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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) | O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)

Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom (England)

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
O'Hanlon's took over the brand and revived it in 2003, but discontinued it after the 2008 batch.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-05-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 561 | Ratings: 724
Reviews by BedetheVenerable:
Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: BEAUTIFUL capped and filed 8.5oz brown bottle, No. P21496, 2007 edition

Appearance: A firm pour into an oversized snifter produces a brilliant sunset orange beer capped with a thick, whipped cream light tan cap with decent retention...this was perfectly clear right to the end when I accidentally dumped a bit of yeast sediment in

Smell: Big, sweet, caramelly and full of alcohol-laced tropical fruit and apple and raisin

Taste: Right in keeping with the aroma...massive caramel sweetness, backed with fruity alcohol (maybe a bit of cherry and raisin?) and a touch of vanilla...the only hop presence is seen in a ghostly balancing bitterness that keeps this from becoming cloying...

Mouthfeel: Viscous and rich; you almost want to chew it

Drinkability: An 8.5oz bottle is just about perfect

Conclusion: This is tasty, don't get me wrong. It just seems a bit hot in alcohol still, and the flavors seem to be trying to get out but just can't quite...I picked up two bottles of this...I'll give the other one 2-5 in the cellar and adjust my review accordingly

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More User Reviews:
Photo of warriorsoul
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerResearcher for the tip on locating a 4 pack of these in Quincy, MA.
A very classy bottle...marked 2004 No. P07997 Edition.
Pours a murky, dark brown w/ the head peaking out of the bottle before I can pour. A nice full finger of sudsy, tan head which goes nowhere. No lacing present.
Aroma is fantastic...sweet figs, raisins, cherries and vanilla....no alcohol detected in the nose. The most scented bouquet I have experienced in my very limited reviews.
Taste is over the top...all of the above scents are also apparent in the flavor. Mouthfeel is thick, but not cloying. I actually prefer a tad less carbonation in the style...my only complaint.
Can't say drinkability is high...I will be savoring this one for a little bit. Glad I went out and picked this one up...a very unique brew and I can see why so many search it out.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2004 vintage, bottle #82808

taste- maple syrup, caramel, cinnamon stick, brininess, applewood smokiness, madeira flavors in the finish

color- oily deep copper color with a ruby center and golden ring around the edges

clarity- pours clear with medium darkness

smell- apple, caramel, leather, barnyard

body- syrupy, most of the weight is in the center of the palate, short, restrained finish

appearance- oily-looking...no carbonation after the initial pour that yielded a white foamy ring

overall impression- really glad to see this beer is very drinkable after this many years. i've had older vintages that aren't as enjoyable but still good for what they are. i'm liking this amount of age. i have more in the cellar for further experimentation...yay for me

notes and comments- a hint of carbonation when first opened, flavors and body remind me of a barleywine, beer stayed together with a faint trace of sediment suspended in the glass...otherwise a thin paste on the bottom of the bottle. alcohol is still present and very well masked

beer spy- bottle barn several years ago, santa rosa ca, 2004, 8.5oz (25cl)

glassware: tulip

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 8.5oz bottle(2004 vintage #05398) room temp a dark ruby red with a smallish head of foam that disappeared really quick.

The smell is all candy sweet with lots of plum and some notes of alcohol and, well, it smells very port like.

The taste is more of the same, lots more! Sweet molasses, caramel, plum, and a strong orange injection in the finish and yes, it has that nice warming feeling when going down but...wow, what complexity and this stuff is *only* ~2 years old!

Bottom line: I had to try 1 of the bottles from my 4 pack to just check it out. Already very good stuff but the rest of my stash is going to join the 2003s in my "cellar".

Edit: I thought it would be nice to revisit this beer 3 1/2 years later, same edition, 2004, Bottle no. P 05400.

A nice hiss when I popped the cap, it pours a dark brownish red, slightly hazy as there is some sediment, with about a half inch of tannish foam.

The smell has loads of brown sugar like sweetness, some dark fruitiness, and again, a very overall Port like aroma.

