Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)
Hanlons Brewery

Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)
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English Old Ale
4.18 | pDev: 12.44%
Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)
Notes: O'Hanlon's took over the brand and revived it in 2003, but discontinued it after the 2008 batch.
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Reviews: 570 | Ratings: 749 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2006 vintage; drank 8/25/19 @ Hopleaf.

Balanced, smooth flavors of caramel, oak & faint fig. This was holding up very well at the 13 year mark. So glad I finally had a chance to try one!

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

-Vintage 2006. No P11386 edition. Consumed 03.21.19. In memory of Thomas. Original $5.75 bottle properly stored and cellared 13 yrs.

A: A dirty chocolate brown pour shows no signs of effervesce or head formation.

S: Boozy bourbon-caramel figs. Rich sweet chocolate, with some whiskey fueled plums.

T: The flavor did show some signs of vinegar notes. Buttery caramelized raisins, figs, with some chocolate malts with a smooth booziness. Silty plums and honey campfire notes. On the hold some fruit of pear-apple-plum.

M: Full bodied viscosity, very slick and fluid on the tongue, a bit acidic.

O: Aged this for a certain occasion, cannot attest to how this fairs fresh, but heard reports this ages well for many more years to come. Cheers Thomas.

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Photo of EMV
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2003 edition. Poured from a small medallioned bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip. Bottle #001722 to be exact.

L: Hazy mahogany pour. Scant head... no significant lacing. Looks a bit viscous/thick.

S: A blast of sweet caramel and brown sugar. Toffee and dark fruit.

T.F: Follows the nose. Sweet brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and light spice. Thick and rich... dark fruit with plum and fig. Mild hopping for bitterness but this is definitely dessert. Low carbonation... alcohol noticeable without being overly boozy.

O: Rich, complex, sweet, and delicious... definitely an experience and a beer worth seeking out. Dessert in a glass.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Gem clear, dark mahogany with iridescent ruby highlights. There is no head or lace, nor is there any carbonation. A viscous film slowly slides down the wall of an Offero oversized wine glass.

The aroma is strong and earthy. Raisins, figs and dates fill the nose, while a light touch of smoky peat provides an accent. Warmth brings out sweet molasses.

Umami balances against bitter-sweetness and wins out. Reminiscent of Port wine, though it is less sweet. Almonds and a hint of anise are distinct flavors. The finish is long and mild, becoming fruity with cherries. Warmth subdues the umami, allowing cherries and cranberries to become the focus.

This beer is full-bodied and syrupy smooth, thought not palate clinging. Alcohol is as expected for 11.9% ABV, though more pronounced than one would anticipate from a bottle of such age. There is no carbonation though the tongue is slightly tickled and the texture is sticky.

This is one of two bottles. The other will continue to age. Thomas Hardy’s is a contemplative beer which I enjoyed side-by-side against J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale of similar age. Each beer is unique, yet they have remarkable similarities. This one was highly enjoyable and exquisite for contemplation.


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Photo of Tiernan
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This bottle was gifted to me at my wedding in 2016. Bottled in 2005, the brew pours a dense black/brown into my small tulip glass, with no head and little carbonation to be seen. It smells immense - chocolate, molasses, raisins, burnt brown sugar - extremely enticing. Tge taste is smooth, sweet and shockingly drinkable for how boozy it is. Lots of caramel notes come with hints of espresso and raw cacao. Slight fruitiness on the back end with tidbits of warm prune and dark chocolate covered black cherry. The feel is sticky in a sugary way. Moves slowly down the palate and delites each second it goes down. Wonderful.

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Photo of Jacobier10
3.69/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

8.5 oz bottle, 2003 Vintage, Bottle No. O 03418.

This bottle was given to me around 2015 by a friend who stopped drinking and gave away some bottles he had been cellaring. It immediately became a prized addition to my cellar.

Pours ruby-brown with various shades of both colors as you hold it up to the light. Zero head on this one and the body looks murky. Resembles more of a cognac or Port wine in the glass, and the aromas do nothing to distinguish it from such.

Raisin, fig, sherry, and brown sugar in the nose. You know this is going to be a bracingly sweet tasting beer just from smelling it. Its rich malt flavor is evident from the first sip. Very fruity and sweet with a strong vinous or wine-like quality to it.

Full bodied and sticky mouthfeel with a long lasting finish. There are clear signs of age on this 14 year old bottle, but it's not undrinkable. I do think there are better examples of the style, like the 2014 J.W. Lees I had recently, but I don't know if the comparison is fair based on the age of this bottle. Perhaps a younger bottle than this one would make a nice digestif that could replace Port wine at the table.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

In review is a 2004 Vintage.

