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

Not Rated.
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

669 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 669
Reviews: 541
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 75
Gots: 119 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-05-2004)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 669 | Reviews: 541 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


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

2005 No. P 07901 Edition

Presentation: The comforting classic golden nature of England’s finest Barleywine resonates far beyond the rather new 8.5 fl.oz. brown glass bottle of O’Hanlon’s version. The slightly bigger bottle stands taller and slightly wider than the previous 6.33 fl.oz. Historic offerings from the legendary Eldridge Pope Brewery. The main obverse label retains the classic design but adds the 11.7% Alc./Vol. in the bottom right hand corner. Has the Bottle No. P 07901 in red, with the year 2005 preceding this in a smaller black font. A simple black crown cap hides underneath a gold foil which clings to the top inch, or so, of the bottle neck. The wrap of scarlet red string is loose, previous versions had it embossed into the foil. The gold colored disc has the classic Hitchcock-like profile of Thomas Hardy on one side whilst the words ‘Thomas Hardy’s Ale brewed & bottled by O’Hanlon’s Brewing Company, Whimple, Devon, England’. A Classic, Traditional, Exquisite, High-End Quality presentation that continues the custom of some four decades past with a few minor updates - but this bottle is still instantly recognizable to affiliates and connoisseurs.

Appearance: Massive off-white tanned head rises in my half pint 1993 13th Wakefield Beer Festival CAMRA Mug. The foamy beige plug fills at least 2” of the glass receptacle before it starts to fall and collapse leaving a crumbly rock-pool surface with some thick overhanging rings. Dark amber body has a deep rich copper colored body which resonates with a Hardy Devonian Englishness. Russet carbonation shines and shingles like the setting sun on a Dartmoor’s high plains.

Nose: Immense rustic charm, striking caramel sits underneath a plum soaked prune juice. High alcohol, figs and some strafing Devon toffees. Figs, dark Rum and sugared plums finish the nasal enticement. Sharp tannic malts stain the hops and fight the brown sugar infested yeast. The nose is never incandescent but always pervasive, even at rest it shines with a Shakespearian melodic charm, self deprecating but yet high evolved and projecting.

Taste: To taste this fresh is such a treat these days. My young palate, back in the kid 80’s found this intense and high end, punching alcohol and massive malts knocked me out, literally. These days, it seems like my palate seems more refined, but still, this is a massive beer. Intensely demonic malts with an alter of halo-hops which redeems this huge English Barleywine. Make no mistake; it’s a bad boy, a winking Charlie-Farley with no Piggy-Malone to balance its rude nature. It stands in polite company with a stance that has a charming nice side that your Mum would love, and maybe secretly fancy. It is, as it always was, Thomas Hardy’s Ale. That in itself is such a comforting respite. It went and came back, rose from the dead so to speak. Warming Madeira, some Vanilla and a soothing Shandy-Bass ending wrap up this monster.

Mouthfeel: At barely One year old I recall that the O’Hanlon’s variant is far more Customer friendly than its Eldridge Pope predecessor. That said, the creamy smooth texture has a lovely carpet nature that allows you to sink into the malt laden alcohol with some aplomb. This is a beer that you can chew for sure.

Drinkability: So hard to fault this one, yet you know, deep down, that you should not enjoy such a devilishly string brew with such vigor. But I care not; the conditioning is perfect, the sharp crossing hop malt body and a rich finish. This is so fucking good it is criminal.

Overall: As an Old Devonian, and I am, I just find myself continually drawn to this marvelous brew. This is, for me, THE single example of the Olde School English Barleywine, the one that would bugger you senseless, slip you into Tom Browns hot crusty crumpet cheek holder, and have you effortlessly slipping into Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns and fighting off the School Cheetah in Tomkinson’s School Days. This is so English it hurts. O’Hanlon’s carries the Torch from a heavy dark past but it seems with a firm bright light toward the future. Eldridge Pope and Thomas Hardy could not wish for any better marathon runner into the new decades of the 21st Century.

Superb Stuff !!!!

Stock Up and Lock Up.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.
-Thomas Hardy

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2007 08:07:52 | More by TheLongBeachBum
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3.81/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2005 vintage 11.7% ABV 8.5 oz bottle #P 37773 - a gift from a friend, poured carefully (as per instructions on back label) into a 12 oz tulip glass

A: flat medium brown with no head, no bubbles

S: dark dry fruit - raisins, figs, and earthly sweetness

T: strong and sweet with suggestion of bitter, burnt malts and alcohol

M: smooth, almost syrupy, with no carbonation; only alcohol to tickle the tongue

O: unusual and robust, but not one I'd order myself

This beer reminds me more of a port wine than an old ale.

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4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, drank in summer 2014. No. T 16229, 8.5 oz bottle. poured into snifter glass at cellar temperature. poured slow to avoid the thick layer of sediment.

into the glass a clear dark copper color, with bright ruby highlights. but really no head whatsoever. just tiny bubbles stream to the surface. nice malty aroma, very much like raisins, figs, toffee, a bit sweet. taste is actually not not that sweet - starts with those same malty flavors, then finishes a bit earthy. mild carbonation, thicker sticky body. appropriate for the style.

overall - very glad I got to try this legendary beer, even if it wasn't the original edition. but I like the JW Lees better in terms of the big name English barleywine/old ales.

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3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

250 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2007 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - No head. Mostly clear brown body with large chunks floating in it.

Smell - Whoa, oxidation. Sherry and brown sugar. Raisins and figs.

Taste - Kinda cardboardy but otherwise great. Not as sweet as I expected. Lots of raisins. Slightly bitter in the back to balance it.

Mouthfeel - Oxidized, but not too much. Low carbonation and surprisingly low sweetness.

Overall - Very nice. The oxidation adds more than it detracts.

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Bottle, 2003 vintage, that John gave me a few years back. Thank you, John.

Pouring a dark brown with no head, lacing or retention but with gorgeous clarity and nice legs, this looks great. The nose is stunning. A beautiful blend of smoke and sherry with accents of brown sugar, toffee and leather, this is deep and complex. The palate opens full in body and soft in carbonation with tons of sherry and some smoke, a blend of earth, leather and burnt sugar. A long, sweet finish has lingering smoke and sherry, this is amazing.

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8.5oz bottle decanted into a snifter. 11.7% ABV. 2008 vintage. Bottle No. T 27791. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Deep crimson red with a thin ring of beige foam. Brilliantly clear, but sporting a few floaters here and there. They must have come with the aggressive pour (4/5).

Aroma: Figs and dates. Brown sugar and molasses. A little earthiness and wood, that is followed by a hint of soy sauce. Very interesting and inviting (4.5/5).

Taste: Sweet brown sugar, molasses, raisins, figs, and dates up front. There is an aged mango flavor in the background. Maybe some vanilla as well. It also has some port or sherry-like characters. I suppose the latter is from age (six years at time of consumption). Overall it is an incredible beer. I am very lucky to have found a bottle (5/5).

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy. Full body and light carbonation (5/5).

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 669 ratings.