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

1,093 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

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Reviews: 1,093 | Ratings: 2,672
Photo of JTG372
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Been creeping on BA for a quite while, but my first review. Forgive my inexperience.
Bottled on 9/5/14, poured into a tulip, which resulted in about a 3/4 in. head. Decent lacing after halfway finished.
Look - a deep reddish mahogany
Smell - sweet, a faint whiff of alcohol
Taste - Definitely sweet, with what I think of as tobacco, and a good amount of bitterness. I have been sitting on this for a year, but there is still a decent amount of carbonation bite on my tongue. The barley is always present, but definitely pops up the most on the way down. I almost want to say there isn't too much in the way of flavor, but I DID just have a backwoods bastard before this, so that may be hindering my judgment.
Mouthfeel - Feels thin at the tip of my tongue, but not overly so. Coats my mouth well.
Overall - a delicious barleywine. I wasn't a huge fan of the style for such a long time, but that limited me from so many beers! This is hands down my favorite non-BA barleywine, and it definitely got better with a year on it. I have four more in my closet, so I will have to revisit this next year.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.76/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch 8727 brewed September 25, 2008. Aged in my cellar for the last seven years.

I have no idea why I aged this beer so long but Bell's claims the shelf life is unlimited.

Chilled slightly before opening and served in a goblet, Third Coast Old Ale is a beautiful ruby red color with very good clarity. The head is thin and short lived.

Aroma is rich and complex with dark fruit jam, toffee, and peat. It comes across like a fine port.

Flavor is bold and full of depth and character. It starts sweet with plums and dates. The middle leads to a cognac soaked cigar and a hint of leather. The finish is slightly bitter and dry with subtle earthy hops.

Mouthfeel is creamy smooth and perfectly carbonated. It is so balanced and easy drinking for a beer of over 10% abv.

Overall an amazing beer. I've never had the pleasure of a fresh one but I can tell that careful aging has elevated this beer.

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Photo of LAp
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a hazy burgundy, with a half finder dark khaki head. Sharp alcohol and not-quite-sweet malt on the nose, with a hing of bread and dark fruit. The palate immediately opens with a boozy warmth, which carries through the whole of this beer's flavor profile. It's heavy malt predilection is the perfect complement to this alcoholic blanket, precisely because it avoids being malty in an overly sweet way - it's a not-quite-sweet, not-quite-bready malt, somewhere between that found in a strong ale and a good Belgian quad. Other flavors in the palate are dates and raisins, but without any yeasty undertones. Mouthfeel is substantial, but not imperial-porter thick: medium heavy. Overall, an incredible beer. 2 years ago this beer was my introduction to the barleywine style. Though I've found others in that time frame that I prefer, this is a phenomenal beer in its own right - a definite must-try.

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 10/3/15. DFH Snifter.

A: aggressive pour yields a hazy, dark reddish-brown with slightly less than a finger of tan head that quickly fades to nothing but a thin ring of a couple of bubbles. Some carbonation visible, but little.

S: Boozy fruit, it's gonna move ya'. winey is the best way to describe this, red fruit, not quite grapey, more candied cherries, dates and figs. Some mild earthy hop aroma. BJCP says alcohol is acceptable on the nose for the style, and this is not unpleasant here, it's just present. BJCP says sherry aroma, and that is spot-on; oloroso. Caramel, chestnuts.

T: Just off-sweet malty arrival; malt, raisins, figs, alcohol and hops on the mid palate. Lingering slightly medicinal finish. Like oloroso sherry.

M: Heavier side of midweight, but not quite full-bodied. Somewhat slick. More carbonation than is apparent on looking at it.

O: A boozy malt bomb, with a strong hop finish. This is certainly more drinkable than a RIS, but less so than a DIPA or a Belgian. I'd like to try more in the style to see how this stacks up.

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Photo of Evilyak
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this one is powerful. tasty, hot, and with some claws.

pours brown with a light lacing. smell is caramel and malt and booze. taste isn't that different. mouth is pretty clean, with nothing lingering. alcohol is prominent but not overpowering.

like the other stronger bell's brews, this one hits the note well.

