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 mcallister
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on draught at bell's brew pub. Have reviewed the bottled version but wanted to compare the two.

Deep mahogony with scarlet hues. What little head was there left significant amounts of sticky lacing.

A spicey, toffee, fig, dried fruits, caramel malt, aroma. Little hop shows through with tidbits of alcohol.

Deliciously malty, complex and balanced. Dried fig, toffee, caramel layered malt, milk chocolate, heavy cream, dried fruits with a slight alcohol burn but nothing that hurts this masterpiece in any way. Love this beer!

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.36/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

courtesy of 2mbbif.. fall '03 vintage, possibly 02.

sits clear and browny-red in a rapscallion chalice. haze swirls of tiny bubbles linger on the surface, and some bubbles cling to the glass' edge. otherwise, this beer is like dark apple juice suspended in time.

amazing fruity aroma of overripe goodness.. apricots, plums, cherries.. all soft-skinned and ready to rot. sweetness to the point of fermentation. carrot cake carries wafts of alcoholic port wine. this beer smells of age, clean age. what a nice evolution on old ale.

first thing i taste is confused hoppiness layered over tangy-yet-creamy, melty caramel goodness. lemon rind bitterness evolves from what's left of the bittering agent, and alcohol follows strong through the finish. 9%? this beer drinks like a 40% whiskey. the taste is complex and layered.. begins with natural fruit sugars and segways quickly into earthy bitterness. takes you on a big beer ride. for an aged beer, this soldier has not given up the fight.

really not too 'drinkable,' but enjoyable for its explosive flavor and unique sippable take on old ale. the complete 180 opposite beer from southamptons belgian, desserty style. this beer has balls, and i like it. maybe i like balls? probably not.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.57/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to thefatkid13 for the trade. Pours a turbid orangish brown color with almost no head. Aroma of rich fruity malt, raisins, allspice, and a good bit of alcohol. Palate is lots of sweet caramel malt offset just slightly by some mellow bittering hops. Notes of sweet dark fruit and nutmeg are detectable underneath the huge alcohol finish. Body is fairly thick and not very carbonated, appropriate for an old ale. It took a few sips for me to get into it, but this is a fairly tasty beer. I only with I had saved it for a cooler day, as it's not exactly the thirst-quencher I want at the end of June.

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Photo of klewis
3.47/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 7124

A: Pours a dark hazy brown with a reddish tint. A miniscule head quickly subsides to a ring around the snifter.

S: Full smell of caramel malt. A slight hint of alcohol in the bouquet, but you really have to search for it.

T: Sweet and quite cloying with flavors of maple sap, molasses, and caramel. Again, the alcohol is well-hidden.

M: Though full bodied by beer standards, I find it a bit lighter in heft than other old ales. Still, the texture is good with a nice stickiness and gentle carbonation.

D: Considering that many old ales will cost almost twice as much as this, it's a good beer. However, this would not be my first choice for the style if price was not a factor.

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

Really excited to be able to buy this one in central PA now. This is one that I've been targeting for a while.

Pours an opaque dark brown red. Poured two of these at the same time. One gave a huge frothy head and kept a nice foamy film all the way down. The other one had no head at all. One left fantastic spiderweb lacing, the other left nary a trail. First sniff gives me a huge burst of raisins. Other dark fruits come through but raisin the dominating scent. Taste follows suit, with a huge burst of raisin up front. Flavor turns in to a bourbon note on the back end. Also a strong note of very dry English hops - reminds me of a hoppy esb. Overall this gives me the impression of a barley wine. By the end you know you've had a powerful beer, it carries a heavy kick. Very full heavy mouthfeel. Overall certainly a very nice beer but not at all what I was expecting.

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

This was my first favorite beer back when I lived a mile from the brewery. This bottle was came to me via a rendezvous with a k'zoo friend in Vegas.

It pours a deep, bold red color with hints of sienna-brown. I think it's clear but the glass is sweating so I can't quite tell. Virtually no head to speak of. Smells deeply sweet; port and raisins and caramel, with just a hint of sharpness that reminds me of a mellow, mellow whisky. All those and more in the taste -- hints of mandarin orange, raspberry, and a mild smooth bitterness. Definitely balanced toward the malt; no hop flavor to speak of. The body is thick and chewy, feels like malt syrup going down with just a hint of heat to remind me that it really packs a whallop. For all that, it's eminently drinkable; I could sip Third Coast all night (until I fell off my stool, anyway).

