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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
98
world-class

176 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 176
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.46
pDev: 10.76%
Wants: 153
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: 176 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

t0rin0, Mar 02, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4.15/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge, huge thanks to bmanning for breaking out the 1994 vintage of this beauty at a recent tasting. Served in a SAVOR snifter because that's how I do tastings in my own house. Right, Paul?

Pours a murky tawny-red color with a small, nearly non-existent head without and head or lacing. So what, it's over 15 years old. Moving on. THe nose brings forward a very heavy malt presence with a good dosing of brown sugar and caramel. Quite a bit of toffee there as well, along with some dark fruits and grape. Really, mostly just a port bomb. Loving the nose. The flavor kicks back a bit with some light fruits and brown sugar combined with the port flavors. Mouthfeel has moderate sweetness on a medium body. Almost no carbonation, but the sweetness is really well integrated. Beautiful beer.

Thorpe429, May 25, 2011
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev -10.3%

nmann08, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of metter98
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: The beer is relatively clear reddish amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a thin off white head that consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of sherry in the nose along with sweet notes of caramel malts.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and is dominated by flavors of sherry and port wine. Notes of malty sweetness are also present.
M: It feels medium-bodied, a little thin and slightly syrupy on the palate with a very low amount of carbonation.
O: Aging this beer definitely intensifies its smell and taste. It is a pleasant and interesting beer to sip and surprisingly the alcohol is very well hidden from the taste.

Note: 1998 vintage (aged 14 years)

metter98, Nov 03, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

GRG1313, Jun 11, 2012
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -10.3%

ygtbsm94, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1997. Head is limited, almost non-existent. Brownish-copper tint. Astonishingly clear, but this sample has been cellared in one spot for @ 5 years so that's to be expected. Aroma is brimming with light sherry (or port) and candy, and some caramel and malt as well. The flavor starts the same, followed by a short burst of alcohol, and then mellows into more caramel and toffee notes with some soft dark fruit. A little bit higher on the alcohol side than some other 'vintages' I've had; but also a little bit flabbier in the malt.How can that be? Still, it has the standard gently bitter backbone. Although bottles handled in different ways will show different maturities (dryness, roundness, etc.), I feel the '97 is not quite ready. At least another year.

--

1995. Nip bottle. No cork. Cellar temperature. Poured carefully, it's crystal clear. Dark amber/brown with orangeish tints along the rim and soft ruby highlights throughout the body. Completely flat, with just a few large clear bubbles along the inner rim from the pour. The aroma is more subdued than younger versions. Still quite intense with rich, sweet toffee and dark caramel, malted milk, very soft dark fruit, even some tropical fruit. The sherry-like aroma seems reduced compared to younger examples, but is heightened in the flavor... malt and alcohol versus oxidation? The flavor sticks with a fruitiness at the back of the mouth, along with an awareness of the brandy-like alcohol. It's hard to determine whether this vintage is on it's way out, or getting better. Although the "tempest in a teapot" complexity of younger vintages has been reduced, the flavors that remain are refined - elegant - polished.

NeroFiddled, Jul 16, 2002
Photo of Jason
4.68/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 11.15 oz brown long slender neck bottle with a "Brewed in 1997" on the label.

Appearance: Crystal clear tawny copper with a bubbly off white lace ... retains well also.

Smell: Slight rum raisin, vague fresh cut granny smith apple, hints of cork/wood and malt in the nose.

Taste: Big rounded and smooth body with a light yet pleasing carbonation. Nice dense malty mouth feel, lots of flavour from the malt ... tastes like the malt is marinating in alcohol due to the large presence of fruity esters which are reminiscent of tropical fruit like pineapple and starfruit. Hop bitterness still does well to balance and flexes with some flavour. A little rummy and prune like with a drying malt flavour in the finish. Goes a touch corky perhaps from a touch of oxidation or just a showing of its age.

Notes: After three years it has evolved into a pretty much ripe barley wine ... a good time to drink it is now though one, two or even three more years may turn it into a dreamy brew. Buy two or more, drink one now and lay the others down for a couple more years.