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Photo of leantom
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This one's a keeper. Surprised that it took me so long to try this delicious brew. Here goes:

A: Dark, cloudy red - however, the hue is rather nice. Beer pours a decent head that leaves adequate lacing. Very sublime; neither too mild nor too overbearing.

S: Very sweet cherries and caramel. Also a very fig-like quality. This one's a straight-up malt bomb.

T: Follows the nose. Very sugary and sweet. The caramel and chocolate are rather undercut, however, by the presence of dark fruit.

F: Great. Thick and creamy.

O: Great beer.

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Photo of JLaw55
1.75/5  rDev -57.3%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

This was not good. I don't even know if I could personally consider this a beer. Seems much more like a bourbon or brandy. In your face flavors of booze, toffee, caramel, raisins, , oats, smoke, wood, and hops. All the flavors are layered, which is the only positive, but the flavors are over the top and the booze is strong. Not to mention that it does not have a very high drinkability.

Just not my thing I suppose. This one was tasted with a year of age on the bottle, but I can't say that fresh would be much better. Especially considering this is a style of beer that is supposed to get better with cellaring.

Would drink again: No
Would purchase again: No

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Photo of BWED
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Dark chestnut. Brown head is fairly creamy. Retention and lacing are okay.

S- Huge caramel aroma, followed by that boozy barleywine sting. Faint fig and raisin.

T- Big caramel again. Raisin and alcohol.

M- Full body, fairly creamy. Some bitterness and dryness.

O- Really great. The caramel character is wonderful. This would be a great ager, of course. Mellow out that bitterness and booze sting.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Deep coppery crimson with a finger or two of tan head that dissipates pretty quickly sweet,
Smell: toasty, candied fruit, bready
Taste: Following the nose, prickly sweet fruity/bready maltiness leading into a sustained bitter bite of noble hops.
Feel: full-bodied, thick mouthfeel, prickly from the alcohol, medium carbonation.

Overall: More of an English-style barleywine using noble hops (I won't deny that I prefer the American style) but with the same rich maltiness of Bigfoot or other classic Barleywines. Considering the big hops bite on the back end it's easy to see how this could benefit from being cellared for a few months to a year.

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Photo of jvgoor3786
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, almost ruby, tan with a small light tan head and minimal lacing. The smell is strong dark fruits and caramel with a nice sweetness. The taste is wheat-like grain, dark fruits, and sweetness with a small amount of dry alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium carbonation and slightly thick. Great beer and even better when aged.

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Photo of car2052
4.39/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle to wine glass. Bottle dated 9/05/14

A: Cloudy dark brown with a red hue.
S: Sweet prunes, cherries, cereal grains, tobacco, rock candy sweetness.
T: Sweet prune. Then, a toastyness that opens up right after the fruit flavor. I also get some aerosol-like hops? after the initial flavors. Wine-like character and alcohol.
M: Full.
O: Very complex beer. Many flavors to take in.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.61/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a opaque prune juice brown with amber & garnet highlights, producing 1.5 fingers of frothy, light tan, variously bubbled, moderately lasting head that recedes to a solid cap, leaving nice webs of lace. Aroma is roasted malt, pumpernickel, dark fruits, whiskey, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate cherry cordials, amaretto, a hint of floral hops & & a few other things I can't quite put my finger on. Taste is roast, chocolate & bourbon infused figs, raisins & prunes (heavy to fig), dried dark cherries, burnt brown sugar/molasses/toffee, oaky vanilla with a floral hop roasted /burnt malt bitter finish that intensifies in the aftertaste where it develops a lasting astringency atop the bitterness. There is a little alcohol warmth throughout the sip & some of the bitterness at the end may be attributable to the alcohol spice. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, lightly carbonated, silky smooth through the first 3/4 of the sip, developing some sharp edges in the last 1/4 into the aftertaste. Boldly flavored. Absolutely incredible!