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Photo of gmcfarre
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Sammy Smith pint glass from 12 oz bottle
Batch 7124 - packaged on Nov. 14th, 2005

A - Pours a deep & dark brown with ruby highlights. Head grows to about 3/4 inch then dissipates quickly to leave behind a thin head. Lacing is moderate.

S - Strong sugary malt presence, with alot of help from raisins. Alcohol provides a sharp spicy aroma with woody scents, and there is also a biscuity thing going on.

T - Wow, this is full and sugary. All those left over dextrins make for a filling and satisfying experience, with plenty of complexity to keep it interesting. Biscuity malt is the most dominant, with a hint of the woody alcohol presence. The sugars meld into a dark fruit taste, but I'm not sure how much of that is just the intense sugars.

M - Smooth and fairly thick, with a good mouth coating effect.

D - Alcohol is slightly present in taste, but not overpowering in feel after you quaff this one. Still, this is probably a sipper and a treat every now and then.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

slightly hazy light amber with a touch of off-white head. some rising bubbles and a touch of lace.

thickly sweet caramel aroma. cherries, port and honey as well, with a few floral hops hiding behind the malt.

richly sweet flavors, but not cloying. medium carbonation with a syrupy mouthfeel. caramel, honey, and a finish that's sweet, slightly hoppy, and a touch medicinal. alcohol mostly hidden but you can tell it's there in the finish. complex and enjoyable, if not hugely drinkable.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of two bottles from the general store up in Kalamazoo. The other one we're cellaring for later. Reddish brown with no head. looks very good. very sweet odor, the whole thing reminds me of maple syrup so far. taste is bitter at first and then mellows out as drinking continues. very tasty with most of the experience being sweetness and some kind of fruit taste (pomegranetes?) very sticky mouthfeel. overall like a well aged not sure if i need to let that other bottle cellar but i will anyway.

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Photo of blackie
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Can't believe I've never rated this, as it is one of my all time favorites.

appearance: The pour off the sediment creates a sparse white head that soon becomes just a ring around the glass and a thin, swirling layer of bubbles on the surface. The beer is a nice, rich mahogany in color with a few floaters in suspension.

smell: Nice, green yet aged hop aromas upfront. Just behind is a big caramel malt aroma. Hints of toffee, dark fruits, and buttery baked goods can be found under the hops. Considerable ethanol aroma, that and the fruitiness reminds me of a brandy.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the upper half of the low range, and is composed of small, smooth bubbles. The body is full and heavy, with a smooth, slick quality on the tongue. Pretty much perfect.

taste: Big caramel malt flavors bring hints of fruits with a slick malty sweetness. The malt is soon overshadowed by hop flavors and a considerable bitterness...the hops seem to kill some of the complexity on the tongue.

drinkability: A great beer that is pretty easy to drink, though the ABV is pretty evident on the tongue and nose. I started feeling it before I was halfway through.

No Batch # on the back label, but I do know that this bottle came from South Bend around early May, 2005. Cellared since then.

2-21-07: Same batch as above. Sparse head, and the beer is a gorgeous dark cognac color. An awesome beer with age, as the hops have died back a bit. Very malty with a nice hop kick in the finish. Complex as ever. Has picked up a tiny metallic note.

2-11-08: Essentially all malt at this point, and the alcohol presence has been completely smoothed over. Somewhat vinous with port-like prune, dried fig, and heavy golden raisin aromas under the sweet, husky caramel malts. Rich malty flavors of grainy caramel. Oxidation seems light, and the carbonation is largely intact.

bottle dated 09.19.13 consumed 12.06.13 - the final in a 6/6 exploration of my favorite bell's beers from the early days of my crafting - deep, rich amber in color, loaded with caramel and toffee sugars, dates and raisin, mildly hopped with a gentle bitterness, alcohol coming as it warms, touches of roast on the background, a very nice, complex, traditional old ale

mouthfeel taken down from 5 to 4.25

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Photo of rrwiltse
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my favorite beers from Bell's. Pours a striking reddish brown, very unique. No real head to speak of. Aroma very close to that of a port. This ale bubbles with a bite down the tongue and throat, likely the high alcohol making itself known. Nice caramely, raisin maltiness, followed by a bitter bite at the end. An interesting old ale for sure, but reminds me also of a barleywine. Warms you up for sure!

