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

Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)
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Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Old Ale
4.13 | pDev: 12.83%
Feb 04, 2023
Mar 05, 2004
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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Photo of sulldaddy
Reviewed by sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
I am sampling a 2004 vintage of this beer that has been in my cellar for most of its life since I purchased it.
Im pouring into my snifter tonight at cellar temp.
The beer pours a rich brown molasses color with a few fizzy bubbles foaming up, but these fade to nothing immediately after the pour.
The beer does have some legs when I swirl the glass.
Aroma is some brown sugar, molasses, some raisins and a bit of a fudge note. No hops on the nose and only a little bit of a general boozy note. definitely malt forward aroma.
First sip reveals a fairly medium body and smooth texture with no carbonation at all. Body does get a little thinner on the swallow. Beer drinks pretty easy on the physical traits. Honestly wish the texture were a little more robust.
Flavor is sweet malt, molasses and raisins and some fig and a bit of a leathery note. Finishes with a bit of a boozy note and some heat kicks up on the finish. Again no hops anywhere.
The sweetness is pretty strong on this one, but its a dark fruity sweetness not sugary. Lingers with a bit of a pipe tobacco note.
This is a sipping beer, so even in this small bottle, I am going to take quite a bit of time to finish this beer. Glad to have had it in my cellar and to open it up and experience it, but also glad to have it off my shelf in the cellar.
Feb 04, 2023
Photo of Sigmund
Reviewed by Sigmund from Norway

3.86/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Sept. 2005: Vintage 2004, 250 ml bottle, bought at Vinens Verden, Odense, Denmark. Bottle No. P 08270. I know I should have cellared this beer for 25 years, but I just couldn’t wait. 25 years from now - I might have been dead a long time by then. Reddish brown colour, slightly hazy. No head, minimal carbonation. Intense sweet aroma of raisins, also notes of molasses, oak and leather. VERY sweet flavour, oak, molasses and raisins again, alcoholic and "raw" in the edges, notes of pipe tobacco. Not nearly as good as the 1990 vintage I sampled at the RBESG 2005, which proves that this beer really NEEDS to be cellared for at least a decade. Its "old sherry or port"-like qualities are not there yet. The brewers are not just teasing you when they recommend cellaring - they actually mean it. But even at this "raw" and unfinished stage it is clear that this beer has capabilities. Be prepared for a substantial sweetness even after many years of cellaring, though.
Aug 28, 2022
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Rated by Rhettroactive from Virginia

1.4/5  rDev -66.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.25
2008 vintage. This beer didn’t make it. No mark on the overall product.
Aug 28, 2022
Photo of StoutSnob40
Reviewed by StoutSnob40 from California

4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2005 Bottle - Pours a rich, mahogany brown, with red highlights. It’s relatively clear around the edges, with a grayish brown line creepy into it. No head, no carb. Alcohol legs streak down the glass. Looks like a super old tawny port.

As soon as you pop the cap, the aroma jumps out of the bottle. Like, it’s been just itching to get out for all of these years. Port-soaked dates, cedar, tire shop, cigars. Super unique. I feel like I need to sip this in an old library or something.

Flavors of boozy dark fruits, raisins, charred campfire wood, caramelized sugars, honey, hints of anise. No sign of unwanted oxidation. Finish is very long, with subtle syrupy sweetness, maraschino cherries from an Old Fashioned, and umami richness.

Super unique and flavorful. This was cellared flawlessly (not by me). Has held up amazingly well. So glad I got to try this!
Jan 15, 2022
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Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

4.63/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Cellared 2006 bottle. Clear brown body, no head. Smells strongly of raisin, fig, sugar plum, caramel, toffee, barley, booze and malt, with accenting tobacco and cocoa. Yeah this aged amazingly well: take the nose but have it all meld into one another seamlessly with a richness that demands you sip and enjoy every drop. Get hints of orange slice and earth, while molasses, prune and oxidation notes rise as you go down the glass. Feel is smooth, warm, light yet not thin, chewy even, with rich and full malt and barley. The wife loved it
Sep 02, 2021
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Reviewed by snaotheus from Washington

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
8.5oz bottle served in a Cantillon globe. 2005 vintage, bottle #P15911, label says 11.7% abv. Bought it as part of a take home Hard Liver Fest package from Brouwer's.

Pours still, dark, clear. Reddish brown. Smells really raisiny, maybe some rum or brandy. Can smell the alcohol.

Taste is TONS of raisin, something almost smoky (maybe that's a meaty/umami flavor?), booze is still there. Sweet, lots of dark fruit, prunes. Wood or bark or something. Cherry skin bitterness. Molasses.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin yet chewy.
Mar 10, 2021
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Reviewed by mynie from Maryland

4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2004 edition I've been cellaring for well over a decade. Tonight's work got cancelled so let's crack this fucker open at 2:30 on a Tuesday.

The cap comes off without even the slightest hiss and the pour is, predictably, still. Not the slightest remnant of fizz.

