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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 palma
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage.

Appearance: Dark cherry color body. Almost no head develops. A very thin ring of lace hangs on to the sides of the glass.

Nose: Apple, caramel, cinnamon, toasted bread, brown sugar. Light whiff of grain alcohol, though it's not bad. Hey this beer is 11.7 ABV, what did you expect?

Taste: Strong flavor profile with this beer. Very sharp and sweet fruity flavors. Cherries, prunes, raisins, maybe even a little citrus towards the end. Warming. This is a sipper in case you didn't know.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation and smooth going down. A little syrupy. I don't mind it though. I like old ales as strong and concentrated as this one.

Drinkability: Sure I'd have another - if it's on you. Too bad this beer retails for just under $1 per oz. It's a great beer though. This is one example where you actually get what you pay for.

palma, Aug 27, 2005
Photo of Brian700
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep brownish/red with a small off-white ring of head.

The aroma is fruity. I get figs and molasses and darker variety fruits. It's something great.

This beer's flavor is potent. At first sip I was taken back because it almost seems concentrated. It's incredible but it's almost syrupy. Lucky for me I like all that flavor. It packs a lot of dark fruit notes along with molasses. Its almost has a balsamic character to it. Very interesting.

The body is full with low carbonation. Coats the mouth nicely.

I think this is a world class beer. I am going to save the other 3 bottles of this for 24 more years and drink them on my 50th birthday....Maybe.

Brian700, Aug 26, 2005
Photo of Zorro
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle number P23339.

Pours a hazy deep brown brew with red highlights when held up to the light.

Smell is sweet and very fruity, scents of fig, apple, tobacco brown sugar, rum, brandy, raisins, and dates.

Taste is very sweet with the flavor of brown sugar and a strong bitterness in the finish. Alcohol level is very apparent in this, it is mouth numbing. Flavors of raisins, black pepper, apple, grape, oak, vanilla and mushrooms. Extremely complex, too much really, it is like a mouth full of fruit juice concentrate.

Mouthfeel is syrup, too thick.

Not real drinkable it is just too much like getting a gallon of water when you just wanted a glass. Interesting but I don't think I would buy another one.

Zorro, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

Pours a deep mahagony color with a kight ring over top. The nose is intense. Big sweet fig, molasses sweetness, overlaying an alcohol puff. Wow. The flavor is more rounded than the nose. Still a fig, but almost like a toasted fig. Alcohol is very hidden. The sweetness is also toned down. Very well put together. The mouthfeel is thick, slightly syrupy, very minimal carbonation. Incredibly drinkable beer here. The nose was almost too much, but the flavor brought it back. Glad I have one in the cellar.

kmpitz2, Aug 10, 2005
Photo of clvand0
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 Vintage. Pours a dark amber/light brown color with very little head that falls fast and doesn't leave any lacing on the glass. The aroma is all about raisins and alcohol. Very big aroma. The flavor is a lot more smooth than the nose suggests. The alcohol is much more subdued than I thought it would be. Lots of big fruity tones on the finish with some great sweetness. Mouthfeel is moderate to thick and the drinkability is pretty good for the level of alcohol. Tasty brew.

clvand0, Aug 10, 2005
Photo of canucklehead
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I grabbed 24 of these bad boys and rightly so as they dissapeared off the radar a couple of weeks after reaching the BC liqour store shelves.

The beer seems more refined than the 2003 vintage with more empathis on balance than big hops and barley. The drinkability without much aging is amazing but I wonder how 5 plus years in the cellar will fare. A truly great barleywine that now has become very drinkable early on in its life.

canucklehead, Aug 08, 2005
Photo of BDTyre
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I found that the 2004 vintage had come back in stock at my local liquore store, so I grabbed two bottles.

Bottle No. 44119. Tasted about a month after purchase.

Appearance is a deep brown-orange colour...burnt sienna? Absolutely no head, just a few bubbles around the side.

Smell is winey, with traces of malts. I can't detect any hops. There is a definite sour scent to it, but this is not off-putting.

Taste is sour. Wine combined with malts. There are traces of this in imperial stouts, but in this it is front and centre. This is akin to an imperial stout merged with Cognac XO beer.

