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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.

677 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 677
Reviews: 543
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 75
Gots: 124 | 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: 677 | Reviews: 543 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GooberMcNutly
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. The aroma was strong of alcohol and fusils, but beyond that there was a nice balance of fresh hop aromas and a roasted molasses aroma like gingerbread. The alcohol vapors quickly subsided though leaving a well balanced dried fruit character on the palate and a distinct throat warming sensation.

GooberMcNutly, Nov 14, 2006
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 beerogre
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Version, sampled Nov 2006.

This was pretty much in line with all I'd previously read about this beer. It is a definite classic. However, the appearance is actually quite horrendous to be honest, it reminds me of when I used to work at the hospital and I would occassionally see hematuria in the catheter bags.

Still, it is a great tasting sherry, sorry I meant beer, and immediately reminded me of my Mother's homemade Christmas cake. It also reminds me of one of my long lost favourite beers, Brooklyn Monster Ale, which sadly I am unable to get hold of down here in Florida. It's been almost 3 years now...woe is me. I'll move back to NY eventually (sooner rather than later!)

It is a really good beer, but frankly I don't think I'll be buying it again, because I just feel it's overpriced for what it is these days. I think a few years ago, it was probably worth it because it would have been so much better than what was around then, but today, thankfully for us craft beer enthusiasts, there's so much excellent competition at really good value for money prices.

Glad to have been there and done that though...Right, what's next?

beerogre, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Orangish sienna brew with a tiny head and no lacing. The noticeably viscous brew will cling to the sides of the glass when it is swirled.

S - Red grapes, caramel malt, alcohol, licorice, molasses and dates.

T - Some caramel malt that shifts toward a concord grape juice. The grape evolves into a sour flavor of slightly underripe currants. This is joined by a mild citrusy bitterness. The whole flavor is very medicinal. This aftertaste, although unique is more offensive than pleasant. A bit of biscuity notes throughout. Definitely something to be desired here. The aftertaste is rather unpleasant.

M - Very thick, flat, smooth, a bit refreshing too.

D - This is certainly not the sort of beer one can drink everyday. It goes without saying, but I bet this would age beautifully. The aftertaste just ruins this beer. I will definitely have to age a bottle of this though and try it some other time.

mrasskicktastic, Oct 27, 2006
Photo of Viggo
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2005 Edition. Pours a slightly cloudy copper/orange, loose off white head, goes fast but leaves some thick spots of lace. Smell is sweet, caramelized sugar/toffee, a little bit of citrus and canteloupe, alcohol. Taste is canteloupe again, toffee/molasses, some citrus and chocolate, insane malty, quite sweet. Mouthfeel is medium to thick bodied with medium to high carbonation, lots of heat, over carbonated, but quite enjoyable. Would love to get an aged bottle of this.

Viggo, Oct 26, 2006
Photo of vancurly
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage.

Pours with no head, so syrupy. Swirling in the glass allows a thin cover to develop, but not much. Lovely dark amber, burnt orange.

Aromas of biscuits, toffee, the crust of fresh bread, molasses & licorice, malt, and Vegemite (a yeast extract-based sandwich spread, for those unfamiliar with this Aussie icon). As it warms in the glass, I pick some burnt notes.

Flavours of golden syrup, licorice again. Fruitcake evolves as it warms...dried sultanas, dates, raisins, apricots. A back palate of medicinal herbal bitter notes, like a digestive or Swedish bitters. And a long and interesting aftertaste of iced tea... it took me a while to work that one out.

In spite of the flavour, not terribly bitter. The mouthfeel is rich, of course, and smooth. There is a hint of alcoholic heat; not as obvious as some Belgians I've tried recently, but more akin to a port or muscat.

The heat and medicine bitters seems to hint at the potential for aging. I expect that these will smooth out somewhat, and nuttier complexities start evolving.

