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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.

682 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 682
Reviews: 546
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 76
Gots: 126 | FT: 7
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 682 | Reviews: 546 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2003 8.5 oz. bottle. A spicy barleywine bitter opaque brown brew with bourbon residue. Best at its residue last. Carmel syrup. Figs, pepper. Was light on tongue, still there was carbonation that Froze the tongue. A sipper.
2007 repeat experience. It was young, it was plumb. It looked like a great barleywine and tasted the same. Still froze me tongue, a sipper, alcohol fumes. Better taste than I give it credit.

Sammy, May 12, 2004
Photo of t0rin0
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this a few times now but the oldest one I've had is a year old. The bottle says to let it age for 25 years but I doubt I'll ever get to try one that old.

It pours a deep brown color with a little red showing. Its pretty clear but not completely. There is little head or even carbonation for that matter. The smell is very sweet and malty. There is a sugar smell that is present that may not be from malt alone. The taste is very nice, one of my favorite barleywines (of the 25 that I've tried). Has a little tartness from hops and some complex sugary tastes. There must be some spices in there somewhere but I can't tell what they are.

I've heard that after 25 years the sugary quality actually diminishes a little bit.

t0rin0, Feb 19, 2008
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage. No. P 19103

Pours a murky dark cranberry juice red with absolutely no head and no lacing. Visible sediment floats around in the glass. Smell is of raisins, raisin bread, brandy, and slight soy sauce. Taste is of raisin puree, raisin bread, tobacco, alcohol, and soy sauce. Very complex, strong flavors on this one. This beer has very light carbonation and is somewhat flat and thick in the mouth. Overall, I am not too sure how I feel about this beer. On one hand it’s very well made in the aroma and taste departments but on the other hand it’s a very overpowering beer to drink in a normal way. This is an all-evening slow sipper of a beer. I can see why these beers age so well over time.

UCLABrewN84, Aug 01, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to bmanning for this.

Pours a moderate reddish brown. Light off white head with some nice squeaky legs. Nose is trmendous with booze, sweet bread, dates, cherries, and some other fruit. The taste is equally complex and everything is quite well integrated at this stage. I can't imagine what this is like with 10 years on it. Good body with integrated heat, this is certainly a classic brew.

Thorpe429, Oct 30, 2010
Photo of brentk56
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage consumed in 2006

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel color with a rich and creamy head that displays fine retention and lacing

Smell: Luscious aromatics of rum-soaked prune and fig

Taste: Starts with a rum soaked dried dark fruit flavor joined by plenty of caramel; after the swallow, a mildy bitter complexity seeps in; the finish, however, is rather sweet and pruny

Mouthfeel: Full creamy body with modest carbonation

Drinakbility: A fine sipper with a variety of complex tastes

brentk56, Nov 10, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2005, sampled on 11/10/07

Still a young, old ale but I can't hold off. The beer is still outstanding, showing a huge lift of fruitcake and rum flavors. A hightened level of sherry, brandy, and wood aging is evident. But with lighter carbonation, the beer seems a bit flat. Still viscous, smooth, and round and with a touch of soy sauce in the finish. Quite good, but the flavors will continue to come around with more aging.

Most impressed by this one. Quite peculiar and spectacular.
Aroma: sweet, fruity, and mildly alcoholic. No hop aroma. Almost brandy-like.
Appearance: colors of coppers and orange. Lacking head retention, but not a disapointment. Leaves oily lace on glass, probably from higher alcohol.
Taste: abundance of dark fruit flavors-plumb/prune, raisons, a bit of cherries. Also sweetness tastes of molassas, brown sugar, or a little licorice. No bitterness, no bite. The experience at the nose transforms effortlessly through the finish. finishes sweet and not too dry. finish is warming and slight taste of cough syrup.
Aftertaste: Incredibly smooth. Lingering. subtle.
Impression: syrupy, silky, a pleasure to drink. May substitute nicely for a port wine or a mild brandy for an after dinner desert.

BEERchitect, Jun 05, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle (#10140) drank in 2005 and courtesy of Presario: Poured a dark murky brown color ale with a small head without much retention. Aroma of plums, dry raisins and strong malt is easily enjoyable and represent a moment of pure bliss. Taste is more sweeter then expected with a strong malt presence with plums and dry raisins. Body is pretty much as full as possible and alcohol is well hidden but you can still feel its effect. Very different from the experience I had with the 1985 version I had last year – this seems more sweet and carbonated with less of the port notes and obviously no oxidation.

