Bell's Third Coast - Old Ale or Barleywine?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Maestro0708, Oct 23, 2017.

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  1. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    I have kept aside a single bottle of Bells Third Coast Old Ale that was packaged on 10/30/14. Today I bought a six pack of fresh (9/11/17) Third Coast, and compared the labels. The term "barleywine" is nowhere to be found on the '14 bottle, but the new bottles say "Third Coast Old Ale - American Barley Wine Ale".

    Is it a barleywine? Old Ale? Can it be both? Has the recipe changed since '14? Is "old ale" simply part of the beer's name?
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  2. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,381) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

  3. Realsambo

    Realsambo Initiate (0) Apr 15, 2016 Texas

  4. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,565) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    It's an old ale when it's young, but a week after bottling it's no longer an old ale because now it's older, hence you can call it a barleywine. It's that simple. :rolling_eyes:
  5. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    If you say so..

    I was under the impression they were similar but different styles. They have different style categories here on BA.
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  6. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Poo-Bah (5,436) Aug 25, 2010 New York
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  7. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,565) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    The recipes for these two styles are very similar and it could be as little as an extra pound of malt and 0.1% extra ABV to go from Old Ale into the Barleywine category.
  8. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,344) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Last spring I was working my way through all 104 styles (stuck at 100 now) and needed to review an Old Ale. I tried Bell's Third Coast Old Ale, reviewed it, then noted it was a Barleywine. Bummer. Had to seek out a true Old Ale, strangely enough the similar sounding North Coast Old Stock Ale.
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  9. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,344) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I imagine they added "Barleywine" to the label after catching flack over the name of the beer making it sound like it's an Old Ale style. It pissed me off at the time I fell for it. That would be like having an IPA with Stout as part of the name, and not saying IPA on the label. At least Barleywine and Old Ale are similar.
  10. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    Yeah, i was wondering if it was just the name, and not the declared style.
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  11. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Bell's Third Coast Old Ale, a barley wine, isn't a contradiction of terms as they are normally used today. As a label, "old ale" practically has no meaning today. The way that the term is used, it is not a beer style. Harvey's Old Ale won "World's Best Mild" at the World Beer Awards*. For "stylists" to ascribe a consistent and sensible meaning to the term as it relates to beer styles is fruitless. Although old ale isn't alone in this, it deserves special recognition even by beer style standards. It's not like "barley wine" is an agreed upon concrete idea either - as the recent barley wine thread here illustrated. Many craft breweries use old ale and barley wine interchangeably (which is nothing new)... and if they aren't because they think that they are two clearly distinct things, then they're most likely thinking about it in fictional terms. :slight_smile:

    *there's another one for you @JackHorzempa
  12. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    Thanks for the insight. I didnt realize the lines were so blurred here. Part of the reason i asked the question was out of curiosity about this particular beer - I wondered maybe if the recipe had changed enough to bump it into a different style category, or maybe the term "barleywine" was simply added for marketing reasons - but also because i have been curious about the two terms. Since they are listed as separate styles here on BA, I had always thought that they were extremely similar, legitimate beer styles, but with some differences (however subtle or arbitrary those may be).
  13. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,344) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Last spring when checking off styles, I suddenly had one less. Upon checking, I found that BeerAdvocate had changed the style of Kasteel Barista Chocolate Quad from Belgian Strong Dark Ale to Belgian Quad. That does happen, particularly if two styles are similar enough to create confusion as to what style it is or should be. The person who added it to the site probably guessed wrong on the style. So - although a beer formulation could change its style, there are other explanations for the name not matching the style.
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  14. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,381) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    If the brewer states what style they are calling it, this site will go with that, I believe, rather than any independent judging of the style or recipe.
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  15. stingray

    stingray Initiate (81) Jun 23, 2005 Wisconsin

    At risk of going slightly off topic here is an example of what I would call a misnamed beer. I was tearing through a series of Oktoberfests in August/September and this one wasn't quite right until I looked closely at the label. It has a new label quite a bit different from these pictures but it clearly said Vienna Lager in very small print.

    To actually add to the discussion, some people still use barleywine as a catch all term for high alcohol beer (that isn't dark enough to be a stout, anyway). And it's easy to make different recipes start to taste the same when you crank up the malt that much. It's quite difficult to have a balanced distinct flavor at 13% abv. When an Old Ale or Scotch Ale or even some IPAs get well into the double digits the flavor can tend to merge. Nebraska Brewing Company even changed the style of Fathead at some point.
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  16. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    You bring up a good example to further the conversation, but I disagree that the person "guessed wrong." There's no right or wrong, just that the brewer calls it a quad. "Belgian strong dark ale" isn't a style in the strict sense... it's really just a method of categorization like "Polish amber lager" could be or "Canadian pale strong lager" could be (those are random words). It's a description - it only means what the words say. Many even debate if Quadrupel is really a "style" since (I believe) it started very recently as a brand name for a particular beer and has since been latched onto other beers that never identified themselves as such. Since beers will usually get the "quad" tag if they are Trappist or if they state quad on the label, many feel like quad is a more specific sub-type of "Belgian strong dark" (which feels looser)... but that thinking won't account for pale "quads." If someone claims that quads are more (insert fruity, dry, spicy, whatever) and BSDAs are more (insert fruity, dry, spicy, whatever), they are most likely buying into a selective fiction (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