A - Deep burgundy/raisin colored with no lacing or carbonation.

S - Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, toffee roast, and some alcohol.

T - Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, oak, dark roasted toffee, some alcohol on the back end, and a mild lingering date and prune flavor with light pine bitterness.

M - Rich and full bodied, velvety mouthfeel, no carbonation, lip smacking sticky, thick.

O - So glad to have finally tried one of these but also so sad to see my one and only bottle go.

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Photo of Casey3236
4.39/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003, bottle 01877. Says 11.7 abv but tasted like you could have stuck a wick in it and used it as a camping lantern. Sweet and malty with no hop presence. Very little to no carbonation. Liked it overall but REALLY boozy. I've had 18-20% abv that wasn't as boozy.

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Photo of DeFaz
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's so hard to rate this. There's a nice candied fruit aroma and smell, and some, but certainly not earthshattering complexity, and it goes down so easy for a beer where you only get less than 9 ounces for a huge pricetag. And there is the problem--this, while certainly a good beer, does not warrant the pricetag, and even though my 2008 bottle is the oldest beer I've had yet, it doesn't compete with the high cost/sought-after beers of today. In other words, it's a good, and even great beer, and it was probably an exceptional, world-class beer 10 years ago, but too many beers have beat it for less money. I'm glad I tried it and have another to age a couple more years, but for 2016 it's just a good-tasting but overpriced beer.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazy dark amber color with just a bit of tan foam. Aroma is really complex with caramel, dried figs and raisins, slight menthol, a bit of rum and a touch of walnut. Taste starts with dried raising, figs, date, continues with earthy flavors, slightly nutty and some brown sugar. Sticky, syrupy mouthfeel. Extremely complex beer, a true masterpiece.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8.5 fl oz bottle, 2004 vintage. Bottle No. P 39580 Edition. ' Brewed & Bottled By O'Hanlon's Brewing Co. LTD., Whimple, Devon, England'. 11.7% abv. "In 'The Trumpet Major' Hardy wrote: "It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset." 12 years in the bottle; this will be the oldest beer I've yet drank.

Poured to a Big Eddy snifter glass.

A - Pours a caramelized brown body, semi-transparent, with hues of ruby red. Minor conjuration of bubbles dies out quick, leaving a still uncarbonated thick appearance more akin to certain whiskies, sherry, or port. For twelve years old beer, it looks pretty nice. No overt or obvious yeast chunks / sediment / separation. Appears to have held up well.

S - Huge huge huge aromatics on this. Blows just about every imperial stout I've ever had away (in terms of smell) - huge notes of oak wood, whiskey, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, burnt caramelized sugars, must, smoke, chocolate, molasses, dark dried fruit (raisins, figs, dates, prunes), and some alcohol fumes. Smells truly epic.

T - The taste follows in wake of the nose; any apparent carbonation has been lost to time, and the beer has turned extremely thick, viscous, sticky, sugary, & sweet. Huge huge huge notes of caramel, toffee, burnt brown sugar, vanilla, oak wood, alcohol fumes, mustiness & huge authentic notes of dark dried fruit (raisins, raisin stems, twigs, prunes, dates, figs). A bit of a residual spicy / warmingalcohol note on the end.

M - Feel is extremely smooth, sticky, sugary, & creamy. Twiggy, earthy, & caramelized. Hugely complex stuff. Still a fair amount of heat left in the finish. I would be interested to see how this would mature further, and also to see how younger vintages fare. A very unique and interesting Old Ale, truly a masterful piece of beer art and history. Truly amazing and recommended stuff if you can acquire a bottle.

Thomas Hardy's Ale (2004) -----4.5/5

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Photo of biegaman
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thomas Hardy's Ale debuted in 1968 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the writer's death. The Eldridge Pope brewery released it on an annual basis from 1974 until 1999 (with the exception of 1976), when new ownership deemed its production too small and expensive to continue.

U.S. importer George Saxon acquired the rights and hired O'Hanlon's to resume production in 2003. By 2009, however, they too deemed the energy and costs too great to continue production. This review is a 2006 vintage, bottle #8256, lab tested at 13.3% alcohol, sampled in April 2016.

Thomas Hardy wrote in 'The Trumpet Major' of an ale that was “the most beautiful colour an artist could possibly desire..." and it's quite possible this was what he saw. This is the colour of dark maple syrup and looks every bit as rich and viscous despite its clear tawny and pomegranate molasses highlights.

