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Thunder Hole Ale - Bar Harbor Brewing Company

Thunder Hole AleThunder Hole Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

183 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 183
Reviews: 118
rAvg: 3.73
pDev: 11.8%

Brewed by:
Bar Harbor Brewing Company visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  4.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Delicious. Full-bodied. Complex. Sure, you can say all those things. Wouldn't it be a lot more fun to take a sip of this handcrafted brown ale and come up with your own superlatives? This is the brown ale that beat Newcastle, Sam Adams and more, at the World Beer Championships in Chicago.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-10-2002)
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Ratings: 183 | Reviews: 118 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of thecheapies


3.74/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thunder Hole; a questionable name for a beer.

Pours out a deep reddish-brown. Glazing microsuds cloud the top. There doesn't seem to be a whole lotta carbonation in this sucker.

Malty brown ale nuttiness with some appealing bitter relief. Not far estranged from flavors of light roast coffee and English toffee. A little tea-like with an earthiness that has good character. I like this aroma.

Ooh, great flavor! Earthy roast, toffee malts, light roast coffee, chicory root, Earl Grey tea, and a finishing minerality. Very easy to drink, and appropriately tasty. Maybe, exceedingly tasty for an American Brown. Mouthfeel lacks from a blandness of low levels of carbonation and a wet medium body. Zapped. Needs some chew or some foam to cut through. Otherwise, a brown ale that is more than trustworthy. I would go to this.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 17:58:25 | More by thecheapies
Photo of metter98

New York

3.84/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: When held up to a light, the beer is clear very dark garnet red in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high light beige head that died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles in the center of the glass and a collar around the edge.
S: Moderate aromas of nutty malts are present in the nose.
T: Much like the smell, the taste is very nutty and has underlying hints of toffee malts. Neither sweetness nor bitterness is perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I really enjoyed this beer as it was filled with flavors of nutty malts but was very easy to drink and sessionable. This would make for a nice accompaniment to a burger if you are looking to pair it with a meal.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 23:35:21 | More by metter98
Photo of beergoot


3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown body with a thick yet quickly dissipating head that leaves a sparse swirl of foam on top. Roasted grains and nuts in the aroma; a bit of dark chocolate. Taste follows the nose along with a twinge of hop bitterness that builds and lingers at the end. Medium bodied, smooth finish.

Lacing still appeared on the glass despite looking pretty weak and thin. But the aroma and taste really pull this one up. There is a lot of caramel and semi-sweet chocolate notes in this one. Pretty good job of presenting the malt highlights.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2013 21:59:08 | More by beergoot
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.49/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark, mahogany coloring that is vibrant under light, with a frothy, light, off-white head that quickly settles into a sparse coating. Aromas of rich nutty sweetness, with hints of hazelnut and almond. Very sweet on the nose. Flavors are rich and sweet on a light, crisp body. Nut sweetness is cut by the beer's body, and the roastiness is all that carries over into the aftertaste. Flavors fall off a bit, and there is a semisweet, slightly watery finish to the brew.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2013 22:22:54 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of sommersb


4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 08-10-2012
Freshness: Best by 12-2012
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, twist-cap
Glassware: Schooner
Purchased: Received in a trade

Clear, reddish-amber color, with a tan head of 2 fingers. Lacing and head retention are good.

Smells are of caramel, roasted malts and some nutty aroma.

Tastes include caramel malts, and woody/earth hops. More malty sweet than hoppy bitter.

Mouthfeel has a high amount of carbonation and a finish that is balanced well between dry and sweet.

Overall a very good brown ale, my favorite so far from Bar Harbor.

Thanks to Greg for this one!

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2012 03:01:59 | More by sommersb
Photo of DrDemento456


3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Color is a bit light for a brown ale, deep amber red with a 1/2 inch of frothy head.

S - Smell of English and brown malts, a twang of hops, and a bit of toffee.

T - Actually quite good for a hop forward brown. English malts and toffee take the show with bittering herbal hops in the finish. Not too complex but it works.

M - Light to medium would guess it was around 5 or more but the ABV screams session.

