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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.

174 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 174
Reviews: 108
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 154
Gots: 31 | 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: 174 | Reviews: 108 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rye726


5/5  rDev +11.9%


Pours a dark woody brown with a thin tan head. Perfect color more than makes up for the small head.

Nose has sweet malts, ripe fruits, sherry, figs, toffee, plums, cherries and caramel.

Taste is equally complex. Hugely rich malts, dark candy, aged sherry and dark pitted fruits.

Thick, creamy body is perfectly carbonated. Amazing stuff.

09-08-2009 02:45:03 | More by rye726
Photo of MrHungryMonkey


4.38/5  rDev -2%

1982 vintage, from de Kulminator, 08.13.09. L26075

Nose of sweet-smelling malt, slight vinegar and vinous qualities, dark roast with slight caramel, slightly sour. Smells good to very good.

Pours dark brown, cherry hues, no clarity, mild to moderate head with quick dissipation. Looks good.

Amazing moderately strong sourness and tartness quells into a chocolaty maltiness. Mild oxidative wet cardboard flavors work quite well with the alcohol. Notes of hop bitterness and herbal/citric flavor. Mild circus fruit works nicely with the chocolate malt. Sour/tartness dies down giving way to the amazing thickness - smooth and viscous with soft carbonation. Nice citric tartness in finish. Tastes very good. Feels very good. Very good drinkability.

Very nice! Only slight oxidation noticeable in this fine brew for such age. Thick sweet sugary malty. Very impressive. Very cool.

09-07-2009 20:12:08 | More by MrHungryMonkey
Photo of Patrick999


4.65/5  rDev +4%

1991 vintage, to date the oldest beer I've had the pleasure of trying.

It pours still, as you would expect, an amber-colored spirit.

Incredible nose of candied dark fruits...prunes, figs, dates, grapes, plums, with chocolate lurking underneath.

I get black licorice and blackstrap molasses up front, with a great chocolate-covered-raisin taste on the back end. Port-like, but not quite as port-like as I would have thought. Exceptional without a doubt.

It is a perfect beer to pour in small portions and share. Clearly, this is great stuff.

09-05-2009 17:52:09 | More by Patrick999
Photo of Rayek


4.95/5  rDev +10.7%

My brother and I had 1989 and 1992 vintage bottles to compare. Opened on 08/08/09 and poured into snifters.

Up first is 1989. I had two bottles that had been in my possession for the last 16 years. Somehow, I managed to keep them pretty stable through the 14 different houses and two states I've lived in since I bought them. They were very well traveled beers to say the least. What's interesting is that the two bottles came out tasting a bit different from one another.

Both bottles poured a deep and slightly murky copper color. Though neither displayed any head, there was still a touch of carbonation in each. One was ever so slightly more pronounced than the other, however. The beer left no lace in its wake; just a light syrupy film.

The nose on the '89 was beyond amazing. Oak and chocolate are what I noticed first, followed by a ton of dark fruits. Raisins, prunes and currents stuck out the most. A healthy dose of nose tingling alcohol provided an offset to the fruits. I even picked up a bit of pepper and black tea at work.

The aromas then melded perfectly into the flavor. The dark fruits saturated my taste buds, while the warmth of the alcohol saturated the rest of my body. The fruit sweetness, woodsy oak, plus the alcohol and pepper bite balanced perfectly. The beer's flavors lingered long into the night. Truly an oh my God experience if there ever was one. Interestingly, the flavor intensity in the bottle with the higher carbonation seemed to be a tiny bit more pronounced.

Yes there were bubbles, but I couldn't feel them in the mouth. Instead, I was treated to a mouth coating silk that was heavy and similar to a fine cognac.

Overall, the '89 was simply amazing; almost beyond words.

The 1992 was entrusted to my brother. It didn't have quite the storied existence of the 1989, but it still moved around a bit. Sadly, the second bottle was broken by a careless roommate many years ago.