This old ale goes down slick and oil; it seems a little thick. This is not so drinkable: the thickness of it, combined with the higher ABV limit the drinkability of this beer.

Nonetheless, this is a unique ale and one I enjoy. I look forward to my other bottle sometime from now....

BDTyre, Aug 03, 2005
Photo of battlekow
3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Weird little 8.5 oz bottle. I have two of these, courtesy of BigLove, and I've been waiting for the right moment to try one, saving the other one for cellaring. My girlfriend is gone to the UK for a few weeks and I'm sitting in my basement watching scientists pull up enormous deep-sea isopods, so now seems like a pretty good time to tackle this little beast.

Pours a thick, cloudy caramel--it looks like you could dip apples in it. There's basically no carbonation or head. Smells of sweet and sour fruits, like raisins and prunes, and anise/licorice. Taste is extremely sweet and licoricey with those fruits upfront, but then transforms into another beer entirely. The finish is like a dry porter or stout, with a pleasant, subtle bitterness and roastedness. One of the most complex flavors I've ever encountered, though I can't say I'm particularly fond of it. Thick, chewy mouthfeel. Now I understand why this comes in 8.5-ounce bottles; it's strong and vibrant and definitely to be sipped. Finishing a whole 12 ounces of this would take awhile.

This beer is too intense for me, but it's certainly interesting. 2003 version.

battlekow, Jul 29, 2005
Photo of ypsifly
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2003 No. O 15020, poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown with no head or carbonation.

Plums, figs, raisins, caramel, and warm alcohol make up the nose. Has a slight nutty aroma. Overall vinous character.

Strong flavors of mixed dark fruits followed by a quick change into earth and a peppery malt finish. The ingering aftertaste is somewhat astringent on my tongue. Very full mouthfeel that is oily and chewy, but in a good way. A sipper for sure, although its easy to drink a bottle quickly as you keep sipping and trying to nail down all the nuances.

ypsifly, Jul 27, 2005
Photo of beveragecaptain
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 version. 8.5 ounce bottle. I've been considering buying Thomas Hardy Ale for about 2 years, but never had the courage to spend $6 for the tiny 8.5 ounce bottle until now. The bottle gushed a bit when I opened it, and after several minutes of waiting, I poured it. This was followed by several more minutes of waiting for the head to die down about. Finally, time to sample this famous beer. No, still too cold. Better wait a few more minutes. This beer has a impenetrable dark brown color. After 20 minutes in the glass, it still had a nice head. The aroma is apples, toffee, and figs. Very sweet malty flavor. There is an alcoholic bite to the flavor. Apple fruitiness. Not too much hopiness. Mouthfeel is creamy. This is a good beer, but there are other similar beers that are better.

beveragecaptain, Jul 16, 2005
Photo of Sephiroth
4.93/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 1996: My jaw dropped when I saw this tonight at the local shop. There was a slight hiss as I opened this legendary brew. I poured it into a tulip. It is totally still, and is a deep ruby color. The smell is of port, sherry, tobacco, and wood. This is extremely complex.

The taste is good. It is of port and sherry first. There is a woody bite at the finish. Methinks this has yet to turn that corner from sugary to malty sweet. Do not misunderstand, this tastes great, but I think the best is yet to come. The mouthfeel is heavy, yet this flows down my gullet much more easily than a CA Cabernet, but not quite like a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. Harvest Ale is the only beer that I have had that could possibly compare with this one. Otherwise, substitute this for a fine port or cognac. I will age my other specimens from this vintage a little longer. Or a lot longer. This is superb with my Romeo Y Julieta cigar. My new review reflects a more recent tasting, and it was paired with the mentioned cigar.

2003 Edition: If anyone has ever had the privilege of viewing a Les Paul with a tobacco sunburst finish, this is pretty close to that in terms of looks. It smells more of ripe fruit than the 96.

The taste is of port and sherry, as usual, but it is definitely young. This will be superb in about ten years. It is superb now, IMO. The mouthfeel is medium, but coating. I give the drinkability a 5, as I appreciate this beer more with every bottle that I imbibe.

