Old Tom - Frederic Robinson Limited
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Ratings: 139 | Reviews: 90 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BedetheVenerable:
3.95/5 rDev +5.6%
Presentation: 11.2oz brown pop top bottle with classy raised letters and nice, simple label. Best before June 2012. Picked this up at Sainsbury's in Gateshead. Damnit, how I miss Northumberland...
Appearance: Into my New Belgium Globe, this pours a beautiful dark walnut with bright garnet highlights, crowned by a thick, immensely creamy (almost like nitro) cap of dark ivory foam that shows great retention.
Smell: Near room temperature this shows attractive notes of juicy, almost wine-like dark fruit overlaying a subtle, sweet caramelly malt backbone. Swirling brings out toasty pale malt and a ghostly hint of smoke, which is a bit surprising. This is quintessentially British, and it's quite inviting, even if it's not immensely complex.
Taste: More malt than suggested in the nose. This is actually toasty malt-forward at first. A bit of sugar as well, both in a brown-sugar sort of flavor, and the fact that this feels significantly lighter than a beer of this gravity should. Winey dark fruit takes over the flavors almost immediately, and while I have no reason to believe this has any kind of bugs (esp. Brett) in it, as does Gale's Prize Old Ale, there's just a hint of acidity.
Mouthfeel: Feels like about 6.5%, rather than 8.5%. This aids in drinkability, yes, but I'd like just a bit more malt chewiness here.
Overall: This was on my "gotta find" list for several years, as I love traditional English Old Ales and Barleywines, so I was stoked to find it at Sainsbury's on our first night in Gateshead. Is it all that I hoped for? Well, not quite. I'd opened a bottle of this across the pond and was flat-out disappointed. Seems like I drank that bottle far too cool. At room temperature, this is much better. The booze is wonderfully warming, the dark fruit/winey esters are much nicer than in some examples of this style, melding with the sweet, soft malt background, and the dark caramel is nice as well. Do I love it? No. That being said, it's probably coming up on 9-10 months old (at least) now, and it's aged very nicely. The mouthfeel's a bit thin, but the flavors are nice, and for what I paid for this (about $3.60 US), I would definitely pick up 2-3 of these each winter. Game changer? No. But definitely a well-crafted, ultra-traditional, and quite tasty English Old Ale.
Strong B+, possibly pushing A- territory
06-03-2012 19:33:38 | More by BedetheVenerable
More User Reviews:
United Kingdom (England)
4.05/5 rDev +8.3%
Appearance: Very dark, almost opaque. No head
Smell: Hints of barley wine, suggests a heavy body
Taste: Like a subtle barley wine, sweet with a hint of biterness in the backgroound
Mouthfeel: More carbonated than barley wines I've tried, leaves a sweet taste and some warmth
Drinkability: One to savour in the winter months
Not sure whether this is a stong bitter or a barley wine. It has a deep, rich taste that relaxes and soothes in the cold winter months.
Served from a 330ml bottle.
12-28-2009 15:46:21 | More by ivanwatling
2.58/5 rDev -31%
(Poured into a goblet)
Appearance: Dark mahogany brown with a tan head that disappears quickly. It is pretty opaque in the light with a ring of foam hanging on the edge of the glass.
Smell: very faint aroma but there is some caramel/prune smell with a hint of hoppiness.
Taste: watery taste that doesn't have any layers. A slight prune/pale malt flavor that disappears quickly. There is a little hoppy flavor in the back of the throat after a sip. It lacks warmth or malt that I would expect in a barley wine or the hops to back it up.
Mouthfeel - Carbonation is low but the body is very thin and slippery
Drinkability: This beers prime has come and gone. It says it is best before L2296 17:13, but I left my Old Tom decoder ring in the pub. I will have to hunt this one down in cask next time I have a chance.
Thanks to tavernjef for mail this one to me, I'm glad I got the chance to taste this one for myself.
02-12-2005 00:34:51 | More by rhoadsrage
4.03/5 rDev +7.8%
A - A deep red ale with some of the nicest carbonation bubbles racing to the top. The bubbles really start from the center of my Struise glass on their way to the top. On top floats a strong beige foam layer.
