Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,071 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,071 | Ratings: 2,619
Photo of stompilator
4.65/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep, opaque garnet, small off-white head.

S - Deep, deep caramel aromas, and some sweet dark fruit.

T - Taste follows the nose, with subtle biscuit notes. Booze is robust and adds a nice dimension to the caramel flavors. Intense, fruity sweetness.

M - Very thick and creamy, nearly syrupy. Sweet mouthfeel, very light carbonation.

O - Wonderfully complex malt profile, incredible, sweeter representation of the style. Delicious.

 490 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.74/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter glass
From: Barons Market in Alpine, Calif.
Price: $3.19
Purchased: Aug. 28, 2015
Consumed: Sept. 3, 2015
Misc.: Packaged on Sept. 5, 2014

Poured a brownish, auburn color with 1-to-2 fingers of grayish, khaki, fizzy head. A few foamy spots on the sides of the glass. Below average-to-average retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled a healthy dose of hoppy dark malts. Specifically got toffee, caramel, booziness, tobacco, leather, faint butterscotch, fig, dates and some slightly spoiled red apple. (Smell - 4.00)

Taste pretty much followed the nose. Got sweet caramel, toffee, booziness, scotch, tobacco, dried fruit - dates, figs, prunes and earthy raisins - some roasty malts and light herbal hops. (Taste - 3.50)

Full-to-medium body. Creamy-to-sticky texture. Average-to-lively carbonation. Long, boozy finish. (Feel - 4.00)

I had high hopes with this one, but overall it wasn’t that great. (Overall - 3.75)

3.74 | 84 | B

 994 characters

Photo of Nugganooch
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a Sierra Nevada balloon glass
Notes taken on 03/01/2015 – side by side with North Coast Old Stock

A: The pour is a deep brownish garnet hue and fairly opaque in appearance. The careful draw yields a only thin layer of khaki foam that is somewhat short-lived as it slips out to a crown. Light on the stick and lace too.

S: Molasses and dark toffee with some fallen orchard fruit. Has a light sweetness to it with dark breads and mild earthy tobacco spices. Smells very warm and inviting to me.

T: Real figgy flavors with a plum fruit and rum soaked raisin bread note. A touch on the sweeter side with the caramel toffees but really well balanced overall. Has a moderate to lower level of earthy bitterness and a nice spiced alcohol kick in the finish. Picking up a light smokiness there as well, faint as it might be. This is some good fireside stuff right here.

M: Full bodied with a light tackiness or chew in feel. Carb seems on the lower end of the spectrum perhaps. There is a low level of perceived bitterness and some alcohol warmth in the finish. Slightly drying with a nice sticky residue coating.

D: Solid brew and one to be savored. Quite well crafted with an approachable balance. Bells did a real nice job here with some good depth in flavor at a very affordable price. Surely glad to have this available in Cali now.

 1,379 characters

Photo of woemad
4.43/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of LehighAce06. Among the last survivors of his epic NBS BIF #2 box. According to the label, this was “pkgd” on October 8, 2014, so I expect it won’t be as raw as it might have been when it was released.

Poured into my trusty Iron Goat snifter, this was a dark, russet color, with a small, reluctantly formed beige colored head. Said head dropped somewhat quickly but remained in the form of a foam collar for some time. Considering the strength of this beer, I was happy to see much of a head at all.

Malty and plummy in the nose, initially. Things got a little sweeter, in a caramelly sort of way, as it warmed up.

Big, malty flavor up front, midway through some mildly citrusy and piney hop notes shine through. Warming, boozy alcohol on the fadeout. Things end slightly dry for such a big, malty beer.

A rather full bodied beer, and that comes as no surprise. There was a thick, velvety mouthfeel to this.

Drunk on a comparatively cold August day with a soft rain falling outside, I feel I was able to decently simulate a fall drinking experience with this, and Third Coast suited the bill admirably. I can’t help but wonder if the hops would have been more brash when fresh, but 10 ½ months in the bottle has helped them mellow and meld quite well. Recommended.

 1,301 characters

Photo of justinp444
4.49/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dated 10/30/14 (date is 8/13/15) poured into a snifter. This beer has a dark dark brown slight amber body with a inch and a half thick off white foamy head. Smell is dried fruit, leather, caramel, little bit of alcohol, and sweet malt. Taste is much the same but lighter with a ton of dried fruit, earth, caramel, sweet malt, and a little bit of leather. Alcohol is hid well with a slight warming at the end. Mouth feel is lightly syrupy with a nice full body.

