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 TurdFurgison
3.66/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler. I bought a sixer for $15 which is high, but I trusted the BA buzz. Now I'm not sure where everyone's coming from, I just didn't like this beer all that much.

The problem's not in the appearance, a huge creamy head over a ruby red beer. The smell and taste are more to blame, both kind of suck and aren't as caramelly or malty or rich as previous reviews led me to believe. Mostly this beer tasted bitter and roasted and icky.

I'll cellar the other 5 beers for about 5 years to see if they improve. I can't see choosing this over anything else in my cellar anyway.

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Photo of bigbubba
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a nice brown beer with a hint of red. There's about 1/4" of nice thick ivory head. There are quite a few tan floaties swimming about, and a couple dark orange dots where the sfuff from the bottom got stuck in the head. The smell is sweet and candylike, I know there will be some hops, but the smell doesn't come through. The taste is where the hops appear. At first it is smooth and sweet but the hops kick in and the sweetness is gone. The hops are very assertive. Maybe it's just the hops they used but it is a bit much for my taste. I think these will be great after a bit of time in the cellar. Mouthfel is very good. Drinkability is average, but I'm sure it will get better with age.

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Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A perfect nightcap, best one at a time.
Allowed to warm to a cool temp., maybe 50-55º.

Pours a deep mahogany, spotty lacing flecks the rim of the glass.

Aroma of burnt malt, caramel, and sweet liqueur.

Taste is rich, toffee and malt mostly. Hops linger in a ghostly bitter finish. What takes centerstage is the velvety butterscotch mouthfeel that wraps you like a blanket with every small sip. Every time I drink one, it takes at least 30 min. to finish. The alcohol is apparent, but well integrated into a heady, intoxicating liquid. Voodoo in a glass...

Can't wait to try one aged in a couple years.

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Photo of kajerm
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this at an informal tasting yesterday; there was, by a wide margin, more beer than there were people. It was a very good day.

Pours dark and opaque, with an average-sized tan head that looks about good enough to eat. And it wasn't teasing-- heavy, malty, and delicious. Just a hint of fruit, and a little ethanol-- but it's balanced out nicely. I know it's there without having it knock me on my ass.

Mouthfeel is heavy and luscious; you can eat this beer like prime rib. Again, though, not TOO heavy.

I could drink these pretty much indefinitely, but I wouldn't call it a session beer. After two of these, you couldn't really enjoy the third.

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Photo of quasimoto
3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep Copper color, clear with a nice off white head, and lots of lacing.

S - Strong sweet malts, some fruits such as plum, and some vinous notes Little bit of chocolate. As it warms Alcohol becomes really prominant.

T - The aromas transfer over to the flavor. Chocolates and fruits. There is a lot of hop flavor as well. Tons of alcohol on the finish.

M - Starts sharp but then melds into a nice creamy finish. Slightly viscous and chewy.

D - One a night is about it, but for the style it is very good.

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Photo of BlindPig
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- 2" tan head. Cloudy dark brown. Good head retention. Thin lacing covering top with lacing sticking to side of glass.
S- Alcohol hint. Malts and some rich fruits. sweeter smell. Some light grassy hops?
T- Alcohol really warms the throat. Big rich malts and a bit darker fruits. Alcohol needs to be better covered. Some grassy hops are kind of there during the taste and come out well in the aftertaste. Malts come through more as it warms.
M- Light carbonation, and a full body.
D- It's pretty good but the alcohol needs to be a bit better covered. It is a sipper. Quite enjoyable but nothing great.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this one a bit too early. As noted in a past forum, I put a note on this early this year to drink during the Mets first Playoff game, regardless of what year this would be. Though happy, for the Mets, I need to get another bottle and hold off a few years. Just so fresh and hot, the alcohol was too much to fully enjoy. Nice aroma and hoppiness. Will get another bottle and keep it cellared, perhaps til the Cubs win the pennant.

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

Bottle bought as a single. Pours syrupy brown with a thin head which does seem to linger at least at the edges as I slowly drain the glass. The color is a bit unsettling with a mercky, amber reddish appearance. A fair amount of bubbling. Taste - toffee and plumb with some alcohol and a hop finish. Drinkability is good with a nice warming feel on this cold Autumn evening.

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Photo of headhopper
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I was taking a look around my beer spot and noticed they had a sixer of tcoa...!!! yes! so I picked it up.

Once I got home I checked the code and says it was bottled on Nov 14, 2005...sweet! its already been aged for me. hehe

A - pours like sryup. Low carbonation with almost zero head, it then goes down to a small layer and ring. It has some lacing that sticks to the glass for a bit.

S - very sweet....prunes, grapes, leather, fresh baked bread, and some deep hidden fruits that I cant put my nose on...

T - a nice sweetness ( cherries, honey, caremal) then as it moves past your toungue to your throat, you get a nice bitter aftertaste...( not too bitter though..very nice, could have something to do with the year aging..)

M - rich and thick. a little suger coating on your lips. Very little carbonation , but some fizziness.