Taking some small sips, there's a lot of sweetness going on. A brown sugar, perhaps maple syrup type of sweetness that I think is more intense than when I tried it last. There's some light chocolate and toffee, with lighter notes of dark fruits.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with lightish carbonation.

Drinkability? The flavours are very intense, the alcohol seems to have calmed down a bit but when I add things up, this 6 1/2 year old version of the same year that I had at 3 years doesn't quite measure up to the same level. Without changing my numbers, I'd say it was a B+ at best and maybe just a B.

I still have a 2003 to sample and 3 Eldridge Pope samples, 1988-1989-1991. Should be an interesting Christmas day 2009!

Edit: 2003 bottle, my last, No. 00644 11.7%abv.

A vigorous pour from the 8.5oz bottle yielded a temporary thin head of foam but it shrank to just a ring around my glass and a few small islands near the middle.

Smelling it is pure joy. Caramel malts and woody and sherry notes are in top form with a nice nose of toffee joining in. To me...a perfect aroma for an Old Ale.

Tasting equals or slightly, yeah I said perfect aroma, surpasses the smell and I'm somewhat but not totally astounded.
Malty to the nth degree with caramel sweetness-toffee-maple syrup(taste as well as mouthfeel), the woody sherry like goodness that in the taste more resembles a well made Port. Wow. I bought this in 2004 in CO and my cellaring "skills" really paid off with this wonderful elixir.

Thick and chewy body with just enough carbonation to make it clear to the drinker that it isn't flat, it has a wonderfully smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability? Anyone know a source for more 2003s? I'm serious! Thomas Hardy Ales are now gone but not soon to be forgotten?? I hope *someone* takes up the gauntlet and brings this beauty, in its proper form, back into production. Soon!!!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When I had a little sample of this beer, the person who bought said he found it in a local liquor store - one that I never really frequented because I assumed it was your typical 'ghetto' store that mainly sold BMC. Turns out, the owner of the joint is an Austrian man who's an old-school beer geek. He brought out some Thomas Hardy's ale from his own personal stock and put it on sale, basically.

2006 vintage.

Pours a murky dark copper color. There's a little more head than I anticipated, though it's only half a finger high (off-white in shade). Retention is solid considering how little head there is, and it even tries to leave a little bit of lacing on the glass.

Holy shit. This smells like a port - a GOOD port. There are an enormous amount of dark fruits, beautifully augmented by sherry oxidation. Beneath that lie notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and molasses. It even develops some chocolate and vanilla qualities. I don't seem to pick up much leather. While not endlessly deep, this instead perfectly balances a large handful of notes together.

At first taste, I pick up plenty of brown sugar, molasses, and umami. Port-like dark fruits and sherry oxidation appear immediately afterwards. This finishes with some leather, toffee, and pumpernickel bread. Post-swallow, it unfurls like a wonderful liquor, developing more (balanced) alcoholic qualities as this continues to sit. I mean...wow...this is so complex - what the aroma suggested is peanuts to what it's actually offering. This is the kind of beer that's so deep, my brain is struggling to keep up with all the aspects my taste buds are picking up. The oxidized flavor is actually it's greatest strength, come to think about it. To me, it seems to tie together all the numerous flavors with elegant aplomb. Ergo, the taste gets a 5. I literally can't think of what else this profile can do, or what else could be improved. TWC has been silenced - for now!

Since this bottle is so old, carbonation is quite low - it's almost nonexistent, in fact. Fitting for an 11.7% beer, it feels thick, creamy, and syrupy on the palate. But all these aspects fit this beer nigh on perfectly. Who gives a rat's ass about drinkability, this is the ultimate sipper!

"Holy shit" is how I described this beer's aroma. It's also a good descriptor of this beer, period. The little taste I had several days ago was a nice preview, but now that I have an 8.5 oz main event sitting right in front of me, I can safely say this is one of the best beers I've ever had. Every single element that could have been overdone (and may have even seemed like it was overdone on occasion) is exactly what gives this beer it's character. This is both balls-out intense and gorgeously nuanced all at the same time. The closest comparison I can make to this one are The Bruery's anniversary ales - and those are a pale, pale imitation of this gorgeous bombshell (even with its high-falutin' barrel-aging!) Oh fuck, did I just call the late, great Thomas Hardy a gorgeous bombshell? See, this beer is so stunning, I'm lost in thought.