Phyl21ca, Oct 28, 2005
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -15%

ygtbsm94, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -9%

jaydoc, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of Knapp85
2.6/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm going to say right off the bat that this needs to be aged. It's just far too strong when it's fresh. I had a bottle of this back in 2008 and I believe that it was that years vintage. It's a dark brew with little head. Has a very boozed up aroma with many different things spewing from it. It's almost undrinkable when it's fresh to me. I had to sip this so slowly that it was like hardly even having any. The best thing I can compare this to would be Sam Adams Tiple Bock.

Knapp85, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8.5 ounce bottle - - $7.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

2008 vintage. No. T 27021.

Appearance: Pours an opaque, medium brown body with a large, lasting, faintly beige head. Surprising amount of lace on the way down.

Smell: Brown sugar melted with a surprisingly large dose of table sugar. Juicy, ripe notes of dates, green raisins, and maybe, just maybe, a faraway hint of unripened strawberries.

Taste: Pure, genuine taste of caramel with an added kick of sugar, a touch of candied nuts, and an all-around full, damned vivacious sweetness. Cordial fruitiness, but it doesn't eclipse the sweet maltiness. Some earthy bitterness, but, again, it doesn't eclipse the sweet maltiness (and given a few years won't even be evident). Quite warming and certainly noticeable, but all that unyielding sweetness and rich malt flavors keep it from being harsh. Finishes sweet, warming, but with also a twinge of bitterness (at least as this young age).

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Thomas Hardy's Ale, we hardly knew ye! The thought of buying a full case of this and retiring to a beach or pristine forest is almost too much to resist.

ChainGangGuy, Jun 10, 2009
Photo of oberon
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

oberon, Aug 28, 2005
Photo of emerge077
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottle, No. p08286

Needed a good nightcap, so this fit the bill.

Poured into an Oerbier glass at a height of 4-6" to generate some foam, served at 68º. A tight head of foam rested on the surface, mainly larger bubbles that receded to a lasting ring at the edge. A gorgeous crimson caramel color when held to the light.

Orange peel, melted caramel, and toffee aroma that intensifies over time. Initial mustiness from the age, but that seemed to blow off quickly. Luscious caramel toffee and sweet orange peel flavors. Long nutty almond finish. This is like some sort of sinful confection, better than any sweets I can imagine right now. Very rich and full bodied with minimal carbonation, it's the definition of a savory slow sipper. After 5 years in the bottle, i'm not getting any alcohol heat, just a slight warming after the swallow. Very impressed, plan to cellar the rest indefinitely...

emerge077, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of JAHMUR
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

JAHMUR, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

250ml bottle, 2006 vintage, with ill-fitted gold foil, and an ornamental medal depicting, presumably, Thomas Hardy, but it looks more like Hitchcock's silhouette.

This beer pours a slow, hazy, gloomy, dark orangish-brown hue, with a single thin finger of weak bubbly white head, which leaves a low ring of ebbing tide lace around the glass as it hastily recedes. Looks rather vividly and veritably old to me.

It smells quite strongly of sweet dark, earthy fruit - mostly prune and dates - musty caramel taffy, mild powdered cocoa, a touch of black licorice, creaky leather, and more than a minor twinge of warming alcohol. The taste is an initial assault on the senses, with tangy, warm molasses heavily front loaded, as a pungent black fruitiness shows itself soon thereafter in the form of figs, prunes, and browned apples, all stewing in a mild, scarily easy to dismiss, simmering alcohol, with a modicum of under the stairs mustiness pervading as well. Even so, the hefty ABV is still pretty much well obfuscated.

The carbonation is subtle and near invisible, the body medium-full in weight, dense, quite slick, and sugary. It finishes on the sweet side, fruity in a sort of well-past due sense, and duly warm and snuggly, like a forgotten old sweater in the back of the closet.

A stellar example of this hard to initially come upon style. I cracked this as my kickoff to my summer vacation, wherein I am to travel to la Belle Province with my better half, starting tomorrow. I wanted something dessert-like, but had nothing of the sort handy. Not so strangely, this filled that void admirably, so grab a wee bottle of this before it is gone for good.

biboergosum, Jul 29, 2009
Photo of zeff80
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle consumed on 8/18/12

A - Poured a cloudy burgundy color with a very small, white head. It had light carbonation and left some sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - Smelled candy-like with sweet maltiness. A light floral presence made it very inviting.

