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

2,684 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: 2,684 |  Reviews: 1,098
Photo of OnThenIn
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer pours with a tiny tan head that dissipates quickly into a dark brown body that has a hint of red in it.

S: The aroma is lots of dark fruit and cherry pits, with a bit of sweet, bready, caramel as well. It smells a little earthy, like an apple orchard after the season is over and some of the apples are just lying around. Really reminds me of autumn for some reason. It makes me think of a doppleback with more complexity.

T: A lot more bread and toffee in the taste, with a definite alcohol presence and more bitterness than I was expecting, which ended up being a good thing due to the need to balance out the big, sweet flavors. Definitely a little bit of that dark fruit maybe mixed with a little bit of citrus upfront, but all dark fruit and bready malt and alcohol on the back end. Solid.

M: It is thick with just the right amount of carbonation. Really solid mouthfeel for this kind of beer.

D: Today was a cloudy, rainy day, so this seemed like the perfect beer for it. Phenomenal beer for this day and just really enjoyable. Great mouthfeel.

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

Appearance - Pours a dull reddish brown, red around the edges, with almost no head to speak of.
Aroma of sweet caramel, dark fruit, dates, buckwheat honey, and just a touch of grapefruit and pine from the hops. Mouthfeel is a touch viscous, rich.
Flavour is malt sweetness upfront, toffee, dates, figs and just enough resinous hops bitterness to balance it out.
Very drinkable for a barleywine. Alcohol is not overbearing, just warming.

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Photo of gopens44
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice thick foamy cream colored head over a murky brown ale

S - Giant toffee and sweet was pretty much all I got.

T - Much like the nose but add raisins and just a hint of hops

M - Starts out creamy and turns a bit dry on the finish with a bitter aftertaste.

O - Really nice. Drinks like an aged American Barley wine, having allowed most of the hops to fall off.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this on a trip to OH. Love Bells, love Barleywines / Old Ales. Let's see. 12oz bottle...

A: A murky deep brown color with a tiny head that fades quiclkly to a lace on top of the brew. Good.

S: A nice caramel / toffee scent upfront followed by a slight spicy apple. A nice malty sugar scent on the backend. Good.

T: A hot boozy caramel upfront with some watery malt blended in. A slight metallic booze in the middle with some slight apple and earthy bitterness on the backend. Good.

M: Medium body with a heavy carbonation. A bitter dry finish. Decent.

O: All in all, this is a good beer. Not the best of the style. A little too hot and not as well hidden as I would've like, but it's decent. It's like a movie that you enjoyed going to see in the theater, but you're not about to go out and buy it. Now that, but related to beer.

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Photo of Mario61Aler
4.52/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle 10.2 ABV
S - Slightly sweet notes of carmel and fruit blend was so complex I had to swish and smell 4 times and still can not really say what all the aromas are. Nicely blended.
A- The color poured a medium dark brown and was cloudy with a light tan head that stayed for 3 to 4 minutes .
T- Slightly sweet flavor followed by a grapefruit taste, that lasted quite awhile.
M- It has a full body, creamy texture, that was soft on carbonation, and finished bitter, with a long finish.
O- This is great! I didn't do my homework on this one first, just thought, hmmm, subdued label, Bell's, go for it, give it a try. A Barleywine! Wow, Now I have another style to explore.

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Photo of brown2cu
4.09/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer poured a nice mahogany. A small sheet of foam covered the top of; no lacing. A lot of yeast can be seen floating around due to the bottle conditioning process.

S: Incredible! I detected a lot of caramel maybe some brown sugar but the most outstanding notes were fruity in character. Expect a hoarde of dark fruits sweet plums and tart raisens. Very low bitterness and surprisingly subdued alcohol notes.

T: Nice and sweet. Plenty of dark fruits again and perhaps more brown sugar. Again not a lot of alcohol in the taste which I find interesting considering the formidable ABV.

M: Smoothe and sticky. Creamy as it warms to room temperature. The alcohol is detectable right after consumption with a warming blooming sensation that ensnares its way through you guts.

O: Overall I found this beer delectable. My one suggestion is to get a six pack and let some of these age for a couple of years. Another pointer: drink these on a cold day the wonderful warming sensation would be appreciated more fully. I think I have to dissagree with the title of barleywine because there is really no noticeable hop presence; old ale is much more fitting.

