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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.

557 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 557
Hads: 709
Avg: 4.12
pDev: 14.56%
Wants: 82
Gots: 141 | FT: 9
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 (9) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 557 | Hads: 709
Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

8.5 fluid ounce bottle poured into a highball glass (I'm in a hotel goddamn it).

Pours surprisingly fizzy and a the pale oatmeal head disappears quickly in a noisy retreat. The body is a amber and brown, thick-looking liquid with blonde hues. It has a chewy, pulpy look like apple cider. Carbonation is relentless and intense. 4.5

The aroma is so robust that it reaches me from a foot plus distance. Rich, gooey caramel, raisin, prune, earthiness, oak, vanilla and maybe some bourbon. 4.25

Taste starts with red wine and port and segues to caramel and butterscotch. Mid-palate turns dark fruity with raisin and fig and a spicy flavor like bourbon. Heck, there's even some white wine on that finish. 4.25

Thick and gooey, port or red wine-like, with a touch of spiciness and wet booziness. The finish is vinous and mostly dry, but still hits with some wet solvent feel. 4

Glad to have tried this. I see what people raved about. I do think many a modern beer is capturing this flavor and even taking ot a level or two higher though.

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Photo of ChrisMon02
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2007 bottle split with a good friend.

Ugly ass brew. Murky with yeast chunks on the bottom. Looks like tea with milk.

Smell is as complex as they come. Tobacco, leather, musk, caramel, apples, Apple peel, dates, sherry and rum soaked fruit. So many things going on. Crazy!

Much like the smell-tons going on here. Booze soaked caramel apples, tobacco, dates. Sweet and almost tangy with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel was medium with no carbonation. Drinks like a fine sherry.

Well this was quite the experience. One of the most complex beers that I have had. Super stoked that I got to experience it. One of those special beers everyone should get to try. Thanks Will for sharing!

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Photo of david131
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottle. Purchased 9 years ago to save for when/if I got married. Got married, so now I am drinking it. Dark, murky, sweet, rich. Tobacco, leather, brown sugar. Coats the mouth. Definitely tastes like it has some age on it, but has plenty of aging potential left in it. A treat.

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Photo of darktronica
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle pours a burnt orange color, with half a finger of cream-colored foam that mostly dissipates but leaves behind some nice lacing on the glass. Smells of toffee, vanilla, raw sugar cane, and oak pulp, with secondary undertones of orange rind, tobacco, and marzipan. The taste is less complex but no less pleasing, with still some hints of hoppy bitterness to lend some bite to the flavors; this prevents the beer from verging into cloyingly sweet territory, and it also dries out the finish a bit. Really excellent, looking forward to ageing another bottle for a few more 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 Bouleboubier
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

(2008, bottle 14956 - poured carefully into a snifter)

L: dirty-murky russet brown liquid, very little head forms... not one speck of lace

S: thick knot of caramel, baked apples (a la Jewish apple cake)... wet dead leaves and top soil... mild honey on the top, rolling over into a fruitier back end... subtle hint of toast and cigar... altogether quite familiar English strong ale aromas

T: decadently rich and thick worty malt... brown sugar overtones and vaguely clove-y phenols linger on the back of the palate... brandy/port-like finish, thread of fruity booze throughout... summary: caramel, brown sugar, bold brandy-like booze

F: full-bodied and syrupy slick at its core, yet surprisingly light in weight, presumably due to the robust degree of alcohol

O: I was anticipating more distinct, unique flavors... it's more a sedative to malt and booze hounds and of interest because of its rarity... I would probably try to get another bottle or two to lay down for another 5-10

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Photo of Rutager
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle, perfect size for soloing @ 25cl.

Pours a clear burnt-orange with gold edges when held to the light ...and what's this? Yes, I do believe... Hold on, let me double check. YES! We have the much sought after rooby tones!! By no means dominant, but they are there!!! Anyways, thin off-white head, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Big sweet caramel on the nose with a drop of sherry. Some nice dried prunes and a touch of fresher (than dried...) dark fruits. Also a touch of fruity yeast (or phenols perhaps) that doesn't seem familiar. Different from belgian styles, but fruity along the same lines.

Oh man!! Demerara sugar and sherry in a great way. Not overly sweet, but sweet with lots of caramel, sherry, prunes and other dried dark fruits, some leather and old wood. There's a light acidity that cuts through the sweetness and adds to the drinkability for sure. Booze isn't strong but it definitely feels warm in the throat after a few sips.

Full body (but nothing too crazy), low carbonation.

What a bummer this stuff isn't made anymore. I have another bottle, a few years older that I'll have to keep for some time. Those sherry notes are amazing and more of that couldn't be a bad thing.

