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

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)
743 Ratings
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)

Brewed by:
Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
O'Hanlon's took over the brand and revived it in 2003, but discontinued it after the 2008 batch.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 743 |  Reviews: 568
Reviews by Georgiabeer:
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 edition, 11.7% alcohol. Pours a rich ruby/amber with no headto speak of and very low carbonation. The smell is very rich and deep as well. Sweet malt with alcohol, brown sugar, treacle, brandied dark fruit, and christmas spices. The taste is even deeper if anything. The rich fruitcake flavors are there along with the sweet malt, but these are balanced by a good acidity. Nuts and honey on the finish as well as a little yeastiness. The alcohol is more noticeable in the nose than it is in the taste. The mouthfeel is very smooth and syrupy without being overly sweet. Surprisingly drinkable given its abv. A sipper, but so smooth and balanced it goes down easily. I've had several of the old versions back in the day, and while I can't make any kind of accurate comparison, its nice to see that O'Hanlon has largely safeguarded this treasure.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of biegaman
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
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 warriorsoul
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerResearcher for the tip on locating a 4 pack of these in Quincy, MA.
A very classy bottle...marked 2004 No. P07997 Edition.
Pours a murky, dark brown w/ the head peaking out of the bottle before I can pour. A nice full finger of sudsy, tan head which goes nowhere. No lacing present.
Aroma is fantastic...sweet figs, raisins, cherries and alcohol detected in the nose. The most scented bouquet I have experienced in my very limited reviews.
Taste is over the top...all of the above scents are also apparent in the flavor. Mouthfeel is thick, but not cloying. I actually prefer a tad less carbonation in the only complaint.
Can't say drinkability is high...I will be savoring this one for a little bit. Glad I went out and picked this one up...a very unique brew and I can see why so many search it out.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2004 vintage, bottle #82808

taste- maple syrup, caramel, cinnamon stick, brininess, applewood smokiness, madeira flavors in the finish

color- oily deep copper color with a ruby center and golden ring around the edges

clarity- pours clear with medium darkness

smell- apple, caramel, leather, barnyard

body- syrupy, most of the weight is in the center of the palate, short, restrained finish

appearance- carbonation after the initial pour that yielded a white foamy ring

overall impression- really glad to see this beer is very drinkable after this many years. i've had older vintages that aren't as enjoyable but still good for what they are. i'm liking this amount of age. i have more in the cellar for further experimentation...yay for me

notes and comments- a hint of carbonation when first opened, flavors and body remind me of a barleywine, beer stayed together with a faint trace of sediment suspended in the glass...otherwise a thin paste on the bottom of the bottle. alcohol is still present and very well masked

beer spy- bottle barn several years ago, santa rosa ca, 2004, 8.5oz (25cl)

glassware: tulip

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 No. P 07901 Edition

Presentation: The comforting classic golden nature of England’s finest Barleywine resonates far beyond the rather new 8.5 fl.oz. brown glass bottle of O’Hanlon’s version. The slightly bigger bottle stands taller and slightly wider than the previous 6.33 fl.oz. Historic offerings from the legendary Eldridge Pope Brewery. The main obverse label retains the classic design but adds the 11.7% Alc./Vol. in the bottom right hand corner. Has the Bottle No. P 07901 in red, with the year 2005 preceding this in a smaller black font. A simple black crown cap hides underneath a gold foil which clings to the top inch, or so, of the bottle neck. The wrap of scarlet red string is loose, previous versions had it embossed into the foil. The gold colored disc has the classic Hitchcock-like profile of Thomas Hardy on one side whilst the words ‘Thomas Hardy’s Ale brewed & bottled by O’Hanlon’s Brewing Company, Whimple, Devon, England’. A Classic, Traditional, Exquisite, High-End Quality presentation that continues the custom of some four decades past with a few minor updates - but this bottle is still instantly recognizable to affiliates and connoisseurs.