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very fresh, bottled 10/2/15, drinking 27 days later.
I poured this into a snifter glass. Took a couple sips then allowed to warm.
A – Pours a beautiful mahogany color with 1 finger of head that settles quickly but leaves a lot of lacing.
S – Aroma is caramel, dark fruits and not very strong at all.
T – Flavor is a lot of malt. Quite bitter at the finish.
M – Low carbonation medium mouth feel.
O – With a fresh bottle I get the feeling all the flavors are standing at attention, fighting to be noticed. I bought a 6 pack so I could try one fresh and cellar the rest. Looking forward to tasting this as it mellows.

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Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'd say I'm right on par with the rest of the reviewers on average....although the 6 pack I've got is from August of 2013 so it's clear on my palate that this is more malt than hops at this stage.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Mahogany color with beige head. Aroma has a lot of sweet, dark fruits like raisins, plums, dates and also some molasses. Taste is really well balanced. Starts a bit sweet with caramel and dark sugar but gets really roasty and bitter in the finish. Alcohol gives some warmth but doesn't burn your palate. Overall it's a really well made beer, perfect for the colder seasons.

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Photo of hman43
4.74/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

It pours a cloudy amber color. It has a full head that produces lacing. it has aromas of molasses, bread, some nuts, and some dark fruits with cherries being the most evident. It has flavors of molasses, bread, cereal, nuts, dark fruits, with cherries being the dominant dark fruit although there are hints of plums. It has a quality bitter hit on the palate. I like barley wines and this is one of the better ones that I've had.

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Photo of chinchill
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz aged bottle served in a snifter.
Pours a hazy, nearly opaque, reddish-brown. Would be murkier but I left the last bit of sediment in the bottle.

This is a rich and robust ale with moderate spiciness and a load of dark fruit flavors. Somewhat boozy but not bad for > 10% ABV.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.75/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2009 bottle poured into Prairie Artisan Ales goblet

A - nice dark brown murky beer with a thick tan head that dissipates after a bit, nice lacing
S - vanilla, caramel, chocolate, some smooth woody smells, although this isn't barrel aged, i'm not getting anything in the way of fruits at this point, I think when this beer is younger It has more dark fruit character
T - Smooth, caramel malts, chocolate, vanilla, creamy, umami, I've noticed that beers that are aged 4+ years start to get an almost musty character to them, but not in a bad way.
M - Thick, like a beer milkshake, the alcohol is completely covered, Aftertaste is a little more bitter - cocoa, caramel, roasty notes
O - almost perfect on all fronts. If this was bourbon barrel aged it would be a perfect 5.

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Photo of K-Dog
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 release saving for 2 years. Smelled if bourbon, vanilla and oak. Taste was of the same. Very delicious, but I r ember liking it more with one year of aging. Still a damn good old ale. One of the best.

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Photo of breakingbland
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle dated 9/5/14 into a tulip. The beer was brown with slight cloudiness and deep red-brown highlights. The short head was composed of medium bubbles. The aroma was wonderful: sweet dried cherries or dried currants with some roasty malt in the background. The taste was like the aroma but with roasty malt dominating the dried fruit. There was also a strong barrel-aged character -- oaky and vanilla but not overpowering. There was some hops presence and a very slight alcoholic burn. The aftertaste was a fairly strong astringency. The beer had a thick and firm mouthfeel and good carbonation.

Overall, this is a real favorite! I loved the aroma and mouthfeel of this beer, plus the barrel-aged character (not saying that it is bb-aged) is well balanced with the rest of the beer. I held back a couple of bottles to age for another year. The only issue I have is the astringent aftertaste: It lasts too long. I've had this beer before (but didn't review it then) and don't remember such a pronounced astringency, so I don't know.....

After aging for 16 months:
Pretty much the same except that the astringency wasn't evident, nor was the alcoholic burn. The richness in the taste of this aged bottle seemed to be more predominant that the sweetness. Still one of my favorites!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.1 out of 5 based on 2,672 ratings.
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