Old Tom - Frederic Robinson Limited

Not Rated.
Old TomOld Tom

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BA SCORE
84
good

95 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 95
Hads: 161
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 3
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Frederic Robinson Limited visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: cokes on 01-13-2003

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 95 | Hads: 161
Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Haven't had a good ol'-fashioned British old ale in a while, so let's see how this one stacks up. It pours a deep garnet-brown topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises molasses, black pepper, dark red wine grapes, light oak, and a pinch of clove. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a hint of tobacco and some extra pepper for the sake of it. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a very nice old ale, one certainly worth re-visiting on a number of future occasions. (583 characters)

Photo of Offa
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent strong/old ale/barleywine-type and is to me an example of a strong English ale that is very similar to a strong dubbel-type.

Deep red brown, almost black, it has a medium-big dark tan head steadily shrinks to foamy ring, some weak lace.

Aroma is ginger bread with molasses, brandied cherries, metal, tiny hint of vinegar.

Taste is light and lively in body and feel, dark brandied fruits, brandyish toasted-spicy dryish finish with bitter wood. It has a lot of brandied cherries throughout, with spicy-peppery-woody qualities, zesty, engaging. (566 characters)

Photo of yesyouam
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Old Tom is a reddish brown ale with a soft, dense, khaki head that has nice retention and lacing. It has a sweet, malty aroma with a healthy dose of chocolate. It smells a bit like wet stone. It's medium bodied and quite smooth with a dry finish. There's lots of chocolate in the taste-- not dark chocolate-- milk chocolate. Besides that, there's a little grassy bitterness. There's kind of a malt extract flavor. It's a bit sweet and the sweetness lingers. The chocolate seems a little out of place with the base beer, but I'll always take chocolate in beer. (559 characters)

Photo of daliandragon
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to live in England for a year in my salad days and despite knowing jack all about beer or styles or hops or anything, I found I enjoyed English Ale. As this proudly claims to be the "World's Best Ale" I have high hopes for it, although I realize somewhere someone is buying that Bud is the "King of Beers" as well. Here we go.

Pours a murky, even, chocolate brown with little head and almost no lace, Nose is fruity with grapeskin and plums and your basic malt notes. Understated but just about right. Taste is mellow and hides 8.5% like a magician. I do taste the pepper mentioned on the label briefly but the flavors generally blend together. Carbonation is blessedly light. English hops (Goldings?) show up in the finish and aftertaste, bit only in a supporting role. Love the balance throughout. The goal isn't to amp up or overwhelm, but to satisfy. Not everyone loves traditional English Ale, even in England, but this is excellent English ale. (971 characters)

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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 (2,348 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (709 characters)

Photo of sommersb
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted On: 05-02-2012
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 330 ml brown bottle
Glassware: Snifter
Purchased: Single from Midtown, Nashville

Appearance is a clear, dark burgundy color, topped by a small tan head. Both retention and lacing are low.

Aromas are malty sweet and fruity, with notes of wood and molasses.

Taste is rich; the malts give bittersweet chocolate, toffee and caramel flavors and the hops have a spicy/peppery character. Both sweetness and bitterness are moderate and balanced.

Mouthfeel features a medium body and low to medium carbonation. The finish is dry and lightly bitter, with some alcohol warming.

Overall I found this to be an enjoyable, well-balanced ale, although a bit expensive. (715 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
4.44/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle, nice to see another beer I've read about in Michael Jackson's books show up in the Southland,

A: Pours a clear mahogany, medium white head, good retention, light lace.

S: I like this from the first sniff. Great leather and English malt, cherry skin, very inviting, I love a good nose.

T: As spiritous and sweet as the nose was, the flavour really reins it in. Great molasses and dark dried fruit notes, raisins, but never super sweet.

M: The dryness on this beer is exemplary on a beer that initially seemed this sweet. I love it, this is the drinking man's old ale. Nice soft carbonation, medium-bodied, never really full-bodied.

O: This is a great English beer, the dryness makes it really dangerously drinkable. A modern classic as I've read and heard about this beer from the late legendary Michael Jackson, but never had a chance to try it, glad I came upon it today. (895 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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. (884 characters)

Photo of crossovert
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle. Proclaims to be the "World's Best Ale". LOL.

It pours a nice reddish hue with a foamy but short-lived off-white head.

The smell is of ripe fruit and raspberry licorice.

The beer is full-bodied. It has a rich malt flavor that cuts through with some nice fruit flavors and a bit of metallic flavor. (313 characters)

Photo of TheWhiskerReview
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown with a 1-finger tan head that reduces quickly, thin lacing.

Nose is massively complex with waves of malt, alcohol and fruity esters- aromas of silky chocolate, black pepper, smoky molassas, plum, dry earthy spice, raisin bran- faintly woody and sour-

Mouthfilling body with a very chewy-syrupy quality to the malt, like a bran porridge with chocolate sauce. Mild carbonation seems to throw that syrup into every corner of the mouth, lingering for a while with some cacao and dry toffee, but tempered by the peppery alcohol and the mildly bitter, earthy hoppiness. Booziness hangs for a second before the sorghum-like, vague sourness cleanses the palate and leaves woody hints alongside of a chewy, malty dryness.

