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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.

555 Reviews

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Reviews: 555
Hads: 706
Avg: 4.12
pDev: 14.56%
Wants: 82
Gots: 140 | 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: 555 | Hads: 706
Photo of trxxpaxxs
2.11/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Got this from 2beerornot2beer in the Blind Beer Round 6 BIF.
2004 vintage poured into my Bruery snifter:

A: Pours a super dark brown, almost black, with absolutely no head. There is no lacing as it drinks.

S: The smell is big soy. Wow. I haven’t smelled a beer this harsh since Triple Bock. There are also some notes of raisin and candied sugar, but mainly soy. It’s not my thing.

T: The taste is burnt chocolate, raisins, and soy. It’s pretty bad. This is most definitely not my kind of beer. I will say however, that the flavors seem to get better as this beer warms.

M: Full bodied beer. This beer coasts the palate and lingers around forever. It’s really creamy.

O: This is just not my cup of tea. I’m getting too much soy sauce taste. It’s a very difficult beer to drink. It says this beer can be stored for up to 25 years. No thanks.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.07/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. For the life of me I'll never remember who sent this, but I do appreciate it. Please contact me if it was you and I'll amend the review. Thanks!

2008 vintage.

A: Pours a clear, but very dark, maroon body capped with large-bubbled beige head. It lingers as a collar with some broken, milky swirls of film floating around the center.

S: This is well-oxidized for something so young (relatively). In my head I'm comparing this to J.W. Lees, which takes a few years to start shedding its cloying nature and becoming a mature beverage. This one is well into the zone, with expressions of port, sherry, other dark fruits like figs and plums -- reminiscent of North Coast Old Stock, actually (or is that the other way around?) -- and a touch of soy.

T: The oxidation is all that's left of this beer. Up front, it conveys port and sherry flavors with a slight accent of plums and cherries. Then the mid-taste just... drops out, leaving only a mild flavor of bittering hops and some caramel. The finish comes back with a burst of soy. I associate this dropped-flavor experience with over-oxidized or over-aged beers. It's a disappointment here.

M: Medium-bodied. The carbonation seems to have erupted out during the pour, leaving only a small amount of bubbles in solution to caress the tongue. It has the heft to support more flavor. Too bad it lost so much of it.

O: It was all right. I prefer Adam to this one.

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Photo of pixieskid
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thought I'd start the New Year with something special...my first Thomas Hardy's Ale!

Pours a murky redish brown, no head whatsoever.
Nose; wow! Tons of ripe fruits, milk chocolate, toffee, with a suggestions of cognac and port wine.
Taste; a rich syrupy malt presence with notes of ripe dark fruits; plums, raisins, dates. Hints of chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon in the warming finish.
Overall; would have loved a bit more carbonation but still an amazing sipper!

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

2008 vintage courtesy of backfat, who gifted it to me for a reason that I can't recall. Thanks Dave!

This beer pours a medium bodied cloudy, dirty full woody amber in coolor with little carbonation and a beige lacing around my snifter. The aromas are sweet and malty featuring nice almost citrus and cherry like fruity esters and a touch of oak. I dig it. The flavors are very sweet and rich. You get a syrupy malt bill featuring oak, cherries, light orange peel, butter (in a good way), with a nice slightly yeasty finish. I really like it. It reminds me somewhat of The Bruery's Cuir and is head and shoulders above North Coast's Old Stock. The flavors mesh really well together. It drinks somewhat syrupy and is medium in body. It has a subtle resonating sweetness. I am a fan of this one. I didn't expect this much complexity so it was a nice surprise. I've seen this around at a few stores so I may have to pickup a few mores bottles.

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

2007 Vintage bottle, poured into a tulip. Thick, cloudy, brown body with a miniscule head and no lacing.

Dense aroma in that the individual notes are difficult to parse. No doubt, a strong caramel malt aroma, but packed in with a bit of nuts and bit of light chocolate.

The taste is complex as well, with smooth malt flavors leading the way. Almond, light chocolate, and sweet molasses follow the malt. A very light note of sour apple in the back ground.

Very thick mouthfeel, one of the thickest I've had. The alcohol is very well masked. Excellent brew.

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Photo of xraided81
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 #12379
Acquired in a trade with oldstylecubfan.
Excited to try this im a big fan of stong ales, and this sure doesnt dissapoint.

A: Poured into a tulip glass, pours a murky brown with ruby highlights. Pours almost still, with minimal bubbles forming, and quickly dissapearing.

