty average I think

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Photo of shortbus7
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark red amber color with a non existant head.

S: Raisons, figs, and alcohol.

T: Dark fruit with an alcohol finish.

M: Very thick and smooth, slightly creamy.

O: This is a fantastic beer. Great taste and great mouthfeel, the only thing lacking is the smell. Wish the smell was more apparent.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep cherry mahogany color with some deep copper amber. The cream colored lacing is minimal and very thin. Carbonation is nill and the appearance is semi-hazy.

S - The nose pretty much sucks for a beer of this stature, get absolutely nothing! Either it's the beer or my nose, wish I had more to report here.

T - Wow! This just makes up for the lack of nose. Very complex with big oak, mild booze, creamy, bread crust, figs, sherry, raisins, and a semi-dry wood-like character.

M - Heavy medium body, lip smacking sticky, and somewhat chewy.

O - One of the more easy drinking barleywines I've ever had. Very drinkable and creates an "experience" for the drinker, well brewed. Now go out there and do something about the lack of aroma, Bell's.

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Photo of shangwang
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From Batch 9958- bottled August 25, 2010. Been aging this for several months after a friend traded it to me. Poured into my DFH snifter.

Poured with virtually no head, and what little there was looked patchy. Deep mahogany color and cloudy character. Very boozy nose with smells of cherry, toffee, and brown sugar. From the smells I expected a sweet taste with an eye-watering amount of alcohol punching through. Instead I got a much more subdued profile, in fact it was more bitter than sweet, and if I didn't know the ABV I would have guessed it was half of the actual number. Hints of fruit, dark bread, and vanilla in the taste. Great mouthfeel- a little zip with a medium body. Very satisfying with a little tingle as I swallowed it.

Definitely enjoyed this one- perfect brew for a cold fall day, and I loved the complexity of the smell and taste. I'd love to try a fresh one for comparison, but this one is a winner in a style that I love.

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Photo of lovindahops
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- ruby red with admirable lacing along the glass. Almost looks velvet

S- raisins, dark fruit, prunes, and ALCOHOL. It warms on the scent and makes me want to make sure my nose hairs are still there

t- dried fruit that is spike inside a bottle. Heavy and filling at once. Slaps you

m- full bodied

0- third coast is a powerful barley wine that packs a punch. It will warm you up in the winter. I need to find more somehow in upstate NY

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

Pours a nice ruby red with a thin light khaki head. There is a little Bit of sediment floating around with a small amount of visible carbonation.
Lots of dark fruit, cherry, plumb, sweet roasted malt, caramel, finished with a bit of booze.
First sip you get allot of sweet on the front of the tongue and the bitterness follows at the back. The taste really stays true to the nose. Lots of dark fruit, sweet malt, caramelized sugar, and a nice hop finish accompanied by booze.
Mouthfeel is super smooth, leaves a silky feel over the entire mouth. The bitterness of the finish really sticks around on the palate while the alcohol warms on the way down.
Overall I am surprised I have not heard more about this barleywine. I will defiantly be buying more.

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

Received from ChugginOil in trade (thanks bro!). Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into am Allagash snifter.

A – Poured out a caramel brown with slight cloudiness. Small head of off white formed but left quickly. Spotty lacing.

S – Light smeller with some apple like qualities. Cinnamon? Slightly sweet as well. Alcohol smell comes through.

T - Nice and sweet upfront with a dark fruit flavor. Big malty flavors. Caramel sweetness. Has some nice bittering hps flavors that come neat the end. Warming alcohol booziness at the end that leaves a nice warm feeling in your chest.

M – Medium bodied with medium to low carbonation. Smooth and creamy indeed.

O – Really solid barleywine. Im a bit sorry I didn’t cellar this one awhile. Will need another to lay down.

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Photo of tedmerk
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first barley wine:

Pours a dark reddish amber hue with a slight carmel color head and no lacing.

Smells like candy: Apricot, Chocolate, Fig, Quite sweet smell

Tastes exactly how I expected a barley wine to taste: A very malty start followed by some spicy hopps, then a very sweet syrupy finish (There's my crystal clear hindsight for ya)

The mouthfeel is my favorite part: Feels like chocolate melting in your mouth. Not much carbonation, but this beer flows over your tongue like the murky Mississippi River.

