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

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

Brewed by:
Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom

Style: 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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-05-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 741 |  Reviews: 566
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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of DmanGTR
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of goethean
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2004 vintage, served in 2008.

Surpringly well-carbonated for a four year-old beer. Very dark copper.

Aroma is of candied oranges.

Big flavor profile, big bodied, syrupy consistency. Flavor of candied oranges, an intense wininess, and a stiff alcohol flavor. A slight hop bitterness is still (amazingly) present. The hops flavor is well-integrated into the sweetness.

Dark, bitter prune/raisin/fig fruitiness. No oxidization. Lots of residual sweetness.

My wife says it tastes like cough syrup. (Philistine!)

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Photo of flyers68
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of RochefortChris
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of mattcrill
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle inspection: 02107 Edition. 2005 vintage. 8.5 fl. oz.

Aroma: Fruity esters pop on the nose. Plums, dried cherries, candied carmel notes, and a whiff of alcohol in the background.

Appearance: Brilliant garnet colored pour with a tan and sudsy white head. A beautiful still body.

Flavor: A burst of dried fruits! Raisins, dried cherries, and maple syrup that is followed up quickly with an alcohol drying finish. This is an amazing brewing feat and keeps the beer from becoming cloying.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, full bodied, viscous, and chewy with a dry, warming finish.

Overall impression: A big, malty, complex, and wonderful beer. Like a fine port. Close to perfection. My first "all 5's" beer. World class and untouchable.

 750 characters

Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

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5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of Kyrojack
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of Suds
4.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thomas Hardy had been a favorite of mine since way back when. I couldn’t wait to try this when I heard that O’Hanlon’s was taking up the beer. So, I bought a number of bottles when they hit the shelves and just waited for the right time to finally open one.
2003 Edition, Bottle No. 09905.
The beer pours a clear, deep, orange-tinged mahogany color. The head is initially thin, off-white/tan, and blanketing, but quickly disappears…the beer becomes notably still.
The aroma is spectacular. Alcohol provides a backdrop to a marvelous mix of meaty fruit and buckets of malt richness. Roasted and grainy smells mix with hops and molasses-like sweetness.
The taste is mouth-coating (mouth-enveloping?)…the intenseness of the smell transfers into the taste. Forceful sweetness and maltiness with a restrained bitterness for balance. Caramel and spice and port. The warming is instant and pleasing, with no misplaced alcohol hotness. The flavors really form a terrific harmony. The taste lingers in your mouth for several minutes (not moments) after each sip. Thick and oily. It’s amazing.
This beer is a masterpiece, and worth the wait. I’m anxious to see how it ages.

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Photo of Pencible
4.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 vintage. This was aged a year more than the 2006 vintage (drunk in the same evening). It poured a hazy brown with slight tan head. It smelled similar, mostly of rye, but with citrus hops mixed with the alcohol scent. It tasted fairly different, like sweet molasses and peach, along with sugary lemon hops. It was thick with no carbonation and a very smooth, slightly bitter aftertaste. Overall this had a much more balanced and refined flavor than the newer vintage. It had a great flavor, texture, and finish.

2006 vintage. This is another limited-run annual brew, although not nearly as rare as the Utopias. It poured a dark, hazy crimson with no head. It smelled distinctly of rye and crackers with molasses and slight alcohol notes. It tasted like succulent sour cherry, rye, some citrus hops, and slight molasses flavoring. It was thick with no carbonation and had a dry, short aftertaste. The flavor became more sour as I drank, making it less palatable. Overall this was a very interesting and delicate beer. It was really great at first, but needs aging.

 1,068 characters

Photo of morayeel
4.95/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

8.5 0z bottle vintage 2007 P29415

A- vary nice dark amber color

S- smell is sweet and the 11.7% ALC hits your nose at the end.

T- taste is sweet ALC hits you in the back of your throught but I had this beverage at 55 degrees or celler temperature. I loved the taste of this ale. I thought this ale was very well balanced between the sweeetness and the carmel taste at the end and the ALC was not over wellming.

M- a little thicker then most ales

D- I savered this ale a took my time with it. This is a one a night beverave.

It s like the bottle reads " bottles this rare mature in flavor like fine wine".

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Photo of abriggs1
4.94/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm seriously considering selling a kidney to buy more of this beer. Just about finished with a 2004, and I'm wish I had picked up more. Tomorrow I will return and buy them out of this miracle of a brew.

Appears as a cloudy, sludgy, brown old ale. No head.

The smell is like carrot cake soaked in rum

The taste is like North Coast 2009 Old Stock Ale on steroids. There is plenty of sweetness left, but it has an equal amount of dryness that lingers on the palate. This tastes to me to be right in the sweet spot aging wise, but I could be wrong. It may be just getting started as it says it will age for at least 25 years. The taste is like most stock ales, but much more intense. This is the smokiest beer I've ever had in my life. The intensity of the dried fruits and esters are off the charts on this one.

Simply one of the best beers ever brewed. It's a shame it's no longer brewed. I'll be sure to pick it up wherever I see it in the future, starting tomorrow morning.

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 1996: My jaw dropped when I saw this tonight at the local shop. There was a slight hiss as I opened this legendary brew. I poured it into a tulip. It is totally still, and is a deep ruby color. The smell is of port, sherry, tobacco, and wood. This is extremely complex.

The taste is good. It is of port and sherry first. There is a woody bite at the finish. Methinks this has yet to turn that corner from sugary to malty sweet. Do not misunderstand, this tastes great, but I think the best is yet to come. The mouthfeel is heavy, yet this flows down my gullet much more easily than a CA Cabernet, but not quite like a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. Harvest Ale is the only beer that I have had that could possibly compare with this one. Otherwise, substitute this for a fine port or cognac. I will age my other specimens from this vintage a little longer. Or a lot longer. This is superb with my Romeo Y Julieta cigar. My new review reflects a more recent tasting, and it was paired with the mentioned cigar.

2003 Edition: If anyone has ever had the privilege of viewing a Les Paul with a tobacco sunburst finish, this is pretty close to that in terms of looks. It smells more of ripe fruit than the 96.

The taste is of port and sherry, as usual, but it is definitely young. This will be superb in about ten years. It is superb now, IMO. The mouthfeel is medium, but coating. I give the drinkability a 5, as I appreciate this beer more with every bottle that I imbibe.

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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 Domvan
4.9/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Photo of bluejacket74
4.89/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

8.5 ounce bottle from 2004, # P68178. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a copper/brown color with not much of a head at all. Not much lacing either. The aroma is amazing, it smells like brown sugar, caramel, dark fruit (raisins, prunes, cherries), molasses and brandy. It's a very sweet, malty aroma. Taste is similar to the aroma. It tastes like dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, nuts, buckwheat honey, toffee, and brandy. Just like the aroma, it's very sweet and malty, which is a plus for me! Mouthfeel/body is full, it's rich, syrupy and slick, and has good carbonation. Drinkabililty is awesome, it was very easy for me to drink this one. It should be a sipping beer, but the flavor made me come back and drink this one quicker than I planned to. It's very enjoyable. Aging definitely didn't hurt this beer at all. I thought this brew was excellent, I'll have to buy some of the other vintages of this brew and see how they hold up. I can say the 2004 is drinking pretty good right now!

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 741 ratings