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Photo of zac16125
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Thomas Hardy Old Ale
250mL bottle in tulip
vintage 2006

A: very dark mahogany, sliver of tan head, dissipates quickly, almost no lacing 4.25

S: tons of dark fruit, vinous, spicy booze, subtle soy sauce 4.75

T: tons of dark fruit, currants, vinous, caramel/toffee 4.75

M/D: full body, surprisingly high carbonation, ABV very well masked, great drinkability 4.75

O: not sure what it's like fresh, but with 9 years on it, it's simply world class 5

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Photo of Jeffo
4.54/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this one from a generous soul a few years back. For the life of me I can’t remember who it was, but if it was you, thanks very much for bringing this one along. Much appreciated.

From a 25cl bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2008
No. T 45476

APPEARANCE: Pours out virtually still with a few bubbles forming on the top. A slight wisp rises and forms on top of the brew, but it’s minimal. A ring forms as well with swirly wisp on top and some receding bubbles from the pour. A crystal clear maroon or burgundy brown with no carbonation evident. A slightly bubbly ring remains but that’s it.

SMELL: Very bold and complex nose of toffee, caramel candy, dark dried fruits and some brown sugary notes. Red berries, some light notes of leather and light earthy wood aromas. Really nice and enticing.

TASTE: Lots of sweetness up front with a good kick of booze through the middle and into the swallow. Toffee, sweet caramel candy, red berries and dark fruits up front. More sweetness and booze through the middle and into the swallow, with a bold and lingering finish of toffee and candy sweetness, dried fruit, brown sugar, wood, leather notes, and some nice booze soaked berries pulling it all together. This is really nice and enjoyable. Easy to drink as well. Loving every drop of it and it will unfortunately be empty far too quickly.

PALATE: Virtually still. No carbonation on this one really, though it’s not really missed per se. Silky on the palate, enough weight, goes down slick with no real scratch at all and finishes sticky. A touch of heat lingers, but well measured. I’m normally not a fan of flat beer and do wish there were a hint of carbonation here, but it’s not necessarily distracting in this case. It actually fits the beer, somehow.

OVERALL: This is really nice. I can see why people speak so highly of this one, as it really is a complex and flavorful treat. I will say I wish there were a touch of carbonation here, but in the end, its absence really isn’t an issue with this beer. Plenty of character and lots worth pondering here. If this were available to me, I’d definitely drink it on a semi-regular basis. Such a shame that it is no more. Thanks to the mystery person who put this beer in my lap a few years back. This was a gem.

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

2800th review! 8.5 ounce bottle into tulip glass; 2008 vintage, bottle No. T 24099. Pours moderately hazy deep reddish brown color with a small dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Slight spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, date, apple, caramel, molasses, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, tobacco, leather, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, date, apple, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, leather, tobacco, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light earthy herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, leather, tobacco, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and moderately slick/bready mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome old ale style! All around great complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

boy does this cellar well. 2004 edition, thanks to a buddy who really has some will power to save beer this cool this long. my first thomas hardys, really stoked. it pours an almost flat looking but quite shiny brassy color, with a lot of viscosity but good clarity, like a light amber maple syrup. the nose is definitely sweet, and there is some stale yeast must to it, but i am surprised its as clean smelling as it is, with the booze aroma only moderate and the sugars really interestingly flavored, not just sweetness for the sake of strength. highly refined flavor profile, as well integrated as you would expect for a ten year old bottle. to me its more of a barleywine than an old ale, but the distinction has always been blurred anyhow. molasses, cane sugar, melting brown sugar, neutral wood, ancient yeast, and minimal oxidation are all tasted here, but the synergy is special. im not sure ive ever had anything quite like it, and trying to nail down exactly what its like is akin to describing the color purple to a blind man. you just dont know until you know. i would recommend that you figure out how to get your hands on one of these and know, because the knowledge is everything right here. i hope to be back for more vintages!

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Photo of templar316
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

An 04 to celebrate the big 40. Pours a deep dark chocolate brown, with just a wisp of carbonation. The nose is really opening as it warms; maple, leather and pipe tobacco. There's smooth cola, a bite of tart cherry, fading into a lingering tobacco finish. Here's hoping I can find a 05 for 50.

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Photo of TubaManJack
3.75/5  rDev -9%

2008 Vintage
Bottle Number 11523

Appearance: Pours like a brown motor oil. A touch of carbonation, as without it I would think I just poured an oxidized port, as there are still a nice solvent leg as I tilt the glass back.

Smell: Figs and Raisins - huge dried fruit presence . There is a bit of booze on the nose like fresh polished shoes.

Taste: Just like the smell. However there is a lot of dark sugars from brown sugar, caramel, molasses. It was quite a surprise as it did taste like port. I can't get it out of my head. As it warms I lost the raisin bit and the leather into more of the burnt sugar, solvent, and gritty fig center.

Mouthfeel: Thick with a little carbonation. It lies quite thick on the tongue only exceeded by a few 15% barrel aged stouts.

Overall: This is nice experience, but was a bit overwhelming and fairly a single note. It was a bit like enjoying a big glass of port. Nice, but so sweet it needs to be shared. It was a nice find, but at $12 it was a bit much for a medallion token on a red loop. Find a friend and split it after dinner.