The '92 was quite similar to the '89, but not quite all the way there. Perhaps 20 is the magic age? Although the flavors were similar, the intensity level of the younger beer was lower. This was most prevalent in the woodsy flavors. The '92's flavor was basically 9/10ths if the '89. The 1992 was still an amazing tasting beer, however. It did have more carbonation going on. I still didn't get a head, but there were a few bubbles ringing my glass. The light carbonation made for a lighter mouthfeel compared to the '89.

Overall, I'm thrilled we were able to curb the temptation to try these beers before now. Both vintages came from four-packs that were purchased after the beers were a few years old. We drank two of each right away, but sadly didn't take notes. But apparently we were smart enough to know to save the others for later. I think we have a Michael Jackson beer guide to thank for that. So, thank you Michael for the advice. These beers were more than worth the wait.

08-10-2009 16:14:50 | More by Rayek
Photo of Svejk


4.97/5  rDev +11.2%

First of all, I really appreciate Derek giving me a chance to try this beer.

This was a 1999 vintage bottle, and I was really interested to see what a ten year old beer would taste like. I had an idea in my head that there may be a little bit of oxidation or other flaws that I could attribute to age that I would need to overlook. As it turns out, there was nothing to apologize for. It is amazing.

A- This is a gorgeous beer, and really deserves a 5, but it is hard to give all 5's. Anyway, it is dark garnet colored and looks great.

S- This beer smells very sweet and almost like a very nice port. No hint of the age in the smell.

T- Wow. I tried this beer with my brother, and he said "Raisins and Rum". I agree. I'm sure there are no raisins or rum in this beer, but the intensity of the flavor is there and it is delicious.

M- Surprisingly dry. I was expecting a much less attenuated beer considering the smell. Instead, this beer is reasonably dry and I wonder what it would have tasted like 8 or 9 years ago. At this point, it is absolutely perfect.

D- Oh, how I wish I had more of this. Any beer that tastes so good that you want to drain the last drop from the glass has perfect drinkability, and this is one of those beers.

04-30-2009 02:45:28 | More by Svejk
Photo of jgasparine


4.83/5  rDev +8.1%

I have collected Thomas Hardy's Ale for almost a decade now. It started when a friend and I discovered an old cache of the brew at a random liquor store in Maryland. They had several cases from 1990 through 1999.

Since then I have hunted-down several older vintages, including a few July, 1968s (both capped nips and a corked/waxed pint).

A: A gorgeous clear mahogany with a thin head that quickly dissipates.

S: Candy sugar, dried fruit, vanilla, nuts and leather.

T: Incredibly complex - molasses, candy sugar, madiera, dried dates, all balanced with some faint low-alpha hops.

M: Beautifully oily and creamy. Medium to full-bodied. I can swirl a sip of this in my mouth for several minutes, and it loses nothing. Even after swallowing, it lingers beautifully on the pallet.

D: Very drinkable. None of the attributes are overpowering, although the alcohol (which is virtually undetectable on the pallet) can catch-up to you after a few of these.

I would highly recommend a vertical tasting of these brews. The variation in aroma, taste and mouthfeel is incredible between vintages.

04-23-2009 15:38:02 | More by jgasparine
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4.75/5  rDev +6.3%

The time has finally come for me to drink this bottle. I procured this a few years back with the anticipation of drinking it when the time came. Three weeks back, that time indeed arrived, and tonight the reward: a bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale, vintage 1992.

The bottle emitted a slight hiss as I pried the cap from the glass. The beer poured into the chalice a beautiful chestnut brown color with no head, but a vestige of carbonation was present from the dissolved bubbles stuck to the side of the glass.

The aroma is quite amazing, taking a different form every time I place my nose over the glass. Plums, prunes, powdery chocolate, an old pile of chopped wood, refined oak barrels, fermented grain, and a slightly boozy backbone all contribute to this bouquet.

On the palate the beer is malty and bitter at once. It's smooth and full on the palate. A malty sweetness is contrasted by a bitterness up front. This rolls into juicy center which gives way to a mild rummy fruit, peaty, but still bitter, character toward the rear. The beer exits strong and slow and bitter and a little boozy.

