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

734 Ratings
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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: 563 | Ratings: 734
Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For purposes of the review, the sampled beer was the 2008 vintage with ABV standing at 11.7%. The beer poured a hazy dark brown color. Thickness was noted during the pour. The nose was a very pleasant sweet malty aroma. As with a well constructed Old Ale, the initial sip revealed a sweet malt and fruity taste. The thickness of the ale allowed it to linger even while it was beginning to warm the throat in the aftertaste. The ale was tangy on the sides of the tongue giving hints of certain citrus fruits. The warming sweet malt notes continue into the aftertaste. There is some serious staying-power in this beer.

I will be aging my other bottles for several years, as the bottle notes it can be aged up to 25 years. I would love for this beautiful Old Ale to come out of retirement in the mean time.

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

What we have here is a 2008 vintage. ABV is 11.7 percent.

Opens up with a very boozy aroma, as if there was bourbon in it. Soon, deep caramel and molasses notes were present...perhaps a little dark fruit as well.

Pours dark brown in my glass...head is surprisingly loose and fizzy for a beer of this style and power. Didn't last too long.

The Bourbon and booze are noticed right away. This may not have been aged in a barrel, but it certainly tastes like it. Rich caramel...sugars...and some raisin as well. The slightest bitterness shows up on the finish but is fleeting, as would be expected. Certainly sticks around after the swallow in a smackingly sweet way.

If you don't mind the bourbon/alcohol flavor, this is quite nice. I enjoyed it quite a bit, shame it is no longer made!

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Photo of harrymel
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ABV reads 11.7%, Vintage 2008, Bottle: 04181

Pours a lovely dark amber with a quilt of light tan foam. Nose is sweet and dominated with a bubble gum quality and some hints of vanilla, praline and marshmallow. Flavor carries a bit more quality with some nice caramelized flavors alongside toast, copper, malt, malt and herbal character. Medium on full bodied with moderate carb and a wet finish. This beer is really nice, but I'd take JW 6/7 days of the week. I've got a '98 in the cellar, it'll be nice to compare.

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Photo of DCon
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared a 8.5 FL OZ bottle of this w/ friends @ 4 Hands Brewing Co. Poured from the Yellow Labeled bottle w/ a red string around the top of the foiled bottle into a 12oz 4 Hands Snifter Glass. Has 2004 No.P 67048 on the front of the label.

Aroma- Tons of booze and alcohol are in the aroma from the start. Dark fruits then pop out strongly. Not a normal old ale aroma but enjoyed since it has been aged.

Appearance- Pours no head even with an aggressive pour. Has the darkest/deepest amber color you can find while still having minimal clarity. Leaves no lacing behind.

Flavor- Unbelievable! Huge caramel and toffee (almost like cracker jack character) and also a burnt sugar mixture. Honey pops out thén at the finish like never before! Sweet finish and may be one of my top 5 most flavorful beers now!

Mouthfeel- Light- Medium Bodied, Light Carbonation, Smoothest/Sweetest Old Ale I've ever enjoyed, and tons of burnt sugar, honey left on the tongue.

Overall Impression- Hold onto your hat when enjoying this one! Your in for a ride. The sweet qualities that came out throughout the entire drink were outstanding. I'm now wondering if these came out and developed because of the age? I have either an 06 or 07 vintage of this from my cousin and am excited to compare!

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 Vintage bottle no. 39691

Pours a murky brown with a copper tinge.

The smell is typical of the high alcohol legends of the cellar, like Samichlaus or J.W. Lees Harvest. Heavy malt notes, dark fruits like plums and figs, light bandy character, and raw bread dough.

Taste is better than the particular bottle from 1991 that I had. Much more fruit and sweetness as well as a bit more alcohol presence. I taste Riesens, you know the chocolate covered raisins. I also get some faint syrupy coffee and figs. The finish drys and reveals more alcohol.