The aroma is intense and enticing, wearing its age well. Raisins, figs, caramel, and booze.

The flavor is likewise intense and, surprisingly, quite well composed. Again, it's aged well. Overripe fruit up front, and then a surprisingly delicate middle of bread, biscuits, and toffee--sweet but not overpowering--finishing with vanilla and caramel.

This was no doubt a revelation was it debuted, and even decades later it's still a wonderful experience. Easily one of the best old ales I've ever had.
Mar 02, 2021
Photo of mothman
Reviewed by mothman from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2008 Bottle. Very little head. Caramel brown color.

Caramel, figs, toffee, brown sugar, red apple skins, pears, molasses, and dates.

Low carbonation, not oxidized. Medium bodied. Smooth, complex, easy drinking.
Feb 19, 2021
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Reviewed by LeeryLeprechaun from Colorado

4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Very deep ruby red color, great clarity, very little head. Slightly off white head. Very little head. Caramel and toffee aroma. Sweet and toffee flavors, some soy sauce and saltiness. Full bodied, almost chewey, but not cloying. Little to no hop flavor, no hop aroma. Alcohol warming and flavor as the beer warms up.
Jan 03, 2021
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Rated by edthehead from Maryland

4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
2003 Vintage
Nov 17, 2020
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Reviewed by chum_husk from Minnesota

2.56/5  rDev -38%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2
2008 bottle from the best beer store in Burnsville

Pours up clear, dark, ruby. Pouring out the sediment later, it is dirty dark and cloudy. Still carbonated, not bad. Smells and tastes like a red wine, slightly vinegar-y, lots of oak, dark ripe fruit... much of the flavor has dulled and you can really feel the alcohol inbued into it, overtaking and overwhelming while remaining still near-invisible.

Too much flavor has faded, maybe
Aug 11, 2020
Rated: 4 by rodmanfor3 from Vermont

Jan 27, 2020
Rated: 4.68 by dannycohen62 from Illinois

Sep 05, 2019
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Reviewed by GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
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!
Aug 25, 2019
Rated: 4.25 by Thorfinn960 from Ohio

Aug 04, 2019
Rated: 4.19 by ChicagoNick from Illinois

Jul 12, 2019
Photo of beerthulhu
Reviewed by beerthulhu from New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
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.
Apr 03, 2019
Photo of EMV
Reviewed by EMV from Pennsylvania

4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
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.
Oct 25, 2018
Photo of SLeffler27
Reviewed by SLeffler27 from New York

4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

Sep 30, 2018
Photo of Tiernan
Reviewed by Tiernan from Texas

4.9/5  rDev +18.6%
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.
Jun 22, 2018
Rated: 4.4 by FalconOne from Ohio

Dec 19, 2017
Photo of Jacobier10
Reviewed by Jacobier10 from New Jersey

3.69/5  rDev -10.7%
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.
Dec 03, 2017
Rated: 4.06 by PhineasMcClintock from Massachusetts

Sep 30, 2017
Photo of jzeilinger
Reviewed by jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
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.
Sep 30, 2017
Rated: 4.75 by mattmarka1 from Minnesota

Jun 15, 2017
Rated: 4.02 by Sk8sean86 from Massachusetts

May 18, 2017
Rated: 4.25 by pauldig from Texas

Feb 25, 2017
Rated: 4.58 by smi69 from New York

Dec 28, 2016
Rated: 4.04 by MykeJ from Minnesota

Dec 22, 2016
Rated: 4.23 by Erik-P from Canada (BC)

Dec 12, 2016
Photo of Casey3236
Reviewed by Casey3236 from Pennsylvania

4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
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.
Oct 09, 2016
Photo of DeFaz
Reviewed by DeFaz from Ohio

4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
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.
Sep 28, 2016
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Reviewed by Ciocanelu from Romania

4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
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.
Sep 11, 2016
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Rated by spinrsx from Canada (ON)

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
2007 Vintage shared by Stephen. Holding up pretty well all things considered.
Aug 30, 2016
Rated: 3 by suckaj from Florida

Aug 14, 2016
Rated: 2.78 by MickeyHops from California

Aug 01, 2016
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Reviewed by mfnmbvp from Illinois

4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
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
Jun 07, 2016
Photo of Beginner2
Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Listed in the "1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die", but no longer brewed so I will rely on memory. I kept this copy for several years and no deterioration. Sweet, but not cloying. Balanced, but the blending of the staler old ale seems like an acquired taste.

Since Hardy's Ale probably will be my only brew from Hanlon's unless I move to England and seek them out, I offer a quick micro-review. Apparently Hanlons sold Hardy's recipe and brand name to an Italian outfit, Inter Brau. Good. But also Hanlon's changed hands in 2014 and has become a more traditional pub with food also. Also good. Beyond that, go on their website.
May 11, 2016
Rated: 4.24 by Rizzy17 from Pennsylvania

May 03, 2016
Rated: 4.04 by Yellolab2010 from Pennsylvania

Apr 23, 2016
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 760 ratings