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

pours a nice reddish gold colour, with a thin white head.

great aroma. sweet, and slightly fruity. noticeable but not overpowering alcohol presence. hint of raisin. rich, bready malt character.

taste is all about malt. very rich and malty, but no sticky sweetness. good, balanced bitterness. noticeable alcohol presence, but it's not overpowering and balances well against the bitterness and maltyness.

overall another great beer from bell's. really liked this one, and wished i didn't have to drive so i could have had more!

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

Holy maltness, shbobdb! That's malted malt on malty maltedness! And . . . THAT'S what I'm talking about!

12 ounce bottle -- thanks to shbobdb for hooking me up with this over-the-top malt-bomb.

Appearance of opaque dark cider and port wine under a generous off-white head that fades to a solid ring, and leaves heavy thick lacing.

Smell of thick malt, sweet and vinous, with only a back-note hint of hops.

Taste is more of the same -- sweet, thick, heavy malt, lightly toasted with buttery smoothness.

Great mouthfeel -- thick, round, full.

What a great beer!! Bell's has hit another grand slam.

NOTE: At 9.0%, this SHOULD be classified as an American Barleywine. It fits the style MUCH better than Old Ale. Compare:
American Barleywine
Old Ale

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sweet vinuous aromas are present as the beer is poured. A very inviting caramel raisiny smell faintly like a tawny port. The beer is a dark copper to brown and burnt orange around the edges in the light. A medium to heavy body is full of more sweet caramel malt flavors with the same prune-like vinouous qualities. The alcohol is quite prominent in the taste, but not in an unpleasant way. In fact, for as strong as I can sense the alcohol in the taste, I am enjoying it quite a bit. An outstanding old ale that always calls me back for more.

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Photo of GnomeKing
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is like badass candy: it has a Tootsie Roll color and two of the most prominent flavors are root beer barrel candy and werther's butterscotch candy. And oh, yes, there is alcohol. The alcohol taste comes through strongly--this brew will appeal to quad lovers.

I like quads and other strong beers, but this one didn't blend its flavors as well as I would have liked and the tastes were a little off. Try it, nonetheless.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I entered the batch id number into the batch search engine, it told me my six-pack was bottled on 1-13-05. So this beer is over a year old!!! What a pleasant surprise. Batch #6722.

Appearance- Pours only a brief film o' foam and leaves a rinf o' foam for about one and a half minutes. Color is a deep amber mixed with earthen clay.

Smell- Very molasses like sweetness. Somewhat surprised I could detect some strong toasted malting.

Taste- Flavor start out like a cooked apple, more liek well warmed. This then leads into a fruit cake covered with some VSOP brandy. The dark fruits then duel with teh established malts and then a light bitter finish mixed in for extra complexity.

Mouthfeel- Pretty pillowy. The sweetness mixed in with some pronounced malts and a little hops is very nice. This beer is an awesome nightcap. Great for sipping and thinking.

Since this beer is already one year old, I will age two from my six pack and hope this beer ages like wine...hahahahaha

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (thanks to Hogtownharry for this one): Poured a murky brown color ale with a medium foamy brown head with great retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt and light bitter hops is very well balance. Taste is a mixture between dry figs, sweet caramel malt with a nice hops finish that is more subtle then what I was expecting based on some previous rating. Body is full and it seems like the beer had not been filtered, which is always a big plus. Alcohol was well hidden. Overall, this is probably one of the finest American barleywine that I have had the chance to try.

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

Note, I am reviewing a two and a half year old bottle of Third Caost Old Ale. I have to say this beer holds up most excellent and is worth cellaring a bottle or two for 1+ year. Rich caramel color with a thin white head. Aroma is full of hop spice, plums, raisins, and alcohol. Flavor is characterized by roundness, juicy plums, piney hops. Great mouthfeel. Drinkability is a bit lower due to high ABV.

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Photo of sopor
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 6722 bottled 1/13/5, drank 3/3/06. Blessed wonderful at a year old!

Pours thickly, a mahogany tinted amber with a thin yellow/tan head. Lots of sediment swimming around, but no complaints from me!

Almost cloying sweetness with tangy raisin notes are noted in the smell. A very good indication of what's to come!

Pleasantly cloying sweetness of long boiled amlts comes onf rist, added to by flavors of black cherry, raisins, and touches of molasses. Hops bitterness is there, but well-balanced to the super sweet maltiness. Flavors od roasty and slightly coffee-like malts make an appearance in the pleasantly dry, slightly bitter aftertaste. Alcohol is barely noted, but obvious after a couple of drinks.

Body is full, but no "heavy". Carbonation is light but stings the tongue under the liquid velvet of this beer.

