Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) - O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
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Ratings: 174 | Reviews: 108 | Display Reviews Only:
4.3/5 rDev -3.8%
I had this beer at the Brickskeller in DC. It was really good. It actually had a decent head on it with low but perceptable carbonation in the beer. Really malty nose with very little fruityness or hopiness. The taste was a little winey, but the maltiness dominated the profile. Pretty complex nutty flavors as well. No perceptible bitterness at all. Not much yeast character to the beer.
Honestly, I'm not sure it was worth the 12$ for the 7oz bottle. but I suppose you wouldn't get the same flavors in a beer that wan't aged for 12 years!
I was awfully disapointed with this vintage. I also had the '91 during the same sitting and it was worlds away. The '94 had ABSOLUTELY no carbonation. I realize that LOW carbonation is part of the style, but this beer was down right syrupy. Much sweeter than the '91, the '94 just tended to sit its fat ass down on my tongue and fall asleep. However this beer did have a good bit more fruity notes than the '91. Got some plum flavors most predominantly.
All in all, I would recommend the '91.
10-03-2003 17:24:15 | More by cerevisiaephilus
3.93/5 rDev -12.1%
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].
09-30-2003 06:36:37 | More by crookedhalo
United Kingdom (England)
3.28/5 rDev -26.6%
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.
09-25-2003 00:05:59 | More by rastaman
3.48/5 rDev -22.1%
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.
09-22-2003 04:48:33 | More by hopjack13
4.9/5 rDev +9.6%
poured a dark ruby and amber brown. barely any carbonation at all. thick and sweet with liquid clininging to side of glass like a liqueur.
smell is very fruity. prunes, oranges, raisins...taste is awesomely complex. huge fruitiness melts into toasty, bready flavor and then alcohol swoops in. alcohol hits your tastebud and nose quickly.
very syrupy, brandy-like mouthfeel. drinkability is only so high because of the complexity and alcohol.
this beer definitely tests the limits of beer-dom. will appeal to cognac and brandy drinkers. obviously a lot of care goes into this product. (this barlywine was about 8 1/2 years old when i tried it.)
09-15-2003 15:48:39 | More by vitesse
4.88/5 rDev +9.2%
Consumed two nights ago (9/12/03).
Prime nuclear bunker material -- and that's a compliment. And here's why: (1) high abv makes for a great "belly warmer" for medicinal purposes, (2) so rich and big that you could drink this and be satisfied for quite a while, and (3) it would give you something improbably great to contemplate while hunkered down.
Pours with a nutty brown color that shows tiny hints of red in the light. Pretty much a headless brew, as to be expected. Just the tiniest hint of hazing.
Powerful aromas waft up to the nose immediately. Grapes, subdued lemon, apple and fruity esters, maple syrup, sweet cigar smoke. Just an impressive array of strong aromas. The estery apple character carries through to the palate with raisins and an oaky-maple-sap sugar flavor. Intensely sweet with a light plum skin finish. Eminently drinkable for a near 12% brew with such an amazing assortment of flavors.
Powerful. Complex. Big. Awesome.
09-15-2003 01:18:35 | More by marburg
5/5 rDev +11.9%
Presentation: A small, classic looking, 6.33 fl.oz. brown glass bottle. The obverse label has the Bottle No. E 169956 in red, with the year 1990 in a smaller black font. The reverse label states that this is the rarest ale in Britain, it maybe now. The crown cap & top inch of the bottle neck are deliciously sealed in a lovely thick gold foil that seals a wrap of scarlet red string, which in turn holds a gold colored metal disc with a Hitchcock-like profile of Thomas Hardy. A grandiose presentation.
Appearance: A dark lucid chestnut color, little inherent carbonation results in no head formation. A thin ring of tan colored bubbles cling to edge of the beers meniscus. A gentle swirl of this majestic ale results in a wave-shaped viscous ethanol coating that slowly creeps, Cognac like, back down into the glass. Regal.
Nose: Pungent malts, strong dark exotic fruits in an emulsion of high alcohols. Years of captivity & maturation are slowly released, the sheer marvel of the dark odors are enough to induce salivation. Terrific.