Jason, Mar 31, 2002
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mine is a 6.33 ounce bottle, made in, let's clear the dust...cough, cough!...1995, heck, that's years before I ever heard of it, and lands on my lips courtesy of the remarkable BA called steorn...all hail steorn!
Ohmigod!!! Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!
The nose on first sniff, once cracking this cap, is gorgeous! Right away, port wine, cherries...time to pour...dark russet brown color, ruby edges, no head to speak of...Aroma, though, is extravagant, emergent from the start, ...plums, raisins, thick and syrupy, it occupies a dichotomous realm, it straddles different realities, for it appears dank, yet fresh, deep, and supple, swift and viscous, ...it's amazing that a brew sat in a bottle so well for for nearly a decade...I've barely tasted it yet, so let's get to...oh, it's murky and sweet, thick...wow!, more like a tawny port...very mellow, with the alcoholic strength, which would have slain me in it's youth is kind and smooth, no barks and bites from this seasoned pup...now, it's just the thing..but only 6 ounces? A cheat!
My 2003, I'm not touching for 5 or 10 years!
If ever I knew what I was talking about, when talking about a brew, I fail here...damn, I need a pitcher of this perfection...I'm going to lustily slurp every luscious sip left...there's a short supply, going quick...oh, my...almost gone...where do I go from here? ...gone, sad, ...ah...
thanks, steorn...a great beer experience, hardly rivaled!

feloniousmonk, Apr 07, 2004
Photo of drabmuh
4.22/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1994? Seriously? Thanks bmanning for popping open this rarity at a recent tasting. I got the dregs and was still thrilled.

Beer is brown and murky with no real head, low carbonation and no lacing. It was bottled in 1994 and even fresh this thing has a lazy head, looks fine to me.

Aroma is filled with treacle and sweetness, caramel and toffee, smells great.

Beer is thick and sweet with a nice finish, not as dry as I was expecting, mild bitterness at the back but mostly it is everything you'd expect from a big old old ale. Old repeated for grammatical emphasis and accuracy. Very special beer. I should hold onto the case of this stuff I have from a few years ago for another decade and see what happens. I'd have it again or other vintages for sure.

drabmuh, May 27, 2011
Photo of Mora2000
3.85/5  rDev -13.7%
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 mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 07/23/11 notes. Big thanks to JamnesCameron for sending this one my way in the Birthday BIF; thanks man! 1995 vintage, poured from a 6.33 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown color with a few light tan bubbles and light carbonation evident. Looks good and like it's held onto its carbonation a little bit.

s - Smells of caramel malts, sugar, sweet dark fruits, molasses, and peat. Pretty nice, and a little bit sweet, which I enjoyed.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, sugar, molasses, dark fruits, sweet bread, light peat. Again, sweet but not too much, which is nice.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Very easy to drink considering the ABV.

o - Overall this one has held up great for 16 years old; I really enjoyed it. A sweet barleywine that is relatively easy to drink, would love to get some older vintages of this one.

mdfb79, Jul 26, 2011
Photo of beernads
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

beernads, May 31, 2013
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -10.3%

XmnwildX12, Nov 25, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.3/5  rDev -26%
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 imperialking
4/5  rDev -10.3%

imperialking, Sep 03, 2013
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -10.3%

drewone, Aug 25, 2013
Photo of orangesol
4.15/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kramer for sharing this one with us. Bottle is from 1992.

A - Pours caramel orange with a thin film of white head leaving little to no lace down the glass. It appears to be mostly dead at this point.

S - Smells of rum raisin ice cream, brown sugar, toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and some port wine. Some oxidation and some light soy sauce creeps in as it warms up. Absolutely intoxicating stuff.

T - Flavors are very similar to the nose. Starts off with a quick brown sugar rush quickly giving way to a mix of toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and some port wine. Some mild oxidation and booze creeps in as it warms to room temperature.

M - Medium-Heavy body and flavor with moderately low carbonation. Full, slightly syrupy feel that clings to the pallet long after consumption.

O - I will never turn one of these down but they can be a chore to drink sometimes. The rich flavors are great but I can see why some people might not like this one. Still one of my favorites none the less.

orangesol, Jan 12, 2012
Photo of stakem
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

'96 vintage 330ml bottle poured into a matching Thomas Hardy's snifter. The cap pries off with a slight hiss and vigorously poured down the center of my glass releases a few large bubbles that collect around the perimeter of the glass and fade to nothing in a short amount of time. The brew is a dark cherry to mahogany color when resting in my glass but when held to the light appears as a brilliant clear ruby color that fades to orange and then almost yellow at its outer most edges. When the glass is swirled and tilted, some leggings of alcohol slowly droop down the wall of the glass.

The aroma is like sherry with plenty of alcohol esters slightly driven by fruity qualities. Raisins, prunes and dates give way to toffee and a slight medicinal feel and faint herbal hop edge. Some earthiness is present along with a mild musty touch of cardboard-like oxidation. Notes of chocolate blend with almost a hint of dried grassiness. I hate to compare this 16 year old brew to itself in other vintages without actually having those other vintages open at the time of this review but lets just say that while this does smell good overall, there are other vintages both younger and older that have a bit more depth of character without showing their age.