T - Sweet maltiness with a touch of roastiness. Lots of toffee flavor with some caramel. Light bitterness with a smooth creamy finish.

M - It was crisp and sharp despite the low carbonation. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is really good. I'm glad I finally bought one and glad I drank it when I did.

zeff80, Aug 23, 2012
Photo of Jason
3.48/5  rDev -15.5%
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 …

Jason, Nov 24, 2004
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

WVbeergeek, Apr 16, 2004
Photo of nickfl
3.08/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium sized, light brown head with good lace on a hazy, orange-brown body.

S - Fruity, spicy raisins with notes of sherry, oak, toffee, and caramel.

T - Spicy raisin flavors up front with brown sugar and a strange, almost salty note in the middle. Vinous, slightly stale flavor in the finish with some hops and some soy like malt.

M - Very low carbonation and a thick, oily body with some alcoholic warmth.

D - Nice aroma, but the flavor is muddy and not particularly pleasant. Perhaps this one needed a few more years.

nickfl, May 03, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.9/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 #27295

Pours a clear, but dark ruby hued brown with a nice, thick, frothy crème head. Nose is figs, fruits, chalky malts, wood tones. Absolutely magnificent flavor. Sweet port tones. Figs are there. Cherry like fruit edges. Feel is smooth on liquid and carbonation. This is a magnificent beer. I wish I had 10 cases of this to age, sip, and savor over time.

RblWthACoz, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of Slatetank
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer has pleasant packaging with the gold top and coin on the neck. I appreciated the quote from it's namesake. The small bottle size was just right for this strong specimen. It has a nice garnet color and rich odor. The head was almost non existant and the smell was fruity. The taste was winey with hints of oak. There was a moderate taste of alcohol in the finish and I gradually sipped it. I was left with mixed feelings after having tried this strong ale.

Slatetank, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of russpowell
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 11.7 oz 2004 no P 75340 edition poured into tulip-like mc'chouffe glass

Pours hazy amber/red with a 1/4" off white head. A little lacing 7 film that chases down the glass

S: Huge oaky notes & hints of brandy & vanilla

T: Warming alcohol & oakyness, then brandy & cherry. Dryness surfaces as it warms. Finishes dry with alcohol bite & hints orange peel & vanilla

MF: Syruppy, with looow carbonation & balanced towards maple syrup!

A bit hard to drink, even at a sipping pace. I had the original back in old blighty from 90-92, not a lot of diffference that I can remember. but I'm sure there is! If was rich, i'd bust bottle of these open every 6 months just looking for perfection

russpowell, Oct 04, 2006
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -2.9%

XmnwildX12, Nov 25, 2013
Photo of drabmuh
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured from a bottle into a goblet. Vintage 2008, bottle number T11655. Picked this up when someone told me that they were not going to be made anymore. Glad I got to taste it.

Beer is brown and hazy with a thin white head, broken. Head is made up of small bubbles, they stick to the glass leaving behind a lot of lacing. Carbonation is moderate.

Aroma is sweet and caramel, slightly hot. Definitely smell alcohol.

Beer is a little dry (high ABV will sometimes do that). There is a definite sweetness and a tiny bit of roast at the end. Strong malt and almost an acidic taste. Drinkability is moderate and mouthfeel is good. I'm glad I tried it. The beer smells a lot like a homebrew I made a few years back. It was a Belgian Strong Amber Ale but the yeasty esters were pulled back on it. If you can imagine caramel in beer form, this would be it. I know these beers are meant to be aged for years but I just don't have the patience or space to save a case of these right now. Glad I got it knocked off my list. I would recommend it.

drabmuh, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2003. #07043. Somehow I manged to hang onto this in the ol' closet for nearly 2 years.

Dark mahogany with crimson edges, slim toasted tan head.

Intense aromatics, big prune, sour cherries, bright, shining burgundy, leather, wood...a complex collection of flavors. Peppers meet raisins. Very port-like.

Immense in the mouth, rich, thick, juicy and wet. Floods the mouth with dark fruitiness, well-conditioned. Intensely flavorful. Tangy and tangible, a wonderful thing on the palate, coating goodness with every drop.
And very mellow, compared to the new bottles. I've got to exhibit such patience more often. (Hear it's a virtue.)

Full-bodied, long, sweet, languid finish.
Smooth and relaxing, luxurious.
Well worth the asking price.
And finally, if there's a finer wine than this ale, I want to know.
(Doubt it.)

feloniousmonk, Nov 16, 2005
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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 682 ratings.