Taste: Smooth, oh soo very smooth. A seraglio of flavors start with sweet malts soaked in a rich Dundee fruit-cake in the entrance. Hints of Madeira, sweet sherry, caramelized brown sugar & a prune-like fruitiness in the middle. Rich toffee tastes lightly cloy in the back of the throat, reminiscent of the finest English Devonian Toffee. Later these develop into a more astringent fino sherry like finish, dry & heated. A low strength spiciness breaks through in the latter parts of the swallow. Solvent-like, the alcohol convokes all these tastes, & is ever present, like a Gas, it fills all available spaces. Ultimately this helps to warm the epiglottis & stomach, rather than the mouth. Quite amazing, the last 13 years have eroded the rough edges & polished the raw surface of this Masterful English Barleywine, into a mature, yet serene, Grand Master. Awesome.
Mouthfeel: Immense but never over-powering. The smooth ale enters the mouth like a SuperModel gliding effortlessly down the catwalk. Smooth & Silky, it coats the mouth & warms the stomach. Incredible.
Drinkability: I so wish I had a Case, or even just one more bottle.
Overall: Alongside a 1987 Courage Imperial Russian Stout that I had a few years ago before leaving England, this is probably one of the very best bottle-conditioned Strong English Ales that I have ever had the privilege to try.
Astounding, Marvelous, Stunning, Breath-Taking - PERFECT!
THE Quintessential Classic English Barleywine.
09-01-2003 21:00:05 | More by TheLongBeachBum
4.58/5 rDev +2.5%
Vintage 1993 (Anniversary edition). Sampled 8/30/03.
This ale poured a clear to cloudy reddish-amber with no foam (careful first pouring gave a clear liquid). The smell was wonderful: vinous, malty, fruity (figs, currants), mollasses. There was a slight, sharp edge to the aroma. The taste was fruity (figs, currants) and vinous. Slightly sweet with the taste of caramel, and a hint of alcohol. The flavor lingered nicely. The mouthfeel was smooth, creamy, airy, and warming. The body was medium with almost no carbonation. This was a wonderful ale that had aged nicely. Very drinkable, though this was a sipping beverage.
Thanks to Todd and Jason for sharing this.
08-31-2003 20:33:22 | More by UncleJimbo
4.1/5 rDev -8.3%
this was truely a treat! i had a chance six years ago to try this ale ands it slipped throw my fingers, not this time . recently we sat down with a list of vintage ales and this was the best. fuller bodied than you would think and just wonderful on the toung with undecribable cherry like flavor and maltly finish at 16 years old i guss there right when thay say it improves for 25 years! thanks
06-04-2003 15:54:56 | More by beerman599
4.47/5 rDev 0%
This old legend is the color of my favorite old Docksiders, except Hardy's has a very thin beige head and rapidly sliding lace. The mix of sweet malt, honey, hops and alcohol aroma remain potent almost throughout the entire glass. Butterscotch and blended Scotch whiskey flavors meld together with candy sugar and a light citrusy bitterness and prunes. Earthy and slightly nutty with a yeasty, astringent background. Alcohol rounds out the complex, ever changing flavors. The nearly syrupy malt body is oily and velvety textured like a fine sherry. I hope the new Hardy's lives up to its legendary past.
05-09-2003 20:07:39 | More by BeerResearcher
4.6/5 rDev +2.9%
Bottle # 085265. A hard pour sends up a brief-lived off white head that falls upon hazy deep red liquid. Nose is chock full of dark fruitiness...you name it, fig, plum, raisin, a cornucopia of delights. A background shroud of alcohol livens things up. Taste is a wave of malt followed by a depth of alcoholic warmth and a massive level of fruitiness, deep and dark, mixed with nuttiness, a little dry leather, smoke and miniscule hop bitterness. It finishes longer then long, juggling between fruitiness, alcohol & latent bitterness...a beer drinking experience that is quite unique.
Vintage # 13439 (Silver Anniversary Edition)
Tasted at cellar temperature, after nearly 10 years of being lovingly cellared. Uncapped with a barely audible "pfffft", and poured with virtually no head, only a brief scant upsurge of fine, slowly rising bubbles over remarkably clear for it's age tawny, dark amber liquid. Nose is heavy on prunes, figs & oxidized Sherry with some malt mixed within. All quite heady and intense! Taste is very smooth, more dark fruits tasted as it washes over the palate...slight hop bitterness appears after the fruitiness fades away, along with throat warming alcohols. Finishes long and tasty, with notes of leather and caramel/molasses that coats the palate and lingers on and on. Truly one memorable beer!