This aged brew is the epitome of a sipper--like brandy by the fire place. A complex and amazing beer. Something to be savored. If you ever have the chance, don't hesitate, get the bottle. You will not be sorry.

03-13-2009 00:50:46 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of Skidz


4.58/5  rDev +2.5%

1986 Vintage, sampled with others in the Madison crew. Mucho thanks to the owner of the bottle, I highly doubt I will ever again be able to taste a beer of this age again, at least one that has aged as well as this has.

Beer is saddlebrown in the glass with no head to speak of; completely still. Color runs from edge to edge, very little fade at the thinnest points in the glass. Sticky as a gecko on the glass.

Candy-like in aroma. Caramel and vanilla are quite prominent, noting musty raisins and dates in the background.

Slushy sweetness from the first sip. Dank wooden hues in the background, with cinnamon spiciness. Figs, raisins and a mélange of dark fruity esters. Little/no perceived bitterness. Alcoholic content unnoticeable.

Crushingly smooth in the mouth; liquid suede, if it ever was. Medium-full body.

It's hard to say if this was past its prime or if it was never quite there at all. Still, very enjoyable and an exemplary treat.

02-11-2009 06:11:38 | More by Skidz
Photo of eyncognito


4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

1986 vintage Thomas Hardy's Ale No A00971 6.04 fl oz

shared this bottle with some co-workers, big thanks to the owner who generously brought this out of his cellar. this was a real treat.

pours a clear caramel brown, copper highlights, no head. the smell is simply amazing-smells of port, sweet cherries, vanilla. taste is even more complex-port, cherry, vanilla, but with a touch of sweet spiciness, and a sherry-like finish. mouthfeel was slightly chewy and sticky, for such a strong beer no alcohol burn could be felt, truly wonderful.

02-03-2009 01:06:01 | More by eyncognito
Photo of abents


4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

1986 vintage Thomas Hardy's Ale No A00971 6.04 fl oz

Lucky enough to be able to try this from my co-worker who used to sell wine and some beer. He had this in his wine cellar and was gracious enough to let myself and others try.

Pours out a transparent caramel-brown color with no head. Smells like a port wine more than anything else, very distinct caramel nose with touches of red fruit and vanilla. Taste is incredible, the smoothest complex beer I've ever tried. Bombarding the taste buds with caramel, cinnamon, vanilla, cherries, and a nice port-like finish. Very much reminiscent of a port wine in flavor profiles, very light mouthfeel almost slightly oily texture with absolutely no carbonation. Very intricate brew with a smooth tenderness that begs to be drunken. No alcohol detected at all very nice flavors that leave the lips sticky with sweetness. I almost fear that this one is slightly past it's prime, I feel it could have been slightly better at one time, but I will never know the answer to that quandary. Regardless, it is one amazing beer that I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to try.

02-02-2009 01:53:53 | More by abents
Photo of Beertracker


4.9/5  rDev +9.6%

Originally Brewed & Bottled by Eldridge Pope & Co. PLC, Dorchester, Dorset, England. Owned & Imported by Phoenix Imports, LTD., Baltimore, MD. Commercial Description: THE RAREST ALE IN BRITAIN! Maybe even the world? Vintage dated, limited release, bottle-conditioned Old Ale/Barleywine from the U.K. First brewed in 1968 as a commemorative brew to celebrate the life & writings of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), English Novelist & Poet. The release date coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Bards' death.

Vintage: 1993 (Silver Anniversary Edition) Package: 6.33fl.oz/180ml Bottle Number: No. H25867 ABV: 11.7%