The feeling is very tender. Just a whisper of a tingle exists. This beer almost massages the mouth as it travels from the front to back, very smooth and enjoyable.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage, No. T 06382, 8.5fl oz bottle, recently put out as a special at Belmont Party Store in Dayton. 11.7% ABV. Served in a Gordon Highland Scotch Ale Thistle glass. Poured very slow to keep the sediment in. Review of the 2008 bottle on 10/01/16.

Appearance: Cloudy orange-brown. No head because I poured it slowly. No lacing.

Smell: Licorice, orange, toffee, hints of alcohol. Very nice. Also an occasional hint of Parmesan cheese as it warms up.

Taste: Licorice, a hint of scotch whiskey, dark fruits, buttery toffee, a tiny hint of burnt sugar, raisin/prunes. All sorts of flavors going on.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and very creamy thick, but a bit sticky on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: This bottle survived better than the 2007 bottle I had awhile back (Jan 2012), and it has indeed aged well. Not a great beer to look at, but a great sipping and savoring beer.

2007 vintage, No. P07635, 11.7% ABV. 8.5oz bottle poured into a Tulip glass.

Appearance: No head at all. Deep brown with some hints of orange when held up to the light.

Smell: Sweet, boozy, buttery toffee, maybe just some hints of solvent in there. Definite soy sauce smell as it warms up.

Taste: Rich buttery toffee, definite licorice taste, mild medicinal bitter flavor at the end.

Mouthfeel: I think this is completely flat, or if there is any carbonation in there, it's very well hidden. Mouthfeel otherwise is a bit syrupy and thick with a bit of alcohol burn.

Overall / Drinkability: Hmmm....the cap when cracked open let off no hiss, so I wonder if this went flat awhile ago. Maybe past it's prime and the lack of carbonation made it hard to finish this to the point that I think I only finished half of it and then I let it go. Maybe long ago this beer was "the" old ale, but now 4.5 to 5 years later, this particular bottle did not hold up well. Oh well, worth a try I suppose. Not every beer can age well.

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

Thomas Hardy's Ale (2008 vintage)
O'Hanlon's Brewing Co. Ltd.

Pours a light reddish amber, off white head that quickly leaves. Mostly clear brew. Aromas of toffee, ripe fruits, brown sugar, sherry, raisin, wood, shoe leather, and bourbon. Very barleywinesque. In the taste, more syrupy malt sweetness, port flavors, a big helping of alcohol, and much of the same flavors mentioned in the aroma. Toffee, buttered biscuit, cherry, charred wood, bourbon and subtle notes of dusty cocoa. Almost like a spirit, this is a strong beer worthy of the cellar time. As the beer breathes, the flavors become more present and pleasing, alcohol drops off a bit. Mouthfeel is full bodied and chewy, still decent moderate to low carbonation. Overall, this is a historic big beer, and definitely worth buying. Perhaps this brand will be revived in 2019 to celebrate 50 years of Thomas Hardy's Ale. We can only hope.

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Photo of movingtrain
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle's vintage is 2007. No. 07151. I have another from 2005 in the cellar. The bottle mentions that this beer has been known to keep "for at least 25 years." Let's see where the beer is after five.

Pours reddish-brown in color with absolutely no head. That is not to say the beer lacks apparent carbonation, but when poured the the only thing resembling foam here was a slight, brief fizzle.

In the nose are notes of tart cherries, raisins, candied plum, cinnamon, charred wood, and some slight citrus and apple. There is also something that resembles the smell of old-fashioned hard candy. There are also port wine notes, sweet, rich, and complex.

The flavor is sweet, like a malted dessert. Up front are rich, warm notes of caramelized sugars, candied plums, raisins, cotton candy, powdered sugar, and orange peel. Behind some of the sweeter notes sits a bit of bitterness, reminiscent of sharp citrus, warm cherries, and red grapes.