When I got into craft beer, aging and building up a beer cellar was all the rage. At least in part, I think this stemmed from insecurity; craft beer drinkers wanted to distinguish themselves from "normal" consumers and were also anxious to prove that beer could and should be taken as seriously as wine.

Part of it was also inexperience. I've been cellaring beers for over a decade now - in fact, a 2004 vintage of Thomas Hardy Ale (bought at age 18) was the very first inductee - and my experiments have foremost taught me one valuable, probably self-evident in hindsight lesson: beer is best enjoyed fresh.

But if you're going to release a beer intended to be aged, there are ways to do it right. This recipe was adapted from the original 18th century "barley wines" of English aristocrats. The wort is boiled for over 3 hours, ferments in primary for 3 months, is dry-hopped and then left to mature in Sherry oak casks for another 6-9 months (accounts vary). Finally, it is conditioned to re-ferment in the bottle.

So the resulting beer is like wine not only insofar as it varies vintage to vintage and even bottle to bottle, but that it will legitimately evolve and, assuming proper conditions, mature and improve. It is one of the rare beers that not only *can* be aged but *should* be aged. Why you ask? Finally, the tasting notes...

My instinct is to slurp and swish it as one does with wine, perhaps because it drinks something like a Madeira Port. Ever so slightly oxidized (though surprisingly not much so) with flavours of raisin, fig, dates and other stewed fruits, treacle, chocolate, molasses, oak, vanilla bean, apricot, walnut, burnt brown sugar, and hoisin sauce. It could also pass for brandy, possessing both the strength and nuances.

Micheal Jackson called it "the ultimate book-at-bedtime beer", Garret Oliver said it was " beautiful it makes me want to cry" and more than one author has referred to it as "the beer enthusiast’s equivalent of rare cognac". What was brash and unfocused ten years ago is now one of the most complex beers I've tasted. It rewards patience like no other. Thomas Hardy's Ale is indeed a beer for big occasions.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.42/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2008 bottle--pours a clear mahogany, with hardly any sediment, if any at all, despite the notice on the label.

Smooth as silk, like a fine red wine. No head or carbonation to speak of.

Raisin and prune beat you over the head up front, then some leather and even cherry come out in the finish.

A complex brew that builds more as it warms. I'm glad I got this off my checklist, but there are some local breweries near me that are hitting these flavor profiles quite consistently at a much lower price point, with much younger Barleywines.

Good but not worth the money. Not at all.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.62/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When I had a little sample of this beer, the person who bought said he found it in a local liquor store - one that I never really frequented because I assumed it was your typical 'ghetto' store that mainly sold BMC. Turns out, the owner of the joint is an Austrian man who's an old-school beer geek. He brought out some Thomas Hardy's ale from his own personal stock and put it on sale, basically.

2006 vintage.

Pours a murky dark copper color. There's a little more head than I anticipated, though it's only half a finger high (off-white in shade). Retention is solid considering how little head there is, and it even tries to leave a little bit of lacing on the glass.

Holy shit. This smells like a port - a GOOD port. There are an enormous amount of dark fruits, beautifully augmented by sherry oxidation. Beneath that lie notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and molasses. It even develops some chocolate and vanilla qualities. I don't seem to pick up much leather. While not endlessly deep, this instead perfectly balances a large handful of notes together.

At first taste, I pick up plenty of brown sugar, molasses, and umami. Port-like dark fruits and sherry oxidation appear immediately afterwards. This finishes with some leather, toffee, and pumpernickel bread. Post-swallow, it unfurls like a wonderful liquor, developing more (balanced) alcoholic qualities as this continues to sit. I is so complex - what the aroma suggested is peanuts to what it's actually offering. This is the kind of beer that's so deep, my brain is struggling to keep up with all the aspects my taste buds are picking up. The oxidized flavor is actually it's greatest strength, come to think about it. To me, it seems to tie together all the numerous flavors with elegant aplomb. Ergo, the taste gets a 5. I literally can't think of what else this profile can do, or what else could be improved. TWC has been silenced - for now!

Since this bottle is so old, carbonation is quite low - it's almost nonexistent, in fact. Fitting for an 11.7% beer, it feels thick, creamy, and syrupy on the palate. But all these aspects fit this beer nigh on perfectly. Who gives a rat's ass about drinkability, this is the ultimate sipper!