Sephiroth, Jul 13, 2005
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 Gagnonsux
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. Thomas Hardy's is an attractive plum color with no head whatsoever. The aroma is very rich and full. Smell is of dark fruits and seems very wine-like. The taste is also very rich, strong, and full-flavored. Sip starts with dark fruit tastes, plum-like, then is joined by a sharp, tangy bite. Wine-like flavors are noted throughout and are joined in the finish by a mild alcohol taste. This is very rich and strong, I'd probably only want one of these at a time. Recommended as a nightcap.

Gagnonsux, May 30, 2005
Photo of NJpadreFan
2.73/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thomas Hardy's Ale

2004 No. P 38485 edition

Appearance- light hazel brown with no head. Looks like flat coke.
Smell- sweet prune, cherry, and raisins. Slight alcohol detected.
Taste- Too too sweet. Strong Fig, Raisin, and Prune flavor with a sickening amount of sugar. Not as much alcohol detected as I thought ( being 11.7% its rather weak.)
Mouthfeel- warm and sugary, no bitterness but a cough syrup aftertaste.

Overall- An Ale that tastes like a bad wine. Maybe a sip or two for dessert but otherwise all hype not worth it!!!

NJpadreFan, May 25, 2005
Photo of noclue
4.9/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Serving Type: 8.5oz bottle served in tulip/snifter. Nifty year bottle # on label. Mine was 2004 No. P 09477

Appearance: Hazy brown. Small weak head. Leaves oily lacing on glass.

Smell: Fig. Raisin. Enticing. NICE!

Taste: Sweet ripe fruit. Raisin. Fig. Strong alcoholic bite in the end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth. Tingles palate.

Drinkability/Overall: Pleasure to drink. This is one of the best beers i've reviewed.

noclue, May 24, 2005
Photo of warriorsoul
4.1/5  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.

warriorsoul, May 22, 2005
Photo of carln26
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep copper to brown color, slightly hazy with a thick tan colored head that receded quickly into the glass. The nose is a complex mixture of bread dough, figs, dates, mild whisky with a hint of grapefruit rind. It compares favorably with a complex barleywine. The taste is has more depth than a barley wine. There is a pronounced sweetness up front with a little of the bourbon character. A little vanilla follows with a definite tartness, some citrus from the hops. This has as many layers in the flavor as it does in the nose. A rich, full mouth feel, and lack of any alcohol bite adds to a great drinkability. This beer would (and does) age forever. Nice selection.

carln26, Apr 24, 2005
Photo of gotbeer
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The reviewed beer was a 2003 vintage reviewed in 2005.

The beer poured a deep brown/red with very mild carbonation at first that faded to a slight lacing around the chalise it was poured in.

Very malty taste, with alcohol hiiting you at the end. Lots of flavors hit your tastebuds in the middle, but the malt and sweetness are predominate. Almost thick in character, and sweet tasting. Not at all bad, but not a beer that I would want to drink many of in one sitting. A very good beer for warming up on a cold day or as a nightcap.

gotbeer, Apr 15, 2005
Photo of jonnylieberman
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours extremely flat into my tulip. three dozen bubbles for three seconds and then settles away in to nothing. Fascinating color, simoltaneously copper, red, brown, yellow and from certain angles purples. Quite clear, but with just enough haziness to make it intriguing. It's doing that thing that wine does when it ages where there is a light colored lip around the edges.

Smell: briny, earthy, chocolate and darker fruits. Some licorice, too. Alcohol is much more apparent in the nose than when I drank this two years ago. Some fresh bread scents come off as well, dark jelly.

The alcohol with the sweet is quite nice. Almost like a schnapps. Warming as all get out--almost savory like a nice piece of fillet. Surprisingly spicey, something I do not remember from my previous tasting. Alcohol is quite prominant, but not dominant. Not a "WOW!" beer, but very relaxing. Warms your entire trunk.

Mouthfeel is magnificent. Again, like a thin syrup. Coats every part of your mouth and l i n g e r s.

Overall: quite a nice surprise. I was ego-browsing my reviews here on BA and I noticed I mentioned that I had a few bottles tucked away. I had plum forgotten. The beer has definately become more complex with time. Can't wait to try the next one in 2007!

Bottle # 17516 from the 2003 vintage.

jonnylieberman, Apr 13, 2005
Photo of MrSeth
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have had this ale a few times at this point, and so I've decided to pair it with grilled steak and potatoes, with Lea & Perrins steak sauce for dipping. All the flavors complement each other nicely.