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Photo of Lauthaha
4.7/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a beer taster (4 ounce) for maximum enjoyment.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful burnt caramel/pure mahogany color. Very active carbonation visible through the very dark liquid. Head is a lightly-toasted-marshmallow color; after several minutes, there is a thin coating covering the entire surface of the beer, with slightly raised head around the edge of the glass. Pretty decent head retention for a barleywine.

Smell: Roasted caramel and dark fruits. It may be psychosomatic, but I swear I smell toasted marshmallow in there too, haha...only a slight amount of alcohol in the nose makes this near-perfect.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow. Simply amazing. First sip is electric; aromatic bitters/herbs/hops spike the tongue with flavor. As the carbonation begins to build up, the chewy caramel malt character unfolds. Gently sweet, and never overpowered by the intense ABV. What a sipper!

Overall: Considering the high ABV, this beer has TREMENDOUS drinkability. I'm drinking it at about room temperature, and that's perfect for sipping...which is about all you should do with this beer...sip slowly and enjoy!

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Photo of PEIhop
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a beautiful dark chestnut that is hazy with a minimal head.

S - Roasted/burnt malt, dark fruit, but these aromatics are trumped by caramel/toffee notes

T - Begins with a nice malt character with the amazing caramel notes. Quickly, these initial tastes dissipate leaving a warm alcoholic finish.

M - Full-bodied, very creamy/viscous, nice carbonation

D - A good beer from a great brewery. A nice interpretation of the style.

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

A - Dark brown/red color with minimal head. No real stick left on the sides, but it has the look of a barleywine.

S - Dark fruit and a lot of caramel. Something that makes me think of carroway seeds for some reason. Burnt sugar and a little bit of english on it, don't really know how else to describe that.

T - Solid tasting beer with good burnt sugars, candied fruit, dark fruit, and some phenols and ethers. Little bit of a hop bite to it.

M - Smooth, sugary, good carbonation, good for the style.

O - This is actually a very solid beer, if not a bit sweet. I'd love to see this one in some barrels.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into my Smuttynose tulip at room temperature. 2007 vintage, Batch # 8211.

Appearance: Cloudy burnt caramel brown in color. Not much of a head. Nice thin beige lacing forms and stays around the glass.

Aroma: Toasted malt, fresh bread, and deep dark fruit complexities throughout. By now most of the alcohol is subdued and only provides a small kick. Big caramel sweetness throughout.

Taste: Toasted malt notes definitely are strong here. A touch of astirgency and bitterness from the toasted character. Caramel and dark fruit sweetness round out and balance the flavors. A tad watery toward the end with an herbal, leathery finish.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and a bit syrupy, but with ample carbonation (even after over three years).

Overall, a really enjoyable, smooth barleywine. Plenty of complexity and strong interplay between the toasted and sweet characteristics. I could definitely see this being a tad hot fresh, but it is definitely drinking well now.

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Photo of Janderson91
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch #9958, bottled on 08/25/10. Enjoyed on 03/23/11. A little over half a year old. Looking forward to this one.

A - Dark red/brown muddy color that you can't see through at all. Lots of floaties and no head with very little lacing.

S - Caramel, dark fruits, alcohol, slight hoppiness. Big on the caramel.

T - Similar to the nose but more balanced. Very caramel and sweet up front with some dark fruitiness. Then finishes surprisingly dry with some hop bitterness.

M - Great, very full and near syrupy.

O - Overall, another good one from Bell's. Would probably be better with some age.

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

Reddish-brown, not much head and little lacing. Appears almost still, with low carbonation. Smells of sherry or light port, berries, and malt. The taste is very good and strong, with raisins, tannin-like hints, brown sugar; woodsy, slightly bitter, spicy, slightly tart, and fruity. The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and slightly syrupy. Not complex, but does have subtlety. Not an exceptional find, but a very interesting beer. I feel like it should be a bit more rewarding, but it is still nothing to knock. Overall very good. I'd want this occasionally, which is how it was meant to be enjoyed.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip...

A- Pours a vibrant reddish brown with a nice two finger deep head. The head is tan and very bubbly. Small stream of carbonation coming from the center of the glass to the top.

S- Smells of toasty malts and caramel. Very sweet and bold. Hints of dark fruits. Faint piney hop aroma.

T- Tastes much like it smells. Sweet, toasty malts up front followed by some dark fruits and caramel. Has a bitter, piney hop finish with a bit of oakiness. Finishes with a slight estery alcohol bite that is not overly hot. It's very easy to recognize the wonderful balance.