S - Smells like malt syrup with a touch of sherry.
T - A malty beer, not to sweet though. Little fruitiness in the back. The complexity stays the same, there is no depth.
M - A medium carbonation that fits this British ale perfect. The body is rather full and the bitterness rather mild.
O - A good ale, but World best as the CAMRA claims???
02-05-2012 21:11:01 | More by Mar02x
3.48/5 rDev -7%
Clear garnet bodied beneath a small sandy foam.
Muted nose of butterscotch, plums, hard water. Likeable but barely present.
Nice buttery caramel base, layered with some plums, beets, raisins, and concord grapes. Cardboard hues are evident, but faint. Hops add some tea notes late. Pleasant, but there just isn't enough here.
Thinnish for the style. Seems more of an Old Ale a la Old Peculier.
Alcohol is totally masked.
This is pretty decent and distinctively British, just not what I look for in a barleywine.
01-13-2003 22:57:52 | More by cokes
4.2/5 rDev +12.3%
Bought from the Aeon at American Village, Okinawa.
A - Pours thick and dark like espresso with a fine two fingers of dark cream on top.
S - Coffey, toffee, caramel, mocha, mollasses, anything and everything delicious
T - The first thing that hits is the Belgique yeast explosion on my tongue, followed shortly by roasted malts and a smattering of the above scents becoming flavor in addition to sweet pit fruits, namely red cherries.
M - Medium to heavy on the tongue with staying power and warmth from the booze. Extremely pleasant carbonation fits the bill nicely.
Overall: This beer came right out of nowhere and made my night. It is always a relief to find good beers in Okinawa, this being a classic no less.
05-20-2014 10:13:09 | More by JoeAmerican77
3.78/5 rDev +1.1%
Poured into a Chimay chalice (i know...)
A: Single finger, cream colored head with various bubble sizes, though mostly very small, approaching nitro size. No visible rising carbonation through an impenetrable darkest brown.
S: Dark coffee/cocoa malt base with a banana/vanilla/alcohol sweetness. The alcohol is fairly present and sits on the pharmaceutical side.
T: My first barleywine and the taste is not what I expected. Alcohol falls more into the background, difficult to describe flavor. Not so beer like, yet it is. It's nice, but the flavor is really, in another place. I do taste a coffeeness in the aftertaste. Very difficult to describe, but nice. Somewhat punchy and sour in the aftertaste.
M: The feel is sort of thick and the mild carbonation is pretty nice.
O: Interesting, different. Definitely try it, it's good but I'm not in love.
12-27-2011 00:20:56 | More by sfprint
3.5/5 rDev -6.4%
Dark reddish-brown hue, fairly deep, modest beige head, sinks to a long lasting collar, no lacing. Lovely nose, malty-sweet alcohol, prunes, candy does lack depth, a touch empty the invitation is modest (but inviting nevertheless). The palate is not as flavorful as I wanted, malty sweet, figs, nuts, candy-sugar, touches of alcohol. Rather dry modest bitterness (more than typical for a British Barelywine). Fairly long finish, pleasant malty-sweet aftertaste. Tasty. Medium-full body, lightly carbonated. This is not the best Old Ale Ive had but Id gladly have it again solid. Try one, if you're new to the style.
09-19-2003 20:55:04 | More by bditty187
United Kingdom (Wales)
4.2/5 rDev +12.3%
330ml brown bottle poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter.
A. Burgundy in colour with a one and a half centimetre tight, bubbly white head.
S. Nuances of figs, prunes, raisins, cognac and port. Claret wine notes join in the blend.
T. Raisins, cognac, oak and bitter chocolate.
M. Thick and oily.
D. Strong English barleywine who's alcoholic warmth soothes the chest. A lovely sipping ale to have at hand. A good nightcap.