The taste is earthen with an alcohol kick that leads the way tasting minorly medicinal. The flavors of dark fruits remind me of apple skins, pears and over-ripe cherry or the pits of cherries. As the brew warms up, more of a raisin flavor comes into play with a hint of seedy dates or prunes. The oxidation shows up not only in the aromatics but also the flavor towards the finish. There are suggestions of wet paper to cardboard present into the aftertaste with a hint of herbal hops. When focusing on the residual maltiness, a hint of chocolate emerges and a touch of dusty grain. Like I mentioned in the tail end of my aroma notes, other vintages of Thomas Hardy might showcase this brew's real potential moreso than what I am writing here.

This is a full bodied brew with a very soft, light amount of carbonation that visually is completely lacking but in the feel is present enough to keep the flavors of the brew moving across the palate. It is felt in an accenting way to the alcohol that glides across the tongue keeping it almost lighter in the feel. I enjoy Thomas Hardy's Ale quite a bit. I have enjoyed many different years of this brew from freshly released yeas ago to excess of 20 years old. I selected this random vintage to write my review tonight and admittedly will need to revisit. Even though all of my bottles have been stored exactly the same way, I think this bottle shows more oxidation than any of the other vintages I have opened to date. Still good, just not as good as some of the others both younger and older. Regardless, Thomas Hardy's Ale remains a classic and a brew I wish I had more of nearly every time I partake in a bottle.

stakem, Mar 15, 2013
Photo of Huhzubendah
4.1/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by bmanning. Thanks Ben!

1994 vintage

The beer is a rusty, dark orange, bordering on brown. There is very little head remaining in this elderly brew.

The nose brings sweet dark fruits and raisins soaked in alcohol, tobacco, caramels, malt, brown sugar, toffee, candies. Alrighty then.

Great flavor, with a fine port character. Very small pour, so I have to make it last. Everything in the aroma has a presence in the flavor. The beer is still quite sweet. A couple ounces is perfect. Sniff, sip, enjoy.

Not surprisingly, the beer has little carbonation. The feel is thick and coats the palate with a barrage of bold flavors. Alcohol presence is still there after 17 years.

Overall, a wonderful treat to try a vintage beer like this. A great example of the style. Recommended.

Huhzubendah, May 27, 2011
Photo of afsdan
5/5  rDev +12.1%

afsdan, May 22, 2014
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.39/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1994 Edition

Pours a dark brown color, much darker than later vintages of this ale. There were a few spots of carbonation but fairly tame, the beer is 20 years old. The smell is an amazing bouquet of cocoa, aged malts, musty book, brown sugar, caramel, toffee and vanilla. The taste matches the nose but far less sweet than later years. Prune, cocoa, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, scotch and even a hint of smoke. The beer drinks fine and is a testament to the original brew house and recipe. Outstanding.

Stinkypuss, Sep 21, 2014
Photo of BillRoth
4.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Have had Thomas Hardy Ale a number of times within 5-10 years of bottling. Each bottle has been a rich treat indicating superb brewing of an English Old/Strong Ale.
Previously best experience had been 1989 after 15 years. A remarkably special beer that I would have rated 4.5 to 4.75.
Recently shared a bottle of 1993 ( 20 years in) with beer companero, Travis of Ocean Odyssey...that was flat out one of the best beers I have ever had. The bottle opened with a noticeable breath of carbonation. Wow...20 years???...wow! The beer poured with a rich dark ruby pour and a slight head that quickly dissipated. What remained was a madeira like brew that caught the light in our snifters and gleamed out rays of garnet and ruby red reflections. It was a beautiful looking beer. The nose was subdued...but my 60 year old nose isn't the best to pick up subtleties. Regardless, there was dried fruit...rich like dates, figs and to a lesser extent golden raisins, not a hint of bitterness. The taste mirrored the aroma. There was no sticky sweetness. Rather there was port and dates accented by an attractive soft touch of toffee and pecan like nuttiness. Absolutely no oxidation. How this came from grain and not fruit is just amazing. Clearly a big alcohol backbone, but no burn... like a Hennessy XO. The mouth feel was outstanding. Full and again madeira like, but not sticky or syrupy. It was flat out decadent.

I sometimes slightly dismiss beers that mirror fine aged sherries, ports, etc. I mean I sometimes wonder what's the point of brewing a beer...just to create something that I can get easily at the liquor store...and usually just as delicious, stores better and at less expense.
But this was clearly special. It was so worth the wait, and a unique wonderful experience.
If you can...go out, buy a few and lay them down...for a long time. Good luck waiting...but you will be happy if you can stay patient,

BillRoth, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of mdaschaf
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

mdaschaf, Mar 03, 2013
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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
98 out of 100 based on 176 ratings.