S: dark fruits, raisins, prunes, dried cherries, with a sugary, caramel nose, that makes ou think of a delicious port wine.

T: bready, dark fruits, chocolate malt, almost like if you are drinking a rich bread pudding. with all of the aforementioned notes of the smell coming through in the taste.

M: no carbonation, chewy, rich but very smooth, and easy drinking.

O: my first thomas hardy,will remember this beer for a long time. old ale is my favorite style of beer and this is definetly up there with one of my favorite representations of the classic style.

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Photo of vandemonian
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My 2008 bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale was delicious. Mellow and very roasty. The 12% alcohol was very well hidden.

A: Red/brown color with a 4 mm head that fades quickly. 4

S: Malt and caramel with oxidation and maybe some sour cherries. 4

T: Strong roasted malt with some nuttiness. Pretty dry for an old ale. There are definitely some flavours resulting from yeast autolysis, but they blend pretty well with the roasty vibe of this old ale. The finish is warm and toasty without any strong alcohol or bitter flavour. Quality. 4.5

M: Dry, not especially thick and low carbonation. 4

O: 4.5

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Photo of mikereaser
3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 No. 05740 edition
A - Pours a murky muddy brown with absolutely no foam whatsoever. just a few random bubbles clinging to the side of the glass
S - the aroma is an in your face smash of plums and raisins and other dark fruit. Very sweet maltinesss throughout along with some brown sugar, you can just smell the alcohol
T - very, very sweet. plums and raisins, it tastes like i'm just eating them, mostly plums with some raisins coming through. For me its just way too much. Too sweet.
M - medium bodied yet light feeling in the mouth, no carbonation at all.
D - I don't see how anyone can drink alot of this, to me its just too sweet. Maybe it needs more time to age and I think i'll save the rest of my bottles for many years. Its good, and i'll rate it accordingly, but for my taste its just too much.

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Photo of alpineclimber
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005, bottle number 77996.

The pour produces a nice burgundy brown beer with a small wispy head that quickly disappears.

Smell is of sour lactose of all things, slightly sweet and a tinge of alcohol. Pretty interesting.

Taste starts off with a sour citrus note and develops into a burnt sugar taste, the finish is nice and bitter. The consistency is like port wine.

Very interesting beer. The nose is one story, which is probably caused by slight oxidation. The taste is not really what you would expect from the nose but just adds another level to this complex ale. I only have 2008 vintages left...

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Photo of hoser
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 2005 bottle in 2011. This may have been opened to soon as still has a lot of heat to it. Not like the Thomas Hardy beers I have had from the Eldridge Pope Brewery and a little one dimension as it is mostly hear with late brown sugar tastes. Think I will wait on the rest of these but do have three vintages in the cellar. Oh well have lots more in the cellar to age for years.

Surprisingly no oxidation.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2998 and 2004 vintages

Pours a fairly clear yellowish brown. Some nice light white head. Smells raisiny and malty. A bit oxidized. A great aroma but a bit muddled. Tastes great. Malty, raisiny, love it. Great mouthfeel. Overall wonderful and definitely a beer id love to have more of

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Photo of brew3crew
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cam's birthday tasting. 2008 vintage

A-maoronish color with no head whatsoever

S-sweet malt. Very inviting and exciting

T-really weird, but a good weird.can't quite put my finger on it.

M-medium body and smooth

O-good. Can definetly see it aging well. Excited for the 1986

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 & 2008
Cam. Thanks

A - clear red/amber body. Nice pretty color

S - raisiny. Booze? That's about all I get here

T - raisin salty. Weird. Strong and boozy.

M - smooth. Full bodied. Nice feel

O - a very strong thing. I understand why we age this

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Photo of EnemyWithin
3.81/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thomas Hardy’s Ale – 2008 T47936

Tried Oct 7, 2011 in Duvel tulip

Appearance: 3
Brown color with almost no head – very faint partial coloring of wight bubbles on top, more similar to a vigorously poured juice. A slight yellowish-white film on top. Faint haziness to it.

Smell: 4.5
Dark sticky molasses with touch of brown sugar and spice. Raisin and dark fruit notes which are prominent. Very malty with touch of apple and grape. Almost reminiscent of cinnamon raisin buns.

Taste: 3.5
Initially, a sweet spiciness, midway through there is more of a dark fruit flavor with more of a bite – from the alcohol is seems. Near the end, get a mild to moderate bitterness from the hops as well as an astringent quality from the alcohol. Lingering aftertaste is one of a combination of mild bitterness with a very faint breadiness. Does have a notable presence of alcohol although it’s not overwhelming. Even though aroma very malty and sweet, the taste is not quite the same – there’s a lot more contrast offered by the hops and actual sour/bitterness of the other elements of the beer. Almost peppery in the taste.