06-05-2010 20:24:54 | More by AEK
4.1/5 rDev +9.6%
Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a dark clear red amber. Nice two finger light brown head with good retention and lacing. Intriguing aroma of dark malt and fruit. Flavor supports the aroma, sweet malt, dark fruit, distinct molasses, hints of cherry. Complex and fun to drink. Finish rather abrupt, leaving memories of faint dark malts and light hops; somewhat watery in the finish, unlike the main body of the flavor. Slightly oxidized flavors. Medium bodied, approaching, but not quite reaching creaminess. I like a beer that appears interesting and then surprises with an unusual flavor profile and this does both. Nice ale that I will return to. I also enjoyed the chocolate and ginger versions.
05-04-2012 04:31:35 | More by LiquidAmber
3.74/5 rDev 0%
A. deep chocolate brown with a two finger beige thick head.
S: dark fruits, cane syrup, roasted malt.
T: tawny port, coffee, chocolate, dark fruit.
M: smooth, creamy, medium low carbonation
O: very tasty, could do with a bit of ageing. Putting a few bottles away for Christmas 2014 seems like a good investment.
Drank during a warm summers day, so not ideal conditions for this type of beer.
Drank from a snifter.
06-06-2013 18:04:26 | More by humulus
3.73/5 rDev -0.3%
A: The beer is clear dark brownish amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin beige head that gradually died down, leaving some wispy lacing on the surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of dark fruits in the nose along with notes of sweetness; these become a bit stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of dark fruits along with notes of dark malts and a light amount of sweetness. Flavors of plums seem to stand out in particular.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation. No warming from the alcohol is noticeable.
O: Although this is a nice beer to sip, it’s quite drinkable because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste and it isn’t heavy on the palate.
03-15-2012 02:06:09 | More by metter98
3.13/5 rDev -16.3%
Bottle thanks to Lukie.
Dark treacle with a very aggressive pour yielding a two-finger tan head. Good retention and decent lace trails.
In-your-face boozy port nose. Molasses, brandy cherries, raisins and oak. Too much booze.
Very similar to the nose with a tad less aimless booze. Lacks dimension and complexity but holds your attention with the intensity of the fortified dark fruit character.
Mouthfeel is way too limp for flavours this big. Simply no carriage of the bold character that it should be all about.
Disappointed by this. Excessive booze rawness that pretty well fails to integrate with the rich malt and dark fruit character. Similar to, but a pallid imitation of a decent Scotch or Old Ale.
11-05-2011 11:05:07 | More by spicelab
4.33/5 rDev +15.8%
Rarely would you think that a beer bottle with a drawing of a cats face would be a big 8.5% Barlywine/Old Ale. Old Tom though has made it so. And the bottle and one eyed cat is somehow fitting to the old English beer. Old Tom is now brewed based on the original recipe that was found in the original head brewers note book written in 1899. The recipe had a hand drawing of the breweries resident mouse killer, Tom, the cat.
This beer has raked up the beer awards over the years, and is now recognized as one of the very best beers to be brewed in England. The World Beer Awards have even crowned it the World's Best Ale. It is described as an English Strong ale, and I would consider it somewhere between a Barleywine and an English Old Ale. It is 8.5% abv, and comes in a custom printed dark short 330ml bottle. I like this sort of beer. Old school, not shouty or trying to prove anything. Just real good, and thats all.
Aiming for the Barleywine side of the spectrum, I opened Old Tom at cellar temperature around 14C (57F) and poured it into a tulip glass. The pour was gentle and smooth building an oily deep nutty brown beer with garnet reds emanating from the edges, and hints of ruby peering through. It was transparent but very deep with a heavy blackness right in the center. It did build a nice lush and dense creamy tan, lightly browned head with tight carbonation and excellent retention.
The nose is sweet and matly with easy notes of caramel, toffee, syrup, dates, figs, plums, more dark and sticky fruits with the lightest note of candy apple, toast and walnuts. It was smooth and not very boastful - however the aroma was certainly apparent. It didn't show any bitterness, and alcohol was perfectly muted. I was thinking much more of this and an Old Ale rather than a Barleywine by now.
The flavor was mildly rich and sweet showing a large complexity of fruity malts and brown sugar. First in on your tongue is a smooth flow of toffee and caramel malts and a even balance of dates, figs, prunes, mashed plums and peaches - all very gooey and warming. Still though all this is fairly gentle. The mouthfeel is somewhere between smooth, oily and carbonated if that makes any sense. Its is not sharp or aggressive, but is not creamy or slick. It sort of has hints of all of the characteristics and actually creates a very enjoyable sensation.