 460 characters

Photo of Beermanmiles
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

 794 characters

Photo of DeFaz
3.63/5  rDev -11.5%
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

 599 characters

Photo of Suds_With_Buds
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is probably my favorite old ale. Before it was released in Cali, I always had an issue finding an Old Ale that was both on point and wouldn't break the bank, the Bruery, Alesmith and North Coast where pretty much the only choices I had for solid Old Ales but of course they are all very expensive.

The six packs have been a godsend, making this beer actually feasible for drinking once or twice during the week and at the price of a single 750ml of Alesmith's Old Ale.

 474 characters

Photo of ajm5108
4.09/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 10/12/12. Tremendous bouquet on this beer. Lots of rich sweet raisin, dark fig & caramel malt with a faint fenal alcohol underlining things. Doesn't taste as good as it smells, though. The caramel malt is the main note, though a little heavy, with a backbone of baker's chocolate, bitter toffee and dark cherry. There is a distinct leather note at the end that threw me off a little bit. Some warm booze follow-through as well as some smokey peat. It is a very intricate beer, sweet but heavy, a must-try if only for its complexity.

 546 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.71/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Cellared bottle from 09/2014 served in a tulip glass.

Appearance: Deep red with some hints of brown and orange poking through. Beautiful creamy head that rode the glass down. Thick and creamy lace with some small alcohol legs.

Nose: Prunes, butterscotch, toffee, sweet and spicy hops aroma

Taste and Mouthfeel: very smooth and creamy. Medium carbonation that lifts the beer. Initial bitterness lends it's way to sweet hops and a strong malty backbone. Dried fruit, caramel, toffee and floral notes. Slight alcohol warming.

A true delight. I'm going to sit on these and try them along the way. Wonderful and world class barleywine.

Same vintage as above. Some oxidation but nothing that distracts. Little to no hop aroma or flavor. This may have started out as an American Barleywine but it reminds me of an English one now. Still wonderful. No change in score.

 880 characters

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 vintage.

32 oz. growler filled yesterday poured into a NB snifter.

A - The beer pours a pale golden copper. A one-inch head of tight, fluffy eggnog foam coats the surface and take a good while to dissipate to a fine sheen. Held to a full-spectrum light, the beer is a rich, saturated rosewood color and quite translucent to opaque. Thin legs of sugar fall from the lace around the edges.

S - Soft, stretchy caramels and caramelized sugars, lightly toasted malts backed by hints of dried floral hops and traces of ABV. Over time, the hops become more herbal and prominent. Some light molasses with toffee after it warms, with hints of soft spicing like white pepper.

T - Butterscotch and caramel initially - at this point, it's a Scotch ale. Almost immediately, however, dried herbal, earthy bitters follow and take over the taste profile. Caramelized sugars show up late into the finish, which lasts a long time flipping through the various aspects of the initial taste. Finish settles into a noticeably bitter and dry profile, and seems to go on forever. As it warms in the glass, notes of dried, dark fruit appear.

M - A rather neutral mouthfeel that's smooth, almost slick, but rather clean with just a touch of fizziness in the end. Finish lingers and echoes. Medium body. Components compliment each other well, with integration that matches the aging, but they remain pretty easily identified individually. This suggests this beer could handle another 3-5 years of aging.

O - If the hops were fresh instead of melded into the beer, this could be an IIPA. It would also be quite interesting to be able to taste this same beer after a couple of more years of aging to see if time could take some of the edge of the bittering hops off and allow a tad more of the caramel to play longer in the glass. Still, this is a very enjoyable sipping beer. For those like me who love Scotch ales but also want to give the palette a break from the sugar, but also want something other than the coffee/chocolate of stouts, this is a good beer by which to appreciate the role of hops melded into the brew.

 2,118 characters

Photo of SomethingClever
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz beer poured into Spiegelau glass

A: dark brown hazy not too bad clarity not much of a head

S: burnt sugars, a little cinnamon, some light hops resiny

T: lots of sugary prune, plum, raisin a little bit of a sour acidic taste on the end

M: medium to a little thin

O: This is a pretty good old ale I think like Old Stock Ale this would just get better with age.