Overall the only draw back here is the price since Pittsburgh doesn't distribute these guys I found the single for $3.50 at the House of 1,000. It was good but not over 3 bucks a pop good.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2012 04:27:19 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of woosterbill


3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Clear, deep persimmon body under a finger of frothy off-white head that settles slowly into a ring and leaves some spotty lace. Lovely color.

S: Nutty, roasty, and hoppy. Very herbal in terms of hops, but the roundly dark malts take center stage. Nice.

T: Soft, bittersweet roasted malts. Dark fruit, nuttiness, and a hint of chocolate. Herbal hops lend some balance and mild bitterness on the finish. Tasty.

M: Medium body, highly frothy carbonation. A bit much, but still pleasant.

O: Really pleasant beer. Not a style I really like, but this one is totally enjoyable.


Serving type: bottle

08-03-2012 02:32:00 | More by woosterbill
Photo of Cavanaghty


3.2/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Darker reddish brown with a thin off white head.

Smell: Malts and nutty.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of toasted malts and nuts.

Overall: This is an ok Brown Ale. I am not personally a fan of Browns but I enjoy this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2012 23:06:16 | More by Cavanaghty
Photo of BeerKangaroo


3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass:

A: dark brown colored body that yields a foamy creamy head that leaves a decent ringy lacing. The head is small and dissipates within several seconds.

S: malts with just a tad of coffee. Some toffee presents itself as well as the beer warms.

T: malts again, with just a bit of the coffee and toffee.

M: light, leaning on the watery side.

O: I like this beer. It may not be one of the best "browns," but it still does the trick.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2012 00:01:13 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of WVbeergeek


4.5/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look who showed up in Pittsburgh, two beers from Bar Harbor...Thunder Hole Ale, and Cadillac Mountain Stout. This appears a dark crimson amber color, quite clear when held toward the light. Aroma has some roasted malt qualities that bring out a touch of caramelized sugars...these beers are crazy drinkable across the board. Flavor wise minimal balanced sweetness peaks across an earthy English ale type of a brown ale with complex malt flavors and herbal earthy hops. As it warms you get more subdued malt character, these guys know how to ferment out the residual sugars not cloying bone in this beers body, it's amazing. Mellow natural carbonation on the mouthfeel in a medium bodied brown ale, I can't tell you to go out and try these beers enough. Overall high quality artisitic masterful brewers that know their art and have been at the game for a long time. I'm happy to see some of it distributed outside of New England, down here in the Burgh.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2012 15:19:09 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of capeannbass36


3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours an exceptionally clear reddish brown, topped with a 1/2 finger off white head. Next to no lacing at all.

S- Initially slightly sweet malt followed by a somewhat mineral water scent.

T- Similar to nose. Starts with a slightly sweet malt taste, finishing almost metallic.

M- A bit thin and watery. Decent carbonation.

O- Nothing bad, but nothing all that memorable. Just o.k. Easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2012 21:40:59 | More by capeannbass36
Photo of tobelerone


3.15/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I used to vacation at Thunder Hole when I was a kid so my dad bought me this bottle for sentimental value. Turns out to be a very typical brown, nothing particularly noteworthy, drinkable and slightly above average. Brown with reddish highlights, good sized head. Retention and lacing both solid. Mild malty, bready aroma with a faint mineral note.

Taste follows the nose; mostly bready malt and a subdued floral hoppiness on the finish. Lesser aspects of roast, nuts, light sweetness. Again, the mineral/metallic note is in there and not particularly appealing. Body was medium to a little thin, with fairly high carbonation. Dry finish. Felt a little prickly. I would have liked a smoother overall mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2012 04:43:18 | More by tobelerone
Photo of ckollias


3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours an amber-brown hue with a huge, 4-finger, tan head that slowly dissipates into a solid persistent lace.

S: Strong malty hoppy aroma. Hint of toasted malt in the background.

T: Smooth malty nut brown flavor which is an equal part sweet and bitter.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: This is a solid nut brown ale. Very smooth and tasty.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2012 02:49:01 | More by ckollias
Photo of far333


3.03/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Hazey chestnut with an oatmeal colored head that rises u an inch high and settles out quickly. Low aroma of sweetish toasted malt. Flavor of half cooked chestnut, toasted malt, hint of mushroom. Mild bitterness, no hop flavors noted. Full and creamy mouthfeel, very round and rich. Overall below average. Pretty one dimensional, not very complex.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2011 00:46:45 | More by far333
Photo of speter

New Jersey

3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep ruddy brown with a two-finger tan head in the style of a southern English ale. Moderate lacing.

