Beer Review: BELL’S THIRD COAST OLD ALE VINTAGE 2015

Beer Review: BELL’S THIRD COAST OLD ALE VINTAGE 2015

Pouring from a 12 oz. bottle with a packaging date of 10/2/15, the Third Coast Old Ale presents a clear, deep red hue, crowned by a surprisingly resilient yellow foam. Despite its labeling as an Old Ale, it struts characteristics more akin to a barleywine, challenging expectations. The robust head retention defies barleywine norms and hints at the beer’s aging potential.

Aroma

The nose opens with an assertive blend of strawberry jam and toasty notes, gradually evolving into a minty and herbal profile as it warms. A trace of the beer’s once-vibrant hoppy aroma lingers in the background.

Taste

Upon the first sip, the flavor profile reveals a minty onset, accompanied by a fierce kettle hop bitterness that defies the typical barleywine sweetness. Amidst the bitterness, hints of strawberry jam persist, supported by a sturdy malt foundation imparting burnt toast nuances. Extended contemplation unveils dessert-like elements—treacle tart, golden syrup, golden raisin, and toffee. Balancing acts of pine sap, pine needle, and subtle dried citrus peel contribute depth. The finish extends with enduring herbal hop bitterness, accompanied by earthy bread crust with a subtle dance on the edge of charred and ashy notes. The bitterness, marked at 8 out of 10, surpasses the sweetness, rated at a moderate 7 out of 10. A monstrous beer, undoubtedly, poised for an extended sojourn in the cellar.

Mouthfeel

This behemoth reveals its versatility—initially reminiscent of a Stone Arrogant Bastard with a robust body, caramelized malt focus, and assertive piney hop character when chilled. However, as it warms to room temperature, it undergoes a metamorphosis. The carbonation dwindles, presenting a flat amber-red liquid, reminiscent of brandy. Dark alcohol aromas, resembling amaretto, emerge, transforming the beer into a cordial fit for savoring by the fireplace.

Overall

Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale Vintage 2015 stands as a classic with a distinctive take on the barleywine style. Its amped-up bitterness imparts a unique balance and structural integrity, setting it apart from the sticky-sweet stereotype of strong amber ales. This is a beer to be savored over time, a six-pack purchased to witness its evolving complexity year after year. An unconventional masterpiece that challenges and transcends the boundaries of traditional barleywines.