    I realize that some people (:wink:) want beer styles to feel like a scientific taxonomy... to start with a fresh slate and a clean logic that covers the full spectrum. Scientific taxonomy can't even achieve this with regards to the natural world though. In the case of beer, where we try to embrace multiple terms, multiple histories, multiple cultures, and those darn multiple brewers, we will not have a clean system for categorizing things that were never designed to be fully categorizable. :slight_smile:
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  17. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,381) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    We could just use the wine system of naming by ingredients (i.e. type of grape) as the basis.

    Maris Otter Caramel/Crystal Goldings ...

    Rahr 2-row Caramel /Crystal Centennial Cascade ...

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  18. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (668) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    This. ^^ Beer styles cannot be too rigid or else they will fail to reflect the varied history and cultures behind them. And the more you tighten your grip the more star sys-*ahem* beer styles will slip between your fingers.
    #18 Ranbot, Oct 23, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
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  19. ypsifly

    ypsifly Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2004 Michigan

    Whatever we are going to call it, this year's batch is really good and I'm having a hard time putting any in the cellar.
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  20. treznor

    treznor Zealot (594) Dec 20, 2006 North Carolina

    Pale quads? I don't think I've seen such a thing. Can you give an example? I'm not sure how they could get the 'traditional' quad flavors out of pale malt, but would definitely like to try it for myself.
  21. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Initiate (0) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    I always thought that "Barleywine" IS Old Ale.
    @Ron Pattinson...can you comment on this???
  22. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,437) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    Old Ale, Strong Ale, Barleywine, Russian Imperial millenial kiddies drinking OJ IPAs, you drink these styles of beers and they'll put hair on your chest like a real man (say's the Old Curmuggeon man hollering at kids to get off his lawn).
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  23. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,989) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Traditionally, an Old Ale was more of a process than a style. They could run the gamut in terms of gravity, color, all malt or with sugars, etc., as long as it had the characteristics of an aged beer. Consider Theakston's Old Peculier, at only 5.6% and dark brown in hue.

    There is no doubt some overlap in the higher gravity range, though.
  24. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    I get the feeling that you're a thoughtful guy, so I'm gonna get long-winded and I apologize in advance. "Pale" might be an exaggeration on my part depending on one's point of view, but certainly lighter than those considered the standard bearers. Victory Hoppy Quad is the most extreme I've seen. It's gold. Their V-12 is sort of in the middle of the extremes as a deep amber. I haven't had Schlafly's but it also seems relatively amber. On the Belgian side, Gulden Draak 9000 is more of the same:
    Of course Gulden Draak also calls their darker flagship a "dark tripel" (and more directly related to the thread topic, they've called that beer a barley wine too). Are they purposely playing around with convention or do they simply not feel that these aspects are part of convention?

    I believe you judge right? I'm gonna look at some guidelines for competitions: GABF has separate categories for quad and "Belgian-style dark strong ale." Their color notes allow quads to get slightly lighter than the BSDSA. BJCP only has the "Belgian dark strong ale" category and states that these are synonymous with quads.

    I don't know if it makes much sense to assign much to the notion of what a quad is beyond strength and a Belgian connection. Victory's Hoppy Quad was so pale that I was shocked when I poured it. It defied my expectations. I wouldn't say that it wasn't traditional or accurate... I'd say it goes against convention - and by convention, I mean typical craft beer labeling. It was a gutsy beer but I didn't think it worked. The high ABV, plus the hops, minus the malt character or richness one usually gets in a quad was a bad combo for me. The less extreme Victory V-12 on the other hand was more successful, but still light for the style and really easy for the ABV. That combo worked well. (I'm trying to remember beers I had years ago.)

    I believe Gulden Draak 9000 was listed here as a "Belgian strong pale ale" years ago. It's funny that we'll think that we know better than the brewer. On Sunday I had a Kolsch from Harpoon that was dark brown. The brewer calls it a Kolsch... it's listed here as a Kolsch... but I can't get behind the idea. To me, it's just not a Kolsch. What gives me the right to judge? Are these pale quads more of the same? An exception that reinforces what a quad should be rather than expanding the boundaries? I don't know, but I don't put nearly as much stock in quads as a thing when compared to Kolsch... but if it says quad on a bottle, then I guess it surely means something, and that's why the Victory beer surprised me.