S: Toffee and brown sugar dominate the nose. There's hints of light-roast Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee and a bit of cinnamon.

T: Toasted walnuts and pecans with a light sprinkling of Dutch cocoa. Overall, not very complex, but refreshing. There is an American, rather than an English, feel to the aftertaste, which is quite bitter, which plays up the walnut characteristics of the beer.

M: Well done in the southern English style. The body is light and the carbonation is restrained.

O: This is a very nice Anglo-American Brown Ale. You could well view it as a premium version of more well-known brands like Newcastle.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2011 19:26:46 | More by speter
Photo of mrasskicktastic

New Jersey

4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep reddish brown with a small off white head, a bit hazy. No lacing.

S - A bit of malt and a very faint hint of spices - like xmas cookies that had been cooked in the house hours ago. Mild, but nice

T - Brown malt flavors, a bit of peat and forest floor. The aftertaste is a mild mossy bitterness.

M - Rich is the best word I can think of. Its medium to thin bodied, but creamy somehow. Pretty refreshing.

D - I generally am not a huge fan of brown ales; I find them bland and dull. This one stands out though. It's flavor is true to the style - not overly rich, it speaks softly, but carries a big stick. One of the best browns I've seen.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2011 02:18:24 | More by mrasskicktastic
Photo of Knapp85


3.4/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a nice brown color with a light tan head on top. The lacing was pretty good with a decent retention also. The smell of the beer was a little sweet was a light roasty nutty aroma to it. The taste of the beer was also on the sweeter roasted side. The mouthfeel was pretty normal in my opinion. Overall I think this beer was decent. Nothing too exciting but it was drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2011 18:44:04 | More by Knapp85
Photo of Bendurgin


3.38/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours a clear cola brown with two fingers of light khaki head. It settles leaving a bit of soapy lace.

Brown sugar and a bit of mollasses on the aroma with a lingering nutty aroma. The pallet is a bit boring. Nothing offensive here but a light walnut flavor with not much else.

Kind of a light body here with lively carbonation. Overall this isn't bad but it really istn' anything special either. One of the more boring browns that I've had.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2011 01:16:06 | More by Bendurgin
Photo of andrewinski1

New Hampshire

4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a curvy pint glass. This pours with a large 2 inch head and there is a ton of lacing. The body is clear amber. This looks great.

The aroma is full of bread crust and a bit of hazelnut. Maybe some mild chocolate as well.

The taste is slightly sweet with an emphasis on malted cocoa and nuts.

This is very drinkable as it's light enough and goes down easy.

This isn't too strong, but the subtle flavors hit in all the right places. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2011 04:18:23 | More by andrewinski1
Photo of Mebuzzard


4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once again, the Great Lost Bear comes to the rescue.

Nice pour. Medium/dark brown, looks rich and clean. Light off-brown head. Lacing is good

Aroma is....brown. Nutty, earthy, some caramel and apple

Same same. Brown. It's a subtle flavor, nothing powerful or overwhelming. A bit light in the middle. Nutty, sweet caramel, earthy apples. Unassuming and pleasant. Light carbonation crisps it up a bit.

Would love to see this on cask...but I'm in Denver, so....

Serving type: on-tap

08-21-2011 18:28:15 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of asabreed

New York

3.6/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Medium to dark copper and brown color, unfortunately with very little head or retention. Looks like soap bubbles at first, and they vanish pretty quickly.

Smell: Malt sweetness and slight roastiness. Some toffee, mild honey, coffee.

Taste: Expected from what the aroma gives off. Some light sweetness and slight roastiness, finishing with some slip herbal and citrus hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A little slick and watery until the end, where a burst of carbonation makes itself known.

Drinkability: Maybe it's just me, but it seems like every Brown I have lately is the same as all the others. It's become a style that seems apparently easy enough for many domestic breweries to make, and with many there's nothing that they're trying to do to set themselves away from the pack. A double Brown? Maple syrup? Brett? Something at least a semblance on the experimental side? If you like your Browns easy and sessionable, however, you'll most likely enjoy this, since, though it's an easy going brew, it's hard to knock it in that sense, to a certain degree.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2011 19:09:17 | More by asabreed
Photo of smakawhat


3.65/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a large bottle into a shaker pint glass.