This beer drinks like a glass of is very, very warming, on the sweeter side, and quite delicious. There isn't much carbonation in the mouthfeel at all, but that doesn't seem to detract from what the original intention of this beer seems to have been. It's too bad this beer couldn't have stayed in production, and I'm glad I was able to save a few bottles.

Overall, this is a slow-sipper--dense, rich, and full of unique, complex flavor.

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Photo of jsanford
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

04 Vintage.

Pours a clear, dark mahogany with no head. This looks like it's gonna be rich. Insane aromas of fig, brown sugar, raisins, caramel, and Port wine. Just a touch of oxidation that perfectly enhances the base beer. Taste is very similar to the nose, rich flavors of figgy pudding, raisins, brown sugar, cherries, and toffee. Delicious. Mouthfeel is sticky-sweet, with a medium-full body and very low carbonation. Overall a real treat, and a beer that has kick-started my new-found love for quality Old Ales and Barleywines!

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
2.11/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Got this from 2beerornot2beer in the Blind Beer Round 6 BIF.
2004 vintage poured into my Bruery snifter:

A: Pours a super dark brown, almost black, with absolutely no head. There is no lacing as it drinks.

S: The smell is big soy. Wow. I haven’t smelled a beer this harsh since Triple Bock. There are also some notes of raisin and candied sugar, but mainly soy. It’s not my thing.

T: The taste is burnt chocolate, raisins, and soy. It’s pretty bad. This is most definitely not my kind of beer. I will say however, that the flavors seem to get better as this beer warms.

M: Full bodied beer. This beer coasts the palate and lingers around forever. It’s really creamy.

O: This is just not my cup of tea. I’m getting too much soy sauce taste. It’s a very difficult beer to drink. It says this beer can be stored for up to 25 years. No thanks.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.07/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. For the life of me I'll never remember who sent this, but I do appreciate it. Please contact me if it was you and I'll amend the review. Thanks!

2008 vintage.

A: Pours a clear, but very dark, maroon body capped with large-bubbled beige head. It lingers as a collar with some broken, milky swirls of film floating around the center.

S: This is well-oxidized for something so young (relatively). In my head I'm comparing this to J.W. Lees, which takes a few years to start shedding its cloying nature and becoming a mature beverage. This one is well into the zone, with expressions of port, sherry, other dark fruits like figs and plums -- reminiscent of North Coast Old Stock, actually (or is that the other way around?) -- and a touch of soy.

T: The oxidation is all that's left of this beer. Up front, it conveys port and sherry flavors with a slight accent of plums and cherries. Then the mid-taste just... drops out, leaving only a mild flavor of bittering hops and some caramel. The finish comes back with a burst of soy. I associate this dropped-flavor experience with over-oxidized or over-aged beers. It's a disappointment here.

M: Medium-bodied. The carbonation seems to have erupted out during the pour, leaving only a small amount of bubbles in solution to caress the tongue. It has the heft to support more flavor. Too bad it lost so much of it.

O: It was all right. I prefer Adam to this one.

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Photo of pixieskid
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thought I'd start the New Year with something first Thomas Hardy's Ale!

Pours a murky redish brown, no head whatsoever.
Nose; wow! Tons of ripe fruits, milk chocolate, toffee, with a suggestions of cognac and port wine.
Taste; a rich syrupy malt presence with notes of ripe dark fruits; plums, raisins, dates. Hints of chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon in the warming finish.
Overall; would have loved a bit more carbonation but still an amazing sipper!

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

2008 vintage courtesy of backfat, who gifted it to me for a reason that I can't recall. Thanks Dave!

This beer pours a medium bodied cloudy, dirty full woody amber in coolor with little carbonation and a beige lacing around my snifter. The aromas are sweet and malty featuring nice almost citrus and cherry like fruity esters and a touch of oak. I dig it. The flavors are very sweet and rich. You get a syrupy malt bill featuring oak, cherries, light orange peel, butter (in a good way), with a nice slightly yeasty finish. I really like it. It reminds me somewhat of The Bruery's Cuir and is head and shoulders above North Coast's Old Stock. The flavors mesh really well together. It drinks somewhat syrupy and is medium in body. It has a subtle resonating sweetness. I am a fan of this one. I didn't expect this much complexity so it was a nice surprise. I've seen this around at a few stores so I may have to pickup a few mores bottles.

