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Thunder Hole Ale - Bar Harbor Brewing Company

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Thunder Hole AleThunder Hole Ale

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211 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 211
Reviews: 121
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 11.59%
Wants: 9
Gots: 7 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-10-2002

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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 211 | Reviews: 121
Photo of JohnQVegas
2.7/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours dark brown, bit of a tan head.

Aroma is a bit roasty and just a tad nutty.

Taste is a bit of roasty malt, a bit nutty. Finish is just a bit nutty, maybe the tiniest hint of cocoa, watery. Not much of anything really.

Mouthfeel is kind of thin, watery, carbonation seems just a bit off, comes close to dominating the flavor.

Photo of brentk56
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Photo of DrewOSU
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra, on a trade from Cleeze.

A: Pours a nice dark amber to light brown, with a tan head, 1/4 inch on pour. Lacing is watery and doesn't stick much to the glass after head dissipates.

S: Mild alcohol on the nose, sweet malt smell

T/M: Bourbon on initial taste, followed by a sweet malty finish. Although it finishes dry, does leave a malty after taste in the back of the tongue. Light to medium body, dry swallow, followed by malty aftertaste.

D: Not a bad beer. I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of brown ales, but this is one of the better examples that I have had.

Photo of beachbum1975
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks to DrewOSU for sharing this one. He got this in a recent trade from somebody. 12 ounce brown bottle with no freshness date. Thunder Hole must be a hole in the rock, as there's a blast of water shooting out of a shore on the label - neat.

Pours a clear, dark root beer brown with garnet highlights. It came on the pour with a 2 finger average tan head. Minimal lacing and average head retention.

Light sweet malts and nuttiness on the nose. It's kinda light overall... Maybe some small spiciness in there, too.

Semi-sweet malts dominant the flavor profile with a slight nutty quality, as well. Some hints of vanilla, like it was kissed by a bourbon barrel, too. Light bodied, medium flavored with average carbonation.

This is a nice simple beer that's easy to drink...

Photo of dasenebler
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty dark reddish brown, a little murky. Small tannish head dissipates relatively quickly. I found the aroma to be quite good, detecting nuts, grassiness and some hops as I was pouring.

There are a few layers of flavor, pretty complex for a brown ale, I'd say. First you get sweetness and a little bit of tang from the hops. Then you can catch the biscuity malts. And on the finish you get a bit of roast and some bitterness. I liked this beer, and the mouthfeel was great at first, but the carbonation took away from that a bit. An easy to drink, solid brown ale.

Photo of thekevlarkid
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a bottle this beer was a chestnut brown color with a huge three finger head. The khaki foam died back slowly, displayed good retention and excellent lacing. The aroma was equal parts hops and malt with some nuttiness. The flavors were similar but mediocre. Chocolate malt, general nuttiness and a short finish because of the acidity and some late nipping hops. The body was medium and the carbonation just a little high. If you can buy this, but their Stout instead. All of it you can.

Photo of Stimack
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decided to give this brew a try last evening as it has been sitting in the fridge for the past month. This brew was from a 22 oz. Bomber, not sure if it is in the 12 oz as well. This was one of the brews that I was able to pick up on a trip to Maine in September. The brew poured to a nice light brown color with a thick creamy/tan colored head that had pretty good retention leaving a fair amount of lacing. Te aromas from this brew where nice, malts and cocoa with the cocoa being a bit of a surprise with the look of the brew. The flavors where a bit of a surprise as the cocoa/chocolate flavor really came out, especially at the tail end of a sip, giving it a dry feel and a flavor that I have had before but was hard to place. Though the end flavor is a bit odd it is very interesting and makes this brew different, which I like. The feel is creamy with adequate carbonation, anymore would probably be a detractor. It is quite easy to drink, though I (probably a minority) would rather not have it from a Bomber.

Photo of TexIndy
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got from Roberts after this trip to Maine - many thanks! Poured from a 22oz bottle (no date but he got at brewery so should be fresh) into a pint glass. It was a deep brown with reddish tint to it. It had a finger of fizzy tan head that quickly settled to a very thin collar. Not much visible carb which is different from other review so wonder if the heat from shipping damaged it a bit. No lacing at all.

