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
Photo of Sabtos
3.42/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

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Photo of MathiasO
4.64/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Bunuelian
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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 Texasfan549
4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kjkinsey
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Elpadrino42069
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Buckeye982
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

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Photo of Lare453
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 bottle. Brown, no head what so ever.

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Photo of ChrisMon02
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
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!

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

Photo of unclekeith
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DucksFan16
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of gordavidson
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of darktronica
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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!

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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.

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Photo of bcm75
4.63/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage. Apricots, soy, plums. Slight smokiness. 9 years in the bottle has done this wonders. Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly viscous.

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Photo of TastyIsBeer
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
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

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Photo of HollyHops
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of nathanmiller
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Rutager
4.46/5  rDev +8%
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.

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