A nice off tan almost creamy one ginger head is formed, makes a lot of noise when settling as you can hear those bubbles snapping. Body is a great looking amber brown and clear with red and dark chestnut hues.

Bouquet is kind of muted, small chocolate sense but hard to find, kind of wet and clean. Mild roast character.

Taste is overall a good roast and toasty grain. Malt mildly present but kind of wet bodied and lacking in texture a bit. Large emphasis on roast with this one it seems. As it warms up it gets into tasting like a little pan gravy.

Overall It's still not too bad it's quite pleasant overall, not that much exciting it seems though.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2011 17:44:17 | More by smakawhat
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

hazelnut color and a light offwhite head that capped the top with vigorous carbonation throughout. aroma is sweet, lots of caramel and roasted nuts, hints of bready grains, touches of light earthy hops, really quite nicely done i have to admit. moving forward there is a clean, crisp feel to it, smooth medium body is well deserving and shows off the overall profile very, very well. i was quite impressed with how easy this was. flavor is dominated by caramel and roasted nuts and the overall expierence is that of a lightly sweetened and very sessionable ale.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2011 16:04:37 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of weizenbob


3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thunder Hole sounds like the name of a bad porno, but it turns out that it's actually the name of an underwater cavern in Arcadia National Park. Who says you can't learn anything drinking beer? This bomber was received in trade with umfskibum. Thanks Josh. I saw no bottling date. I poured this into a tulip-shaped imperial pint. A moderate pour gave two fingers of foamy head, which dissolved rapidly at first but never disappeared completely. Lacing hangs neatly from the glass. The beer is a nice dark walnut shade. Carbonation appears to be active. Other than better head retention I don't think you could ask a brown ale to look nicer.

The nose is full of caramel and roasted malt. There is a hint of cooked veggie. Alcohol is quite noticeable as well. It's pretty straight forward, but simple can be good.

The taste follows the nose pretty closely. This is definitely more of an English inspired brown ale than a contemporary American take on the style. That is to say that it is fairly subtle in flavor though still sweet in construction. Nutty caramel malts comprise the backbone of this brew. There are mild toffee notes. It seems a little watery, which is consistent with many English Browns. So it is quite mild; but the lack of overblown flavors allows a nice bitter hop finish to ring through. It tastes good and it is a carefully constructed brew but when all is said and done, the flavor doesn't really wow me, which I guess is the point.

Thunder Hole is on the light end of medium bodied. The carbonation level is medium. It feels a little watery, but it goes down really easily. At a supposed 4.8% ABV it is refreshingly light and near sessionable. I often find it to be a chore to finish off an entire bomber in one sitting, but in this case it will be easy and actually pleasant.

I've now sampled two of the four brews in the Bar Harbor lineup. It appears as though the name of their game is to create sturdy traditional takes on well-established styles. In that respect, their beers are a rousing success. This is perfectly to style. If you want a beer education, seek out Bar Harbor. Just don't expect the extremes that have become the norm in contemporary American craft brewing.


The Two Schlitz Scale: (see my profile for an explanation)
I give a Schlitz about this more than solid brown ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2011 02:18:13 | More by weizenbob
Photo of jsanford


2.95/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a clear, dark amber-brown with a fluffy, khaki-colored head that never fully dissipates.
S - Pretty mellow and subdued aromas of toasted caramel malt, baked brown bread, and brown sugar.
T - More slightly roasted toffee and caramel flavors from the malt, along with a bit of brown sugar and roasted nuts. No real noticeable hop flavors, but there is a slight copper-penny oxidized flavor that's making me think this is an old bottle.
M - Medium-thin bodied with a slightly watery consistency and sharp carbonation.
O - This could be a nice, sessionable English Brown Ale if it was a fresh bottle. As is it's a bit bland and watery, with a oxidized flavor that ruins it. If only more breweries dated their bottles, this might not have happened. Sigh.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2011 03:34:38 | More by jsanford
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Thunder Hole Ale from Bar Harbor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 183 ratings.