The aroma was good. Nice and malty with toffee tones. A little bit of hops. The taste was nice and smooth. Typical nutty flavor for a brown. Was a little more watery tasty than some others in the style. Nice finish to it.

Overall another very good beer from Bar Harbor. Browns just don't have a ton of flavor to them but want they do have goes a long way. This one is a good sitting around drinking beer. Session worthy.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.41/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Original 22oz bomber

Pours a copper color with a large sized head, fades slowly with patchy lacing and a decent cap.

Smell is malty and pretty one-sided.

Taste is crisp although it has a bit too much carbonation, malty with a weird sourness, doesn't really work with this brown ale.

Photo of brdc
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to cookin420 for this one.
Large capped bottle poured into a pint.

Reddish brown, with a good lightly tan head, good retention and lacing.
Caramel notes predominate on the nose, but floral hops, more than expected, are clearly noticeable, along with a faint earthiness. Interesting.
Medium bodied, quite velvety for such low alcohol, it is well balanced with waves of sweet caramel and even toffee, bitter hoppiness to keep it interesting, and even some earthiness and spiciness.
Not your typical brown ale, but on its own way, interesting and very well done. One of the most interesting beers I found in a solid, but usually not interesting style- even if it does not conform to the style att that well.

Photo of Hokies
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle brought back from Maine from my parents.

Pours a deep reddish brown color with a tannish head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is filled with a huge malt scent with a hint of coffee. The taste starts off with the sweetness from the malt with hints of caramel and then the finishes with a dry hop taste and burnt coffee. This is a very drinkable beer with a nice creaminess to it and is very smooth. This is not my favorite style but this is a very nice beer, hopefully I can get my hands on some more.

Photo of fdrich29
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle brought back from the brewery by mom and dad.

Beautiful thick and creamy head atop an amber caramel body. Lot's of lacing. Very nice looking beer.

Nice malt nose, just the way I like it.

I'm not a fan of brown ale's but this one is very mild and malty with a little smokiness.

Mouthfeel was a bit tingly but smooth and a touch of alcohol bite at the end.

Glad I had a chance to try this beer. Although definitely not my favorite style, it was a well crafted beer.

Photo of mbrandon2w
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz.
Nice deep brown color, dense off-white head.
Aroma is fairly light. A whiff of roastiness but that's about it.
Flavor is solid, with a hint a touch of chocolate and hint of coffee-like roast. Nice touch of bitterness at the end.
Mouth feel is smooth, but a bit too prickly with carbonation.
Very nice beer, would be nice in any weather.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.35/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of indiapaleale
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New 12 Ouncer:
Pours a very dark, almost opaque brown with hints of ruby redness. The head is about a finger's width in thickness and dies down rather quickly leaving some oily foam on top with and a ring around the color of the glass. Something else I notice is the amount of carbonation bubbling up from the dark depths.

Smell is sweet caramel and burnt sugar, dark rich maltiness and some roasted coffee. There is also a hint of smokiness like burning wood. Pretty good smelling beer.

Taste is sweet dark malts with a dry astringent aftertaste and lots of bubbles on the tongue. The coffee notes come out quite strong after a few more sips. The roasty smoky taste is a lot weaker than the smell might let on. One thing that I notice with this one is a syrupy after taste that is a bit cloying. Not sure how to describe it, kind of like a diet soda aftertaste or something.

Not as good as the old bombers (see below):

Old Bomber:
Pours a nice deep brown with a large fluffy tight head. Smells sweet, malty with small hints of hops. This just smells like a solid beer. Actually all of the Bar Harbor Brewing Co. beers that I've had have been solid. I really need to get up there and pay a visit. I know the brewery was just sold, hopefully that won't affect the character and integrity of their beers.

First sip is a flood of malty sweetness with a bit of hoppiness and a sugary sweet finish. This is a really enjoyable brown ale. I really like the smoothness of this beer and the fact that is a full bodied brown and not at all watery and free of that sharp astringency that some browns have in the finish. Definitely the type of beer I could get comfortable with. Too bad it doesn't come in six packs! (i should not have said that)

Photo of WanderingFool
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thunder Hole Ale pours a clear dark brown with a small fizzy light tan head on top. The foam dissolves quickly to a thin sheet on the beer leaving only a couple of spots of lace behind.

