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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)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

182 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 182
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.46
pDev: 10.54%
Wants: 156
Gots: 35 | 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:
Beer added by: Todd on 11-27-2001

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 
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 182 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BillRoth
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
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,

Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Casterbridge
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of iatethecloudsfor
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of hilgart1
3.75/5  rDev -15.9%

Photo of Steve_Oldrati
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of DLucky
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of harsley
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of Cstromberg57
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Arloxen
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of HBBJ
4.68/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

1987 vintage, saved for a special occasion.

Appearance: Deep, dark brown with just a tinge of orange. Clear as a beer this dark could be. No carbonation, but what would one expect with a 26 year old beer.

Smell: Rich, sweet aroma, filled with raisins, figs, molasses, toffee, and oak. Very much like a Pedro Ximenez sherry.

Taste: An explosion of flavor. Sweet, with dark fruits, malt and oak intertwined. Some acidity and hop bitterness keep it from being cloying. Alcohol perceptible, but not overwhelming. Sweetness fades in the aftertaste, leaving a pleasant, warm, dry sensation.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body. Coats the tongue, and doesn't want to let go.

Overall: Still crazy (good) after all these years. I didn't have much expectation with a beer this old, but it delivered. A beer for lightly sipping and savoring.

Photo of ramblinwreck101
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Michigan
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of valdieu2
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of TheBeeraholic
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of kscaldef
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of beernads
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of Absolut
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of JMBSH
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

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.

Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
98 out of 100 based on 182 ratings.