 372 characters

Photo of Ilafan
3.26/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm an IPA guy, myself, so when I tried this, I wasn't overwhelmed. For what it is, it is good. The tartness is tasty & well-balanced, and the high 10.20% ABV does not dominate. But, I like my beers a little less sour and fruity.

 232 characters

Photo of mlockman
4.66/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank 9 months after bottling date, and I must say it is perfectly balanced. Hop-presence is certainly noticeable on the palate, but not at all overpowering. In fact, the subtle touch of hops keeps the flavor from being cloying, but it is definitely sweet; definitely did not feature a bitter flavor that some reviews led me to expect. Definitely going to have to get some more of these.

 387 characters

Photo of hardysf
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark reddish brown. Immediate smell of sweetness, toffee, caramel, and molasses.
Taste is initially sweet of caramel and molasses. Maybe some fruit. Very smooth mouthfeel. Rich and velvety. Finishes balanced and not overly sweet with some bitterness. A little booziness seeps in as well.

This was tried eight months post bottling. Have a few more for aging.

 370 characters

Photo of Jjski
4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

 913 characters

Photo of TBCE
4.91/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

 318 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.63/5  rDev +12.9%
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

 560 characters

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

Smells malty, can detect the yeast, as well as the aroma of wild berries. Taste follows up with that malty backbone as well as notes of honey, brandy, rhuarb, wild berries, and ethanol. Has a thick, bready feel with a heavy stickiness to it. This really illustrates what it means to have a 'complex' flavor. Maybe I was primed to think so by the name but this beer made me feel like a black bear scrounging for all the delicious goodies in the forest. So good, will buy again. Wow.

 481 characters

Photo of Apellonious
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle pkgd 9/5/2014 poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with ruby higlights. A half finger head that moves to a thin lace.

S - Dark fruit, mild booze, malts, plums

T - Follows the nose, with some butterscotch. The malts tend to the pale side.

M - Medium carbonation, sizable heft, it's coating, but doesn't get sticky.

O - A tasty barleywine, came across a dusty six while up in Ohio (havent seen it yet in NC) , going to age a few to see how they turn out.

 486 characters

Photo of bman13
2.94/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Just doesn't do it for me for a barleywine. It's flavor is extremely cloying and overly buttery sweet for a beer. It really doesn't taste like a barleywine or let alone, a beer, at all. I love Bell's, probably one of my favorite breweries but i just really don't like this one at all.

 284 characters

Photo of fx20736
4.63/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Dark amber, creme brulee head, gorgeous sticky lacing. Rich, toffee and dark fruit aroma. Sweet, sticky toffee, caramel, vinuous, orchard and dark fruit medley, vanilla notes. Citus rind bitterness on the end which balances the sweetness nicely. Touch of carbonation buoys the ale. The word for this beer is suberb. Superbly crafted and delicious. A Home Run all the way.

 372 characters

Photo of Jeffsta1
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Good looking beer. Dark. Fine pale head.

Nose is low-key. Suits me fine.

Intense taste. Just a huge beer. The alcohol amplifies it - POW. Very deeply malty flavor. Slightly sweet (Ovaltine? Really? Yup, but not in a bad way), then a big, big hit of bitterness.

Beautiful mouthfeel. Rich. Not cloying.

Not as sweet as many barleywines - for which: yay. Spiritually resembles the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.

 405 characters

Photo of Catracho5
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottled poured into a Belgian style tulip

A: Dark cherry red with a vanilla colored head, some minor lacing, poured a half finger head that faded after about 3-4 minutes

A: Sweet caramel candy aroma, alcohol on the nose, smells really strong.

T: Sweet flavors up front, then right into some bitterness, alcohol is really noticeable at the end, dry finish.

M: Nice mouthfeel, not big, slightly more than a medium mouthfeel, leaves a very dry finish, lots of alcohol burn on this for being nearly 5 months after the bottle date.

O: My overall impression is that this is a very rough, on the palate, beer, bitterness, alcohol burn, not an easy drinking beer, going to cellar the rest of my six-pack to see how this mellows out, it's definitely a big beer, a sipper. Warms up really nice, the bitterness subsides making it easier to drink. Still good, not as impressed as I thought I was going to be, but something I can see myself having again with some age.

 970 characters

Photo of JebBeerFish
3.41/5  rDev -16.8%
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.

 407 characters

Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.1 out of 5 based on 2,619 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!