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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.

674 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 674
Reviews: 541
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 74
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: 674 | Reviews: 541 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gueuzedude


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Pours a lightly hazy orange-amber color, it is topped by a thinnish tan to pale brown head. The aroma is rich and heady with notes of brandy, toffee, butterscotch, caramel. The aroma is quite heady and interesting.

The taste is fresh and hoppy with notes of pine, a hint of citrus, and of course rich malty notes of caramel, toffee, and lightly toasty biscuits. This is quite tasty fresh, it has been so long since I had a non-aged version of this that I forgot how fresh and pungent this is when it is brash and young. This is quite tasty, and I really like the sweet toffee, malted candy notes that dominate this beer right now, and there is a nice balancing hoppy bitterness in the finish. As it warms up a bit a little soothing note of warming alcohol starts to tickle my throat, perhaps accentuating notes of rum and brandy.

02-11-2005 05:23:02 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of rhoadsrage


4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

(Forcefully poured into American Pint Glass)
2003 Vintage
Appearance: Hazy nut brown color with a faint membrane of bubbles as a head

Smell: Very strong malty sweetness with a little nutty caramel aroma

Taste: a short sweet maltyness followed by a warm alcohol taste. It has a bit of an oxidative bitterness then more of a light hop bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel- very few and tiny bubbles but it has a thick almost chewy body with a warm alcohol finish on the lips.

Drinkability: This is a big beer in a little bottle lots of malt and alcohol warmth with just a bit of hops to round off the rough edge. I nice beer to sip on a cold winter night.

02-10-2005 02:03:01 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of edchicma


4.55/5  rDev +10.4%

Mmmm...Go Pats...I am drinking this as I celebrate another great SuperBowl. Dark red amber ..minimal head and decent lacing. Smell is raisins, molasses, malt...exquisite blend! Taswte is a smooth delectable combination of raisins, malt and molasses. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy...bu smoooth. Good drinkability for such a strong brew...a real celebartion ale!!!!

02-07-2005 03:26:01 | More by edchicma
Photo of CortexBomb


4.8/5  rDev +16.5%

Series O.

Pours what I would call standard for old ale, dirty brown with a wisp of head which quickly dissipated down to a ring.

Scent was strong on the malts, almost doppelbockish like to some extent, but then paired that with some raisin like tones and a definite strong alcohol aspect. Again, I consider this classic old ale on the nose.

Remarkable initial flavour, an almost muted sweet tone, very reminiscent of molasses and brown sugar with figs, most definitely figs, almost the seeds if I can remember them correctly. The flavour is not muted as in not strong, muted as in distinct. Very different in comparison with the normal sweet tone that I think of with old ale. Malts hanging around in abundance, but not chocolate-like per se, just some memories of it. Alcohol flavour is there, especially on the after, but it doesn't dominate. Almost a port like aspect to this too! Really remarkable.

Mouthfeel is full and oily, clings to your cheeks and offers just what I'm looking for in an old ale while the drinkability is downright insane, I would never guess the content on this (maybe just shows my acclimation to heavy beers) and it is a little too easy to keep on sipping. Wonderful.

Overall, I wish I hadn't waited so long to try this stuff. A distinct and flavourful old ale offering that I would love to have in my snifter any cool winter evening.

02-04-2005 00:42:41 | More by CortexBomb
Photo of BCMan


2.78/5  rDev -32.5%

This is my 1st experience with the new Thomas Hardy's Ale and I've never has the pleasure of the original. I must admit that I did not go into this with an open mind and I fully expect to not really enjoy this beer. This entry will be based on 2003 bottle No. O 03144.

Mr. Hardy poured up a dark caramel brown and generated little to no foam. Only a slight ring around the glass. Swirling in the glass shows that this beer has "legs" which I guess is more of a wine term and interestingly enough, after a quick smell, my wife thought it smelled like wine. The nose is sweet with the presence of alcohol. The flavor is like a heavy syrup. Overly sweet and and reminiscient of a pancake breakfast. The mouthfeel is thick or some might say smooth. After taste make me more thirsty but for something to cut the beer with.

I know this beer is highly reguarded by many and thought to be over rated by some but I'm stuck some where between both. I can see why it's guarded gelously by some and thought to be too hyped by others. I also know that it's meant to improve with age. For this reason I purchased 2 bottles. One went in the fridge while the other went in the cellar. We'll see what a couple of years does to change this new classic. For now I'll stick to my more reasonable stock and revisit Thomas the legend on another night.

01-28-2005 01:51:29 | More by BCMan
Photo of mzwolinski


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%

I’d had this a few times before at O’Briens pub, and remember it as being heavenly. Never had the opportunity to have a bottle to myself in the comfort and controlled atmosphere of my own home, though. I was looking forward to having the chance to really appreciate the beer on its own. A beer like this deserves pride of place.

Pours mahogany brown with just a thin halo of bubbly light tan carbonation. Some fine bubbles of carbonation visible when the glass is swirled, but not otherwise.

Alcohol quite noticeable in the aroma. Quite spicy, with an underlying fruity maltiness. Still, the alcohol is a bit overpowering here. Thankfully, the flavor is much kinder.

The first sip gives an impression of caramel, candy-like sweetness. The flavor picks up a bit of heat from the alcohol toward the middle, which increases as the beer sits. A bit too hot for its own good. Hops are present but understated. Somewhat herbal in character. Wow, the aftertaste on this is just amazing – a sort of gentle toffee flavor that gives just the perfect balance of light toastiness and sweetness in the malt.

Gentle carbonation gives this beer an easy mouthfeel – slightly coating on the tongue, but not so much as to be cloying.

All in all, not bad at all! But the alcohol is a bit too much for this brew at so young an age. I look forward to seeing what a year or two of maturity will do for it.

01-26-2005 04:17:59 | More by mzwolinski
Photo of Stimack

New York

3.83/5  rDev -7%

2004 Version of this Ale with the following markings. No. P 33133 Edition.

The brew poured to a brown color with some highlights of a rusty burgundy color with no real carbonation, as there is no head or lacing to speak of. The aromas of this brew are different, can notice dark fruit right away, like raisins and cherries while also sensing malt and strong alcohol scent. The first thing that I notice on my first sip past the scent of alcohol that this brew has a somewhat sweet taste to it as it seems to have a lot of brown sugar like qualities that mix quite well with a more burn than roasted malt property. Also notice a dark like fruit taste in here “with visions of sugar-plums dancing in my head” along with cherries and raisins. A quote strong, somewhat raw alcohol taste goes along with it. I wonder how much the alcohol aroma and taste will be tempered over age as it was a little intense, but not to over the top? This is a good brew and one that I will continue to get and age over the years.

01-23-2005 14:24:59 | More by Stimack
Photo of Boto


4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

2003 Vintage, #08491. This poured a fairly opaque mahogany color. There was about zero carbonation and head to it. Very fruity aroma. A complex mix, making it difficult to identify individual fruits. Almost floral also, with a twinge of alcohol evident. Quite the interesting flavor. Somewhat cognac-like. Sweet, but not overly so. Smooth, rich, fruity flavors. This is really nice. Perhaps I should buy a few and let them sit 5 years or so. They should improve nicely.

01-09-2005 18:43:52 | More by Boto
Photo of kmcnair


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

2004 Vintage.

Pours a deep, dark redish brown hue, with a very subtle white head. Thick and viscous, syrupy consistency. Light grape wine nose, very floral. Flavor of raisins and figs, lots of dark fruit sweetness. This one is a sipper, but goes down easy. Very enjoyable brew, recommended.

01-09-2005 08:35:20 | More by kmcnair
Photo of filabrazilia


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%

Pours an amber chesnut with a non-existent head--it's more like a tan ring around the perimeter of the glass. This is a very nice looking beer. When held to the light, the amber body glows like a glorious artful design.

The aroma is full of toffee, carmel, dried fruit and a faint note of alcohol. This is what I expected from this particular beer.

The flavor is slightly less impressive than the aroma but is no less pleasurable. The malts really assert themselves in the flavor and are like a rich dessert topping.

The mouthfeel is a little too strong for me but is still very good. It is thick and syrupy and definitely meant to be sipped slowly and savored. While only 8.5 ounces, this beverage drinks like 32 ounces. One will go a long way, as it should.

While not a beer to toss back, this is a fine example of the variety that one can find in the beer world. Sitting in a comfortable chair reading a book or sharing time with friends and family is a great way to enjoy this fine ale. This is a beer you want to sample on occasions when it can really be appreciated.

01-02-2005 00:47:14 | More by filabrazilia
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

The beer poured a hazy medium brown amber with a head that was barely there and only thought about lacing the glass.

The aroma was intensely malty with sherry, fruits, floral, and caramel all complexly intermingled.

The flavor was sherry with a slight chocolate caramel and a very complex flavor that included fruits and a well accomplished bittering that kept the entire flavor from becoming cloying.

The finish was malty and lasting with a complexity of sherry. The body was full and viscous and the beer had a pleasant alcohol warming.

8.5 ounce bottle. 2004 vintage. 11.7% ABV. This was nice as a late vintage, I would think in a few years it will truly shine...

12-29-2004 21:35:42 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of BlueMeanie


2.33/5  rDev -43.4%

The beer pours a nice orange copperish hue with a pillowy head. From what I can smell, it is quite nice. But that is where it ends. The beer has an extremely sweet syrupy taste with minimal amount of carbonation. There are hints or nuts and fruit, but it is overpowered by the sweetness. I don't think that I will be buying any more bottles.

12-18-2004 02:35:12 | More by BlueMeanie
Photo of JohnnyDuvel


4.53/5  rDev +10%

2004 vintage. I wish I could get this type of beer (along with the JW Lees) on a regular basis. I waited three whole months to drink this (aging!). I was feeling a little sick, and decided that this would be my medicine. No head or lacing (to be expected). Deep ruby color, strong fruity fragrance. Deep and dark, warming and smooth. Good for anything that ails you! I followed this with the terrific Old Crustacean, and the Rogue absolutely paled in comparison. Worls class, all the way.

11-30-2004 03:39:38 | More by JohnnyDuvel
Photo of Jason


3.48/5  rDev -15.5%

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 …

11-24-2004 03:30:29 | More by Jason
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Standard mini bottle, low carbonation, pours without any head, bubbles or lacing evident. Full throtle nose of oak, cloves,smoke, old cheesy feet. Full bodied and strong brew, nice soft mouthfeel, with notes of rum, vanilla, orange, over ripe fruits. Smooth and warming. Finishes with a nice malty sweatness. Classic winter sipper. Perfect for after thanksgiving meal.

11-17-2004 03:09:07 | More by Billolick
Photo of HochFliegen


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

Poured this beer into my Thomas Hardy's Ale glass and was amazed by the deep ruby red hue. The smell just blew my senses away. It was sweet with a fruity, raisny and plum like scent. A slight hint of the 11% alcohol hit my nose as well. There seemed to be a touch of spice in the end. Im sure theres more that I just couldnt detect.
The first taste hit my taste buds with a sweet sherry/wine like flavor. Very full bodied, almost chewey. In the middle of the sip there was the presence of the 11% alcohol again but it was closely covered up by the sweet and slight bitter and spicy sensation. This beer was balanced so fine. I now know why I paid so much for this beer. It was a pleasure to sip.

11-12-2004 02:49:08 | More by HochFliegen
Photo of tjd25


4.43/5  rDev +7.5%

Vintage 2003 # 02856

Quite excited to taste this brew on this anniversary day.
Half-an-inch head, fading slowly as tiny bubbles disappear like scintillating stars. The body shows a nice ruby to mahogany color, with a high yet peaceful level of carbonation. The flow of bubbles seems somehow slow motioned, as if they were getting glued in the brew.

The smell is a great representation of the style, with an appropriate level of winy or porto-like notes conjugated with hints of wood. A ripe fruitiness gets noticeable with light hints of citrus and a distinct yeast presence. Maybe some liquorice or some anise reach the nose too, completing this harmonious bouquet with a fresh chocolaty character.

The first sip of the brew was like a kiss on the lips, with the delicate softness of the everlasting head. The next sips are just intents to recreate this already out-of-reach tender and harmonious moment. This is the first time I fully understand Philippe Delerm’s “La première gorgée de bière”, in which is point is just that. Now I’m trapped trying to describe this first impression that I can’t experience again. The first aspect that comes to mind is the slightly sweet fruitiness that appeared, showing a hint of citrus and otherwise overripe peaches or apples, with a light feeling of pear on the tongue. This fruitiness is immediately associated with an intense yet appeasing alcohol presence that is reminiscent of a porto with character and that inspires respect. Dare I say I felt a little bit of grapefruit on the sides of my tongue? I do. Some spicy notes add a new facet to the initial fruitiness, pepper and salt stimulating the tip of the tongue. The finish puts the emphasis on the chocolaty aspect, dark choclate with roasted nuts.

The feeling in the mouth offered by this brew is all the more interesting as it is multi-faceted. The first encounter with the brew can be either seen as a kiss on the lips or as a fall in an ocean of silk that would overwhelm you for a second but bring you back on the surface and caress you. The next feeling I got was of some type of jam that would retain my attention and make me really patient in my enjoying this ale. Like successive waves of silk that reduce your pace and force you to look around, to really think about where you are. And then, finally, a strong and deep chocolate thickness, with a slightly oily hoppiness, chewy and pronounced, that let you know you’ve reached the end of the journey, and that it’s already time to look back for one more instant or to think about the future already.

Talking about drinkability seems somehow not adapted to this brew. The little bottle was just fine, and even reinforced me in my certainty that the brew deserved patience, contemplation and respect. I wouldn’t need to have another one now, but I feel like I need to experience this first sip impression again. I want to.

10-31-2004 23:32:29 | More by tjd25
Photo of fingolfin72

North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

This is 2003 vintage, bottle #O04971. It was a birthday gift from my brother-in-law, trbeer.

Coppery roan color, a bit cloudy. Almost no head to speak of.
Rich, enveloping, malty, brown sugary, slightly alcoholic, faintly cinnamon nose.

Huge flavor. Maple syrup, brown sugar, cotton candy. The sugariness bursts on the palate in a manner that reminds me of seafoam candy (aka Violet Crumble). Just a hint of bitterness, reminiscent of Campari, peeks out at the end. It is just barely effervescent.

This is a memorable beer.

09-21-2004 00:35:42 | More by fingolfin72
Photo of Bighuge


4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

Deep looking stained burgandy tone. A light and airy beige/light brown foam sits on top and is well retained. Lacing is moderately spotty. Nose is splendid. Cherry, fig, nuts, alcohol and malts. Richly malty and sweet in its flavor profile, this beer is balanced only by a bit of stinging alcohol and some alpha acid goodness. Not cloying, but very sweet. Sweet maple and brown sugar. Melons and cherries soaked in alcohol. Almonds and dates. The heat from the alcohol remains long after the swallow. But as a whole, it is integrated nicely into the flavor profile. Nice tasting indeed. The feel in the mouth is light and easy. Light-medium body. And just the slightest bit of prickliness from carbonation.

09-01-2004 03:28:39 | More by Bighuge
Photo of meathookjones


4.08/5  rDev -1%

2003 #15078

This poured out a reddish brown color with not much of a head only a random scattering of tan bubbles that quickly disappear. Aroma is hugely sweet with ripe dark fruits and malts with a touch of alcohol. The alcohol in the nose becomes more apparent the longer this one sits out. Keeping in line with the smell the taste is big in sweet fruity maltiness a little too much so. There was a molasses like flavor as well and light caramel notes that went nicely and a nice warming alcohol aftertaste. Mouthfeel is full and creamy but hurts a little in the carbonation department. The only thing I have against the drinkability is that if it were a 12 oz bottle the sweetness might become too much by the end of the bottle. I am interested to see how the new 2003 edition will age and hopefully mellow the sweetness out a bit. Overall a great beer that I look forward to trying again in the future.

08-17-2004 13:18:14 | More by meathookjones
Photo of sitbooboosit

British Columbia (Canada)

3.7/5  rDev -10.2%

beautiful auburn colour, slight head that disappears quickly. strong cherry/dark fruit aroma, almost pineapples? this beer is quite sweet and very malty, shockingly sweet. the mouthfeel is heavy and very syrupy which is not cut by any carbonation to balance it off. this beer was not what i expected. while i can see its appeal i found it far to sweet for my liking. perhaps a well aged example might be more enjoyable

08-13-2004 06:09:23 | More by sitbooboosit
Photo of Rastacouere

Quebec (Canada)

3.15/5  rDev -23.5%

Orange to almond brown hue. Light off-white ring. Ridiculously sweet aroma. Very fruity at first sniff, cherry-like, woody currants, hot almond skin. Big malt base is almost agressively nutty on the palate. Extremely bold, samichlaus-like in its burnt almonds and grapey aspects combined with overpowered heat. Cloying harsh and fat finish. Huge syrupy body is not helped by very low carbonation. I don’t think I would like it yet 5 years from now and I think I’d have more interesting beers to bother keeping for 10yr or above.

08-01-2004 21:02:10 | More by Rastacouere
Photo of bigbeerdrinka


4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Vintage 2003 Bottle # 11800
Pours a light brown with strong ruby hues. A head about an 1/8 inch thick appears and leaves a decent lace. Notes are of dark fruits, fig, grapes, and plums mostly with some alcohol also noticeable. Intially this beer hits up front very smooth and creamy with a nice light carbonation. Malts start things off showing some light caramel and toffee, but are quickly followed by the dark fruit of figs, grapes, and almost a slight vanilla. This beer follows very sweet with yet more dark fruit flavors and more sugary sweetness, also some raisin notes in there. A strong warm bourbony alcohol finishes the beer leaving this to be a kicking old ale. Overall this beer is a smooth explosion on the pallate that makes it a classic of the style.

1974 Vintage Bottle D #7915 March

Pours a deep chestnut color with amber hues. There is absolutely no head present in this beer as it looks to be completely flat. Aromas are overwhelmingly powerful for this beer being over 30 years old. Tones of toffee, plum, figs, caramels, a hint of vanilla, some oak, and a warming alcohol presence show off why this brew is a classic. The initial flavors to this brew depict strong tones of toffee and caramels that intermingle in the most beautiful way. Unlike the harshness that comes from a fresh bottle of this brew the flavors are much more rounded out and really work perfectly together. Following the toffee notes there are hints of roast in the profile along with a mix of dark fruits such as figs, plums, and an almost prune like quality. Along with these vast flavors there are also tones of deep roasty expresso, and just a slight hint of chocolate. The finish of this beer brings up yet more roasty flavors that are mixed with black sambuca flavored expresso beans.
The mouthfeel for this beer is absolutely splendid with a nice creamy texture to it and a medium body. If I was able to review this brew under the retired reviews this would easily be my number one beer on my list.. Simply Fantastic

Appearance: 4.0
Aromas: 4.5
Flavor: 5.0
Mouthfeel: 5.0
Drinkability: 4.5

07-27-2004 17:49:24 | More by bigbeerdrinka
Photo of taez555


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

2003 #014892

This beer poured a tiny tan head that died almost immediately. But at 11.7% not surprised. The body was a translucently hazy dark tan/light brown.

The nose was wonderful. Sweet, cookie dough type malt smell, raisins, alcohol, sugar, bread, chocolate, plums, juice and some more cook dough. Simply put, it was an ambrosial strong ale smell.

The taste was very thick and heavy. A mix of molasses, brown sugar, a dark burnt caramel, raisins and plums. It tasted like homemade caramel, toffee or other candy. Also there’s a firm port wine taste. Simply beautiful.

Simply a fantastic strong ale. Huge, malty, sweet and oh so yummy.

06-24-2004 09:20:16 | More by taez555
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.65/5  rDev +12.9%

The beer pours a cloudy rub red color with a thin off-white head. The aroma is awesome. It has a very sweet malt scent with a warm alcohol aroma. It is very rich with crystal malts. The taste is very good. It has a rich malt flavor that is very sweet to the lips and warms on the finish. It has a fruity taste with a tart aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. I love the flavor and the aroma; a masterpiece.

06-18-2004 01:29:26 | More by WesWes
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 674 ratings.