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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)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

690 Ratings

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Ratings: 690
Reviews: 549
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 76
Gots: 132 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.90% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-05-2004

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.
View: Beers (10) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 690 | Reviews: 549
Reviews by markaberrant:
Photo of markaberrant
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A - deep amber, clear, thin off-white cap

S - smooth fruity malt, brandied apricots, not much for booze,

T - smooth is the name of the game here, big malt sweetness up front, lots of earthy hop bitterness, wow, what an aftertaste, big biscuit finish, like alcoholic candy

M - starts out heavy and syrupy, really coats the tongue and sides of mouth, light carbonation still livens things up enough to save it, dry finish, alcohol is so well integrated and smooth, barely noticable

D - simple, yet very refined, great finish, but honestly, sorta one dimensional

About as solid as an english barleywine gets, but honestly, in terms of enjoyment, there are many beers I prefer to this. I also find this stuff pretty much undrinkable until it has 4-5 years of age on it, which is sorta fun, but kinda unrealistic for the average drinker.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 …

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I dedicate this bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale vintage 2003 #017157 to the beginning of Allegheny College's 2004 Spring Fest musical guests the Roots. To all surviving the Ville de Mead peace and love, and most importantly Salute! Appearance: Cracked the cap to small release of carbonation pours a chestnut garnet ruby brown tone pleasant but thin bubbly cream head leaves fine tiny bubles evenly around the snifter with each tilt of the glass 8.5oz of glory here. Aroma: Deep ruddy malt nose backed with ale characteristics of deep over ripened fruits some plum brandy like notes alcohol is evident this bottle is still young and ferocious the way I want to try my first Thomas Hardy's. With each swirl of the glass I get some caramel slight vanilla and oak tones a heavenly uniform nose to this beer. Taste: Some sweet candy like sugary malts upfront that crash in a wave like fashion blending English hops caramel malt presence rich alcohol infused fruit tones, bam this one kicks it up a notch. Definitely an experience even drinking this young, I know a bottle can last for up to 25 years but I couldn't wait I had to try this beer. Mouthfeel: Full bodied syrupy mix I feel like I could drizzle this on some pancakes and still enjoy it chewy in nature mellow carbonation, big old ale. Drinkability: What can I say let it warm up take your time don't drink to fast, Thomas Hardy's Ales will come and they will pass. Truly a memorable beer, let me thank once again Bill and Tim two worthy BAs who go by beergeek279 and cupbeerman. I appreciate the gift and I sure did enjoy this gem of a beer, thanks guys.

Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of jeonseh
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage; Poured into a crystal Brandy Snifter

A - The color is a deep mahogany with a gold and copper hue to it. There was a minimal light brown head that formed before floating away. The beer is rather dark on the whole and has a clear look to it as I don't see anything within it.

S - First, this does have a big and nice nose to it. Reminds me a bit of some of the English Barleywines that I have tried except a bit sweeter. There are hints of plum and brown sugar wafting up. The beer also has a slight spiciness that seems to radiate upwards as well. Reminds me a bit of the nose on a sweeter port. Within the sweeter notes, also get a big whiff of toffee and also some brandy odors coming up as the beer reminds me of a English Christmas pudding.

T - The first hint in the mouth is the sweet toffee intermixed with figs. There are hints of brandy and a slight alcohol taste as well that intermixes. I get hints of brown sugar and also a nice cinnamon spice to the beer that gives it a slight hint of the backside. The beer has a flavor as well that does not want to go away as it sits in my mouth. It reminds me of port but more complex with hints of the plum, brandy and toffee remain. Sometimes get a sweet grape and sometimes a dry, green grape flavor as well This is a very nice and complex beer that seems to deliver a different flavor profile each time I try a sip. The flavors come and go and meld together wonderfully. Also should note that is definitely one malt dominated beer.

MF - None to little carbonation at all. The beer has a nice sticky body to it that seems to fit its flavors well. Not at all cloying. There is a certain spiciness to the beer that makes your tongue feel a bit prickly through certain aspect. Also the alcohol provides just the right amount of warming.

D - Overall, this is one delicious old ale/ English barleywine that is one of those quintessential beers. It has a nice nose and packs a ton of flavor as well. The warming quality and high alcohol make it a definite sipper and a perfect night cap beer as well. The other good thing about this is that this is an easy beer to find and cellar for those who want to try to cellar some beers. I have to say that I will definitely try to pick some up and cellar for the very long haul if I can hold out that long.

Photo of JohnW
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle - 2005, numbered P38402, purchased in 2006 and stored in cool dark conditions since.

Poured slowly and carefully after being left to stand 24 hours. Very dark bronze colour, clear in the glass, though could see that last quarter inch in the bottle was cloudy with sediment.

Amazing aroma...sweet, rich fruit cake - dried sultanas etc - very malty and complex, almost like a vintage port, alcohol obvious in the smell.

Very rich flavours, exactly as expected from the aroma, malty lightly roasted, sweet rich dried fruit but not overpowering, complex flavours as savoured in the mouth and the alcohol giving a gentle sting in the tail. Loved this, but just one bottle is plenty! A very special treat to be enjoyed (as we did New Years Eve!) once in a while...but as its unlikely we will ever see another bottle again, once in my lifetime!

B'ham UK December 2009

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 690 ratings.