Appearance: Massive off-white tanned head rises in my half pint 1993 13th Wakefield Beer Festival CAMRA Mug. The foamy beige plug fills at least 2” of the glass receptacle before it starts to fall and collapse leaving a crumbly rock-pool surface with some thick overhanging rings. Dark amber body has a deep rich copper colored body which resonates with a Hardy Devonian Englishness. Russet carbonation shines and shingles like the setting sun on a Dartmoor’s high plains.

Nose: Immense rustic charm, striking caramel sits underneath a plum soaked prune juice. High alcohol, figs and some strafing Devon toffees. Figs, dark Rum and sugared plums finish the nasal enticement. Sharp tannic malts stain the hops and fight the brown sugar infested yeast. The nose is never incandescent but always pervasive, even at rest it shines with a Shakespearian melodic charm, self deprecating but yet high evolved and projecting.

Taste: To taste this fresh is such a treat these days. My young palate, back in the kid 80’s found this intense and high end, punching alcohol and massive malts knocked me out, literally. These days, it seems like my palate seems more refined, but still, this is a massive beer. Intensely demonic malts with an alter of halo-hops which redeems this huge English Barleywine. Make no mistake; it’s a bad boy, a winking Charlie-Farley with no Piggy-Malone to balance its rude nature. It stands in polite company with a stance that has a charming nice side that your Mum would love, and maybe secretly fancy. It is, as it always was, Thomas Hardy’s Ale. That in itself is such a comforting respite. It went and came back, rose from the dead so to speak. Warming Madeira, some Vanilla and a soothing Shandy-Bass ending wrap up this monster.

Mouthfeel: At barely One year old I recall that the O’Hanlon’s variant is far more Customer friendly than its Eldridge Pope predecessor. That said, the creamy smooth texture has a lovely carpet nature that allows you to sink into the malt laden alcohol with some aplomb. This is a beer that you can chew for sure.

Drinkability: So hard to fault this one, yet you know, deep down, that you should not enjoy such a devilishly string brew with such vigor. But I care not; the conditioning is perfect, the sharp crossing hop malt body and a rich finish. This is so fucking good it is criminal.

Overall: As an Old Devonian, and I am, I just find myself continually drawn to this marvelous brew. This is, for me, THE single example of the Olde School English Barleywine, the one that would bugger you senseless, slip you into Tom Browns hot crusty crumpet cheek holder, and have you effortlessly slipping into Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns and fighting off the School Cheetah in Tomkinson’s School Days. This is so English it hurts. O’Hanlon’s carries the Torch from a heavy dark past but it seems with a firm bright light toward the future. Eldridge Pope and Thomas Hardy could not wish for any better marathon runner into the new decades of the 21st Century.

Superb Stuff !!!!

Stock Up and Lock Up.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.
-Thomas Hardy

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 8.5oz bottle(2004 vintage #05398) room temp a dark ruby red with a smallish head of foam that disappeared really quick.

The smell is all candy sweet with lots of plum and some notes of alcohol and, well, it smells very port like.

The taste is more of the same, lots more! Sweet molasses, caramel, plum, and a strong orange injection in the finish and yes, it has that nice warming feeling when going down, what complexity and this stuff is *only* ~2 years old!

Bottom line: I had to try 1 of the bottles from my 4 pack to just check it out. Already very good stuff but the rest of my stash is going to join the 2003s in my "cellar".

Edit: I thought it would be nice to revisit this beer 3 1/2 years later, same edition, 2004, Bottle no. P 05400.

A nice hiss when I popped the cap, it pours a dark brownish red, slightly hazy as there is some sediment, with about a half inch of tannish foam.

The smell has loads of brown sugar like sweetness, some dark fruitiness, and again, a very overall Port like aroma.

Taking some small sips, there's a lot of sweetness going on. A brown sugar, perhaps maple syrup type of sweetness that I think is more intense than when I tried it last. There's some light chocolate and toffee, with lighter notes of dark fruits.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with lightish carbonation.

