Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale
Perception of a beer is experiential, beyond just appearance, smell and taste. Time, place, state of mind make all the difference between what one perceives as a good or great beer.
The classic example is heavy stouts for cold, snow nights. Bell’s Brewery is Southwestern Michigan makes amazing stouts like nobody’s business. Yet, this winter I have found myself craving its Third Coast Old Ale more than any other beer.
This is a cold-weather beer all the way at 10.2% ABV with a mountain of malt character. As I write this, it is a gloomy, chilly, misty March night in Northern Wisconsin. I had a long day at work and braved the chill and drizzle for an hour on the road bike afterward. That is a great formula for a relaxed, treat-yourself mood. And this beer is a treat.
My bottle shows a 10/08/14 packaging date. Smell is all caramel, cherry and booze. It is utterly rich on the tongue. Bell’s describes this old ale having burnt caramel and dark fruit notes, which is on point. But I pick up a little extra something with every sip of this deep amber-colored beer: vanilla, wood, molasses. Bottom line is that this beer has deep malt complexity. There’s a lasting bitterness too, but the finish is delightfully smooth.
This should make for a nice sipper for preparing a casserole with hearty meat and root vegetables, or simply with a soft brie or camembert while watching rain or snow drift down under the pale glow of street lights. Let yourself be alone with those melancholy thoughts, imagining all the streams meandering to the Great Lakes of the Third Coast.
Rating: Glass – Growler – Case – KEG