The pour of this barley wine presents itself with a dark amber hue, capped by a thin and unimpressive white film. While the deep color hints at potential complexity, the lackluster head leaves something to be desired.

Aroma: The olfactory experience delivers a mixed bag of scents. Notes of brown sugar, strawberries, and herbal hops intermingle, creating an intriguing yet somewhat chaotic aromatic profile. The attempt to balance sweetness, fruitiness, and earthiness feels ambitious but doesn’t quite achieve harmony.

Taste: Upon the first sip, the beer unfolds a medley of flavors. Dark sugar dominates, accompanied by a pronounced bitterness from the hops. The inclusion of alcohol notes and a toasty essence adds depth but doesn’t manage to mask a certain lack of refinement. The taste, while bold, doesn’t seamlessly integrate its elements, leaving an impression of disjointed boldness.

Mouthfeel: In terms of texture, this barley wine boasts a full-bodied nature, offering a creamy sensation with only modest carbonation. While the mouthfeel aligns with the style expectations, it fails to stand out. The creaminess, though present, doesn’t elevate the drinking experience, leaving the palate yearning for a more memorable tactile encounter.

Overall: Bell’s Third Coast Ale, with its deep amber color and lofty ABV, positions itself as the brandy of ales, suggesting a certain level of sophistication. However, the promise of vintage character and maturation falls short of expectations. The beer’s components, while individually intriguing, struggle to find synergy, resulting in an overall experience that lacks the finesse one might anticipate from a barley wine of this caliber. Perhaps with time, this ale may mellow and refine, but as it stands, it leaves room for improvement in achieving a more harmonious and memorable profile.