Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) | O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.

563 Reviews
Read the review
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008)

Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
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.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 563 | Ratings: 734
Photo of Casey3236
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

 267 characters

Photo of DeFaz
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

 735 characters

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

 356 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
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

 2,052 characters

Photo of biegaman
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

 3,064 characters

Photo of Sabtos
3.42/5  rDev -17%
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.

 582 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
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

 3,237 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

 1,035 characters

Photo of ChrisMon02
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
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!

 680 characters

Photo of gordavidson
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 282 characters

Photo of darktronica
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
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!

 587 characters

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

 232 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.12/5  rDev 0%
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

 984 characters

Photo of Rutager
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

 1,198 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%
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

 449 characters

Photo of Jeffo
4.54/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

 2,286 characters

Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

 1,598 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
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!

 1,243 characters

Photo of templar316
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

An 04 to celebrate the big 40. Pours a deep dark chocolate brown, with just a wisp of carbonation. The nose is really opening as it warms; maple, leather and pipe tobacco. There's smooth cola, a bite of tart cherry, fading into a lingering tobacco finish. Here's hoping I can find a 05 for 50.

 293 characters

Photo of TubaManJack
3.75/5  rDev -9%

2008 Vintage
Bottle Number 11523

Appearance: Pours like a brown motor oil. A touch of carbonation, as without it I would think I just poured an oxidized port, as there are still a nice solvent leg as I tilt the glass back.

Smell: Figs and Raisins - huge dried fruit presence . There is a bit of booze on the nose like fresh polished shoes.

Taste: Just like the smell. However there is a lot of dark sugars from brown sugar, caramel, molasses. It was quite a surprise as it did taste like port. I can't get it out of my head. As it warms I lost the raisin bit and the leather into more of the burnt sugar, solvent, and gritty fig center.

Mouthfeel: Thick with a little carbonation. It lies quite thick on the tongue only exceeded by a few 15% barrel aged stouts.

Overall: This is nice experience, but was a bit overwhelming and fairly a single note. It was a bit like enjoying a big glass of port. Nice, but so sweet it needs to be shared. It was a nice find, but at $12 it was a bit much for a medallion token on a red loop. Find a friend and split it after dinner.

I'll be on the look out for a earlier pre-2003 vintage

 1,130 characters

Photo of beergoot
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle label info: 2008 No. T 21853 Edition

Dark honey colored body with lively, fine bubble carbonation although the head is very thin and wispy. Very dense, rich smelling aroma; caramel; figs and dates; molasses; warm, dark bread. The taste reflects many of the aroma's traits; raisins and fig flavors about. Heavy body with a thick, resinous, vinous feel.

It's hard to beat a thick and chewy old ale and this sample is pretty awesome. A big boozy alcohol heat also significantly contributes to the appeal, adding depth and complexity to an already huge malt and dextrin presence. A nice find and thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially if old stock ales are your thing.

 678 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%

2008 bottle purchased at La Cave a Bulles in Paris, poured on 9/18/14 at home in Florida into a Hunahpu snifter. Pours murky brown with some purple hues and basically no head except for a ring of yellowish tans bubbles around the edges. Aroma is very sweet brown sugar and figs, chocolate, leather, toffee, caramel, molasses and some sherry notes. Flavor is figs and leather, brown sugar sweetness, light lingering chocolate and brown sugar, a hint of booze, and some bready malts. Not overly sweet to my surprise. Full bodied with very very little carbonation. Fun to try, very nice.

 584 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%

2008 bottle picked up locally. enjoyed from a thomas hardy's snifter.

brew pours a murky brown with a darker bottom and lighter surface...looks fairly muddy and not the most enticing. a few bubbles lay on the surface, but no head per se.

nose is really rich and dense. sweet boozy toffee nougat like candy with some minty menthol.

taste follows suit with a minty, boozy, candy sweet nougat. almost like candy canes. immensely sweet.

tasty, a dessert drink...this is only 6 years and feels REALLY young.

 513 characters

Photo of MisterE
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2005 vintage 11.7% ABV 8.5 oz bottle #P 37773 - a gift from a friend, poured carefully (as per instructions on back label) into a 12 oz tulip glass

A: flat medium brown with no head, no bubbles

S: dark dry fruit - raisins, figs, and earthly sweetness

T: strong and sweet with suggestion of bitter, burnt malts and alcohol

M: smooth, almost syrupy, with no carbonation; only alcohol to tickle the tongue

O: unusual and robust, but not one I'd order myself

This beer reminds me more of a port wine than an old ale.

 518 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, drank in summer 2014. No. T 16229, 8.5 oz bottle. poured into snifter glass at cellar temperature. poured slow to avoid the thick layer of sediment.

into the glass a clear dark copper color, with bright ruby highlights. but really no head whatsoever. just tiny bubbles stream to the surface. nice malty aroma, very much like raisins, figs, toffee, a bit sweet. taste is actually not not that sweet - starts with those same malty flavors, then finishes a bit earthy. mild carbonation, thicker sticky body. appropriate for the style.

overall - very glad I got to try this legendary beer, even if it wasn't the original edition. but I like the JW Lees better in terms of the big name English barleywine/old ales.

 727 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 734 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.