Drinkability? The flavours are very intense, the alcohol seems to have calmed down a bit but when I add things up, this 6 1/2 year old version of the same year that I had at 3 years doesn't quite measure up to the same level. Without changing my numbers, I'd say it was a B+ at best and maybe just a B.

I still have a 2003 to sample and 3 Eldridge Pope samples, 1988-1989-1991. Should be an interesting Christmas day 2009!

Edit: 2003 bottle, my last, No. 00644 11.7%abv.

A vigorous pour from the 8.5oz bottle yielded a temporary thin head of foam but it shrank to just a ring around my glass and a few small islands near the middle.

Smelling it is pure joy. Caramel malts and woody and sherry notes are in top form with a nice nose of toffee joining in. To me...a perfect aroma for an Old Ale.

Tasting equals or slightly, yeah I said perfect aroma, surpasses the smell and I'm somewhat but not totally astounded.
Malty to the nth degree with caramel sweetness-toffee-maple syrup(taste as well as mouthfeel), the woody sherry like goodness that in the taste more resembles a well made Port. Wow. I bought this in 2004 in CO and my cellaring "skills" really paid off with this wonderful elixir.

Thick and chewy body with just enough carbonation to make it clear to the drinker that it isn't flat, it has a wonderfully smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability? Anyone know a source for more 2003s? I'm serious! Thomas Hardy Ales are now gone but not soon to be forgotten?? I hope *someone* takes up the gauntlet and brings this beauty, in its proper form, back into production. Soon!!!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
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 oberon
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage.My first crack at this classic,poured into a brandy snifter slightly hazy medium brown with just hint of orange.Robust aromas of brown suger and orange stick out mainly with some raisin coming in as well.Thick an chewey in the mouth with flavors of raisin and dates along with some brown suger finishing very warm.A true bedtime brew maybe reading some Thomas Hardy much less harsh than expected seeing how young this was.People say this is not the beer it once was but this is damn fine to me.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Nice, dirty brown in color with a respectable head for an 11.7 ABV Strong/Old Ale.

Smell – This one has tons of sugars in it. The malt is toasty and laden with alcohol. The brown and raw sugars are here in this nose, as are the wonderful fruity notes. I smell mostly banana, figs, cherries, tobacco, and maybe prunes. There’s also some nice spicing to this one. The cinnamon and allspice are both nice, and the clove in paricular is refreshing.

Taste – Yes, lots of sugar here. It is sweet, sweet, sweet. The lovely fruits and raw sugars pick things up at the taste. The malt is there but darker than in the nose. It’s almost a burnt type of taste. The alcohol is strong but very refined. It’s not rough at all. This is an amazingly complex ale.

Mouthfeel – Close to full in the body and lip-smacking sweet. How they get all of these flavors to blend so well I do not know. It’s quite a feat.

Drinkability – I felt like a king drinking this ale. I’m sure you could age it for a while, but this 2002 edition was good right out of the box.

Comments – I’ve heard a lot of terrific things about this ale, and was thrilled to see it in my local beer store. I actually bought this a month ago but wanted to pop it for my 800th review.

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Photo of ricke
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. Serving date: 2009-09-01.

A: Mahogany color with brown hues. A very small head of big bubbles settles quickly and leaves no lacings.

S: The smell is very deep and powerful. Lots of malts, raisins and alcoholic fumes reminiscent of fine spirits. Notes of toffee, leaves and dusty cellar. This is very impressive.

T: The taste is even better than the smell. A deep and complex malty profile with notes of caramel and raisins. Lots of aromas of ripe fruits. The alcohol is present already in the mouth and mixes nicely with the fruits, reminding me of fruits soaked in brandy. Hints of toffee, cocoa and leafy hops. The taste is of course very sweet. The finish is very potent and packed with sophisticated flavors of alcohol, raisins, wood and dusty cellar.

M: Medium to full body with a nice creamy and sticky texture.