I will try another in a year's time or so.

vancurly, Oct 16, 2006
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 jrb1001
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2005 No. P 01451

I drank this beer this past summer and it was the first time I have even heard of it. The bottle is a sight to see in its self. The tiny little bottle is disciveing, because it is a big beer inside. The beer is dark in color and very strong. It has a sweet smell to it and it is easy to drink. I think this is a great beer or should be considered one of the best beers of the current time.

jrb1001, Oct 06, 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 phishgator
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2004

Poured into a snifter with no head. The color is a deep rich copper. The consistence of the brew is maple sryup. The flavor is close to the same. The malt is big backbone, but there is a hop presence that you can't ignore. The high amount of unfementable sugars is sickly sweet; a little too much after one, IMHO. Good old ale/ english barleywine style if you like those styles a must try.

phishgator, Oct 02, 2006
Photo of geetlord
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

serving: 8.50z bottle from 2005 poured into a goblet.

This beer poured a hazy red/orange with a huge head. The head remained thick and present untill I finished drinking the beer.
The aromas that came off of it were all of fruits, plums, apples, cherries and the like.
The flavor was intensly fruity but mellow. It contained lots of dried fruit flavors like prunes and rasins, as wella s some apple or pear. There was almost no hops. The finish is explosivly fruity, and the alcohol carries the flavors so that they last well after the beer has been swallowed. The mouthfeel thickens as the beer bubbles in your mouth, giving it a very full and "chewy" feel apropriate to the heavy flavors that it carries.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer and am holding on to a bottle to see how it ages

geetlord, Sep 30, 2006
Photo of Quaig
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This ale was poured into a goblet, and appeared a reddish, dark brown, resembling stout. After pouring, the foam settled down to a shallow but dense head that persisted right to the end of the glass.

Initially, the aroma was quite pungent with tones of smoked wood, prunes and Shiraz wine. Further down the glass, the aroma was more rounded with a little more bite from the alcohol now.

The ale tasted of rye bread and more hints of plums and sherry. It was more drinkable than I imagined, given the strength and had a sweet and pleasant aftertaste.

Despite the 11.9% ABV, the ale didn't have as much alcohol heat as I anticipated and it felt rather smooth with very little gas.

Overall, this was a very drinakble dark ale with alot of deep flavours that offer plenty to savour right to the end. I think this is really worth trying at least once because this was much better than I expected and will be something I'll look out for in the future

Quaig, Sep 22, 2006
Photo of jwc215
2.7/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2003 no. O 05953 edition

Pours hazy caramel with no head. The color isn't bad, but nothing great and even for the abv level the head retention is poor.

The smell is of raisin, prunes and sherry. The alcohol is very upfront. The smell is quite potent, but not as complex as it could be.

The taste is of sticky, sweet fruits, especially prunes, with a sharp alcohol backbone. It has definate port/sherry flavors. It's a malt bomb - no hops or yeast noticeable. The alcohol is consistantly present. The sweet malt is backed by sweet alcohol, making this cloyingly sweet. The flavors are almost lost in to the sweetness and cutting alcohol.

The flavors linger, but the sweetness and raw alcohol are almost over-the top. I felt like I just drank sherry rather than an ale.

There are better balanced, more complex old ales out there. I didn't find this to be enjoyable, or easy to sip.

jwc215, Sep 22, 2006
Photo of woemad
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8.5oz bottle, 2003 vintage, #06629, according to the label. Purchased this at Jim's Homebrew in Spokane about a year ago for $6.95. I just felt like today's the day for this beer, especially as I have the evening off for the last time in the next 5 days or so.

Poured a hazy brown not unlike a glass of unfiltered aple cider. Tiny tan head that dropped almost as soon as it formed. Given the abv of 11.7% and that it's been sitting around for three years, I wasn't expecting much in the head department.

The smell is this beer is very complex. I get apples, caramel, cherries, mollasses, plum wine like I've had at Japanese restaurants, even pipe tobacco. And it all smells wonderfull together.