I'll be on the look out for a earlier pre-2003 vintage

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Photo of beergoot
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle label info: 2008 No. T 21853 Edition

Dark honey colored body with lively, fine bubble carbonation although the head is very thin and wispy. Very dense, rich smelling aroma; caramel; figs and dates; molasses; warm, dark bread. The taste reflects many of the aroma's traits; raisins and fig flavors about. Heavy body with a thick, resinous, vinous feel.

It's hard to beat a thick and chewy old ale and this sample is pretty awesome. A big boozy alcohol heat also significantly contributes to the appeal, adding depth and complexity to an already huge malt and dextrin presence. A nice find and thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially if old stock ales are your thing.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%

2008 bottle purchased at La Cave a Bulles in Paris, poured on 9/18/14 at home in Florida into a Hunahpu snifter. Pours murky brown with some purple hues and basically no head except for a ring of yellowish tans bubbles around the edges. Aroma is very sweet brown sugar and figs, chocolate, leather, toffee, caramel, molasses and some sherry notes. Flavor is figs and leather, brown sugar sweetness, light lingering chocolate and brown sugar, a hint of booze, and some bready malts. Not overly sweet to my surprise. Full bodied with very very little carbonation. Fun to try, very nice.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%

2008 bottle picked up locally. enjoyed from a thomas hardy's snifter.

brew pours a murky brown with a darker bottom and lighter surface...looks fairly muddy and not the most enticing. a few bubbles lay on the surface, but no head per se.

nose is really rich and dense. sweet boozy toffee nougat like candy with some minty menthol.

taste follows suit with a minty, boozy, candy sweet nougat. almost like candy canes. immensely sweet.

tasty, a dessert drink...this is only 6 years and feels REALLY young.

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Photo of MisterE
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | 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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Photo of jmdrpi
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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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
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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Photo of DefenCorps
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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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Photo of mhaugo
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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).

Overall: I absolutely loved this beer, and want to thank the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Atlanta for building such an incredible cellar. It sounds like the brand is trying to be revived again, so I'll be keeping an eye out for new vintages (4.75/5).

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Photo of SebD
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2007 bottle (06784) Birthday beer!

Appearance: It has a nice ruby/deep amber color to it. It has almost no head and leaves next to no lacing

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of dark fruit (plenty of raisins and figs), a tone of sweet caramel, toffee, brown sugar, slight vanilla and molasses. Wow this thing smells great.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some dark fruit (sweet raisins and figs - almost tart) caramel/toffee, sweet brown sugar and molasses. Yummm!

Mouthfeel: It has a very low carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

8.5 FL OZ Bottle, year 2005, P48388.

After the excess of New Years Eve I thought I'd slow down a bit and have a couple of beers to savour. I've been saving this for a rainy day and on 1st Jan 2014 it's honking down in Shropshire.

Poured into a Chimay chalice it produced no head and looked very Port like, a lot of Port actually.

The aroma and taste are so 'un-beer': Sherry and Port more than a Barley Wine, sweet, very sweet. Reminded me of that uber sweet Cypriot Commandaria St John I used to gulp years ago.

A lovely 1st beer of 2014.

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Photo of Puttenham
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had a couple of four packs of these for a couple of years now. Been feeling bummed out lately so I figured "why not?" The bottle I enjoyed is from 2006, no. P8030. The bottle comes complete with gold foil and a round penant strung around it. It looks like a serious ale and I was not let down.

The ale pours a dark brown with very little froth. As the beer slowly but surely descends towards the bottom of the glass there is a slight but steady film of bubbles.

It sure smells boozy with a hint of sourness.

The woody and sour characteristics explode in the taste. I haven't tasted an ale like this in some time. Takes some getting used to but I like it. This is a sipper, as intended.

Overall? I love it. How can you not? I had a few of these about 5 years ago when I lived in CT but I don't remember it having the sour character. Maybe this bottle aged differently? I like it anyway. It tastes like a Barleywine but much much smoother, no hop flavor and sour to point of being almost tangy.

Glad I finally tried one of these. Feel better already!

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Photo of safaricook
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Found this gem (2006 #P409372) in the Beer Bay shack of Central Pier 3 in Hong Kong. It was their last one. If you ever happen to stroll the piers of Hong Kong at night do not forget to get a beer at this unlikely place. The asian shopkeeper is knowledgeable too. Poured this in a plastic beaker.

No head, dark brown body, clear with tiny bubbles suspended moveless in the liquid.

While cold I got acetic, apple cider flavors and molasses. Later phenolic spicyness, umami, wineous port aroma

Heavy molasses sweetness, umami, port and some lifting sourness towards the end, incredibly little alcohol for its abv

Heavy body, almost sirupy, faint carbonation, warming alcohol

Very rich and complex, a great beer and a real sipper. Very unexpected to find this at such a place, sold out of a shack. Great experience to sit at the stairs of Pier 3 in Hong Kong looking at the lights of the skyskrapers on this National Chinese holiday.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 557 ratings.