03-29-2003 22:31:42 | More by beerluvr
4.72/5 rDev +5.6%
1994: First, off a big thanks to Beerluvr for this bottle of divine nectar! This is my first Thomas Hardy's Ale and I must admit, it was quite an experience. This beer opened with a barely audible 'pfft' and glugged into my Chimay chalice with absolutely no head. This ale was a dark blood-red, muddy-brown colour. This ale exuded aromas of leather, molasses, raisins, dark fruits, figs, chocolate, butterscotch, toffee bits, and more! It tasted like more of the same. Sweet, fruity, chocolaty, and boozy. The alcohol precense was pretty minimal, considering this brews potent ABV! The mouthfeel on this brew was amazingly thick and rich. Like a meal in a glass! The drinkability was very good but this is a very special type of ale that should only be drunk on special ocassions!
1998: This brew pours out a dark amber/red colour with a minimalistic white head of foam, which only lasts for a short while. The aromas are all across the board and consist of leather, rawhide, chocolate, caramel, alcohol, faint hops and malts, spices, and yeast. The taste is quite fruity, boozy, english-barleywine like and complex. The mouthfeel is quite thick and rich, but never too sweet, thick, or rich to be considered cloying. The drinkability is great for an ale of this size as well! What can I say....it's a Hardy's!
1997: A dark brownish liquid with a minimilistic, but lasting white head of foam. Aromas are all over the place. Leather/rawhide, chocolate, caramel, sugar, spices, dark fruits, rum, brandy, deeply malty, and slightly dry and hoppy. The taste is truly an exceptional thing of beauty. Deep malts, dark fruits, alcohol, sugar, various spices and dark belgian chocolates. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, but not over the top for a barleywine and the drinkability is, as always, excellent for an 11.7%abv brew!
1982: sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium. A dark ruby red (port like) liquid with a small cap of fizzy brown foam. Aromas are unreal. Sugar, spice, caramel, dark fruits, booze (brandy or cognac), sugar, deep malts and more. Taste is herbal, medicinal, leathery, chocolatey, caramelly, fruity...and simply awesome! Mouthfeel is thick and rich and drinkability is surreal. Almost a perfect 5 in my book. Wow, this brew certainly benefits from some serious down time!
03-28-2003 13:22:49 | More by francisweizen
5/5 rDev +11.9%
As I sipped this glorious elixir, I reminisced other occassions when I have enjoyed some of life's finer simple pleasures....an intoxicating Cuban cigar, a particularly delicious cup of Yemen Mocha/ Aged Sumatra coffee, etc. And I knew this brew had taken its rightful place on that mantle of hedonistic pinnacles. It pours a somewhat dusky brown with dark orange highlights with an ever so scant ring of bubbles for a head. The aroma....magnificent...worth the price of admission alone. Richly complex, I could sense port, a slight nuttiness, deep caramel, sweet chocolate, and loads of dried fruit; blackberries, plums, dates, currants. Frankly, I was surprised at the level of fruitiness in a 6 yr. old brew. The taste is an amalgam of rich toffee, dates, currants, nuts in the background. Sweet but not cloying and very smooth, I was reminded of a rich, young tawny port. There is a touch of alcohol in the taste, but this brew is so silky smooth it is hardly noticeable. In contrast, many other barleywines seem to have a coarse alcohol bite that is thankfully missing in this brew.
03-27-2003 13:09:17 | More by johnrobe
3.58/5 rDev -19.9%
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.
02-17-2003 13:20:19 | More by Jdiddy
4.33/5 rDev -3.1%
bottle #0528 355ml.
bought in Pensacola Florida in 1992
The 1989 pours a slightly cloudy ruby-orange with no head and no lacing other than a few wondering bubbles. The aroma is sweet ambrosia and dried fruit with background notes of alcohol. The taste is sweet and alcoholic up front and then settles down to a warm fruity mix with plenty of malt flavors starting to surface. There are also some hints of herb like flavors and a wee bit of citrus blending back and forth with the malt, alcohol, fruit, and some spice flavors also. The finish is a bit dryer but still sweet like a sherry with more earthy flavors. The aftertaste is an even balance of alcohol, fruit, and spices. The herbal qualities and citrus flavors have long faded and are not present in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, even after 13+ years.