Overall, a very drinkable beer when considering the amount of alcohol present. Again, this is my first barley wine so I can not compare it to anything else in the old ale or barley wine class. I love the style and will be back for more.

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Photo of mdvatab
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to try this one for quite some time! Bought a single 12oz bottle from Payless Liquors (Fishers, IN) to find out what all the talk is about.
Bottle code says 9970. Bell's website says since 4/2011, regular MM/DD/YY codes have been used. The website's "Batch Finder" wasn't working, though, so I just know it was bottled pre-4/2011.
Poured from bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Carmelized brown sugar, peach nectar, cooked apples, and cream sherry. Sweet, boozy goodness!

Appearance: Clear, ruby/amber body. 1 finger head falls to a thin layer of foam with a thicker island of bubbles in the middle. Nice legs, but minimal lacing.

Flavor: Clean, sweet, carmelly, and malty up front. Some raisin and date-like fruity esters. American Barleywine bitterness rises up through the middle to provide balance, then sweetness fades for a prominent, bitter finish. The transitions through the flavors is very smooth.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low carbonation, medium-full, chewy body, and an overall smooth, coating mouthfeel.

Overall: Definitely an A-class cellerable brew! Delicious maltiness and fruity esters. The bitterness is definitely there, but the brewer did not go overboard for the sake of saying "This is an American barleywine"! My best analogy for this one is from music, where the sweetness handles trebel and bitterness is the bass. The flavors work together extremely well. Highly recommended!

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Photo of afdempse
4.44/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours super murky and dark brown. Lots of yeasty floaties suspended in glass. Thin wisp of a head.

Aroma of tangy-sweet dark raisins, figs, caramelized malt. Floral/resiny hop character. Thick, dextrinous liquid with multiple layers of dark bread & fruit. Definite sherry character. Pronounced bitterness, but with a deliciously smooth edge. Rounded, resinous hop flavor. Fig bars in the finish, with a touch of burnt sugars.

Slick, silky smooth mouthfeel with low-medium carbonation. Very balanced & drinkable. Alcohol nicely masked, and mingles with the flavors in perfect harmony.

Dangerously drinkable strong ale that goes down like a session beer. Bravo, Bell's.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a stemless snifter.

A: Pours a deep reddish-brown with a finger of off-white head that leaves some lacing.

S: Lots of typical barleywine scents. Sweet toffee and dark fruits, strong spicy hops and booze.

T: Follows the nose. Toffee, coffee, hops and sweet booze.

D: It tastes appropriately boozy for the strength. I had no problem finishing this however.

Overall: This is a straight middling American Barleywine in my opinion. Nothing really pops out and screams "original", but a good beer nonetheless. I'm putting a few of these in the cellar, I heard they really improve with some age.

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Photo of GoldenChild
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the best barley wine that i have had to date. Poured into a chalice.

Nice Dark red color with a big off white frothy head.

Smells like caramel and toffee.

Taste like a yummy, sticky, malt bomb
Caramel and toffee.

Have some in my cellar and i need to buy more as im typing this.

If you love barley wines this is one to try.

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Photo of rwathree
3.99/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours nearly still (as it should), caramel color, deep brown at the center and slightly lighter at the edges. Little bit of sediment, but it's hard to see since the brew is more or less opaque.

S: Sweet brown sugar, not nearly as boozy as you'd expect for the high abv. Vine fruit, too, though I can't be more specific than that. Very inviting.

T: there's that booze, right up front. Not too aggressive though, more like the sweetness in bourbon. There's a nice, dry bitterness that kicks in to neutralize any burn. I'm impressed by the balance provided by the hops. Slight aspirin aftertaste, but it's not too offensive.

M: with that aftertaste comes some grittiness, and I don't love that. I also find this surprisingly thin. On the other hand, there's no lingering burn (see above).

O: this is a surprisingly - scarily - drinkable beer for almost 11% abv. It's a bold beer, and by that I mean that its best qualities appear up front; it's beautifully presented and pays off immediately. Some of the finer points need refining, but all told this is a quality offering, typical of Bell's.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- comes out a medium brown from the bottle and looks hazy mahogany brown. 1 finger head with less than average retention and some lacing left around the glass

S- BIG sweet malt thats all over the place. Some sweeter dark fruit are there and make it a nice scent.

