Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) - O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 174 | Reviews: 108 | Display Reviews Only:
4.69/5 rDev +4.9%
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.
07-07-2013 01:02:14 | More by HBBJ
4.25/5 rDev -4.9%
'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.
03-15-2013 01:18:14 | More by stakem
4.73/5 rDev +5.8%
Dusted off this 17 year old from the cool winter cellar and poured it at cellar temp (55F) into oversized snifter glass. No refrigeration required. Deep ruby/brown color. Very bright in the glass when held up to the light. Small ring of tan foam with medium sized bubbles settles around edge of glass fading quickly. Some floaters, but nothing to worry about.
Aroma is detectible within seconds of popping the cap even before pouring it. A proper slow pour so as not to disturb too much sediment unleashes a torrent of dark fruit, dank aromas. Raisin right off the bat with molasses, fig, prune, burnt toast, smoke(?) and alcohol. Extremely inviting.
The taste brings all those aromatics to the forefront with a moderate to somewhat intense sweetness on the mid tongue. No hop or bitterness whatsoever. No oxidation in this vintage either. All malt, sweet & decadent dark fruit and booze. Continual swirling brings back a fleeting head.
Mouthfeel is somewhat oily, yet lean. Definitely not as brothy as young editions. Aging brings out that liquor/vinous essence whereas younger versions are thicker, beefier and even chewy. A real shame that 2008 was the last vintage produced. Might never experience that youngness again. Young or aged, they are almost like different beers altogether.
02-28-2013 23:04:01 | More by nebula1999
District of Columbia
4.4/5 rDev -1.6%
Big thanks to seeswo for this. One of my favorite authors and favorite styles. 1999 vintage. Tulip glass.
A: Pours a dark cola color, all the way to clear around the rim, with a few bubbles but otherwise flat.
S: Caramel, candied dark plum and raisin, and mild to moderate oxidation and sherry flavors. The nose reminds me of a vintage port.
T: Rich, decadent caramel, raisin, sherry, on a long finish. Wow, this is delicious. Fairly sweet, this is again reminiscent of port for me.
M: Light carbonation and full bodied, a tad syrupy. Alcohol is completely hidden.
O: This is a superb dessert beer. Definitely a sipper, something to enjoy a nip of. Showcases how good a non-BA english barley wine can be.
01-15-2013 05:57:48 | More by pmarlowe
3.3/5 rDev -26.2%
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.
12-27-2012 03:31:53 | More by kojevergas
4.48/5 rDev +0.2%
Poured slow homie, toffee crystal beer with a glass surface. Lovely hues. Smells of nougat, caramel, candied raisin, toffee, toasted sugars, lots of toffee & caramel. Hint of vanilla. Tastes of caramel, nougat, nut roll, bits of honey, syrup, cola and tawny porto (10 year) - nice flavor. Medium on thin body with light, prickled carb and a wet finish that gave a little hint of alcohol. A gracefully aged beer I'm glad to have tried and received from a great trading partner as an extra.
12-11-2012 07:00:04 | More by harrymel
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
98 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.