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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) - O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.

Not Rated.
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

177 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 177
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 155
Gots: 32 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  11.70% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

This entry is for vintages brewed by Eldridge Pope & Co. PLC. / Thomas Hardy Brewery from 1968 to 1999. O'Hanlon's took over the brand and revived it in 2003:  http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profi ... 1533/16858 

(Beer added by: Todd on 11-27-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 177 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rempo
1/5  rDev -77.6%

Rempo, Oct 21, 2012
Photo of rastaman
3.28/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 1986- Really potent nose, warming spirity aroma. The colour from memory was exactly the same as in the picture. Main flavours of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, with a salted licricey, very warming alcohol finish, i couldn't help but feel the bottle was slight past its prime however.

rastaman, Sep 25, 2003
Photo of kojevergas
3.3/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1999 vintage. Acquired at a certain bottle shop in Southern California. Cost was $30.00. ABV is marked as 11.70%, but it's probably gone up over the years. 330ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap and understated appealing label served into a pilsner glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are extremely high given its current ratings.

Served after a brief period of rest following its removal from the refrigerator. Side-poured as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with tortilla crisps.

A: Pours a quarter finger light khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, but merely average strength. No eat particles are visible. No bubble show. Body colour is a very dark caramel amber. Doesn't look fantastic, but it's par for the style.

Sm: A downright pungent aroma of sweet rich malts, heavy scotch, nice sweet caramel, biscuit malt, and buried dark fruit. As powerful as an aroma can usually get. Alcohol is notable. No yeast character is detectable. It kind of turns me away, but I want to tame the beast.

T: Rich malt, caramel, caramalt, rich scotch notes, biscuit malt, and heavy malty sweetness Heavy on the malt, if that wasn't clear. It certainly doesn't taste 13 years old. It's a rich malty flavour profile. Prunes. Tobacco. No real yeasty character. Some alcohol does come through. I think I like it; it's just so rich and refined. The rich scotch notes are delightful: caramel, hints of vanilla, some booze, refined malt, and awesomely subtle toasted character. Well put together, but it's not quite balanced. Aftertaste of malty molasses syrup.

Mf: A bit syrupy - especially on the finish. Otherwise, it's nicely smooth and wet. Good carbonation, even after all these years. Complements the flavour somewhat, but it has its flaws.

Dr: Even after 13 years, it's still a tasty beer. The refined scotch notes are a plus, but the syrupy finish is a turn off. It's not without its weaknesses, but I do like it overall. The cost isn't justified, but it's certainly a tasty brew. I do think its peak was hit years ago. I wouldn't bother trading for it. Hides its high ABV well. One tasty, complex, and uniquely rewarding beer.

Low B-

kojevergas, Dec 27, 2012
Photo of hopjack13
3.48/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

wow... not really in to barlywines but this one was not extreme nor offensive.
appearence was cloudy, hazy date color.
taste.. smooth, but strong alcohol finish and after taste.
nothing extraordinary but by no means unpalatable.
this was my first sample from the hardy line,
i was not disappointed.

hopjack13, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of Melonie
3.5/5  rDev -21.7%

Melonie, Nov 11, 2012
Photo of ChrisPro
3.5/5  rDev -21.7%

ChrisPro, Jan 07, 2012
Photo of tom10101
3.5/5  rDev -21.7%

tom10101, Sep 29, 2014
Photo of Jdiddy
3.58/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well, I was so excited to try my first Thomas Hardy Ale. I must say that it was a bit of a letdown. While it is smooth, it also does not hide the alcohol taste. Slight burn going down. Taste was that of raisins, dates, and chocolate. I actually liked it best a bit chilled. As it warmed, it became unpleasant. Maybe it is just not my cup of tea. I will definitely let the other bottle I have age for many years. Maybe it will make a difference. All in all, not a bad beer but not as great as I expected.

Jdiddy, Feb 17, 2003
Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.68/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I am so happy I found these.

1991 Vintage purchased from the Charleston Beer Exchange.

I have wanted this beer, any of the vintages, for at least 6 months and the time finally came.

This old chap pours a very deep ruby color with a few flakes of yeast. Amazingly there was a light spattering of bubbles on the surface that merely lingered as a thin thread around the perimeter of the glass.

Nose is sweet with fruits like raisins, similar to some wines and very characteristic of other beers with a good reputation of being able to survive while being forgotten about in a cellar or closet.

Flavor isn't as sweet as the smell suggested. There is more tartness than sweetness, a common effect of the age and other more mysterious things. This one is one that you hear about that turned sour, but still valuable none the less. In some cases this beer can be sweet and syrupy like a 7 to 10 year old J.W. Lees Harvest Ale or a 6 year old Le Baladin Xyauyu. Still good, and surprisingly light on the alcohol presence, I was expecting a little more heat but it is very smooth. Way in the background there is a lingering sweetness. Probably better several years ago.

Very light tingle from the remnants of carbonation. Drinks almost like wine. And the more I think about it the more it reminds me of tea.

Doppelbockulus, Jan 20, 2012
Photo of ColdPoncho
3.68/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1998 vintage. Cameron Harris. Thank you

A - clear deep red body. Medium white head.

S - like a pOrt. Malty and nice. Fruits Of all sorts.

T - sweet malts. Some fruits. Medium goodness.

M - medium body and a bit dry.

O - better than the new stuff. Pretty nice beer.

ColdPoncho, Oct 21, 2011
Photo of aracauna
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A brandy comparison is probably accurate (wouldn't really know since I've never tried brandy) as there are definite alcohol notes with some fruitiness. I was really looking forward to trying the stuff, it being my first dip into the barley wine style. It was good, but the alcohol and mediciney tastes were just a bit much for me. It would be good with a little drinking to get used to it and in smaller quantities (I polished off the entire bottle in one sitting). It's possible that a younger vintage might be more to my taste since my 1996 was 6 years old.

aracauna, Apr 02, 2002
Photo of hilgart1
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%

hilgart1, Oct 02, 2013
Photo of Chico1985
3.83/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1999 vintage, 11.15 oz bottle. I've been holding onto this for a while, stoked to try it.