Pours with a vigorous head that at first it looks like an IPA. It tapers down to almost nothing but the condition of this particular bottle is remarkably good. The color is a deep dark reddish-brown with ruby highlights.

There is hops in the nose as well as wood and candied fruit. In the flavor there are black cherries and toast. It starts off sweet and ends with a tart, puckering kick.

The drinkability is good because a beer that comes in a 8.5 fl. oz. bottle and can still satisfy with just one serving is highly drinkable.

MrSeth, Apr 07, 2005
Photo of Gavage
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 version stored in basement for two years. Dark burgandy in color, with an off white 1/4" head that quickly falls to surface bubbles. No visible carbonation. The aroma is of strong alcohol with a touch of caramel.

The flavor is dominated by very sweet malts and alcohol. Caramel, prunes, and pepper round it out. Mouthfeel is smooth and lightly syrupy. Thick bodied. Strong alcohol finish. A nice brew for a cold damp rainy night or an after dinner drink.

Gavage, Apr 04, 2005
Photo of horndecker
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I sampled a bottle of the 2004, though it may be a bit early for it yet. Still, some enjoyment is meant to be had from a bottle so young. The other three are in the back of my closet.
It pours out clear and intense; reddish brown tinged with cherry; little or no head, but some lacing. Carbonation is present but not readily apparent, and not expected. Still, it has a liquerish beauty.
There is a tangy citrus nose; black cherries, walnuts, leather and oranges. It's a bit of a riot, actually. Pleasant and interesting, but all over the place and disconnected.
The first taste is a big burst of fruit; yeast and round sweet malt flavors. A little bittering prescence at the end, all with a glycerine, silky mouthfeel and an alcoholic tingle at the back of the throat. Pretty satisfying.
An enthusiastic ale, and a pleasure to drink even now. Looking forward to those other bottles when the time comes.

horndecker, Mar 22, 2005
Photo of santoslhalper
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vinatge

Appearence: Pours a glowing brown with a thin bubbly beige head.

Smell: The smell is incredibly alcoholic, almost like an unbalanced brandy of sorts.

Taste and Mouthfeel: The taste is incredibly malty and juicy with an incredible balance for such a fresh Old Ale. It ends a little funny, with a medicine-like quality that lingers for a bit. The alcohol warms the belly quickly. The mouthfeel is incredibly full and chewy.

Drinkability and Overall: This is definitly a sipping beer. I'm sure in a few years this will be wonderful, but it's still a little too young for me. I have one in the cellar, I just figured I'd try one now. Not bad at all, for sure.

santoslhalper, Mar 16, 2005
Photo of ChrisBowers
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What a magnificent beer! After sampling some older vintages from the early 90's, I feel as though this beer admirably carries the Thomas Hardy's torch, even though it is no longer brewed by Pope. Pours a dark ruby brown with a little fizzyness but no real head from the 8.5oz bottle. Very quaffable, lots of malt and alcohol present in the nose. Taste...where to begin. A very complex beer, definitely on the sweet side. An intense malty sweetness gives way to notes of chocolate, port wine, ripe fruits and a merriad of other things I can't place. Mouthfeel is very rich, drink this in small sips and savor. Quite drinkable for 11.5% ABV, though 8.5oz is enough for one sitting.

ChrisBowers, Mar 06, 2005
Photo of stjarnflikka
3.4/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 edition, P00175

Cork comes off with no "pop". Pours a dead, read and brown beer with no carbonation and no head what so ever. Getting me a little worried here. Nice colours in there anyway.

Smell is faint malts, alcohol and strong fruity and syrupy traces. Apples are there together with some sourness and syrup. Strong alcohol dominates this.

Comes on tongue alcoholy. Some oak in there at first with a "thick" feel to it. Some sourness with a fruity sweetness. Apples are present here as well together with heavy sweet cherries and perhaps some sweet oranges. Very present alcohol in this together with a syrupy feel. Finishes quite strong, alcohol and a somewhat dry feel.

A bit to sweet for me, no carbonation either made me nervous. Not my beer exactly, but i have 4 more bottles that ill store and try at a later time to re-review.

stjarnflikka, Mar 04, 2005
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 677 ratings.