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

1,088 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: 1,088 | Ratings: 2,663
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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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.1 out of 5 based on 2,663 ratings.
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