Thomas Hardy's Ale. Just mentioning the legendary name to any true beer aficionado stirs deep emotion. It's reputation is well deserved & documented in the journals of many a fine connoisseur. Previous tasting notes or incantations usually precede the ritualistic pouring. I can honestly admit that I'm one of those. It definitely takes a special breed of beerfan to hold onto a THA until it reaches FULL maturity @ 25 years old! OK. I consider myself a reasonably good 'cellar master', but I think it'll be just fine if we enjoy a "young one" just this once. Come on, let's go to the beer cellar. Now, if I can just find my THA snifter? This "Madeira" of the beer world has to be the ultimate nightcap? If you're a cigar fan, then light up a Cohiba & let's find the bottle opener! It's always a good idea to plan a THA opening. The ideal serving tempature is 55-64F. I might also suggest letting a vintage bottle "breath" then decanting it like a fine wine to avoid disturbing the natural sedimentation. The 93' Vintage opens with hardly a release of pressure. It pours up very softly with only the slightest touch of carbonation. WOW! Is all I can describe as the air becomes intoxicating with wonderfully enviting aromas. Huge vinous (vintage Port), rich molasses, & sweet ripened fruit aromas float out of the glass first. These are followed closely by a hints of Scotch Whisky smokiness. The decadent nose is truly wonderful & a malt lovers dream. This vintage is a much darker (deep garnet-brown) color than some of the latter releases. The "legs" stand nicely as they create Saturn rings around the inside of the glass. The first intoxicating sip is actually quite light on the palate considering. The sherrylike flavor is alive with a sugary caramel & toffee sweetness. Hints of apple brandy, cinnamon bark, chocolate pudding, orange slices, & rum cake mingle as the glass is swirled. There's very little off-setting bitterness to cut through all of the malt richness. The overall spiciness combines with the oxidation to create a unique "leathery goodness" in the finish. The body is full, rich, & creamy as per the norm in the older THA Vintages. It's definitely worth the time & expense of "tracking" some vintage Thomas Hardy's Ale down, but you may need the services of a trusty hound and a deep pocket book. Hopefully, you've enjoyed this 25th Anniversary Edition as much as I have? But then again... probably not? Here's to 'The Trumpet Major' & his namesake Vintage Ale.

CHEERS! Beertracker

*Taster's Note: This is a retro review from 2003.

01-18-2009 19:34:12 | More by Beertracker
Photo of Traquairlover


4.55/5  rDev +1.8%

1999 Vintage, 330ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A = Clear deep maroon brown, very slight head which quickly resolves to simple bubbles around the edges.

S = Brown sugar, raisins, sharp notes almost like an aged English farm cheese but with a much sweeter backbone. Sweetens and mellows after sitting in the glass a little.

T = Sweet maple syrup and molasses, very light bitterness at midpalate. Very well blended flavors, good balance for such a sweet dessert like beer. Oxidized perfectly. A really fine example of a beer that improves with age (and this is still relatively young compared to most of the ones in my cellar).

M = Heavy body, no carbonation to speak of, very good coating of the mouth.

D = This is a superior drinking beer if you like dessert beers or beers to be enjoyed late at night next to the fire with a good book. Excellent replacement for port or a sweet sherry.

01-10-2009 04:18:25 | More by Traquairlover
Photo of brewandbbq

New Hampshire

4.53/5  rDev +1.3%

Original review date 12/30/98

Vintage 1989 nip-sized bottle at 55 degrees.

A lack of any whisp when the cap is cracked leads to a mostly flat pour. The surface holds a decent amount of large bubbles that came out of solution from an exaggerated pour for several minutes before becoming totally placid. The body is perfectly clear and dark mahogany.

Aromatics are heavily laced with dark leather, fresh tobacco, Port wine, dried figs, and boozy malt. Very intense and complex.

The body is thickish and syrupy, with a sticky, oily mouthfeel. Zero carbonation lends quite a wine-like essence.

Ripe dark fruit, cocoa, and toffee-dusted leather lead off the palate. Warming whiskey-like alcohols step forward and wrap around dried figs. Dusty, sweet malt and bitter chocolate follow through. Hints of woody tannins, dark rum, and old suede linger.

Finishes with a lingering warmth, figs and toffee stuffed in an old leather coat, luscious malt, and whiskey overtones.

This vintage was heavy on chocolate, alcohol, and leather. Barely a trace of any dusty cardboard. The lack of carbonation was hardly a detraction.

Revisit 1/15/09:

Vintage 1989 as well, and another flat example. Delicious and complex with plenty of toffee-rubbed leather, tobacco, booze-soaked figs, and oily malt. Minimal oxidation. Too bad this vintage is flat.