D: I really like this stuff. It drinks like a fine liqueur or cognac. I wouldn't call it vinous, it's more like fine spirits. Definitely a sipper, but surprisingly easy to drink.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle of 2004 No. P 26954

A: Moderate aromas of madeira and toffee with a rich dark dried fruit. Prominent alcohol. There is a light soy sauce, umami sharpness. No hops

T: It tastes like a madeira with rich dried dark fruit like prunes and raisins. There is a moderate malt sweetness with moderately-light hops giving a balance that is moderately sweet. The finish is sweet with a fruit and cocoa aftertaste.

M: An almost oily, medium-full bodied beer with very light carbonation.

O: A somewhat sweet fruit beer aged beer that is better approached as a medeira or sherry than a beer else most beer drinkers might be disappointed but not this one.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

fancy little bottled poured into a chalice. 2005 bottle, 35535 edition.

A: rich dark ruby body, almost brown, soft beige head. head comes back with agitation easily, light lacing.

S: Rum, butter, raisons, alcohol, caramel, even some apple

T/M: Super soft creamy body. crazy rich malt, molasses, dark fruit, raisons, plums. soggy grains, reminiscent of graham crackers or cheerios in milk. moist rum cake, hints of vanilla. finishes oily slick and drying. filling.

D: high octane brew, nice digestif. hefty price tag but worth the treat from time to time. a heavenly but formidable beer.

reminds me a lot of North Coasts Old Stock, both rare, both expensive (though this much more so), both serious commitments. the Hardy's has a creaminess that Old Stock doesnt quite achieve and slightly more complexity. but for half the price, Old Stock is more than an adequate substitution.

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Photo of Tiernan
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.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle No. P07911. Served at cellar temperature. Pours with a minimal, creamy froth, but retains a decent head; rich dark, chocolate-brown copper color. So aromatic, it's like a savory reduction of Madeira-soaked figs, with a hint of hazelnut. A tad syrupy and a tad chewy. Oak, cork, juicy Port, wine-soaked raisins and prunes. Suggestions of a sweet caramel apple cider,
with a layer of weathered-hop bitterness. Touch of spice from the slow-warming alcohol. Man, this is a good digestif or cigar beer.

All in all, a wonderful, aged Old Ale, though this vintage could use a few more years, as the hops seem lost and have not passed on. The brewery suggests that this ale can withstand twenty-five years or more of cellaring. The oldest vintage we have tasted was from 1989, with about twelve years cellar time, and it was sublime.

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Photo of Jayman931
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2008 8.5oz 11.7% served in a snifter.

Dark amber colour and a light head that lingers a bit....will reoccur with a swirl.

Smell is great....heavy caramel malts with a hint of grain....great!

Super well balanced...great make feel. When it warms a bit out has a warm after taste...but served slightly cold...marvelous.

Great beer....cheers!

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Photo of jisom123
3.72/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thomas Hardy
vin. 2005
Consumed September 2008
I thought my bottle said 11.2% instead of 11.9% abv, but may be wrong. Alcohol was masked well; tasted like 9% felt like 12%.

Great cold weather, outdoor beer. Drink @ 35-40 degrees. Nice and cold. Take camping, but Bring something else. This is not a "mainstay" beer for any adventure.
Might make an EXCELLENT cooking beer.
Consistency and coloring of Heated Grade-A amber Maple Syrup. Little to no head, but acceptable. Plenty of aroma and flavor without the head. Tastes of Charcoal whiskey-Cask Fermentation. slightly sugary; more than a Dubel Abbey.
Not something you want to slam or drink more than 3 of in one sitting. Cost was about 10% higher than it should be due to "neatness factor" of individually numbered bottles and metallic coin dongle. What I always imagined maple flavored codeine cough syrup would taste like, but without the medical taste.

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Photo of Jason
3.49/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 8.5 oz bottle with a vintage date and bottle # on the label.

Appearance: Poor head retention, nearly burgundy with brown hues.