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

2007 Vintage bottle, poured into a tulip. Thick, cloudy, brown body with a miniscule head and no lacing.

Dense aroma in that the individual notes are difficult to parse. No doubt, a strong caramel malt aroma, but packed in with a bit of nuts and bit of light chocolate.

The taste is complex as well, with smooth malt flavors leading the way. Almond, light chocolate, and sweet molasses follow the malt. A very light note of sour apple in the back ground.

Very thick mouthfeel, one of the thickest I've had. The alcohol is very well masked. Excellent brew.

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Photo of xraided81
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 #12379
Acquired in a trade with oldstylecubfan.
Excited to try this im a big fan of stong ales, and this sure doesnt dissapoint.

A: Poured into a tulip glass, pours a murky brown with ruby highlights. Pours almost still, with minimal bubbles forming, and quickly dissapearing.

S: dark fruits, raisins, prunes, dried cherries, with a sugary, caramel nose, that makes ou think of a delicious port wine.

T: bready, dark fruits, chocolate malt, almost like if you are drinking a rich bread pudding. with all of the aforementioned notes of the smell coming through in the taste.

M: no carbonation, chewy, rich but very smooth, and easy drinking.

O: my first thomas hardy,will remember this beer for a long time. old ale is my favorite style of beer and this is definetly up there with one of my favorite representations of the classic style.

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Photo of vandemonian
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My 2008 bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale was delicious. Mellow and very roasty. The 12% alcohol was very well hidden.

A: Red/brown color with a 4 mm head that fades quickly. 4

S: Malt and caramel with oxidation and maybe some sour cherries. 4

T: Strong roasted malt with some nuttiness. Pretty dry for an old ale. There are definitely some flavours resulting from yeast autolysis, but they blend pretty well with the roasty vibe of this old ale. The finish is warm and toasty without any strong alcohol or bitter flavour. Quality. 4.5

M: Dry, not especially thick and low carbonation. 4

O: 4.5

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Photo of mikereaser
3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 No. 05740 edition
A - Pours a murky muddy brown with absolutely no foam whatsoever. just a few random bubbles clinging to the side of the glass
S - the aroma is an in your face smash of plums and raisins and other dark fruit. Very sweet maltinesss throughout along with some brown sugar, you can just smell the alcohol
T - very, very sweet. plums and raisins, it tastes like i'm just eating them, mostly plums with some raisins coming through. For me its just way too much. Too sweet.
M - medium bodied yet light feeling in the mouth, no carbonation at all.
D - I don't see how anyone can drink alot of this, to me its just too sweet. Maybe it needs more time to age and I think i'll save the rest of my bottles for many years. Its good, and i'll rate it accordingly, but for my taste its just too much.

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Photo of alpineclimber
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005, bottle number 77996.

The pour produces a nice burgundy brown beer with a small wispy head that quickly disappears.

Smell is of sour lactose of all things, slightly sweet and a tinge of alcohol. Pretty interesting.

Taste starts off with a sour citrus note and develops into a burnt sugar taste, the finish is nice and bitter. The consistency is like port wine.

Very interesting beer. The nose is one story, which is probably caused by slight oxidation. The taste is not really what you would expect from the nose but just adds another level to this complex ale. I only have 2008 vintages left...

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Photo of hoser
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 2005 bottle in 2011. This may have been opened to soon as still has a lot of heat to it. Not like the Thomas Hardy beers I have had from the Eldridge Pope Brewery and a little one dimension as it is mostly hear with late brown sugar tastes. Think I will wait on the rest of these but do have three vintages in the cellar. Oh well have lots more in the cellar to age for years.