12-30-2008 00:33:47 | More by brewandbbq
Photo of jnelson54


4.22/5  rDev -5.6%

1993 Vintage

The beer poured a deep amber with very light head. The aroma was sharp with plums nuts and alchol. The taste was of plums and figs with a good alcohol bite. Its mouthfeel was much more of a wine character than a beer. Different but not bad. I felt kinda privaledged to drink a beer that was made almost ten years before I could drink legally.

07-28-2006 01:54:34 | More by jnelson54
Photo of AlexJ

North Carolina

4.78/5  rDev +6.9%

1992 vintage sampled courtesy of Bruno!

Pours deep mahogany brown with crimson highlights, a thin veil forms and stays for a bit before reducing to a very frail collar. Lovely color when held aloft.

Aroma reaches me from a foot away. Succulant caramel, butterscotch, and thick molasses accented by golden apple, pear, candied citron, and bourbon soaked peaches. There's a port-like undertone with subtle traces of powdered cocoa. As it warm, a sense of vanilla and oak barrel emerges.

Flavor much the same with glorious chewy malt notes of lightly scorched brown sugar, caramel, and molasses followed by a range of sophisticated booze-soaked harvest fruit nuances. It develops a nutty, vinous, sweet sherry or Amontillado character as it comes to room temperature. You are aware of it's strength only from the warming, mellowing effect on your body and soul.

Body is nearly large, with a silky-smooth texture and soft creamy mouthfeel that is so rich and mouth-coating. Fourteen years old and still kicking, an awesome exBEERience!

01-24-2006 19:12:21 | More by AlexJ
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.85/5  rDev +8.5%

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!

04-07-2004 08:49:03 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of sulldaddy


4.8/5  rDev +7.4%

1996 vintage.

Ive been waiting to crack this one and a buddy of mine stopped by with some beers from his travels so he wins and gets to share the bottle with me.
This is a chilled sample and I pour it into a snifter.
The brew pours an orange amber color with no head developing whatsoever.
There is light sediment in the brew.
The aroma is complex and rich with plums, molassess, oak, and bourbon scents dominating. The first sip reveals a thick syrupy texture and almost zero carbonation. Flavor is similar to a mild bourbon with perhaps maple syrup sweetness, and some caramel as well.
I get some alcohol warmth on the finish. This is an incredibly smooth beer and I cant believe how easy it is to drink!!

02-21-2004 06:50:59 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of gentlebubbles


4/5  rDev -10.5%

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.

02-01-2004 21:48:33 | More by gentlebubbles
Photo of Starchild

New York

4.95/5  rDev +10.7%

01/02/04 Somewhat Vertical Tasting.

I just realized this beer is named after the author Thomas Hardy, after reading the label. I actually enjoyed his Far from the Madding Crowds, but lets get real, that book is a clear-cut pastoral Utopia. Thomas Hardy ale is the soma of my brewtopia. Liquid misery I think not.

“Show myself a man of spirit?… Ah well, let me take the name of drunkard humbly – let me be a man of contrite knees – let it be!” – Thomas Hardy (Far from the Madding Crowd).

1995 Vintage
The pour produces no head and little evidence of carbonation. For a new beer I’d be utterly disgusted by the appearance, but I’ll cut this nine-year-old beer some slack. I’m not about to bitch and whine over that. Damm, this is one of the oldest beer’s I’ve ever had. The beer doesn’t give off much of a strong smell. I smell mostly port with hints of apple, almost like a cider. The beer tastes much different then the 96, it tastes like spiced apples infused with flowers. Man is this a ripe bouquet. The alcohol backbones of this old ale disappeared and sweetened up. High alcohol content no longer dominates the aftertaste as in the 1996 vintage. The mouthful busts with sweetness and then immediately extinguishes. By my pints end I realize the pints port note has truly emerged and a much-muted sourness returns. Ambrosia. Overall: 5

1996 Vintage.
After a proper pour the beer didn’t produce the any head. The beer’s has a deep tan amber hue with low viability through the pint. Smells of prunes, pears, alcohol, and oak. The beer tastes like a ripe fruit, it’s just gushing with sweetness. It’s tastes like a caramel apple that’s been spiked by sherry. Ironically, after the beer fills your mouth with sweetness, the aftertaste is tart forcing your mouth to take another sip. The aftertaste leaves a warm burn in the back of my throat reminding me of European pear liquor with a drop of honey. The alcohol is still present, but it delivers small baby sized kicks. Overall: 4.85 Godly.