This off-mild mouthfeel matches the off-sweet flavors perfectly. Hints of toast, walnuts, roasted chocolate, and big wide round malts wash into your cheeks and bring big flavors to the top of your mouth and beyond. It comes off pretty fresh, and actually very soothing. I was expecting more of a musty sensation, but it is actually very lemon like with notes of zest and pepper.
In the back is a wine like dryness that is smoothed out by the warms of sweet malts leaving me with a very satisfying and lightly cloying sticky date pudding flavor on my palate. Again, no hops to be found, maybe there aren't even any in here. Hints of port and raisins show greater strength as the beer warms even further.
This is certainly not worth considering as a Barleywine; it lacks both the potency and depth in the mouth to be. However, as a soothing and just delicious Old Ale, I think it sets the standard. Smooth and lush malts meet sticky fruits and wide custard flavors in a harmonious and masterfully crafted beer. Awesome.
08-20-2010 02:16:13 | More by StephenRich
United Kingdom (England)
4.13/5 rDev +10.4%
Brown 330ml bottle, best before Sept 2008, drank July 2007.
Poured into one of my Gordon Thistle glasses. Very dark brown/red with a well formed off-white head. The head stayed throughout the drink.
Aroma was sweet malts and plum bread.
Tangy, malty, old Sharaz wine flavour, very different from other Barley wines I have had over the years. Complexed and interesting.
A very good beer. By far the best beer I have had from the Robinson brewery.
07-20-2007 22:27:13 | More by BlackHaddock
4.25/5 rDev +13.6%
Label proclaims it the "World's Best Ale." Hmph. We'll see.
Appearance 3.75: Pours out a murky, opaque dark brown. Very little head and no lacing. Still, this is quite a difference from your typical yellow ale.
Smell 4.50: Ho, wow! As I poured this brew in the bottle, a big wave of malt and caramel seeped up and hit me in the olfactory senses! Amazing bouquet on this beer. Malt, caramel, grassy hops, butterscotch, I could go on but won't.
Taste 4.25: Front is slightly sweet and tart with a lovely hint of malted barley. Middle is slightly caramely with more of the barley and a very nice hint of grassy hops. Finish is so smooth with just a delightful blend of caramely, buttery malt and light hops. Balanced and no over the top sweetness. Aftertaste is long and you get more of that lovely malt along with a pleasant earthy taste reminiscent of porta bella mushrooms.
Mouthfeel 4.0: Beautiful and balanced and outstanding.
Overall 4.25: Excellent beer. Big, balanced and no hint at all of its 8%+ ABV. Smooth, delicious and just an excellent ale, this baby may very well be the best of its kind in the world. It really reminds me of a Scottish ale, what with its deep malt obsession, but it does have the English interest in hops about it as well. This beer was a revelation to me, certainly one I had not heard of before, but certainly one I will buy again, this time in bulk. Highly recommended.
05-05-2014 05:27:55 | More by BeerDocT
3.63/5 rDev -2.9%
Deep crimson hue with excellent clarity. Light beige, soapy head yields sparse lace. Mellow, ripe fig and dark caramel upfront in aroma, with a splash of cocoa. Trace black licorice and earthy hop hints. Tame and clean aromawise. Prevalent in flavor are notes of toffee drizzled biscuit and prune. Mild hints of baker's chocolate and woody, almost oaky hop tones add a bittersweet contrast mid palate. Nutty, burnt almond hints lend a trace astringency late. Lightly bittered, but well attenuated, with only moderate residual sweetness. Thinnish in body, with a mouthfeel shy in viscosity to support the malt profile. Finishes with a snap of singed chocolate cookie hints and a lingering, woody sweet Fuggles twang. A rather understated, but well rounded strong ale that's somewhat dangerous in its softness. Subtle and rather tasty.
04-06-2004 00:25:22 | More by marc77
Old Tom from Frederic Robinson Limited
84 out of 100 based on 139 ratings.