The taste is like the smell. There's lots going on here, and its amazing how well it all melds together. In addition to the sweet, fruity elements noted above, there;s also an underlying bitterness that keeps things from getting too cloying, especially at the swallow, which is where that bitterness is at it's most sharp.

This beer has a very slick mouthfeel, coating every nook and cranny of the palate. I think my taste buds will be under the influence of this beer hours from now.

This beer makes a hell of a nightcap or dessert beer. I can't see it going too terribly well with any food, as it's a relatively strong taster on its own. In a large quantity it would probably get a little too cloying , but in a quantity of one it's a very nice drinking experince. Definitely NOT a session beer. In addition to the qualities I've just noted, an abv of nearly 12% would definitely not commend itself to consumption of, say, a 6-pk, even if it was affordable in the quantity, which it isn't.Still, a very good beer to set aside for a moment when you're looking for something you can savor.

woemad, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of Portertime
2.68/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

To some this may be an outstanding aged beer but I just did not dig it. The strong sherry/rum taste was just too overpowering. Also the outrageous price for an 11oz four pack made me glad I just tried a single. According to the bottle this is the rarest beer in Great Britain but all I can say is, if you have a aquired taste for it more power to you but if you are just looking for something different to try, look further.

Portertime, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of haz77
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 2005 bottle. Pours a brownish burgundy, with some loose frothy bubbles forming a ring. Can't see any carbonation, although refreshing the head will cause a burst of minute bubbles.

S - Raisin, alcohol, earthy funk, rum/sherry, solvent, a little cherry. Excellent.

T - Initial syrupy sweetness is joined by dark ripe fruit and sherry. Bitterness appears in the middle, but a fruity/caramel sweetness remains, and these flavours continue into a long aftertaste. Warming alcohol is in there, much isn't as prominent as the ABV would have suggested.

M - Full, silky-smooth and oily, becoming increasingly coating. Almost no carbonation.

D - Surprisingly easy to drink. Really good beer.

haz77, Sep 03, 2006
Photo of BretSikkink
3.63/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005 No. 11579, 8.5 oz bottle

From a thick goblet on a cool and rainy summer night.

Lots of head and carbonation. Pour carefully as there is a very large amount of dark sediment left from secondary fermentation. Not as "regal" a color as I would have thought, but a darkish brown that shows ruby hues when held to light (through my glass at least).

Smells like raisins, maybe some other fruity notes. Big nose carried by the head. Lacing is pretty persistent, at the beginning anyhow. Alcohol is only somewhat mellowed out, still smells like nearly 12% abv after several months in the holster. I had meant to hold on to this until fall, but it's 60 degrees for the first time in months...

Taste: lots of alcohol, fruitiness, malt character. Tinny aftertaste brings my score down to 3 here, but the mouthfeel is big and syrupy. Very creamy ale that almost but not quite disguises the hops entirely.

It is very drinkable for a beer of this size. It's not exactly a daily drink, and it doesn't go down as easy as Aventinus' Eisbock (and I'm not sure it's quite as poetic as the Hardy quote on the bottle), but it's a solid alcohol-heavy brew.

BretSikkink, Aug 29, 2006
Photo of Damian
3.3/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Drank from an 8.5 fl. oz. bottle
2004 vintage, No. 74266

Poured a cloudy, crimson-amber with absolutely no head.

Smell was intense and unpleasant. Soy sauce was most apparent followed by burnt sugar and a woody, oaky aroma.

Taste was rich and somewhat brandy-like. Prunes, raisins and dried fruits along with some caramel sweetness were noticeable. The beer had a big alcohol punch which was nicely offset by the hearty flavors and aromas.

The mouthfeel was syrupy and rich with only a minuscule amount of carbonation.

At 11.9% ABV, this beer was definitely more drinkable than expected. Nevertheless, this is definitely a sipping beer, perfect for savoring on a cold winter night.

