For the most part, the human tongue and its palate is a flexible organ. What I mean is, with time, determination, and awareness, off putting flavors can gradually become desirable. This is why pediatricians recommend that parents introduce their children to a wide range of food early on. If all a child ate from infancy to puberty was chocolate, I doubt they would find the taste curry chicken enjoyable!
Thus said, this past weeks beer, Third Coast Old Ale is not a beer that the unadventurous or inexperienced drinker may normally embrace. It is a big beer: Big on malt, hops, alcohol, and overall flavor. The guy or gal who is just now exploring the world beyond American lagers may display a distorted face upon consuming. But big beers, once transitioned up to, are a treat and delicacy; worth accustoming oneself to.
Third Coast Ale poured a deep reddish brown color. For a big beer, there was ample carbonation present, but less than a typical beer. The thickness of the brew was made apparent by the manner in which the carbonation bubbles danced around in circles in the liquid rather than racing to the top. A thick tan head about 2.5 inches thick wasted plenty of time in dissolving, leaving behind sticky cotton-candy like lacing.
The strong upfront aroma precludes that a mild-mannered experience is soon to take place. A very hearty roasted malt aroma is laden with intricacies. There are notes of raisin, chocolate, almonds, red (port) wine, and a liquorish (sweet brandy) quality. My fresh bottle was packed full of hop aroma. The citrus quality found in many hops seemed downplayed. There was more of a pine aroma.
This is a sweet, sweet beer, but not sickening sweet as it is balanced by a refreshing hop bite, making for a tangy experience. The sweet malts have a dry/burnt flavor. Kind of like raisin bread that has been dark toasted. There is a strong fig taste, brown sugar, and a very apparent alcohol flavor. As was in the aroma, it reminds me of a sweet quality brandy. The hop flavor is complex. I would guess that more than one variety was used. There is a slight lemony flavor mixed in with the pine tastes. The mouth-feel may put a few folks off, as it is thick and hearty. I enjoy this quality thoroughly myself. The beer finishes with pronounced alcohol warmth on the throat and a molasses after taste.
I love the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” nature of beer. I was extremely satisftied with Third Coast Old Ale. In fact, I am sure my wife got tired of hearing “mmmmm” and “ohhhhhh” and “this is soooo good,” from me. I bought a single bottle, but intend on picking a few up and tossing them in “Ye Old Cellar” in my basement.
Among other Old Ales: