1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

686 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 686
Reviews: 548
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 74
Gots: 128 | FT: 8
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)
View: Beers (10) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) Alström Bros
Ratings: 686 | Reviews: 548 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of merlin48
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8.5 oz bottle with a Thomas Hardy medialion on a string, around the neck. 2004 vintage, No. P25716 I've seen 20 and 30 year vintages of this one on Ebay, and I've read about how well this ages. I'm over 50 years old, so I'm not going to age this bottle more than the three weeks since I purchased it at the Vintage Cellar, in Blacksburg, Va. This "young" Old Ale pours into a tulip glass a clear, dark ruby amber body with a tiny offwhite head. Some delicate patch lacing persists for 15-20 minutes before disappearing. Aroma begins with vinous white wine and white grapes, followed by toffee and molasses maltiness that is politely subdued. McIntosh apples and Bosc pears appear midway through.
Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy, but not cloying. Coating in the manner of a full bodied strong old ale. An ideal feeling on the palate that is impossible to describe.
Taste features a high quality malt component of rum soaked toffee and cognac infused McIntosh apples. Peppery alcohol folds into the malt profile in a wizardly manner. The big alcohol can't hide forever, but the tart apple character reappears at the finish to tuck it back inside the toffee malts, resulting in one hell of a finish. An extremely rewarding experience to sample this young legend. Geeez! I think I will check out Ebay, and see how the 20-30 year old vintages are doing. This is highly drinkable, even when young. Worthy of its hype!

Photo of Padron4KM
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 edition # p09399.

Pours out a rich mahogany, with a 1/2" reddish brown creamy head.

Head settles to a thin thin cap rather quickly and leaves no lace.
Aroma is rich. Malty, plummy, rum, caramel, brown sugar, faint wisp of alcohol.

Creamy smooth mouthfeel.

Flavor is equally rich, but not quite mature yet. Like a young cigar the flavors are there and balanced, but not quite "married" yet.
sweet, malty with some bitting hops, some spice, some caramel, prunes, warming alcohol at the end.

I Will be cellering a couple of bottles of this to see how they age.

I drank this one by itself, but it would be a perfect companion for a Fuente Don Carlos no. 4, a La Flor Dominicana 2000 series El Jocko (or a no. 4) or a Romeo y Julieta en tubo petite no 2. As for a cuban variety maybe a Romeo cedros deluxe no 2.

Photo of Truh
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dusted off the daguerreotype prints with this one on 1/27/2005 after a spell of the flu. 8.5 fl. oz. bottle poured in a shaker.

Prominent inch-plus plume of meaty, full carbonation. Glowing red/orange/grapefruit hue with just a frisson of haze, but plenty of constant bubbling ascending to freedom. Puckering prune and crab apple gone over tart on nose with sour watermelon jolly rancher sweetness. A sweet and sour vinous flavor almost dominates, but a plump malt and somewhat woody character as taming characters in this theater of the alesurd. Because of the rather pronounced alcohol, which hits at the end, the serving size for this one is entirely appropriate. Good, but not outstanding.

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

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.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(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.

Photo of edchicma
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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!!!!

Photo of CortexBomb
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of BCMan
2.78/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of mzwolinski
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Stimack
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of Boto
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of filabrazilia
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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

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...

Photo of BlueMeanie
2.33/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.53/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 686 ratings.