Be careful with this one, very drinkable for how high the abv is. You notice the alcohol, but this stuff goes down smooth anyway!

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Photo of jlh8643
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper color with sediment floating around. A small light tan head that disappears to almost nothing. The aroma is malt dominated. Plums, raisins and figs mix it up with a fair amount of bitter hops. The alcohol just about jumps up and grabs ya. Malty sweet almost cloying. Would like to see a bit more balance between the malts and hops. The alcohol is quite prevelant too. I would probably only drink one of these at the end of a session and be done.

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

Sampled through the efforts of Murrayswine and UTBIF.

Pours an amazingly clear and copper red colored ale. No real head formation though.

Smell is malty and smoky very much like a Scottish ale. Additional aromas of toasted wheat bread, figs, raisins, soy sauce, black pepper and mushrooms? Sniffing hard for fruit scents I can detect cherries and brown sugar, not a super fruity version of the style.

Taste is fairly sweet and very malty with a strongish taste of dark molasses. This is a beer that gets sweeter and more bitter as you drink it, a novel effect. There is a soy sauce taste to this that I normally consider a flavor defect. After a while this gets a spicy taste that I can't quite describe correctly; think very green and fresh black pepper.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Not a bad ale here but not outstanding either. If you see it on the shelf go ahead and try it but don't put a lot of effort in too getting this one.

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Photo of sleepingbear
3.2/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Old Third Coast Ale
Malty thickness with a sweet tinge that burned of alcohol, not a wimpy beer. A sherry thing for sure was kickin in this.
Even with my sporting a thick patch of chest hair- this beer was a little too much for me to drink alot of it- but it was a good thing to try. Bell's other Third Coast is more my speed. But for what this beer is it's excellent.

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

No date, but looks like it sat around for at least a year or two at the distributor. Not a bad thing though for an Old Ale.

A careful pour into my Duvel snifter/tulip yeilds small amounts of floaters...Mmm toppings.

A: Deep mohogany and clear with some suspended yeasties dancing around as I agitate the thick liquid. What little head remains swirls in the glass around and around tempting me to take a sip...

S: Boozy and malty, no hop presence detected.

T: Very complex with piles of flavor climbing on top. Caramel notes, sherry, and something else in the background I can't make out (maybe some chocolate), but tempts me to take another sip...Mmmm. Alcohol burn a tiny bit as it goes down.

M: Slightly thick on the palate. To be expected with this style, but still somewhat smooth.

D: A bit too easy to consume given the ABV, I could down another right now, but I'd probably not enjoy it as much as the first.

I've had a few "Old Ales" and so far this one's the finest IMO. I look forward to trying many more of this style. I might have gotten lucky and gotten an older bottle, I will try to seek out a newer one to compare.

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Photo of macpapi
4.48/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was fortunate enough to find this fine, fine beer on draft at our local multi-tap facility in town. Third Coast Old Ale is a nice murky brown to amber colored liquid. It has a small tannish head, decent bubble activity and pretty impressive lacing. The smell was nice. Roasted malt with a bit of a hop pull. As the beer warmed, dark fruits--raisin, plum and cherry--were all present. The taste is fantastic!! It was malty with a lot of hoppiness. Great full taste. Alcohol content is also notable, but not overwhelming. The presence of fruit-- plums and cherries--was also there. Very balanced and complex flavors. In the mouth B.T.C.O.A.was bitter, full and potent. Impressive again. Overall, I would have to say that the potency of this Old Ale makes it a sipper. One or two a night would certainly be enough. That being said, this is a great beer. It is tasty, bold and smooth all at the same time. To drink one of these is to appreciate what beer is all about.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.67/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed 20 ounce wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a deep dark murky copper coloration. The head was thin and cream colored. Thin streaks of lacing remain on the glass. The beer had major particles floating in the glass.

Smell: Where do I start talking about the smell? This beer has a whale of a complex smell profile. The beer has the smell of tropical fruits and berries. A fantastic malty sea of malt goodness. There is a slieght alcohol smell to the beer but nothing offensive.

Taste: The taste is as expected. The beer had a very small hop profile. The hops provided just enough bitterness to prevent the beer from being cloyingly sweet. The beer is a sea of malty sweetness. There is a vague taste of bananna and berries floating around in the beer. The alcohol was present in the taste as a slightly spicy compliment.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer was a full bodied treat.This beer is a very alcoholic brew. The beers alcohol is well encorporated in the beer. This is a very drinkable beer treat.

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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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