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Thunder Hole Ale - Bar Harbor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thunder Hole AleThunder Hole Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

202 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 202
Reviews: 118
rAvg: 3.73
pDev: 11.53%
Wants: 8
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 202 | Reviews: 118 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +7.2%

nmann08, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of metter98
3.84/5  rDev +2.9%

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.

metter98, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of brentk56
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a frothy light tan head that tickles lace down the sides of the pint glass

Smell: Brown bread, with hints of malted milk balls and caramel

Taste: Opens with a brown bread and malted milk flavor, along with a kick a hops that adds a nut skin bitterness; by mid-palate, a bit of caramel adds a touch of sweetness; after the swallow, the nut skin bitterness becomes even more pronounced, although the other flavors remain present in a more muted fashion

Mouthfeel: A bit overcarbonated, with a medium body

Drinkability: The carbonation gets in the way a bit with this beer, but it is otherwise a decent example of the style

Thanks, mikeale, for the opportunity

brentk56, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.35/5  rDev -10.2%

Burnt orange infused with brick red, which is pretty standard for a brown ale. A generous amount of carbonation has created, and is sustaining, an airy ecru cap that was at least four fingers at its apex. The foam is barely tacky enough to deposit small splotches of bubble-bath like lace on the upper portion of the glass.

The aroma is par for the brown ale course as well. It's toasted brown bread malty, with a handful of baked nuts and almost no hoppiness. Unfortunately, there isn't much to go on. More power and more depth/complexity wouldn't hurt.

Thunder Hole Ale is a slightly above average English brown. The mouthfeel is a little light and the carbonation is too busy, making me wonder if this bomber is a bit on the old side. On the other hand, it could be a less than perfect batch... or it could be exactly as the folks at Bar Harbor intended. Hard to say.

The cocoa-like brown maltiness is dry-brittle more than sweet-sticky. There's the same toasted pecan nuttiness that is appreciated in the nose, as well as a spicy hoppiness that adds another (much needed) dimension. Properly carbonated, this might be a pretty tasty brown.

The mouthfeel is the obvious chink in the armor. THA is too light, even at 4.8%, and is still buzzy more than 10 minutes after the initial pour. It tastes and feels like a few ounces of tonic water were added prior to bottling.

It's always a danger signal when a brewery brags about a World Beer Championship gold medal that was earned more than a decade in the past (1997 in this case). Something a little more recent would be much more meaningful. In the end, Thunder Hole Ale doesn't make the grade, although I still have the nagging feeling that this isn't a representative bottle.

BuckeyeNation, Apr 14, 2008
Photo of mikesgroove
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

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.

mikesgroove, Jul 18, 2011
Photo of jaydoc
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

jaydoc, Oct 26, 2013
Photo of Knapp85
3.4/5  rDev -8.8%

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.

Knapp85, Oct 16, 2011
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.33/5  rDev +16.1%

Acquired from purplehops courtesy of the Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color with a medium, foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, nuts, maple and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is very malty with a good amount of sweetness and flavors of caramel, nuts and maple. There’s a mild hops presence that comes in and provides a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky but clean for the style.

D: Pretty tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice beer that you can drink for a whole evening, especially if you’re not in the mood for something hoppy but don’t want something as heavy as a stout. Overall, this is a very good beer and one of the best brown ales that I've had.

TheManiacalOne, Oct 18, 2007
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%

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.

WVbeergeek, Apr 06, 2012
Photo of jlindros
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%

Received in a fun trade with rheisler. Thanks Ryan.

A: Poured a pretty light frothy head that fades quickly. A semi dark raisin brown color with a slight reddish hue that is surprisingly clear for how dark colored it is. Perhaps this isn't a beer that should be filtered.

N: Some light toasty malts, sweet sugar, almost a light brown sugar, some light crisp ale aromas (perhaps this wasn't filtered but they did a good job of dropping the yeast out and giving a good crisp aroma). A slight earthy aroma, and that's about it.

T: Starts semi sweet and wants to be creamy, but not really. I get some nice roasted malt flavor and some darker caramel malts, as well as some light flavors of dark fruit, semi reminiscent of a light porter. Some light brown sugar comes through as well with hints of toasted malt flavor. A slight bitterness and touch of spicy hops, but not really that hoppy. A touch of chocolate malt too towards the end.

M: Medium body with a touch of spicy tingly feeling, and lower carbonation.

F: Finishes a pretty dry and slightly bitter. It's still somewhat crisp and refreshing, but has more of those lingering porter like tastes and slight brown sugar. Otherwise the tastes seem to disappear pretty well, so they did a pretty good job to finish crisp and ready for more drinkin. A good session beer.

jlindros, Nov 20, 2009
Photo of WesWes
3.58/5  rDev -4%

The beer pours a trnslucent brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a dry, roasted and crystal malt scent along with some light yeast esters. The taste is decent. It has a smooth mix of dry roasted malts with a bit of caramel sweetness. It's also got some oxidized off flavors. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a pretty good English brown, but I can't see it being a gold medal winner.