T- sweet upfront with darker fruits, heavy malt, and candied sugar. Sweet but not too crazy. Nice blend of sweet tastes are accompanied by some slight alcohol burn, small but there.

M- medium mouthfeel thats somewhat syrupy and has a smaller to medium amount of carbonation. Feels smooth and creamy.

O- really nice beer thats a little too sweet for me but absolutely enjoyable. Im about to pour a little bit of 12 year old Canadian Club into the remaining few ounces and see how it tastes.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.67/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a snifter - Batch 9958

A: Pours a light brown with barely any head that fades to a ring and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is lots of caramel, buttery toffee, and sweet malt. Pretty darn good but I don't get any hops.

T: The taste definitely has hops. I am picking up pine and a bit of citrus along with some bready and caramel malt. The year of age hasn't tone down the hops as much as I thought it did after smelling it.

M: The feel is medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

O: This is a very middle of the road barleywine/old ale. Good for tick but not sure if I would search it out again.

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Photo of Brunite
3.7/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - A deep ruby with an ecru head. Alcohol legs evident. Minimal lacing. Lots of sediment.

s - Syrupy cherry....sweet malty....dark fruit...alcohol.

t - Complex and bold. Lots of malt...brown sugar...dark fruit.

m - Medium body & syrupy. Slight alcohol burn but not bad.

o - Not a huge barleywine fan. But....this is one of the better I've had. I could finish this and enjoy it if in the right mood.

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Photo of auroracrisis
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz into a snifter, this was bottled on 10/9/2009.

Deep burgundy on the pour, with no head. Just a small collar around the edges of the glass that fades more and more as you drink it. Plenty of floating sediment, and decent legging when the brew is swirled.

Subtle notes of brown sugar, dark fruits, toffee and booze all mingle together. Fruits like raisins and dark, candied cherries. The brown sugar and toffee present even more candy like qualities to the brew. However, the subtlety of the nose does not understate the brew but brings a complexity and makes the beer less offensive than other malt forward barleywines. Not much heat from the booze, just a tingle. Which is nice.

Again, forward with brown sugar and toffee. The confectionary sweetness is much more apparent in the flavor than in the nose. Dark fruits compliment but don't overpower the candy like brown sugar and toffee flavor. Rich and sweet dark cherry flavor with less raisin than the nose. I like the juxtaposition between the nose and taste of this beer. Just a touch of booze again on the finish.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, with low carbonation. Seems to kind of stick to your tongue and not want to go down upon swallowing.

Overall, a good malt forward American barleywine (old ale, whatever). Good brown sugar and dark cherry flavors, with a subtle yet complex nose. Easy flavors and not much booze at all. Glad I've still got some of this to see how it develops, and I'd love to try a barrel aged version of this. Seems like the perfect canvas for some bourbon aging.

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

Batch 9970, bottled 15 October 2010.

Pours a deep enigmatic reddish brown. Seems like every time I look at it, and in every different light, brings out a different hue. Sometimes it's mahogany, sometimes a dark caramel amber, sometimes yellowish. Seems to hold a whole spectrum in its depths. But whatever color it is, it's clear, nearly see-through with light behind it, despite being so dark. One-finger dark cream head, good retention and lacing.

Smells of booze and strong dried fruit - kinda like a Pedro Jimenez sherry. Raisins and prunes are dominant, sweet, dark, and sun-dried. Yum.

Taste is quite different from the smell. First, the fruit is lighter - more like plums and figs, and without the dried-out sweetness in the smell. Second, it's got a combo of hop bitterness and alcohol burn that gives it a liquor-like punch. It burned a bit going down - definitely doesn't hide the alcohol the way some high-ABV beers do. But it's tasty, and complex in a different way than the smell.

Mouthfeel is right on - heavy and slightly sticky. The low carbonation works well for this beer - the flavors are so robust they don't need bubbles to bring them out.

A very good beer, it drinks somewhere between an old ale and an American barleywine. Deep, dark, rich malts, but with a hop kick. Quite nice.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.1 out of 5 based on 2,697 ratings.
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