I've heard rumblings about this recipe being brewed again. For the love of God, MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.

4.62/5: ...I've got nothing, the score says everything

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Photo of oberon
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage.My first crack at this classic,poured into a brandy snifter slightly hazy medium brown with just hint of orange.Robust aromas of brown suger and orange stick out mainly with some raisin coming in as well.Thick an chewey in the mouth with flavors of raisin and dates along with some brown suger finishing very warm.A true bedtime brew maybe reading some Thomas Hardy much less harsh than expected seeing how young this was.People say this is not the beer it once was but this is damn fine to me.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Nice, dirty brown in color with a respectable head for an 11.7 ABV Strong/Old Ale.

Smell – This one has tons of sugars in it. The malt is toasty and laden with alcohol. The brown and raw sugars are here in this nose, as are the wonderful fruity notes. I smell mostly banana, figs, cherries, tobacco, and maybe prunes. There’s also some nice spicing to this one. The cinnamon and allspice are both nice, and the clove in paricular is refreshing.

Taste – Yes, lots of sugar here. It is sweet, sweet, sweet. The lovely fruits and raw sugars pick things up at the taste. The malt is there but darker than in the nose. It’s almost a burnt type of taste. The alcohol is strong but very refined. It’s not rough at all. This is an amazingly complex ale.

Mouthfeel – Close to full in the body and lip-smacking sweet. How they get all of these flavors to blend so well I do not know. It’s quite a feat.

Drinkability – I felt like a king drinking this ale. I’m sure you could age it for a while, but this 2002 edition was good right out of the box.

Comments – I’ve heard a lot of terrific things about this ale, and was thrilled to see it in my local beer store. I actually bought this a month ago but wanted to pop it for my 800th review.

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Photo of ricke
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. Serving date: 2009-09-01.

A: Mahogany color with brown hues. A very small head of big bubbles settles quickly and leaves no lacings.

S: The smell is very deep and powerful. Lots of malts, raisins and alcoholic fumes reminiscent of fine spirits. Notes of toffee, leaves and dusty cellar. This is very impressive.

T: The taste is even better than the smell. A deep and complex malty profile with notes of caramel and raisins. Lots of aromas of ripe fruits. The alcohol is present already in the mouth and mixes nicely with the fruits, reminding me of fruits soaked in brandy. Hints of toffee, cocoa and leafy hops. The taste is of course very sweet. The finish is very potent and packed with sophisticated flavors of alcohol, raisins, wood and dusty cellar.

M: Medium to full body with a nice creamy and sticky texture.

D: I really like this stuff. It drinks like a fine liqueur or cognac. I wouldn't call it vinous, it's more like fine spirits. Definitely a sipper, but surprisingly easy to drink.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle of 2004 No. P 26954

A: Moderate aromas of madeira and toffee with a rich dark dried fruit. Prominent alcohol. There is a light soy sauce, umami sharpness. No hops

T: It tastes like a madeira with rich dried dark fruit like prunes and raisins. There is a moderate malt sweetness with moderately-light hops giving a balance that is moderately sweet. The finish is sweet with a fruit and cocoa aftertaste.

M: An almost oily, medium-full bodied beer with very light carbonation.

O: A somewhat sweet fruit beer aged beer that is better approached as a medeira or sherry than a beer else most beer drinkers might be disappointed but not this one.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

fancy little bottled poured into a chalice. 2005 bottle, 35535 edition.

A: rich dark ruby body, almost brown, soft beige head. head comes back with agitation easily, light lacing.

S: Rum, butter, raisons, alcohol, caramel, even some apple

T/M: Super soft creamy body. crazy rich malt, molasses, dark fruit, raisons, plums. soggy grains, reminiscent of graham crackers or cheerios in milk. moist rum cake, hints of vanilla. finishes oily slick and drying. filling.