Overall a most wonderful product. The smile that comes to your face and the warmth and joy that enters your heart upon sipping this most astonishing beer is beyond my ability to put into words. Needless to say I am warm, happy, and full of mirth (and perhaps a few other things).
02-15-2003 16:40:38 | More by purplehops
4.38/5 rDev -2%
Brownish, amber/tawny hue, no head whatsoever, no lace, no amount of carbonation. The nose sets the stage like few beers have; ripe, succulent yet fermentated dark fruit, hints of tropicalness, rum, brandy, candy-like sugar, and, undeniably, alcohol. Immediate warming of the palate upon the first sip, and sip is the optimum word, followed by a brandy-like, raisin, candy, alcohol complexity. It is like an open hand smack to the face, but you can feel every individual finger comprising of the powerful blow. The source and the sum of the complexity is unquestionable. Warming and pleasing mouthfeel, tasty, great throughout, something I will revisit.
01-26-2003 07:31:28 | More by bditty187
5/5 rDev +11.9%
This is a personal tragedy. I only had one bottle of this vintage (1997) and several 1999s. I pulled what I thought would be an immature, but more numerous 1999. It was only when I logged on here, looking for a place for this review, that I realized that I had opened my last 1997 (!). Oh well, another 1999 survives to see another year. Bye bye 1997...:-(
I had taken the first whiff and taste before I realized my mistake. "Wow," I thought, "this is richer and drier than I expected." To describe the flavor, think tip top Cuban cigars, Valrhona chocolate, Scottish butter toffee, Hennessey Paradis... there is no justice words can do this beer. It is the culmination of a great brewing legacy. Even better than the 1999. Perhaps the greatest ever.
A notbeer. A world of beer within itself.
Mature, preserved fruit is evident, covered with toasted sugar and rancio, Madiera-like thickness everywhere. Obscenely luxurious...and buttery...and strong.
This is a Top Secret improvement on Port, which costs 10 x as much and delivers the same pleasure.
11-07-2002 20:24:32 | More by putnam
4.25/5 rDev -4.9%
While I a not a huge fan of barleywines, this one is good. It has absolutely zero carbonation. Pours out to a reddish, almost pink color. Somewhat thick in appearance. A brandy-like taste, but what is impressive is that the alcohol doesn't overpower the taste. Complex and delicious. I have another bottle of this vintage (99) cellaring. It'll fun to try it at a later date.
09-11-2002 05:43:27 | More by proc
4.35/5 rDev -2.7%
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.
07-16-2002 15:32:22 | More by NeroFiddled
4.88/5 rDev +9.2%
Dark amber/brown liquid. Rich, dark roasted malt and brandy-like aroma. Alcohol is very pronounced in the aroma as well. No head or carbonation at all. Just the smell of this brew is amazing! There's more incredibly complex flavors going on here than one can put a finger on. Big alcohol warming sensation. Sip this like a fine whiskey.
05-07-2002 13:10:25 | More by John
3.75/5 rDev -16.1%
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.
04-02-2002 10:54:12 | More by aracauna
4.68/5 rDev +4.7%
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.
03-31-2002 00:27:05 | More by Jason
4.15/5 rDev -7.2%
pours out black and produced a huge tan head without having to pour it vigorously. aroma of dark roasted malt and fruitcake type flavors come through just slightly. medium body and a hop bitterness pulls through in the taste and mouthfeel. your typical ripe fruit flavors along with some chocolate roasted malt are somewhat muted but delicious none the less. bitterness lingers on afterwards which is welcome. yummy!
03-09-2002 22:13:31 | More by budgood1
4.9/5 rDev +9.6%
I know, I know, I probably should have waited a few more years... This is an exceptional brew, and IMHO it's just about as good as barleywine gets. The color is exquisite: a deep ruby-brown, with just a trace of lingering head. A huge, sweet, malty taste, with traces of prune, burnt raisin, and pear. Moderate carbonation, with bubbles that seem to linger on the tongue. I know there's a huge amount of alcohol, but it does not overwhelm. Outstanding brew. I hear they won't be brewing this anymore, which is an absolute shame.
03-02-2002 20:06:31 | More by mophie
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
98 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.