A weak malty aroma with notes of nuts, caramel and a hint of hops hovers over the beer. Each sip of this medium bodied beer is soft on the palate with a mild fizz on the sides of the tongue. The flavor is malty with notes of caramel, nuts and toasted grain. At the end some hop bitterness moves in which helps to balance out all the sweetness. Once gone the nutty flavor lingers on the palate.

This is a well balanced, tasty beer with a good mouthfeel. It might not wow you, but is quite drinkable. I'd see myself order another one at a bar once the first one was gone.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark mahogany brown, with a wisp of frothy head around the rim.
Smell is very heavy on roasted barley. Taste is more the same. This is a good, basic, all around brown. Easy drinking and smooth. A well put together beer. Very sessionable, but not impressionable.

Photo of geexploitation
3.47/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, nutty brown with a head that is initially huge before fading to a thin layer and a collar. Aromas of caramel malts, some drying English style hops and smooth, residually sweet notes (think old molasses) that round things out but keep things suitably low-key. On the palate, bitter first off, with lots of carbonation that fills the mouth. Bright, hoppier bitterness comes through at the mid-palate, along with some chocolatey malt flavors. Mouthfeel is overcarbonated and a tad light on the malts. Overall, this is a decent brown ale, but nothing to get too excited about.

Photo of Nipitato
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber while on vacation in Bar Harbor, ME.

A: Dark amber brown hue. Brilliant clarity. Topped with a thin off white head.

S: Toasty – almost roasted. Some light fruity ester. No bitterness or hop aroma.

T: Malty sweet with toasted and caramel character. Nice bitter finish provides balance. Some light fruity esters add complexity.

MF: Medium light body. Well carbonated.

D, notes: An eminently sessionable beer.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - rich auburn / brown color, off white head
S - nutty malty caramel notes dominate
T - similar to the nose but with a prominent roasted grain / coffe note in the background.
M - medium bodied, lively carbonation, dry slighltly roasted note lingering in the finish.
D - a flavor packed brown ale that's easy to quaff and still keep standing. Something of a rarity in today's ever increasing ABV.

a bit dryer in the finish than most brown ales I've had as of late. Pleasing alternative take on the style.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of number1bum
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber purchased at the brewery earlier this summer pours a reddish brown with nice clarity and a soft, creamy beige head. Head recedes slowly and retains a nice lace, also leaving a little patchy stick on the sides of the glass.

Smell has a nice sweetness to it, with caramel malt primarily. Also a hint of hops and some nutty aroma.

Very pleasant, smooth and straightforward flavor. Caramel malt and grain mingle with a nice nutty flavor and a bit of chocolate to make this sweet but smooth and easy drinking.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and nicely creamy. This is a very drinkable brown ale (a drinkable style to begin with).

You're not going to find this outside of Maine, but if you see it in the state pick it up. It's quite good.

Photo of mobud
3.15/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into nonic pint glass.

A- A dark caramel brown with an active head that remains thru the sample.

S- Very malty with some fruit salad notes.

T- Not as sweet as expected from the smell, but nice level brown ale taste with some roasted malts and a slight sweetness that balances it out.

M- Very light.

D- This beer was very drinkable to me. I think they only do bombers and you have to get them in Maine, so this was a nice beer to try that I will never see again.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very tasty medium bodied ale that poured to a medium brown color with decent carbonation and an off-white head that left okay lacing. The nose was a very pleasant roasted nutty malt, and the flavor followed suit. Although only 5% in alcohol, this left a sweet, tasty, somewhat warming finish

Photo of PCmofo
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Beer is a rich brown color but still surprisingly clear with only a small amount of haze.
S- It has a subtle caramel/mocha smell to it that is not overpowering.
T- This beer is full of flavor and has a wonderful coffee/caramel taste to it with a slightly bitter hops finish
M- Mouthfeel is thinner than a guinness but not by much.
D- I think this beer comes in the 1pt 6oz bottle for a reason.... you probably only want to have one. Its a solid beer but I dont think I could drink more than a bottle or 2 of it.

Over all a great beer but not my favorite flavor.

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Thunder Hole Ale from Bar Harbor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 211 ratings.