D: high octane brew, nice digestif. hefty price tag but worth the treat from time to time. a heavenly but formidable beer.

reminds me a lot of North Coasts Old Stock, both rare, both expensive (though this much more so), both serious commitments. the Hardy's has a creaminess that Old Stock doesnt quite achieve and slightly more complexity. but for half the price, Old Stock is more than an adequate substitution.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle No. P07911. Served at cellar temperature. Pours with a minimal, creamy froth, but retains a decent head; rich dark, chocolate-brown copper color. So aromatic, it's like a savory reduction of Madeira-soaked figs, with a hint of hazelnut. A tad syrupy and a tad chewy. Oak, cork, juicy Port, wine-soaked raisins and prunes. Suggestions of a sweet caramel apple cider,
with a layer of weathered-hop bitterness. Touch of spice from the slow-warming alcohol. Man, this is a good digestif or cigar beer.

All in all, a wonderful, aged Old Ale, though this vintage could use a few more years, as the hops seem lost and have not passed on. The brewery suggests that this ale can withstand twenty-five years or more of cellaring. The oldest vintage we have tasted was from 1989, with about twelve years cellar time, and it was sublime.

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Photo of Jayman931
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2008 8.5oz 11.7% served in a snifter.

Dark amber colour and a light head that lingers a bit....will reoccur with a swirl.

Smell is great....heavy caramel malts with a hint of grain....great!

Super well balanced...great make feel. When it warms a bit out has a warm after taste...but served slightly cold...marvelous.

Great beer....cheers!

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Photo of jisom123
3.72/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thomas Hardy
vin. 2005
Consumed September 2008
I thought my bottle said 11.2% instead of 11.9% abv, but may be wrong. Alcohol was masked well; tasted like 9% felt like 12%.

Great cold weather, outdoor beer. Drink @ 35-40 degrees. Nice and cold. Take camping, but Bring something else. This is not a "mainstay" beer for any adventure.
Might make an EXCELLENT cooking beer.
Consistency and coloring of Heated Grade-A amber Maple Syrup. Little to no head, but acceptable. Plenty of aroma and flavor without the head. Tastes of Charcoal whiskey-Cask Fermentation. slightly sugary; more than a Dubel Abbey.
Not something you want to slam or drink more than 3 of in one sitting. Cost was about 10% higher than it should be due to "neatness factor" of individually numbered bottles and metallic coin dongle. What I always imagined maple flavored codeine cough syrup would taste like, but without the medical taste.

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Photo of Jason
3.49/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 8.5 oz bottle with a vintage date and bottle # on the label.

Appearance: Poor head retention, nearly burgundy with brown hues.

Smell: Ripe fruit, raisins come to mind for the most part. Big whiff of alcohol seems a tad mellow after a year of aging.

Taste & Mouth Feel: Virtually no carbonation yet the mouth feel is very creamy, lots of sweet malt with a touch of hops in the back. Ripe fruit all over with a yeasty back. Tropical fruit with a lazy alcoholic character in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes: Basically reminds me of a fresh JW Lees Harvest with out the hops yet not as complex. This is not the TH I remember …

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Photo of merlin48
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8.5 oz bottle with a Thomas Hardy medialion on a string, around the neck. 2004 vintage, No. P25716 I've seen 20 and 30 year vintages of this one on Ebay, and I've read about how well this ages. I'm over 50 years old, so I'm not going to age this bottle more than the three weeks since I purchased it at the Vintage Cellar, in Blacksburg, Va. This "young" Old Ale pours into a tulip glass a clear, dark ruby amber body with a tiny offwhite head. Some delicate patch lacing persists for 15-20 minutes before disappearing. Aroma begins with vinous white wine and white grapes, followed by toffee and molasses maltiness that is politely subdued. McIntosh apples and Bosc pears appear midway through.
Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy, but not cloying. Coating in the manner of a full bodied strong old ale. An ideal feeling on the palate that is impossible to describe.
Taste features a high quality malt component of rum soaked toffee and cognac infused McIntosh apples. Peppery alcohol folds into the malt profile in a wizardly manner. The big alcohol can't hide forever, but the tart apple character reappears at the finish to tuck it back inside the toffee malts, resulting in one hell of a finish. An extremely rewarding experience to sample this young legend. Geeez! I think I will check out Ebay, and see how the 20-30 year old vintages are doing. This is highly drinkable, even when young. Worthy of its hype!

