Tasting: November 7, 2014
Style: Barley Wine
Beer #: 641
Third Coast Old Ale by Bell’s
Obviously, I’ve heard of the west, east and gulf coasts of the United States but wondered to what area the phrase “third coast” referred. While I found some references that tie it to the Gulf Coast, I also found that it may be more likely to refer to the fresh water shores of Michigan. With two peninsulas sitting on Lake Michigan, the state boasts 3,224 miles of freshwater coastline. While there is some debate on which state has the longest coastlines (ocean, tidal and freshwater), the state of Michigan’s official website boasts their freshwater shoreline total as the irrefutable leader in length for the lower forty-eight states.
My wife and I drove to Chicago a few years ago and took side trip to the dunes found in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. We scaled Mount Baldy (a massive 123’ tall sand dune) near the Michigan border. It really is a beautiful area and the shoreline could easily be mistaken for some of the ocean beaches we have visited in New England.
If you follow Bell’s Brewing, it’s easy to see that they beam with Michigan pride paying tribute to their home state with offerings that characterize the Michigan lifestyle – like Two Hearted Ale which refers to the upper and lower peninsulas. Third Coast Old Ale by Bell’s follows along the same theme of paying tribute to a key feature of their home state.
Third Coast Old Ale by Bell’s pours a rich reddish brown. Reading the label while I take the first couple of sips and I read 10.2% ABV and a suggestion that this beer will improve with some age. I can see their point as big time caramel drifts into big time booziness and a hop resin. Some bitterness drifts in on the finish mixing a little oddly with the booziness. A little more age on Third Coast and I can see that mellowing out and some darker fruit coming to the forefront. Other things that jump out at me – it’s a little soapy, some hop resin. Really a very complex barley wine. I have to say I enjoyed the bottom half of this bottle more so than at first. I think it improved without the chill. I’ll put Third Coast Old Ale by Bell’s at 90 points.