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

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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.

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Reviews: 564 | Ratings: 734
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2003 8.5 oz. bottle. A spicy barleywine bitter opaque brown brew with bourbon residue. Best at its residue last. Carmel syrup. Figs, pepper. Was light on tongue, still there was carbonation that Froze the tongue. A sipper.
2007 repeat experience. It was young, it was plumb. It looked like a great barleywine and tasted the same. Still froze me tongue, a sipper, alcohol fumes. Better taste than I give it credit.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage. No. P 19103

Pours a murky dark cranberry juice red with absolutely no head and no lacing. Visible sediment floats around in the glass. Smell is of raisins, raisin bread, brandy, and slight soy sauce. Taste is of raisin puree, raisin bread, tobacco, alcohol, and soy sauce. Very complex, strong flavors on this one. This beer has very light carbonation and is somewhat flat and thick in the mouth. Overall, I am not too sure how I feel about this beer. On one hand it’s very well made in the aroma and taste departments but on the other hand it’s a very overpowering beer to drink in a normal way. This is an all-evening slow sipper of a beer. I can see why these beers age so well over time.

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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!

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Photo of t0rin0
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this a few times now but the oldest one I've had is a year old. The bottle says to let it age for 25 years but I doubt I'll ever get to try one that old.

It pours a deep brown color with a little red showing. Its pretty clear but not completely. There is little head or even carbonation for that matter. The smell is very sweet and malty. There is a sugar smell that is present that may not be from malt alone. The taste is very nice, one of my favorite barleywines (of the 25 that I've tried). Has a little tartness from hops and some complex sugary tastes. There must be some spices in there somewhere but I can't tell what they are.

I've heard that after 25 years the sugary quality actually diminishes a little bit.

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Photo of Knapp85
2.65/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm going to say right off the bat that this needs to be aged. It's just far too strong when it's fresh. I had a bottle of this back in 2008 and I believe that it was that years vintage. It's a dark brew with little head. Has a very boozed up aroma with many different things spewing from it. It's almost undrinkable when it's fresh to me. I had to sip this so slowly that it was like hardly even having any. The best thing I can compare this to would be Sam Adams Tiple Bock.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2005, sampled on 11/10/07

Still a young, old ale but I can't hold off. The beer is still outstanding, showing a huge lift of fruitcake and rum flavors. A hightened level of sherry, brandy, and wood aging is evident. But with lighter carbonation, the beer seems a bit flat. Still viscous, smooth, and round and with a touch of soy sauce in the finish. Quite good, but the flavors will continue to come around with more aging.

Most impressed by this one. Quite peculiar and spectacular.
Aroma: sweet, fruity, and mildly alcoholic. No hop aroma. Almost brandy-like.
Appearance: colors of coppers and orange. Lacking head retention, but not a disapointment. Leaves oily lace on glass, probably from higher alcohol.
Taste: abundance of dark fruit flavors-plumb/prune, raisons, a bit of cherries. Also sweetness tastes of molassas, brown sugar, or a little licorice. No bitterness, no bite. The experience at the nose transforms effortlessly through the finish. finishes sweet and not too dry. finish is warming and slight taste of cough syrup.
Aftertaste: Incredibly smooth. Lingering. subtle.
Impression: syrupy, silky, a pleasure to drink. May substitute nicely for a port wine or a mild brandy for an after dinner desert.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

250ml bottle, 2006 vintage, with ill-fitted gold foil, and an ornamental medal depicting, presumably, Thomas Hardy, but it looks more like Hitchcock's silhouette.

This beer pours a slow, hazy, gloomy, dark orangish-brown hue, with a single thin finger of weak bubbly white head, which leaves a low ring of ebbing tide lace around the glass as it hastily recedes. Looks rather vividly and veritably old to me.

It smells quite strongly of sweet dark, earthy fruit - mostly prune and dates - musty caramel taffy, mild powdered cocoa, a touch of black licorice, creaky leather, and more than a minor twinge of warming alcohol. The taste is an initial assault on the senses, with tangy, warm molasses heavily front loaded, as a pungent black fruitiness shows itself soon thereafter in the form of figs, prunes, and browned apples, all stewing in a mild, scarily easy to dismiss, simmering alcohol, with a modicum of under the stairs mustiness pervading as well. Even so, the hefty ABV is still pretty much well obfuscated.

The carbonation is subtle and near invisible, the body medium-full in weight, dense, quite slick, and sugary. It finishes on the sweet side, fruity in a sort of well-past due sense, and duly warm and snuggly, like a forgotten old sweater in the back of the closet.

A stellar example of this hard to initially come upon style. I cracked this as my kickoff to my summer vacation, wherein I am to travel to la Belle Province with my better half, starting tomorrow. I wanted something dessert-like, but had nothing of the sort handy. Not so strangely, this filled that void admirably, so grab a wee bottle of this before it is gone for good.