A boozy one for sure, but with the complexity of flavor, it really comes off as some sort of delicious malt liqueur. Could use a little more fruitiness on the palate, but the nose is stellar. (931 characters)

Photo of Mar02x
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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??? (554 characters)

Photo of OtherShoe2
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a head that dissipates instantly.

Interesting aroma. Cherry-wood and watery earth. Dirty water. Hmm. I want more here.

I like this. Some fruit and a touch of alcohol up front. As the alcohol in the palate clears, you get a hint of cherry, then this dries out to a fruit and nutty bitter brown bread crust finish. Surprising complexity here, even though it seems like it shouldn't be. What I don't like is that the flavors don't linger. Even the booze is quick. You drink this fast, but because you want more, not because you are seeking more of the same.Nuts, cherry fruit, a touch of alcohol, and light watery bitterness in the end.

Medium bodied, a bit mushy.

I liked this, but could have liked it more. Needs some lingering flavors, even though the complexity is there. Flawed but good, and worth trying. (833 characters)

Photo of sfprint
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

exp 08/12/12
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. (864 characters)

Photo of spicelab
3.09/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 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. (712 characters)

Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pour is dark brown with lots of red hues. Rather large tan thick/creamy head, leaves nice lacings when stetting slowly.

S: Rather mild for a Barleywine, but there's molasses and port. Dark dried fruits.

T: Sweet surupy malt, dark dried fruits. Some tart. Vineous. Chocolate.

M: Long sweet alcoholic aftertaste. Full body and mild carbonation.

O: A nice Barleywine that probably will evolve nicely in my beercellar - lucky me, who bought a whole case... (460 characters)

Photo of ADZA
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark thick kola hue with a two finger creamy coffee laced head that stays and leaves heaps of clingy lacing everywhere,the smell is chocolate,coffee,barley,dark fruits and a touch of brown sugar,the mouthfeel is thick and creamy with tastes of dark berries,mocha,dark malts,herbal hops and a touch of dark port on the finish and overall i think this is categorized wrong as its definately not a English barleywine but it is a very nice Old Ale cheers. (459 characters)

Photo of Zimbo
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Old Tom. Originally the name conjured an image of a stinking old drunk collapsed in a puddle of his own piss. But since, having had numerous half of this in Manchester, I can say that the cask version is quite the thing of beauty though albeit a rather full and buxom beauty.

It has a thick almost medicinal smell with some initial sulfur. It pours a deep reddish crystal brown and forms an effortless magnolia head leaves many rings of head. Tastes of molasses and prune with a biscuity and buttery quality. The booze is well hidden as you drink but knocks you with a piledriver as you finish the glass. Tres bien but lacks that special complexity for greatness.

Think Charlie Sheen would like this. (702 characters)

Photo of StJamesGate
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours translucent kola brown with pink tings and a cream tan head that fades fast. Nose is toasted cinnamon raisin bagel(!) Sharp prune, balsamic and barrel up front with tobacco and ginger hops. Dark cherry finish with a bit of chalk and dry spicy linger. Thin, hot, greasy and prickly.

Don't know why this is in as barleywine - as if the "Old" in the name didn't give away that it's an old ale.

Having said that, it's not a great example of the style. This one had a year or two to mellow and is still harsh which, combined with a lacking body, undermines any flavors here. Closer to Old Peculier than Ola Dubh. (617 characters)

Photo of Brabander
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Excellent beer. I traded this bottle with my buddy Sietse (Apophis666). Lore, his girlfriend's favourite beer. I know why now....

Poured in my Struise glass the beer was too cold, it cam out of the fridge and that is too cold.

Very very nice in the glass. Deep darkbrown fluid with a wonderfull head with very tiny bubbles. Big strings of carbonation.

After the beer warmed up the coffeesmell of roasted malts came in my nose. Pleasant smell and good taste. This was a surprise for me! (488 characters)

Photo of rarbring
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer is clear brown with ruby hints, the big tan head settles slowly and leaves lots of lacing.

The smell is mostly vinous, with sweet dried fruits and some yeast notes.

The taste is in the strong wine area, Madeira and Port, with raisins, figs and dates. Rounding off with sour notes, vinegar, and some bitter citric peel at the end.

The carbonation is medium low, a bit higher than expected. The ale is surprisingly light.

A rather accessible barley wine. (465 characters)

Photo of StephenRich
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (3,379 characters)

Photo of AEK
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (426 characters)

Photo of mjgarrett2
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Rather murky chocolaty brown. Minimal pale grey head and lacing.

S-Aromatic dark malts. Sort of roasted caramel or preserved fruit smell (in a good way).

T-Pleasant balance of malts and rich deep fruit undertones with a lingering bit or tart.

M-A full representation of the major characteristics gives way to a light and dry finish, not over extending your palate in any one direction.

D-Supremely enjoyable on it's own account, could potentially be even better with so mild cheeses or some savory fruits. (511 characters)

Photo of ivanwatling
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (489 characters)

Old Tom from Frederic Robinson Limited
84 out of 100 based on 95 ratings.