"Holy shit" is how I described this beer's aroma. It's also a good descriptor of this beer, period. The little taste I had several days ago was a nice preview, but now that I have an 8.5 oz main event sitting right in front of me, I can safely say this is one of the best beers I've ever had. Every single element that could have been overdone (and may have even seemed like it was overdone on occasion) is exactly what gives this beer it's character. This is both balls-out intense and gorgeously nuanced all at the same time. The closest comparison I can make to this one are The Bruery's anniversary ales - and those are a pale, pale imitation of this gorgeous bombshell (even with its high-falutin' barrel-aging!) Oh fuck, did I just call the late, great Thomas Hardy a gorgeous bombshell? See, this beer is so stunning, I'm lost in thought.

I've heard rumblings about this recipe being brewed again. For the love of God, MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.

4.62/5: ...I've got nothing, the score says everything

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

8.5 fluid ounce bottle poured into a highball glass (I'm in a hotel goddamn it).

Pours surprisingly fizzy and a the pale oatmeal head disappears quickly in a noisy retreat. The body is a amber and brown, thick-looking liquid with blonde hues. It has a chewy, pulpy look like apple cider. Carbonation is relentless and intense. 4.5

The aroma is so robust that it reaches me from a foot plus distance. Rich, gooey caramel, raisin, prune, earthiness, oak, vanilla and maybe some bourbon. 4.25

Taste starts with red wine and port and segues to caramel and butterscotch. Mid-palate turns dark fruity with raisin and fig and a spicy flavor like bourbon. Heck, there's even some white wine on that finish. 4.25

Thick and gooey, port or red wine-like, with a touch of spiciness and wet booziness. The finish is vinous and mostly dry, but still hits with some wet solvent feel. 4

Glad to have tried this. I see what people raved about. I do think many a modern beer is capturing this flavor and even taking ot a level or two higher though.

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Photo of ChrisMon02
4.37/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2007 bottle split with a good friend.

Ugly ass brew. Murky with yeast chunks on the bottom. Looks like tea with milk.

Smell is as complex as they come. Tobacco, leather, musk, caramel, apples, Apple peel, dates, sherry and rum soaked fruit. So many things going on. Crazy!

Much like the smell-tons going on here. Booze soaked caramel apples, tobacco, dates. Sweet and almost tangy with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel was medium with no carbonation. Drinks like a fine sherry.

Well this was quite the experience. One of the most complex beers that I have had. Super stoked that I got to experience it. One of those special beers everyone should get to try. Thanks Will for sharing!

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Photo of gordavidson
4.14/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottle. Purchased 9 years ago to save for when/if I got married. Got married, so now I am drinking it. Dark, murky, sweet, rich. Tobacco, leather, brown sugar. Coats the mouth. Definitely tastes like it has some age on it, but has plenty of aging potential left in it. A treat.

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Photo of darktronica
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle pours a burnt orange color, with half a finger of cream-colored foam that mostly dissipates but leaves behind some nice lacing on the glass. Smells of toffee, vanilla, raw sugar cane, and oak pulp, with secondary undertones of orange rind, tobacco, and marzipan. The taste is less complex but no less pleasing, with still some hints of hoppy bitterness to lend some bite to the flavors; this prevents the beer from verging into cloyingly sweet territory, and it also dries out the finish a bit. Really excellent, looking forward to ageing another bottle for a few more years!

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking a 2008 bottle numbered T22262 from a snifter. It pours deep chestnut with a circle of fizz around the top. It has winey, fruity, alcoholic aromas and flavors. It drinks more like a sherry than a beer. Truly delightful.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

(2008, bottle 14956 - poured carefully into a snifter)

L: dirty-murky russet brown liquid, very little head forms... not one speck of lace

S: thick knot of caramel, baked apples (a la Jewish apple cake)... wet dead leaves and top soil... mild honey on the top, rolling over into a fruitier back end... subtle hint of toast and cigar... altogether quite familiar English strong ale aromas

T: decadently rich and thick worty malt... brown sugar overtones and vaguely clove-y phenols linger on the back of the palate... brandy/port-like finish, thread of fruity booze throughout... summary: caramel, brown sugar, bold brandy-like booze

F: full-bodied and syrupy slick at its core, yet surprisingly light in weight, presumably due to the robust degree of alcohol

O: I was anticipating more distinct, unique flavors... it's more a sedative to malt and booze hounds and of interest because of its rarity... I would probably try to get another bottle or two to lay down for another 5-10

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Photo of Rutager
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle, perfect size for soloing @ 25cl.

Pours a clear burnt-orange with gold edges when held to the light ...and what's this? Yes, I do believe... Hold on, let me double check. YES! We have the much sought after rooby tones!! By no means dominant, but they are there!!! Anyways, thin off-white head, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Big sweet caramel on the nose with a drop of sherry. Some nice dried prunes and a touch of fresher (than dried...) dark fruits. Also a touch of fruity yeast (or phenols perhaps) that doesn't seem familiar. Different from belgian styles, but fruity along the same lines.