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Photo of brentk56
4.74/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage consumed in 2006

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel color with a rich and creamy head that displays fine retention and lacing

Smell: Luscious aromatics of rum-soaked prune and fig

Taste: Starts with a rum soaked dried dark fruit flavor joined by plenty of caramel; after the swallow, a mildy bitter complexity seeps in; the finish, however, is rather sweet and pruny

Mouthfeel: Full creamy body with modest carbonation

Drinakbility: A fine sipper with a variety of complex tastes

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle (#10140) drank in 2005 and courtesy of Presario: Poured a dark murky brown color ale with a small head without much retention. Aroma of plums, dry raisins and strong malt is easily enjoyable and represent a moment of pure bliss. Taste is more sweeter then expected with a strong malt presence with plums and dry raisins. Body is pretty much as full as possible and alcohol is well hidden but you can still feel its effect. Very different from the experience I had with the 1985 version I had last year – this seems more sweet and carbonated with less of the port notes and obviously no oxidation.

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Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottle, No. p08286

Needed a good nightcap, so this fit the bill.

Poured into an Oerbier glass at a height of 4-6" to generate some foam, served at 68º. A tight head of foam rested on the surface, mainly larger bubbles that receded to a lasting ring at the edge. A gorgeous crimson caramel color when held to the light.

Orange peel, melted caramel, and toffee aroma that intensifies over time. Initial mustiness from the age, but that seemed to blow off quickly. Luscious caramel toffee and sweet orange peel flavors. Long nutty almond finish. This is like some sort of sinful confection, better than any sweets I can imagine right now. Very rich and full bodied with minimal carbonation, it's the definition of a savory slow sipper. After 5 years in the bottle, i'm not getting any alcohol heat, just a slight warming after the swallow. Very impressed, plan to cellar the rest indefinitely...

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Photo of zeff80
4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle consumed on 8/18/12

A - Poured a cloudy burgundy color with a very small, white head. It had light carbonation and left some sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - Smelled candy-like with sweet maltiness. A light floral presence made it very inviting.

T - Sweet maltiness with a touch of roastiness. Lots of toffee flavor with some caramel. Light bitterness with a smooth creamy finish.

M - It was crisp and sharp despite the low carbonation. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is really good. I'm glad I finally bought one and glad I drank it when I did.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to bmanning for this.

Pours a moderate reddish brown. Light off white head with some nice squeaky legs. Nose is trmendous with booze, sweet bread, dates, cherries, and some other fruit. The taste is equally complex and everything is quite well integrated at this stage. I can't imagine what this is like with 10 years on it. Good body with integrated heat, this is certainly a classic brew.

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Photo of nickfl
3.15/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Medium sized, light brown head with good lace on a hazy, orange-brown body.

S - Fruity, spicy raisins with notes of sherry, oak, toffee, and caramel.

T - Spicy raisin flavors up front with brown sugar and a strange, almost salty note in the middle. Vinous, slightly stale flavor in the finish with some hops and some soy like malt.

M - Very low carbonation and a thick, oily body with some alcoholic warmth.

D - Nice aroma, but the flavor is muddy and not particularly pleasant. Perhaps this one needed a few more years.

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Photo of oberon
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
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 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.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.69/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2008 vintage, consumed January '13.

Poured a deep and/or hazy, dark maroon-brown color; a few stray bubbles on top, but otherwise no notable head, lacing, or carbonation. Sweet aroma, caramel, fruit cake, notes of brandy-like booze. More of the same in the taste, bready, caramel malts, candied fruit, a little bit of soy sauce, boozy and fairly dry, almost like a maple syrup beer, yet all in good balance. Slick, medium body, still a bit hot after 4-5 years, but enjoyable overall. Glad I got to sample this one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8.5 ounce bottle - - $7.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

2008 vintage. No. T 27021.

Appearance: Pours an opaque, medium brown body with a large, lasting, faintly beige head. Surprising amount of lace on the way down.

Smell: Brown sugar melted with a surprisingly large dose of table sugar. Juicy, ripe notes of dates, green raisins, and maybe, just maybe, a faraway hint of unripened strawberries.

Taste: Pure, genuine taste of caramel with an added kick of sugar, a touch of candied nuts, and an all-around full, damned vivacious sweetness. Cordial fruitiness, but it doesn't eclipse the sweet maltiness. Some earthy bitterness, but, again, it doesn't eclipse the sweet maltiness (and given a few years won't even be evident). Quite warming and certainly noticeable, but all that unyielding sweetness and rich malt flavors keep it from being harsh. Finishes sweet, warming, but with also a twinge of bitterness (at least as this young age).

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Thomas Hardy's Ale, we hardly knew ye! The thought of buying a full case of this and retiring to a beach or pristine forest is almost too much to resist.