Damian, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of mcarroll10177
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass

A- copper in color not a lot of head, with some lacing on the glass

S- not much nose to this beer, but some fruit with some spices maybe nutmeg

T- good with some fruitness and some sweetness, reminded me of a sweet red wine.

M- balanced but with to little carbination

D- a good tasting easy drinker. But there is generally to much sweetness in the beer.

2005 offering

mcarroll10177, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of PartyHatjo
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Figured I'd do something special for my 100th review...found this bottle a couple months ago and decided to save it for this one.

Appearance: Milk chocolate/caramel brown, very hazy, huge head (2 inches, dissipates fairly quickly, light tan in color), could barely fit the entire bottle in a tulip glass.

Aroma: Caramel, with some strong alcohol notes. Very fruity, winelike character to the brew as well. Hints of pear, apple, mixed with light chocolate. Small amount of roastiness peeks through.

Taste: Caramel and pears come to thought initially. Alcohol prominent, but not overbearing. Roast comes through as well, more so in the taste than the aroma, fading to a hint of chocolate. Aftertaste is heavy on the caramel.

Mouthfeel: Loads of body, and surprisingly well-carbonated for the style. Not much bitterness in this brew, but then it wouldn't be that fitting the "Old Ale" name if it had loads of bitterness. Sweetness isn't overbearing but hurts its...

...Drinkability: Definitely couldn't have more than one of these brews. Not necessarily for the high alcohol content, but for it's ability to overwhelm anything you would have it with except perhaps a very lightly sweetened dessert.

PartyHatjo, Aug 17, 2006
Photo of sullysbeer
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2004 No.15621 Edition

Aroma: Roast, Caramel, Chocolate, Sherry, Raisin and Alcohol served to your nose with oak.

Appearance: Clear ruby red with a slightly dark tint, beautiful color! Slightly off white head that rings the glass. Murky after I poured the sediment in the glass.

Flavor: Complex syrupy sweetness, raisins, plums, oak with hints of sherry balanced with a delicate hop bitterness that lingers a bit and finishes with an alcohol warmth that fills your chest.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and slick on the tongue, very light on the carbonation but bottled conditioned and has a very large starting gravity (sugar to water ratio before the yeast is added) so this makes sense.

Overall Impression: HUGE Old Ale or more of a Barley Wine style. Kind of like a dessert wine. You could age this beer for quite a while. Delicious!

sullysbeer, Aug 17, 2006
Photo of TheLiterati
3.13/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2005; P 05356 Edition

Deep, murky amber color with a thin, bubbly head. Smells of nutmeg and spice, raisins, molasses, and more. There’s a funky little “back smell” going on that I can’t place – it’s almost moldy, but after a deeper whiff, it gets a little more bready or yeasty.

Cloying, winey taste, leans strongly towards barley wine, but with a decent balance of hops and effervescence that nearly save it from being overly syrupy. Mouthfeel is velvety, but all in all quite heavy for such a little package; packs quite a punch in the ABV department.

A little too sweet for my personal taste, but I’d definitely cellar a few bottles just to have an idea of how aging affects the composition.

TheLiterati, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of badbeer
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

badbeer, Aug 06, 2006
Photo of Dizzy
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Dizzy, Aug 02, 2006
Photo of BAbaracus
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage No. P51992

Pours muddy amber with no head whatsoever, only the faintest trace of carb bubbles along the glass.

Nose retains a spicy blend of raisins, apple cider and molasses laced with a strong current (currant?) of alcohol

Thick, almost gelationous core with an oily membrane that slides over the tongue like raw shellfish (it's better than it sounds)

Sour, almost uncarbed hodgepodge of tart fermented fruit, sharp roasted malt notes with the alcohol conducting the whole symphony. Bravo.

One at a time, brother. One at a time. This is a dessert/desert beer.

BAbaracus, Jul 26, 2006
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 677 ratings.