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Photo of Billolick
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Standard mini bottle, low carbonation, pours without any head, bubbles or lacing evident. Full throtle nose of oak, cloves,smoke, old cheesy feet. Full bodied and strong brew, nice soft mouthfeel, with notes of rum, vanilla, orange, over ripe fruits. Smooth and warming. Finishes with a nice malty sweatness. Classic winter sipper. Perfect for after thanksgiving meal.

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Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage into wine glass.

Wonderful deep ruby red with an off-white head that stayed for the duration of the glass. Deep caramel, vinous, nutty, raisons, and though subdued, earthy hops blend together for an excellent aroma. Sweet caramel beginning with red wine hints, but the caramel stays throughout mixing with nuts and an earthy flavor, with a sweet and grassy finish. Lower carbonation, full bodied, heavy on the tongue, sticky. Though you can feel the alcohol, this one makes for an excellant sipper, worthy of keeping around for any special occasion.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My brother picked this one up for me at Phillipe's in Lafayette. Great find.

2008 vintage, bottle 28200. Pours caramel/orange with a small white head. Aroma is caramel malt, toffee and dried dark fruit. Very malty aroma overall. Flavor is more of the same with lots of caramel malt and toffee as well as alcohol, which is not well hidden. You get a big caramel aftertaste. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

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Photo of olradetbalder
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

Photo of 1Adam12
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of magictrokini
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. A very good beer. Pours ruby and brown with a stubborn but small off-white head. A lot of sweet malts in the aroma, mixed with cherries and darker fruits. Thick mouthfeel, almost no carbonation. Taste is very close to a cognac with port and oak flavors. Slight alcohol warming. It would be nice to be able to cellar this, except everywhere I find it, the beer is already in the cooler.

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Photo of jamesm7485
3.27/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

2007 vintage poured in a wine glass.I wanted to have high hopes for this beer, i would say that while it is somewhat similar to a barleywine i dont enjoy it as much as i usually do barleywines. Not terribly drinkable what so ever first craft brew that i truly had a hard time finishing. I see potential here for sure but as of now its just kinda bleh. Perhaps i should stick my 2nd bottle in the cellar for many years?

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking a 2008 bottle numbered T22262 from a snifter. It pours deep chestnut with a circle of fizz around the top. It has winey, fruity, alcoholic aromas and flavors. It drinks more like a sherry than a beer. Truly delightful.

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Photo of Dizzy
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 Bottle

Pours dark brown with a reddish tint. Light tan head, seems to be sticking around awhile. Smells of carmel and maybe raisins?
Thick, sweet full flavor. It masked the alcohol quite well until the finish, when theh alcohol burn is noticeable. Malt dominates the flavor. Some winey or cidery notes to it as well. Full bodied with light carbonation.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this one develops, this is a great beer and I'm hoping it gets better with time.

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Photo of ADR
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2003...bottle # O 00171...

Poured in a 7 oz festival goblet. Chestnut color, reddish tone, attractive. Fine bubbled head that forms a marginal ring with traces of spider webs in the middle on the first pour. Great aroma, peachy spicy, with alcoholic undercurrents. Thick body, coating in the mouth. Starts hot and malty, lots of cinnamon and maple. Almost like a firecracker pop, it transitions into notes of bright candied cherry and figs. Finishes with an afterburner of bourbon-oakiness and fresh cracked black pepper -- even reaching into the nasal passages. Masterpiece-quality brew, warming and complex -- and this guy is only one year old. Not nearly as raw as a young Fuller's Vintage, I can only imagine how the years will smooth it out.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 561 ratings.