Pours dark brownish red, surprisingly a small off-white head retains through most of the beer.

Smells like a giant pile of dark fruit and oxidation, raisins, stale caramel and lots of sugar.

Huge and crazy sweet, loaded with caramel, dark fruit, molasses, toffee, some roasted malt. Nice tobacco-y finish that lingers.

Slick, oily mouthfeel, carbonation is low but there. A bit boozy.

Similar to JW Lees for me, good complex flavor but really, really sweet, too sweet in my opinion. Even with a small bottle splitting this is the way to go.

Chico1985, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of spartan1979
3.84/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

1995 Vintage

I've had this since 1995 or '96. I don't know why I've saved it this long but it got to a point where I was waiting for a special occasion and one never came along. Today I just decided to drink it.

It's still and very viscous. Very chocolately with definite alcohol bite. A hint of sherry and raisin notes but chocolate is the dominant flavor. It was clear in the bottle but a little bit of the sediment got into the glass.

Actually for a 19 year old beer it has held up very well. But it's well past it's prime. It was a great beer back in the nineties.

I should have drank this 10 years ago. I'll have to open my 1990 bottle soon.

spartan1979, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of Mora2000
3.85/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is the 1994 vintage, which was drank in May 2011 in honor of hudsonphotog's college graduation after all these years (he graduated high school in 1994).

The beer pours a clear, dark brown color with a few white bubbles but no real head. The aroma has a lot of chocolate and raisins, as well as a little bit of soy sauce character and some alcohol. The flavor is a lot more complex. I get a lot of chocolate and oak notes, as well as some rum, raisins and very little alcohol. The beer is very port like. Low carbonation and medium mouthfeel.

I am very happy I got to try this and very happy that it was drank on such a special occasion.

Mora2000, May 02, 2012
Photo of crookedhalo
3.93/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

C'mere. Take a long whiff into this snifter. I've experienced Thomas Hardy's before so I can appreciate what a great beer this actually is. Not much carbonation, but I expect that in this "young" bottle. Maybe I just a sucker for English noble hops, but my god, the aroma to this ale is outstanding! I could walk around with this snifter duct taped on my face for the rest of my life. This beer has the same salty mineral background as the Stone's barley wine, Old Guardian [which leads me to wonder whether Stone Brewing adjusts their water in order to reproduce English high gravities?]. Maris Otter malty goodness with that alcohol punch. I bought this beer cold and had moved it a couple times so I felt it was time to share it with a friend. I'm looking forward to trying some of the vintages that I can get from my boss [86, 87, 92, 93, 95-99].

crookedhalo, Sep 30, 2003
Photo of mikeys01
3.98/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My Thomas Hardy's '96 poured out of the bottle a slightly murky brown color, witha fair amount of sediment left in the bottom of the bottle. No head at all and very slight carbonation. Aroma is sweet and fairly alcoholic, with a bit of raisin or fermenting fruit, but not overly distinctive otherwise. Taste brings out a little bit of fruit at first along with a strong oakey character, then tends towards a more malty and sweet finish, closing off with a nice lingering bitterness. Warms nicely on the way down, a pretty smooth barleywine.

mikeys01, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of gentlebubbles
4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On rattling around my cluttered kitchen, I found three bottles of Thomas Hardy's, dated 1990. I have no idea what I'm saving them for, or even if they're still drinkable.

So I pour one to find no head on a reddish amber body, slightly cloudy, from the yeast perhaps. It has a pleasantly piercing scent, like a strong sherry and a caramel taste. I usually don't like sweet drinks, but there's enough of a sparkle and bite to lighten it. Even now as I sit here trying to describe it, the scent rises, more caramel with a hint of vanilla behind it. I can sip this for a while.

And as I do, I find the flavor seems to open up, revealing hazelnut tones. This gets better and better. I'm feeling very mellow now.

Very pleasant surprise.

gentlebubbles, Feb 01, 2004
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -10.5%

ygtbsm94, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -10.5%

drewone, Aug 25, 2013
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev -10.5%

nmann08, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of ktrillionaire
4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - It pours a bizarre syrupy and viscous brew, cloudy with a small patch of bubbles and ancient-looking yeast floaties. Intriguing.

S - The aroma is hugely malty, with vinous notes and impressions of sherry, toffee, malt vinegar, prune, cherry, almond-amaretto and plum. It is astoundingly complex.

T - It tastes like a better-than-average Barleywine, but not by much. Especially considering the hype. The notes of oxidation are fairly evident, and the malt is almost a tangy sweet-sour. The complexity found in the nose is not readily apparent in the gustatory sense. The beer was disgustingly cloying when it was first brewed, and somehow 19 years is not enough to really chill out the malty sweetness? I think it is more of a curiosity, taste-wise, than a serious brew. In other words, while good, I find this beer to be a bit of a gimmick... 'How old can a beer get?' But I am definitely glad to try this nineteen-year old brew. It is the oldest brew I've had, I think.

M - This beer was still somewhat carbonated, surprisingly. The feel is slick and thick and viscous.

D - A mixed bag; full of lore and hype, looks intriguing, smells wildly complex, tastes like an old abused Barleywine.

ktrillionaire, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of Archemedies
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Archemedies, Mar 11, 2012
Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev -10.5%

Exiled, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of drummermattie02
4/5  rDev -10.5%

drummermattie02, Dec 03, 2011
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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
97 out of 100 based on 177 ratings.