Oh man!! Demerara sugar and sherry in a great way. Not overly sweet, but sweet with lots of caramel, sherry, prunes and other dried dark fruits, some leather and old wood. There's a light acidity that cuts through the sweetness and adds to the drinkability for sure. Booze isn't strong but it definitely feels warm in the throat after a few sips.

Full body (but nothing too crazy), low carbonation.

What a bummer this stuff isn't made anymore. I have another bottle, a few years older that I'll have to keep for some time. Those sherry notes are amazing and more of that couldn't be a bad thing.

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Photo of zac16125
4.77/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Thomas Hardy Old Ale
250mL bottle in tulip
vintage 2006

A: very dark mahogany, sliver of tan head, dissipates quickly, almost no lacing 4.25

S: tons of dark fruit, vinous, spicy booze, subtle soy sauce 4.75

T: tons of dark fruit, currants, vinous, caramel/toffee 4.75

M/D: full body, surprisingly high carbonation, ABV very well masked, great drinkability 4.75

O: not sure what it's like fresh, but with 9 years on it, it's simply world class 5

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Photo of Jeffo
4.54/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this one from a generous soul a few years back. For the life of me I can’t remember who it was, but if it was you, thanks very much for bringing this one along. Much appreciated.

From a 25cl bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2008
No. T 45476

APPEARANCE: Pours out virtually still with a few bubbles forming on the top. A slight wisp rises and forms on top of the brew, but it’s minimal. A ring forms as well with swirly wisp on top and some receding bubbles from the pour. A crystal clear maroon or burgundy brown with no carbonation evident. A slightly bubbly ring remains but that’s it.

SMELL: Very bold and complex nose of toffee, caramel candy, dark dried fruits and some brown sugary notes. Red berries, some light notes of leather and light earthy wood aromas. Really nice and enticing.

TASTE: Lots of sweetness up front with a good kick of booze through the middle and into the swallow. Toffee, sweet caramel candy, red berries and dark fruits up front. More sweetness and booze through the middle and into the swallow, with a bold and lingering finish of toffee and candy sweetness, dried fruit, brown sugar, wood, leather notes, and some nice booze soaked berries pulling it all together. This is really nice and enjoyable. Easy to drink as well. Loving every drop of it and it will unfortunately be empty far too quickly.

PALATE: Virtually still. No carbonation on this one really, though it’s not really missed per se. Silky on the palate, enough weight, goes down slick with no real scratch at all and finishes sticky. A touch of heat lingers, but well measured. I’m normally not a fan of flat beer and do wish there were a hint of carbonation here, but it’s not necessarily distracting in this case. It actually fits the beer, somehow.

OVERALL: This is really nice. I can see why people speak so highly of this one, as it really is a complex and flavorful treat. I will say I wish there were a touch of carbonation here, but in the end, its absence really isn’t an issue with this beer. Plenty of character and lots worth pondering here. If this were available to me, I’d definitely drink it on a semi-regular basis. Such a shame that it is no more. Thanks to the mystery person who put this beer in my lap a few years back. This was a gem.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2800th review! 8.5 ounce bottle into tulip glass; 2008 vintage, bottle No. T 24099. Pours moderately hazy deep reddish brown color with a small dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Slight spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, date, apple, caramel, molasses, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, tobacco, leather, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, date, apple, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, leather, tobacco, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light earthy herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, leather, tobacco, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and moderately slick/bready mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome old ale style! All around great complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruitiness, and light earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

boy does this cellar well. 2004 edition, thanks to a buddy who really has some will power to save beer this cool this long. my first thomas hardys, really stoked. it pours an almost flat looking but quite shiny brassy color, with a lot of viscosity but good clarity, like a light amber maple syrup. the nose is definitely sweet, and there is some stale yeast must to it, but i am surprised its as clean smelling as it is, with the booze aroma only moderate and the sugars really interestingly flavored, not just sweetness for the sake of strength. highly refined flavor profile, as well integrated as you would expect for a ten year old bottle. to me its more of a barleywine than an old ale, but the distinction has always been blurred anyhow. molasses, cane sugar, melting brown sugar, neutral wood, ancient yeast, and minimal oxidation are all tasted here, but the synergy is special. im not sure ive ever had anything quite like it, and trying to nail down exactly what its like is akin to describing the color purple to a blind man. you just dont know until you know. i would recommend that you figure out how to get your hands on one of these and know, because the knowledge is everything right here. i hope to be back for more vintages!

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 749 ratings