1999 Vintage.
Wow, this beer is carbonated. All right! Two millimeters of foam top off my pint. The beer shows distinct prunes and pears, yet is overpowered by the sweet alcohol. It doesn’t taste quite like port yet, but maybe pear flavored rum. The alcohol has quite a bark and subtracted from the quaffibility of the last two vintages. The ’99 needs to age for another 2-3 years. Still, the 1999 is refreshing. It’s got some flavor and pronounced bite. The key element to this brew compared to the last two is the carbonation. Man, this stuff tastes like a beer again and not opposed to the raw quality of an old ale…for me its alcohol and oak.
Overall: 4.45 . Ye Gods.

01-03-2004 03:34:28 | More by Starchild
Photo of genaro


4.47/5  rDev 0%

I hadn't drank one of these for several years and I was surprised to find a restaurant nearby had a case or more of 99's. It poured a cloudy, root beer color with not much of a head. The complex aroma was a bit yeasty and citrusy as well as sweet with a strong suggestion of alcohol. The taste was equally complex - caramel, honey, apples and butterscotch...and the alcohol. A very nice, mellow sipping beer which makes the drinker very mellow as well.

01-02-2004 23:41:51 | More by genaro
Photo of tavernjef


4.65/5  rDev +4%

1998 Vintage thin neck brown bottle - Color is of a dark caramel amber-like brown, cloudy and deep, thin loose bone white head appears briefly from a vigorous pour out of the thin necked 11.15oz bottle into my goblet. A very thin and small haze whisks across the top and a thin ring around the edge. Minimal spotty lace.

Aroma is a mix of caramel, toffee, plum, and lots of ethanol warming; lots! It flys right into your nose and clears ya right up. Quite a burst of booze in the nose with this. Whoa Nelly this could've perhaps aged longer, wow! Hello alcohol!

Aged longer, no way! The taste is quite powerful with beastly aggresive malts, super hefty and thick, heavenly smooth of deep, thick caramel, solid amounts sticking in every corner of the mouth. Wow, its carameltastic! Terrific sweet tang of candied caramel, notes of toffee underlay some of the sweetness, hops hide out til the finish where a creepingly dark and pine sappy bitterness grabs some of the malts away from the palate for a moment then the malts fade back in with a tangy dulled orange-like sweetness and has some touches of tobacco and wet wood in the lingering areas of the finish.

A powerful full mouthfeel, hefty, belligerent, and brutish, you know your drinking something with gusto with this one. As soon as it hits your lips you get pummeled into submission with mega malts and jabs of warming alcohol in each sip, my goodness this sucker is thick! That said, its amazingly fine to drink, quite smooth and creamy. A wonderuosly big beer to apprehend. Wonderfully wonderful! In a word - Scrumptiouslyheftedbigyummyness.

11-28-2003 03:33:55 | More by tavernjef
Photo of mikeys01


3.98/5  rDev -11%

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.

11-23-2003 05:30:11 | More by mikeys01
Photo of Popsinc

Ontario (Canada)

4.43/5  rDev -0.9%

Well i figured my first bottle of Thomas Hardy should be the oldest, and only one, on the menu. 1984 version sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerp, Oct 2003.

I must say, i was so excited to try this beer that i neglected to take thourough notes. A super dark pour with no head. A glass of black magic! I found the nose to be one of the highlights of this beer. A nice sweetness in the air. Hints of some dark fruits like rasin and plum. A pinch of carmelized raw suagrs. Mild spice. The taste of this beer was outstanding! Again a nice dark fruity sweetness. An alcohol warmth that pleased the senses and ...what else....warms you up. Very complex. I found that the barley sweetness faded into a semi-tart, fruit finish.