M- Soft and creamy with medium carbonation. Goes down as smooth as can be for a barleywine. Leaves an oakey finish on the palate.

D- A fantastic sipper of a barleywine. Great blend of sweet toasty malts and oakey, bitter hop finish. I will no doubt be putting a few of these in the cellar.

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Photo of dk83022
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking out of a tulip glass.

A- Beautiful caramel and almost cola like color. Against some light, it picks up some deep red.

S- Nice malty aroma.

T- Great ale with subtle hops. A little sweet.

M- Great body. Doesn't loose taste after 1st sip.

D- Prime sit down beer. 1 or 2 would be a night max.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look - dark reddish brown in color, with about a finger's worth of khaki-colored foam that dissipates somewhat slowly.

Smell - Very malty and seasoned, but the spices aren't too strong. Maybe some fruitiness too.

Taste and Mouthfeel - fairly bitter from the start, then sweeter in the middle with a bit of a muskiness too. Bitter in the finish and aftertaste too. Texture is well-balanced and a little more on the creamy side.

Drinkability - a little too bitter for my general taste, but complex and interesting. Taste itself is good.

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Photo of sweett3k
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bell's brewery sure does make some great brews. This beer pours gorgeous in a pint glass. Nice dark brown color with a creamy head. Tone of carmel and chocolate. Very rich tasting beer, diffinitely a sipper. Stong alcohol smell and flavor. A one of a kind beer.

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

Pours an opaque deep copper to ruby with a three-finger, thickly creamy and frothy, off-white head.

Not much to report on the smell. Caramel and some dry malt, load of sugar, and definite alcohol.

Taste is nice and rich. Loads of caramel and french toast. Super sweet. Subtle hop presence on the finish. And there's a nice layer of sticky aftertaste from the hops too. The thick malts and tangy hop accent go together well.

Rich and hearty. Highly enjoyable drink. 10% abv completely hidden other than it's somewhat filling.

P.S. I had one aged about 14 months, but it had gone bad.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.52/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Enjoyed this at the Eccentric Cafe on my recent trip to Michigan.

A: pours a deep golden with a reddish tint, thin head, good clarity, some lacing

S: faint molasses, bit fruity notes with notes of licorice, deep earthy hops, some caramel character as well

T: big hoppy bitterness up front, a bit abrasive, big sweet malts follow it up with molasses and caramel. This is very sweet, almost cloying.

MF: this one is almost syrupy with the low carbonation and thick body

D: this is a little too sweet for my liking, lots of earthy character and sweet notes, just a little too much for me.

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Photo of Wegomlegging
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this recommended from my local beer & wine place, not bad. Slightly cloudy dark leather color with a weak head. Only prominent smells I could detect were strong hops and a slight malt. Flavor was very good, bitter hops all over the place but still could taste the malt and sweetness. Mouthfeel was slightly cloying but it works here. I'd say it's fairly drinkable, but it leaves a lingering bitterness that never leaves your tongue. I'd say this is nice with buffalo wings or something else that will counteract the sloppy hops. Overall a good beer, but not sure why it's labeled an "old ale."

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Photo of Aiptasia
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My second sampling from bells. Pretty good barleywine.

A: Pours a nice red ochre color into my trusty beer mug. 2" head foamed then dissipated to a decent lacing, then dissipated after 2 mins.

S: Lemongrass with a malt sweetness from caramel notes.

T: Banana esters on this one, rum, dark caramel. Hopsy bitter finish that lingers long on the tongue.

M: Rich and full bodied. Softtly carbonated.

D: Drinkable but definitely needs a pairing of food of some sort.

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Photo of maddog13lb
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a strong flavorful beer. Can often overpower the flavor of any food eaten with it, so it's best when sitting with a friend having a chat.

My favorite beer by far, but extreemly hard to find. I plan a trip to Bell's brewery every once in a while when this beer is in season just to get another taste. Sure wish this beer was more widely available.

Appearance - Dark brown, not much head.

Smell - Multiple aromas. Definitely can smell the high alcohol content.

Taste - American Barleywine accurately describes this beer.

Mouthfeel - Begins as a fruity taste, ends dry.

Drinkability - If it's on tap, it is a must try... bottled doesn't do it justice. Can't have too many because of the high alcohol content.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL.
2003 vintage. This beer was brown with an off white head. The aroma was on the light side with hints of sweet dark fruit and caramel. There was a nice strong pine flavor that married well to a classic Barleywine dark fruitiness.