It seems as the beer warms, the flavors really start to mellow and soften, and you get more of the nice aspect of the malt and the sour bitterness becomes less prominent.
Do wonder if I pick up a hing of oxidation as well.

Mouthfeel: 3.5
Moderate thickness with very little carbonation. Contrast between the sweetness and spiciness in comparison to the more astringency of the hops/alcohol.

Overall: 4
A really interesting beer, I really enjoy the aroma, although it is a little surprising that is doesn’t match the taste. That being said, the taste is very complex – clearly the aspects of the malt that you would expect from the aroma are there, but then there is this very distinct flavor that you get from the hops and alcohol and, I imagine, the aging process. It’s a very powerful tasting beer and it takes a little bit of time to think through it and pick it apart. In some ways it’s a bit of a sipper - so I could see that it could pair well with meals as it has red wine like qualities. Ultimately, it is very interesting and enjoyable beer. I think it’s something that is worth seeking out to try, although it is not likely one for every day consumption.


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Photo of mattbing
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A bottle from 2003, beautiful dark brown and amber with almost no head. Smells exactly like it tastes - lots of plum, raisin, and prune with a sweet, caramel base . Virtually no carbonation, which makes it thick like madeira or cognac. Amazingly complex with just a hint of alcohol warmth.

This is my first experience with aged beer. Unfortunately I'll probably never see another bottle of this.

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Photo of DrewShal9
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: amber to light brown. Looks like cognac. No head, liquor like
S: dark fruits, raisins, plums, caramel, butterscotch, hint of booze at the end. Smells delicious
T: omg, so good. The noise dictates the flavors but as it warms up there are vanilla tones and hints of butter. Why did they have to stop brewing this?
M: velvety and very smooth with tiny bubbles. Almost syrupy
O: such an amazing brew. Don't buy this beer! Jk, I don't want you to buy it so I can cellar more of them haha. Definitely experience this brew before it's gone.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage served in New Belgium Globe

Deep reddish brown color with a body that is beyond cloudy-- we are talking absolutely opaque. Small head settled to create a wispy and creamy looking cap. Nice thick legs leave some spotty chunks of lace.
The nose is sweet- sweet caramel malt and brandy notes and an odd (but pleasant) note of tangerine/oranges.
The flavor starts sweet with caramel malts before the flavor hits with toffee, pretzeled bread, and booze. Pretty dry finish with some bitterness and an alcohol warmth.
Body is nice-- very low carbonation gives it a cognac-like feel. Very nice to sip as this warms up.

I don't like old ales-- but this was quite nice.

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Photo of Ralphs66
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh my...this is one really interesting beer. 2004 vintage. First, there is absolutely no head whatsoever. And really just the smallest whisper of any carbonation. Is it even beer?; it's like cognac. Sweet and boozy on the nose; candied plums. Even looks like a plum/prune wine. Creamy, sweet alcohol. But the burn should be there and it's not. Crazy, at 12%. As it's warming it's changing. Picking up some nice vanilla, molasses and more prune. Butterscotch too. The complexities of this are boundless. A really great great beer. Worth every penny of the $12 bucks I paid for the 8.5 oz bottle. It's a sipper, and I'll be enjoying this through kick off and the first quarter. God bless this beer, and the NFL.

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Photo of abriggs1
4.94/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm seriously considering selling a kidney to buy more of this beer. Just about finished with a 2004, and I'm wish I had picked up more. Tomorrow I will return and buy them out of this miracle of a brew.

Appears as a cloudy, sludgy, brown old ale. No head.

The smell is like carrot cake soaked in rum

The taste is like North Coast 2009 Old Stock Ale on steroids. There is plenty of sweetness left, but it has an equal amount of dryness that lingers on the palate. This tastes to me to be right in the sweet spot aging wise, but I could be wrong. It may be just getting started as it says it will age for at least 25 years. The taste is like most stock ales, but much more intense. This is the smokiest beer I've ever had in my life. The intensity of the dried fruits and esters are off the charts on this one.

Simply one of the best beers ever brewed. It's a shame it's no longer brewed. I'll be sure to pick it up wherever I see it in the future, starting tomorrow morning.

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Photo of peacebone116
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage 8.2-oz bottle (#T03204). Tasted on 8/20/2011, served in a low ball glass.