Sorry about my poor note taking on such an excellent beer. I guess i'll have to have a few more. Great stuff.

11-06-2003 15:09:16 | More by Popsinc
Photo of Ave


4.15/5  rDev -7.2%

I picked up this bottle years ago on a whim. I had only recently gotten out of the macro beer hell of youth & was experimenting wildly picking up bottles of anything at random to try. I had never seen a beer with a year on the label before. That & just the overall quirkyness of the bottle I think made me pick it up. I honestly had no idea what was inside. This was in early ’94.

Only in the last few years have I reached any kind of educated level about beer, & so thought I would host a beer tasting for a few friends. It was researching the beer tasting that led me to our happy home here at BA. So anyway, what better time to bust out this mystery bottle that had been collecting dust in my closet for 9 years than with a bunch of friends at a beer party eh?

Well, as soon as we saw the actual goods, we knew we were in for something way beyond anybody’s expectation. Everything about this beer is so complex in its sensation, so overwhelming of the senses, it’s almost a waste of time to try to explain it. The BA number system works great for normal beer, but really dosnt aply to this stuff. But lets give it a try.

Soak a basket of dark red plums in a mixture of cabernet & milk for about 3 months, strain, settle out, & strain again. Run a porter house, a ¼ pound of sweet basil, & a bottle of Vicks vapor rub through a blender & dredge that in the runoff of the plums for another three months. Strain again.

God damn…what can you say? Fermented raisins, plums, chocolate, beef, apples, & cranberries. Heavily laden with clover, nutmeg, & fennel. Such an aromatic assault of yeast & fermented wilderness I have never beheld before. It smells like everything at once, & of course, like nothing else.

Yeah…I guess you could call it that. The sensation in your mouth is not like actual “flavor”, its more like getting injected with rotten fruit. It invades you & you become totally involved at once. It overpowers all outside sensation. You can’t taste anything but Thomas Hardy, you can’t imagine tasting anything but Thomas Hardy, and you can’t BE anything but at the mercy of Thomas Hardy!

Mouth feel:
Like drowning in fermented fruit soaked floating in an ocean of Grand Mariner.

No…..it’s not.

This...stuff, is beyond anything I have ever experienced in the way of a food product. It is literally as intense a physical sensation as low dose LSD. It just takes hold of you & bends you to its will. An amazing ride, one I hope to take again some day.


10-21-2003 20:44:04 | More by Ave
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4.97/5  rDev +11.2%

1990 vintage. Served at cellar temperature at the Brickskellar. 12 oz bottle with the serial number 23983.

Appearance: Reddish caramel colored liquid with an ephemeral white head. No lacing, but it's not needed with the style, and at the age of the bottle at comsumption, not expected.

Smell:Nicely complex, but subtle, nose. Prominent caramel and toffee malt aromas, a wee bit of smoke and tobacco and a bit of a metallic tang. I was surprised it was still fragrant after all these years.

Taste: A very intense flavor and quite complex. Initiall caramel malt bittersweetness. A peppery and medicinal hop taste immediately follows. Undergirding this is an alcoholic presence that says in an awfully polite British accent, "Allow me to introduce my chums malt and hops, old bean." The alcohol actually supports the other flavors rather than detracts. I think this is the only time I've had a beer where that has happened. My girlfriend wasn't as much into it as I. She called it, "Maneschevitz's ugly stepsister."

Mouthfeel: Quite heavybodied with longlasting aftertastes.

Drinkability: This could easily be your one beer for the night, maybe in your life. I was amazed at how well it paired with my food (a peppery, garlicy tomato sauce over shrimp and pasta). Probably the first time I truly experienced beer being the IDEAL beverage to pair with food.

Other: Aaaah.. what a beer to enter as #100. I wish I could find a few bottles of this, or any of the Hardy's line, for home consumption. Thankfully, I won't have to wait too long. Take your time with this one folks, curl up in a comfy chair and put on a good recording of Elgar's Enigma Variations or something suitably soothing.

10-11-2003 16:32:29 | More by ManekiNeko
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
98 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.