    My apologies to the two people who'll bother to read my rambling. :slight_smile:
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  25. treznor

    treznor Zealot (594) Dec 20, 2006 North Carolina

    @zid Interesting examples. Even more interesting based on the fact that I've had the Victory Hoppy Quad before and have had the Gulden Draak 9000 multiple times and didn't remember either one as being a pale quad. I've liked the Gulden Draak 9000 quite well each time I've had it, though its been over 3 years since I last had it. Maybe I'll have to give it another try soon in honor of this conversation.

    I'd say you're on to something though with your distinction between Kolsch and Quads. Some styles are very narrowly and distinctly defined, others are quite broad. The entire gamut of Belgian beers, especially the trappists, are fairly broad and none so much as the quad. Kolsch on the other hand is very narrowly defined and even using a non-German noble hop, even if it had a similar character, would kick you out of the style.
  26. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,565) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Chris (@zid), the challenge of beer style discussions is that unless there is a universally agreed upon beer style definition there will indeed be confusion/disagreement.

    I am personally not a fan of Wikipedia as a source of information but in this instance I think they have it correct:

    “A quadrupel is a type of beer, with an alcohol by volume of 10% or more. There is little agreement on the status of Quadrupel as a style.[1]” on their website provides their definition of a Quad:

    “The Belgian-style Quadrupel is amber to dark brown in color. Caramel, dark sugar and malty sweet flavors dominate, with medium-low to medium-high hop bitterness. Quads have a relatively light body compared to their alcoholic strength. If aged, oxidative qualities should be mild and not distracting. Sometimes referred to as Belgian strong dark.”

    Needless to say but Victory Hoppy Quad is not consistent with the definition since it is so light in color.

    Classically Belgian brewers were (and are) creative in their brewing approaches and brewing to a prescribed set of definitions was (and is) not a high priority. Given this context perhaps the folks at Victory should be applauded for their creativity in producing their Hoppy Quad?

    FWIW I personally view a Quad as being a subset of the BJCP definition of a BDSA. A BDSA can be anywhere between 8 -12% ABV but IMO a Quad should be ≥ 10% ABV.


    Edit: The definition is apparently the Brewers Association definition.
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  28. marquis

    marquis Champion (812) Nov 20, 2005 England

    It is illustrative to look at where the names came from. Barley wine was the name of one specific beer from Bass. Just as Wee Heavy and ESB were names of single beers, with no pretensions of being styles at all.Just marketing tools.
    Names were just that-handles. The Bass brewer once described his product as a Bitter, a Pale Ale and an IPA in the same conversation , they were not cast in stone.
    And things change. Nobody brews an IPA or a Mild anymore if we wish to stay true to style.
    I recommend Martyn Cornell's article on the subject
  29. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (124) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    When I first made this ale, the BATF had just made Sierra Nevada add the word”style” after barleywine for their label. I found this to be terminology I wanted to avoid, so I named it Old Ale instead of Barleywine Style Ale. This was a very long time ago. 1988? Sorry for the confusion.
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  30. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Thanks for the beer. :slight_smile:
  31. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (668) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    It's OK. It's a good reminder that regulatory compliance should be added to the list of reasons why beer styles can be very fluid. British beer drinkers are used to this concept, but it's less apparent to most American craft beer drinkers.
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  32. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,989) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    And for finally sending it to NY :wink:.
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  33. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Of all the breweries that expanded (or returned) into NY in the last few years... it seems like so many just peter out here or survive by being sporadic. I'm so glad that Bell's is an exception to that in my area.
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  34. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,758) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Were there any beers that inspired you when you conceived this beer?
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  35. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (622) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon
    This might fit the description, had a lighter than average body.
  36. Mindsculptor

    Mindsculptor Initiate (0) Dec 6, 2013 Texas

    An old ale or stock ale is an ale that historically aged. For obvious reasons, they tended to be on the stronger side. It's not really a valid style as the term is defined in modern times.
  37. marquis

    marquis Champion (812) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Absolutely. There was just Ale. If sold fresh it was Mild Ale. If aged is was Old Ale but as you say ales for keeping would be stronger.
    Porter and Stout were Beers. There has been much misinformation and misunderstanding caused by writers who did not know the difference.
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  38. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (356) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    Please! I'll definitely vote for:

    "what's the difference between a porter and a stout?"

    damnit @marquis beat me to it!
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  39. pjbear05

    pjbear05 Initiate (137) May 28, 2008 Florida

    And Total Wine In FL
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  40. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    There's no way historically to pick apart Old Ale and Barley Wine. The terms were used pretty randomly by brewers. About the only consistent element is that a beer under 7% ABV wouldn't be called a Barley Wine. I used to think it was about colour: Old Ale dark, Barley Wine pale. Then I discovered Barley Wines were dark until the 1950's. And that Old Ales had been pale in the 19th century.
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