A: Headless pour. Cloudy with a bit of sediment in its reddish brown body.

N: Plums and molasses.

T/M: Stone fruit with toffee & caramel & molasses with a bit of alcoholic heat. Good smooth round flavor. Not much carbonation Medium body. Very, very nice barley wine.

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

2004 vintage, 8.7oz bottle into a snifter.

Deep tawny brown with red highlights, and some bubbles on the pour but absolutely no head. No carbonation what so ever but big legs on this one as you swirl or sip.

Plum, raisin, candied figs, and brown sugar on the edge of the nose. Followed by rum and port, with a touch of cake batter. A little heat at the end of it.

Your tongue is greeted with the same dark fruits and cake like sweetness up front. Sharp plums, raisins and dates with port and rum highlights woven in. A little bit of that same cake or dessert bread character in the finish with a touch of boozey heat and drying. Truly decadent.

Sticky sweet with a rich, full body. Almost gives you a tooth ache.

Excellent dessert like qualities in this. Almost like a holiday cake with dark fruits and rum drizzled on top. Makes me wish they hadn't retired this beer because this is an excellent English provision ale, one that has an unquestionable potential for cellaring. My only complaint is the absolute lack of carbonation. Other than that, this is a perfect dessert ale.

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

2005 Vintage 11.7% ABV P 50244 Edition

8.5 Fl Oz poured into Grimbergen chalice.

A- Dark burgundy red body with excellent clarity. Rocky 2 finger tan head sits atop which reduces quickly to a crown leaving very little lacing.

S- Sultana fruit cake, sherry like sweetness, dark fruits, wholemeal bread

T- All the aromas transfer to the palate, full malt dominance. Some cocoa like bitterness comes through after the sweeter cake/sherry/fruit notes. Touch of alcohol heat in the finish but very smooth overall.

M- Low carbonation, a glossy syrupy texture, full body without being cloying.

D- A luxurious sipper for sure. Lovely texture on the tongue with complexity on the palate and in the nose. A classic.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

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Photo of SFLpunk
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vertical tasting with 1994, 1999, 2003 & 2008 thanks to forgetfu!

Firstly, I'd like to say these beer smell completely different from one another.

**This rating is for the 03 and 08 bottles**

03: Super murky dark brown like the 94 actually, totally still. Super umami on the nose, soy sauce all the way. Seaweed and toasted sesame seeds come to mind too. Palate is kind of bitter/umami dominated and very oxidized. Earthy and like black top soil. Totally flat. There's some bitterness here that doesn't play nicely with the oxidation. Finish is nice though, and very long and gentle!

08: The first thing I think of is the bit of pineapple right before the rind, that earthy "green" pineapple. There's also tons of baking bread aromas and some hop aromas too. Palate is bright and dripping with juice flavors, pineapple juice all the way with that bright high-note/lifted flavor that is hard to describe while eating pineapple. Bitterness is pleasant and controlled, some leafy green hops. Very bright and tasty, crisp juicy finish.

The 03 was my least favorite of the tasting - similar flavors to the 94 but too focused on soy sauce. Thinking the cap might have failed pre-maturely on this one. The 08 is amazing and will evolve beautifully but I L-O-V-E it right now - that pineapple note!

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Photo of otto251068
3.31/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 8.5 fl oz bottle into a Gouden Carolus chalice. Vintage 2007, bottle 08818.
*Purchased a four pack today for $6.50, WTF

Appearance: Hmm...absolutely no head on this hard pour. A few dozen (literally) large bubbles appear, and even those look pretty pathetic. After a few minutes, they are gone. However, there are some bubbles sticking to the bottom of the glass. The beer itself is dark burgundy, with notes of brown. Very dark, not at all transparent, and a little dull.

Smell: Wow, there is so much aroma here. Heavy bourbon aromas and lightly toasted malts make up the majority. Notes of raisins, figs, and over ripened black cherries. Even more booze comes out at it warms.

Taste: Raisins, dried cherries, and a little plum as well. A touch of black pepper and apple cider. There is also a touch of sourness in there. Heavy bourbon and dark alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with NO carbonation. Too bad. A little burn from the alcohol in the finish. The body is right on, but with no carbonation, this reminds me more of an unsweetened port or sherry.

Overall: With the bold flavors and ever present bourbon and brandy, this is a sipper. The heavy alcohol is very present and lingers long after the swallow. While I did enjoy the flavors, the lack of carbonation ruins this one.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 555 ratings.