D - this is a great brew. I had a year old bottle and it was fabulous! It was extremely smooth and the alcohol never really showed up... A very nice winter sipper .

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JeffKrenner for another great beer.

A: Vibrant, rich, toffee brew loaded with sedimentary personality. Low carbonation fitting for the style, only a slight remnant of a head remains as subdued fizz and a minor ring around the glass.

S: Sticky icky caramel, butterscotch, prunes, port and hints of vanilla. Oh god somebody hold me.

T: Begins plummy and sweet with loads of toffee. Sugary consisting of maple, cotton candy and honey. Malty, doughy with some toasted almond. Surprisingly bitter, adding some floral characteristics to it. Finishes with butterscotch on the center of the tongue and lingering prunes.

M: Full body and somewhat syrupy.

D: This beer could use another year to round and balance some of the bitterness. Very good regardless.

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Photo of trep
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A rich murky brown with a khaki head that quickly fades. Looks elegant, like you should respect it, and indeed I do. Rich, sweet malt and some nuttiness, with a little alcohol burn that stings the nostrils.

Pretty hoppy considering I didn't smell any in the aroma. Tastes like it smells, highly alcoholic and tons of rich, caramel malt. Pretty good stuff.

Full-bodied and nice carbonation. This is very thick and syrupy. Drinkability is lacking due to the high amount of alcohol that is present.

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.62/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is an awesome beer. It pours a dirty, reddish-orange, amber brown with a touch of dirty, cream colored head. It laces okay for the small amount of head, and looks good overall.

The smell is boozy, banana-bready, caramelly, dark-fruity, and meaty-savory.

The taste is bitter, buttery, caramelly, meaty, with a huge aftertaste of sharp cheddar. Delicious.

Mouthfeel is rich and heavy, and very nice with a touch of carbonation.

Drinkability is good for an old ale, but hey, it's an old ale.

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Photo of ultralarry2006
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger espresso foam colored head with good retention and good lacing. Body is a rich garnet. Looks very good.

Smell - figs, plums, dark bread, caramel, toffee, and slight alcohol. Very rich smelling, and mouthwatering.

Taste - as promised by the nose. Rich and hearty with plums, figs, cherries, and dark bread all washed through with rich caramel and toffee. Fininshes with a spicy alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel - full bodied, and dry. Smooth, low carbonation.

Drinkability - this is excellent. It is very rich and hearty. The only thing to hold down sessionability is the high abv, but I will give it high marks on this point anyway, just be careful not to overindulge. Also, this is listed here as an "Old ale" by BA, and the very words are in the name of this ale, but Bell's website desribes it as a barleywine - and I agree with that; I think of this as a barleywine, but whatever style it may be - it is excellent.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh, Wow, Incredible beer! Thank you Shbobdb!!!
Your selections continue to amaze me.

Poured from a hand picked and well traveled 12 oz bottle to my unworthy pint glass. The liquid is a very dark amber, cloudy from suspended sediment. The head is 2 fingers, tan with big bubbles, quite thick and rocky with some lace.

The smell is of an alcohol laden Malt bomb. Big hops are also present creating a massive yet well balanced taste sensation rivaled only by the most raved about Big Beers.

The taste follows, A huge and deliciously toasted caramel malt base expertly hopped to Imperial proportions. This is one pleasing brew that could easily satisfy the most demanding bier trinker.

The mouthfeel is thick, coating, and syrupy. Maybe this beers only fault. However, the delightful carbonation breaks it up and cleans out the mouth. You will demand more (Send more dam it!)

The drinkability, Oh my at (9.0 ABV you ask for drinkability... Well it is delivered. This beer goes down velvety smooth, a stout yet wonderful finish is what you get leaving you thirsty for the next gulp. Thank got this was not on of the leekers. Bell's delivers

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Photo of kimcgolf
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle to a hazy rust color with suspended yeast particles. Thin off-white head lingers through mid glass and leaves good lacing. Strong malty-fruit aroma with hint of spice. Taste is mostly dark fruit and spice, but alcohol becomes more evident at mid-glass as beer warms. Finish a sweet, warming and smooth. A good barley wine.

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Photo of demcorhip
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to chonyr for this fine brew.

Deep brownish amber in colour. Half finger light tan head formed. Scantly laced, and not overly carbonated.

Fruity, smells of dark raisins over a caramel backbone. Finishes with an earthy spiciness, as well as a hint of alcohol.

This beer has a strong malt backbone with flavours of toffee and buttery caramel, treacle also present. Dark fruits also present and very complementary with flavours of prunes, dates, and raisins. The finish is floral and earthy yet bitter hoppiness.

This is a rich and decadent malty brew balanced with earthy hops and alcohol. Unfortunately this beer was quite low in carbonation, and just a little more sparkle would have gone a long way to cut the almost cloying thick maltiness. The warming mouthfeel due to the alcohol was quite evident.

This is a tasty, big, decadent beer. Great way to self indulge on a cool night. Too rich for session material. Ill try this one again when the time is right, but wont be rushing out to find more soon.