WesWes, Aug 27, 2009
Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -4%

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a dark brown color with one inch white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts and chocolate. Not very strong.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, roasted malts, and chocolate.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A good brown ale. Some nice roasted malts and chocolate. Would give another shot.

mdfb79, Oct 24, 2010
Photo of jwc215
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%

Pours rubyish brown with a thin off-white creamy head that lasts. Trailing lacing sticks.

The smell is of roasted nuts, toffee/nougat, with earthy notes.

The taste with sweet chocolate, hazelnuts/ walnuts, roast, and earthy tones balance the sweetness. Finishes with fruity tones - mild, but could be milder. Sour touch in the finish, especially as it warms/progresses.

It is medium-to-full bodied. Velvety, Nice roasty character lingers.

Complex - nutty, roasty, toffeeish - a tad too fruity as it progresses. Still-in-all a great brown with a sour touch.

jwc215, Mar 21, 2010
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

DrunkinYogi, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of smcolw
2.88/5  rDev -22.8%

Pours like Coca Cola in every way--Large bubbles that die to a flat surface. There's even soda-like bubbles on the side of the glass. The only thing missing is the ice. Color looks like water with caramel coloring.

Darker malt aroma. Some metallic elements

Very spritzy. The body, in a word, is thin. This is distracting. The flavor cannot make up the difference. Darker malt (perhaps darker crystal). Mid-taste the metal shows up. Nearly no hop...the aftertaste dies quickly.

The bottle features a World Beer Championship Gold Medal. I don't see it.

smcolw, Sep 26, 2009
Photo of Gavage
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%

Clear brown in color with some amber highlights. Thin 1/2" head which falls to surface foam quickly. Aroma is full of toffee and floral hops. The flavor consisted of toffee, mild nuttiness, pumpernickel bread, and a soft bitterness.

Mouthfeel was smooth at the start, and finished smooth with the toasted nuts and toffee softly lingering on the tongue. Very nice drinkability - overall a decent brown.

Gavage, Oct 05, 2005
Photo of jdhilt
3.05/5  rDev -18.2%

Pours a light tan, three finger head, fades slowly and leaves a good lace. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Deep, clear amber color. Nose is nuts and coffee. Starts slightly malty, hints of burnt coffee, finish is smooth but a touch of bitterness. $3.99 for a 22oz bottle from Otter Creek Market Otter Creek, Me.

jdhilt, Oct 16, 2005
Photo of ppoitras
4.55/5  rDev +22%

22oz bottle from a Xmas gift sampler of Maine brews from my friend Joe. Brew #01546, with "4" embossed on the bottom of the bottle. Thanks!

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/4" beige head above the reddish brown brew. Head is quite frothy, and recedes very slowly, with heavy, foamy lacing. Aroma is well-balanced, with brown malts and crisp hoppiness apparent. Taste is hearty grain hulls, with some light hops character, and finishes with a slight aftertaste that reminds me of sunflower seeds. Odd, but I like it. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and drinkability is superb. This I would search out in Maine, for sure.

ppoitras, Apr 15, 2005
Photo of wrightst
4/5  rDev +7.2%

wrightst, Jun 08, 2014
Photo of Mebuzzard
4/5  rDev +7.2%

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....

Mebuzzard, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of smakawhat
3.65/5  rDev -2.1%

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.

smakawhat, Jul 28, 2011
Photo of rab53
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%

rab53, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of beerthulhu
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%

A: Poured a dark coppery-chocolate with a fizzy tan head that dissipated quickly. Toffee highlights glisten around the glass edges from the light while a good sense of carbonation can be seen within. No visible lacing was left behind.

S: Some fruity notes, apple skins mix well with a soft nuttiness of cashews and brazilian nuts. The strength was medium with a bit of toasty caramel appearing on the finish.

T: A sweet fruitiness, almost dopple bock like, meets a nuttiness of cashews and brazilian nuttiness. The hopping is assertive and spicy, almost what you expect from a Belgian (im guessing styrian golding or fuggels) while the malting is residious and malty well suited per style with toasty caramel and soft smoky amber notes. I love how everything just blends togther, the spicy hops, the warm toasty caramel and dried toffee sweetness with a crisp, dry fruitiness compliments of the yeast making this a triple threat. As an English brown this is bold and as good, if not better then most offerings across the pond. Leaves a big help of residual malt covering the tongue with some dry bakers chocolate for a close.

M: The mouthful is medium with a good maltiness and a very smooth and silky texture. Small traces of effervesce is detected while things finish out with a dry nuttiness and soft residual malt coating.

D: Very drinkable aided by a low 4.8% abv which increases the chance of session material but never gives an inch flavor wise. Big, bold and spicy with some fairly unique traits per style makes this a standout and definite go to for fans of the style while making some in the process.

beerthulhu, May 20, 2010
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Thunder Hole Ale from Bar Harbor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 202 ratings.