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Photo of russpowell
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 11.7 oz 2004 no P 75340 edition poured into tulip-like mc'chouffe glass

Pours hazy amber/red with a 1/4" off white head. A little lacing 7 film that chases down the glass

S: Huge oaky notes & hints of brandy & vanilla

T: Warming alcohol & oakyness, then brandy & cherry. Dryness surfaces as it warms. Finishes dry with alcohol bite & hints orange peel & vanilla

MF: Syruppy, with looow carbonation & balanced towards maple syrup!

A bit hard to drink, even at a sipping pace. I had the original back in old blighty from 90-92, not a lot of diffference that I can remember. but I'm sure there is! If was rich, i'd bust bottle of these open every 6 months just looking for perfection

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Photo of Slatetank
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer has pleasant packaging with the gold top and coin on the neck. I appreciated the quote from it's namesake. The small bottle size was just right for this strong specimen. It has a nice garnet color and rich odor. The head was almost non existant and the smell was fruity. The taste was winey with hints of oak. There was a moderate taste of alcohol in the finish and I gradually sipped it. I was left with mixed feelings after having tried this strong ale.

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Photo of Jason
3.49/5  rDev -15.3%
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 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.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. Thomas Hardy's is an attractive plum color with no head whatsoever. The aroma is very rich and full. Smell is of dark fruits and seems very wine-like. The taste is also very rich, strong, and full-flavored. Sip starts with dark fruit tastes, plum-like, then is joined by a sharp, tangy bite. Wine-like flavors are noted throughout and are joined in the finish by a mild alcohol taste. This is very rich and strong, I'd probably only want one of these at a time. Recommended as a nightcap.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

250 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2007 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - No head. Mostly clear brown body with large chunks floating in it.

Smell - Whoa, oxidation. Sherry and brown sugar. Raisins and figs.

Taste - Kinda cardboardy but otherwise great. Not as sweet as I expected. Lots of raisins. Slightly bitter in the back to balance it.

Mouthfeel - Oxidized, but not too much. Low carbonation and surprisingly low sweetness.

Overall - Very nice. The oxidation adds more than it detracts.

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Photo of stakem
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken 12/30/10. Thanks to pmsawyer for sharing this brew.

Poured into a 6oz snifter, this brew appears a hazed orange amber color. A tan cap of bubbles forms and quickly recedes. A light swirl releases some bubbles from suspension but not head forms outside of a collection of bubbles around the walls of the glass.

The aroma of this brew is candy caramel sweetness. Fruity indications of alcohol that is slightly tangy with booziness. Reminescent of toffee, smells very much like candied fruit and is somewhat cake or bread-like.

The taste continues with the candy sweetness character upfront before turning hoppy with an earthy quality that dries this brew out. It has a lingering bitterness accented by some alcohol heat. Overall the alcohol is masked quite well with a herbal and earthy bitterness countering the bold sweetness of this brew. Once warm the alcohol takes on a fusel touch and there is a very minor accent of oxidation.

This is a full bodied brew that is lightly carbonated. It fits the bill perfectly and is a quality sipper for the high abv. I enjoyed the alcohol verse sweetness verse herbal/earthy hop character of this brew. Still considered to be "young" by Hardy standards at less than 3 years old, I look forward to trying some older vintages.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I dedicate this bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale vintage 2003 #017157 to the beginning of Allegheny College's 2004 Spring Fest musical guests the Roots. To all surviving the Ville de Mead peace and love, and most importantly Salute! Appearance: Cracked the cap to small release of carbonation pours a chestnut garnet ruby brown tone pleasant but thin bubbly cream head leaves fine tiny bubles evenly around the snifter with each tilt of the glass 8.5oz of glory here. Aroma: Deep ruddy malt nose backed with ale characteristics of deep over ripened fruits some plum brandy like notes alcohol is evident this bottle is still young and ferocious the way I want to try my first Thomas Hardy's. With each swirl of the glass I get some caramel slight vanilla and oak tones a heavenly uniform nose to this beer. Taste: Some sweet candy like sugary malts upfront that crash in a wave like fashion blending English hops caramel malt presence rich alcohol infused fruit tones, bam this one kicks it up a notch. Definitely an experience even drinking this young, I know a bottle can last for up to 25 years but I couldn't wait I had to try this beer. Mouthfeel: Full bodied syrupy mix I feel like I could drizzle this on some pancakes and still enjoy it chewy in nature mellow carbonation, big old ale. Drinkability: What can I say let it warm up take your time don't drink to fast, Thomas Hardy's Ales will come and they will pass. Truly a memorable beer, let me thank once again Bill and Tim two worthy BAs who go by beergeek279 and cupbeerman. I appreciate the gift and I sure did enjoy this gem of a beer, thanks guys.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 734 ratings.
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