12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL.
1999 vintage. This one poured black with no head. It seemed thick and oily. The flavor was similar to the '03 except the pine hops were softer and the sweet maltiness was a bit more complex. Some caramel and toffee notes surfaced above the dark fruitiness.

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Photo of Miketwolf21
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Why do appearances account for twenty percent. What is an ugly beer? And wouldn't we be biased towards clarity and color other than brown. Some of the best beers are brown. Brown is a bastard of a color. But who cares.
Bottled 11/9/2010 (3 months old)
There was plenty of carbonation to reveal warming plum brandy and nice caramel malts. This is complimented by the smell of sweet bread. The spicy hops hide underneath.
The flavor is exactly as it smells. Very well integrated flavors. Almost too well integrated... But there is a really delicious flavor of sharp aged cheddar cheese. Seriously. See if I am just crazy or if that is true. A little too sweet but that means that you just don't drink too much and you pair it with food. I have not had an aged third coast, but this tastes plenty balanced already. I feel as though it may become too much of a malt bomb if I let it sit. But I do love malt bombs...
Mouthfeel is great. A very rich and chewy body, without being too syrupy. Thank god.
This does however best enjoyed one at a time. The heavy sweet tooth this beer has maybe too much after a couple.

I went through this six pack in 3 months and found it to be the best six pack barleywine/old ale other than Hibernation Ale by Great Divide. This is a great malt bomb however

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a 6 pack of this during the holidays and have been nursing it since. I like barley wines but I don't get to try them often so this is a treat. Its in the single digits in mid Michigan so a big barleywine seems fitting. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into my chalice. Batch# 9958, Born on August 25th, 2010. 6 months old. Price $14.99.

A- I really like the label on this beer. It reminds me of skiing down the runs at boyne mountain, looking down them and seeing the branches and roots sticking out of the snow, good times. This beer pours a deep brown mahogany color with a thin layer of tan head that faded to a super thin ring that left a little lacing.

S- The aroma is full of malted barley, it really does dominate the aroma as I have come to expect from American Barleywines. I also picked up some brown sugar, dark fruits and a hint of caramel.

T- Just like the aroma the malted barely dominates the taste also. Caramel sticks out more then it did in the aroma. The caramel is followed by some nice dark fruits and a slight hint of citrus hops that has faded. There is some boozyness to this brew as expected but after 6 months it has toned down a little and is quite pleasant and a little warming. The flavors are complex and balanced nicely.

M- This brew is thick and chewy, just how it should be. It also has descent carbonation.

D- This beer is a sipper so I would probably only have one unless I was on a mission to get drunk. A little too sweet and warming to have more then one.

Overall I would say this is the best barleywine I have had to date, I liked it a lot. The flavors are on point, complex, and balanced very nicely. This is truly the cognac of beers. I noticed that after 6 months the booze calms down a little and lets more dark fruits and caramel flavors come through more. I will be setting aside a bottle or two to see what another 6 months does to this brew. It's a little pricey at 15 bucks a 6 pack, but it's worth every penny, this is a beer I would love to have in my fridge at all times and I would for sure buy it agian. Great job Bell's, making great beers like this is why you are my favorite brewery.

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

I bought this in anticipation of the great blizzard of 2011. I've had a few since the snow started and I got snowed in and had nothing to do but warm up with this and some vidya games.

It pours a dark amber brown but for the few I've had I can't get the head to stick around. There is little lacing. On the nose the predominant notes are more English barleywine than American: big bready notes, raisins, toffee, biscuits, a nice mixture of sweet smells with a little bit of wonderful head behind it. It reminds me of J.W. Lees on the nose, which is one of my favorite noses on all beers. On the tongue the same sweet bread as the nose is the first thing that stands out, but underneath and behind that is a wonderful, subtle hop white noise. In the mouth it's kind of syrupy but there is a nice alcoholic, carbonated spikeyness that follows it and sticks around forever. There are other beers at similar alcohol levels that are more drinkable than this, but that's part of the charm for it this week. The alcohol that kind of kills the large-scale drinkability is the thing that warmed me up after a stroll through 3 foot drifts.

One of my favorite barleywines, a nice quiet corner of the Bell's catalog.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.1 out of 5 based on 2,684 ratings.
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