Smell: Ripe fruit, raisins come to mind for the most part. Big whiff of alcohol seems a tad mellow after a year of aging.

Taste & Mouth Feel: Virtually no carbonation yet the mouth feel is very creamy, lots of sweet malt with a touch of hops in the back. Ripe fruit all over with a yeasty back. Tropical fruit with a lazy alcoholic character in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes: Basically reminds me of a fresh JW Lees Harvest with out the hops yet not as complex. This is not the TH I remember …

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Photo of merlin48
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8.5 oz bottle with a Thomas Hardy medialion on a string, around the neck. 2004 vintage, No. P25716 I've seen 20 and 30 year vintages of this one on Ebay, and I've read about how well this ages. I'm over 50 years old, so I'm not going to age this bottle more than the three weeks since I purchased it at the Vintage Cellar, in Blacksburg, Va. This "young" Old Ale pours into a tulip glass a clear, dark ruby amber body with a tiny offwhite head. Some delicate patch lacing persists for 15-20 minutes before disappearing. Aroma begins with vinous white wine and white grapes, followed by toffee and molasses maltiness that is politely subdued. McIntosh apples and Bosc pears appear midway through.
Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy, but not cloying. Coating in the manner of a full bodied strong old ale. An ideal feeling on the palate that is impossible to describe.
Taste features a high quality malt component of rum soaked toffee and cognac infused McIntosh apples. Peppery alcohol folds into the malt profile in a wizardly manner. The big alcohol can't hide forever, but the tart apple character reappears at the finish to tuck it back inside the toffee malts, resulting in one hell of a finish. An extremely rewarding experience to sample this young legend. Geeez! I think I will check out Ebay, and see how the 20-30 year old vintages are doing. This is highly drinkable, even when young. Worthy of its hype!

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Photo of Billolick
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Standard mini bottle, low carbonation, pours without any head, bubbles or lacing evident. Full throtle nose of oak, cloves,smoke, old cheesy feet. Full bodied and strong brew, nice soft mouthfeel, with notes of rum, vanilla, orange, over ripe fruits. Smooth and warming. Finishes with a nice malty sweatness. Classic winter sipper. Perfect for after thanksgiving meal.

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Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage into wine glass.

Wonderful deep ruby red with an off-white head that stayed for the duration of the glass. Deep caramel, vinous, nutty, raisons, and though subdued, earthy hops blend together for an excellent aroma. Sweet caramel beginning with red wine hints, but the caramel stays throughout mixing with nuts and an earthy flavor, with a sweet and grassy finish. Lower carbonation, full bodied, heavy on the tongue, sticky. Though you can feel the alcohol, this one makes for an excellant sipper, worthy of keeping around for any special occasion.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My brother picked this one up for me at Phillipe's in Lafayette. Great find.

2008 vintage, bottle 28200. Pours caramel/orange with a small white head. Aroma is caramel malt, toffee and dried dark fruit. Very malty aroma overall. Flavor is more of the same with lots of caramel malt and toffee as well as alcohol, which is not well hidden. You get a big caramel aftertaste. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation.

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Photo of olradetbalder
4.75/5  rDev +15%

Photo of 1Adam12
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of magictrokini
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. A very good beer. Pours ruby and brown with a stubborn but small off-white head. A lot of sweet malts in the aroma, mixed with cherries and darker fruits. Thick mouthfeel, almost no carbonation. Taste is very close to a cognac with port and oak flavors. Slight alcohol warming. It would be nice to be able to cellar this, except everywhere I find it, the beer is already in the cooler.

 399 characters

Photo of jamesm7485
3.27/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

2007 vintage poured in a wine glass.I wanted to have high hopes for this beer, i would say that while it is somewhat similar to a barleywine i dont enjoy it as much as i usually do barleywines. Not terribly drinkable what so ever first craft brew that i truly had a hard time finishing. I see potential here for sure but as of now its just kinda bleh. Perhaps i should stick my 2nd bottle in the cellar for many years?

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 743 ratings