Surprisingly no oxidation.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2998 and 2004 vintages

Pours a fairly clear yellowish brown. Some nice light white head. Smells raisiny and malty. A bit oxidized. A great aroma but a bit muddled. Tastes great. Malty, raisiny, love it. Great mouthfeel. Overall wonderful and definitely a beer id love to have more of

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Photo of brew3crew
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cam's birthday tasting. 2008 vintage

A-maoronish color with no head whatsoever

S-sweet malt. Very inviting and exciting

T-really weird, but a good weird.can't quite put my finger on it.

M-medium body and smooth

O-good. Can definetly see it aging well. Excited for the 1986

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 & 2008
Cam. Thanks

A - clear red/amber body. Nice pretty color

S - raisiny. Booze? That's about all I get here

T - raisin salty. Weird. Strong and boozy.

M - smooth. Full bodied. Nice feel

O - a very strong thing. I understand why we age this

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Photo of EnemyWithin
3.81/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thomas Hardy’s Ale – 2008 T47936

Tried Oct 7, 2011 in Duvel tulip

Appearance: 3
Brown color with almost no head – very faint partial coloring of wight bubbles on top, more similar to a vigorously poured juice. A slight yellowish-white film on top. Faint haziness to it.

Smell: 4.5
Dark sticky molasses with touch of brown sugar and spice. Raisin and dark fruit notes which are prominent. Very malty with touch of apple and grape. Almost reminiscent of cinnamon raisin buns.

Taste: 3.5
Initially, a sweet spiciness, midway through there is more of a dark fruit flavor with more of a bite – from the alcohol is seems. Near the end, get a mild to moderate bitterness from the hops as well as an astringent quality from the alcohol. Lingering aftertaste is one of a combination of mild bitterness with a very faint breadiness. Does have a notable presence of alcohol although it’s not overwhelming. Even though aroma very malty and sweet, the taste is not quite the same – there’s a lot more contrast offered by the hops and actual sour/bitterness of the other elements of the beer. Almost peppery in the taste.

It seems as the beer warms, the flavors really start to mellow and soften, and you get more of the nice aspect of the malt and the sour bitterness becomes less prominent.
Do wonder if I pick up a hing of oxidation as well.

Mouthfeel: 3.5
Moderate thickness with very little carbonation. Contrast between the sweetness and spiciness in comparison to the more astringency of the hops/alcohol.

Overall: 4
A really interesting beer, I really enjoy the aroma, although it is a little surprising that is doesn’t match the taste. That being said, the taste is very complex – clearly the aspects of the malt that you would expect from the aroma are there, but then there is this very distinct flavor that you get from the hops and alcohol and, I imagine, the aging process. It’s a very powerful tasting beer and it takes a little bit of time to think through it and pick it apart. In some ways it’s a bit of a sipper - so I could see that it could pair well with meals as it has red wine like qualities. Ultimately, it is very interesting and enjoyable beer. I think it’s something that is worth seeking out to try, although it is not likely one for every day consumption.


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Photo of mattbing
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A bottle from 2003, beautiful dark brown and amber with almost no head. Smells exactly like it tastes - lots of plum, raisin, and prune with a sweet, caramel base . Virtually no carbonation, which makes it thick like madeira or cognac. Amazingly complex with just a hint of alcohol warmth.

This is my first experience with aged beer. Unfortunately I'll probably never see another bottle of this.

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Photo of DrewShal9
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: amber to light brown. Looks like cognac. No head, liquor like
S: dark fruits, raisins, plums, caramel, butterscotch, hint of booze at the end. Smells delicious
T: omg, so good. The noise dictates the flavors but as it warms up there are vanilla tones and hints of butter. Why did they have to stop brewing this?
M: velvety and very smooth with tiny bubbles. Almost syrupy
O: such an amazing brew. Don't buy this beer! Jk, I don't want you to buy it so I can cellar more of them haha. Definitely experience this brew before it's gone.

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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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