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Photo of egajdzis
4.46/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy reddish brown color with a small, yet coating yellowish tan head. Dark fruits and malted aroma, very sweet. Slight hop taste, some caramel/molasses malt then a spicy, peppery finish. This was a surprising ale, and I loved it! Thanks for dropping this one off BrianO!

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Photo of burnstar
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark amber. A little opaque, with a thin off-white head that dissipates quickly but leaves some lacing on the surface. Strong aroma of sweet dark fruit- quite enticing. Caramel malt gives way to sweet complex fruit flavors. There is some alcohol in the finish as well as a bit of herbal hop bitterness. Sweet fruit flavor lingers. Mouthfeel is full and creamy. Pretty tastey and drinkable. Very very nice beer. A unique, delicious, and comforting brew.

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Photo of Raymond69
3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz poured with a drak brown head , good lacing.

Smell has citrusy fruit juice kinda smell.

Tatse is hoppy up front , malty thick finish. Hops never really fade.

Mouthfeel is thick , somewhat cloying.

Drinkabitly with this may improve with time as this is a little overhopped for my taste.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint glass, pours a beautiful deep cranberry amber, not so much head or lacing, though a little swirl brings it back, and a lil' bit of the bubbly. Aroma is, well, full. Full of ripe fruits, cherry, apricot, grapes and wine, maybe port, the alcohol coming through very nicely. Taste is fantastic. I don't get very obvious flavors like other beers, ones easily identified. What I get is a increadible infusion of ideas like sweet to warm, caramel to port, and so on. There is an apricot flavor that is just fantastic. Really a delicous ride of flavors that I don't really want to pick apart, just enjoy as the beautiful collage that it is. Mouth is smooth and warm and lingering. This is a great beer. Simply, great.

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Photo of CraftAle
2.86/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I didn't enjoy it. Taste was all sweetness and alcohol. Tasted some hops early on, but sweetness completely hid them as I drank more.

I'm a big fan of Bells, especially Two Hearted Ale, so I don't mean to say that this is a poorly done brew. If this is typical of Barley Wine, then I won't be trying others. In my opinion, it needed a lot more hops to balance the malt sweetness.

Double IPAs can have the same malt and alcohol, but offset it with hops, and be more drinkable.

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Photo of hanco005
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle of batch 7124,poured into a pint glass

A—pours murky raison brown with a ½ inch tan fizzy head, stays around for 10 minutes or so, spotty lacing is produced as I drink it

S—sweet, overripe fruit, candy, plum, brown sugar, maple

T—buttery, brown sugar, maple, some fruitiness, alcohol is very present, warms the throat as I drink

M—a bit slick, medium bodied, mild carbonation

D—a sipper for sure, warm and welcoming, another good nightcap brew.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A first for me, a review entered as I drink the brew! Yippee.

This is a fabulous brew, no doubt.
Pours a rich, dark brown, almost completely opaque with light coming through at the edges only. A huge, dense, long-lasting tan head leaves sheets of lacing.

Smell is rich, dark, invigorating and seductive. Oak, rich toasted malts, dark, alcohol-soaked fruitcake fruits (cherries, plums, dates, raisins), molasses, wheat, brown or maybe cane sugar, caramel,too.

Taste is spot-on to what the nose was promised. Toasty, malty, rich (like a library in a mansion complete with old leather chairs and acres of wooden shelves), a touch nutty, the whole fruitcake-in-a-glass thought just running laps in my head (I like fruitcake) and everything I said for smell.

Smooth, rich, it just flows across the palate & tongue. Alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering at all. this is almost a sipping beer but the ABV isn't that high. Still, don't rush it. Lightly carbonated and nicely warming from the back of the tongue down. Full-bodied. One of the most complex and well-balanced beers I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.

This is why I like to drive instead of fly. No way to bring back cases of fine beer like this on some cattle-plane. Now leave me alone, I have half a beer left to lose myself in.

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Photo of nvsblman
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown with tinges of red with just a slight head. Big fruity aroma, especially raisins, with some with some cinnamon and alcohol and a nice hopiness. Full malty flavor. Lots of caramel, molasses, raisins, and chocolate and a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Nice hop balance. Very drinkable with a well hidden alcohol presence. Every sip brings something new, this is a beer I will definitely seek out again.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.44/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy crap, what an amazing brew! Thanks to Ryan P. for suggesting I try this one.

Appearance- Dark copper/bronze with a minimal head and almost no lacing.

Smell- Sweet fruity goodness. I'm fairly assaulted with fruit, raisins, cherries, caramel, roasty malt goodness.

Taste- Better than the smell. Same notes yet much more pronounced. The hops are there but the ripe fruit kick them around your mouth. Very mild carbonation allows this one to flow down and every flavor dances on your tongue.

Mouthfeel- Thick and slippery, the mild carbonation lets it slide.

Drinkability- Absolutely fantastic, so much going on it's an adventure to try to identify the taste elements. Try it, love it.

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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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