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)
739 Ratings
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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Ratings: 739 |  Reviews: 565
Photo of chilidog
2.99/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

As a BA, this is one of those...gotta at least try it beers. According to the O'Hanlon's web site this is a beer to gift, celler and enjoy for years. So far, I asked for and got this as a gift. At twenty dollars a four, my wife said, Hope ya like it. It was this or North Coast Stock Ale. To be honest, I love N.C. Stock, I'll stick with that one.

This Thomas Hardy...2007. P 11406. It pours a murky dirty copper. No head, No lace, No carbonation. An old ale indeed. It looks old and flat already.

The aroma was good enough to call out sweet malts, candied sugar and alcohol.

The taste is again sweet, brown sugar, malted grains, caramel, toffee, dark fruits like prune and fig. Alcohol backs it all up.

The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Alittle alcohol burns the rear of the mouth as a pleasing aftertaste or finish

Drinkability, sure as a sipper, after dinner drink. As you would a brandy. You don't want thisone to clash with any other tastes, though chocolate might just work.

Overall im glad I got it. I'll celler the others for b-days yet to come. Here's to ageing!!

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Photo of mntlover
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 No P48915 had this laying around a while.

Pours a murky cloud brown looks rich with sugars, very inviting. It pours with no head but that comes as no surprise due to label instructions to por slowly.

Aroma is big on malt, nice alcohol notes tart cherries dark fruits raisins, figs mingle with nice sugars. Aroma is wonderful very inviting a perfect old ale.

Taste is rich malty full of sugars mingled with fruits mostly dark, but nice tart cherry comes up to mix things up. Alcohol spiciness shows up in the finish but it defiantly belongs and adds to this favorable treat. Nothing wrong here except for the small size of the bottle.

Mouthfeel is big almost chewy feel to it, but not quite. Carbonation is smooth just enough to make it not flat is about all and all that is needed.

Drinkability is good, not something for everyday but after finally trying one I will try more in the future. The other 04 I have on hand is already in danger.

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Photo of livingregret
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving Type: A lovely little bottle No. P 0745....this clocks in at only 8.5fl oz w/ 11.7% alc/vol

Appearance: Deep brownish red colour w/ no head.

Smell: Rich ripe fruit, raisins, and a big hit of alcohol. Has almost a brandy smell to it and some rich malt as well. Very nice

Taste/mouthfeel: Rich caramel malt w/ some rich fruit coming through. A touch of raisin appears...a very thick and smooth beer that goes down very easy. A nice warming feeling as you drink this...

Drinkability: A very enjoyable beer, and one that should be sipped. I suggest letting your beer age a little to get more out of it(this beer apparently ages quite well)

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Photo of rallison
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1990 Vintage, purchased and consumed at Stuffed Sandwich.

Pours a cloudy brown color with absolutely no head. Smells rich - caramel and brandy are most evident.

Smell leads into the taste nicely. Obviously, a rich beer. Caramel and toffee are immediately followed by brandy and port-like flavors. Raisins also make a nice showing on the tongue. Delicious. Drinks like a fine port.

Mouthfeel is thick, rich, warming and silky. Drinkability is too good on this. I just wish the bottle weren't so small!

Highly recommended. Definitely let this one age for a while.

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Photo of matylight
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a luscious hazy amber with a faintly off white head that disappears before i can blink. (admittedly i had to give a rough pour to even pull that much of a crown out of it.)
S: bready, malty, alcohol, dark fruit, rums, sugars. they always pack so much into these beers.
T: caramel follows a bready and malty start. alcohol surrounds the finish. toffee is somewhere in there. dark fruits bounce around as well. not too sweet...there's just enough bitterness to keep this beer from becoming cloying. it is wonderfully balanced for the style.
M: the body is medium full to full...a little syrupy but in an appealing way. there is a light and subtle carbonation to keep things interesting.
D: the first time i ever tried a thomas hardy's was at Kulminator in Antwerp where i was able to get a hold of an '82. it was one of the most perfect beer experiences i have ever had and formed the basis for my love of this brew. the newer vintages are all wonderful beers but (and this one is no exception) deserve a little bit of aging to let everything come together. Thomas Hardy's Ale is the pure definition of a sipping 12% this one is no slouch. it is meant to be contemplated and savored. i can't recommend this one enough.

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Photo of Gmann
3.44/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2007 No. P 06957. First out of a 4 pack that I will cellar. Pours a nearly flat murky chestnut color, not much, in any carbonation, though does show some signs of not being entirely flat. The smell is of plums, raisins, and fig. Definite wine like characteristics. Red wine like characteristics up front followed by a mellowing chocolate malt presence. A bit of an alcohol burn on the aftertaste. The feel is flat and almost watery finishes sweet and bitter. Put a little more carbonation in this, and I would probably very much enjoy this brew. Flat beer just doesn't do it for me. Flavors are good but needs the carbonation.

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Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.79/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

8.5oz bottle into a snifter. 2006 No. P27462

Pours a dark red/brown color. Like a very muted red wine. No head and no lace.

Smell is very nice, makes up for the lackluster appearance. Some fruity notes on top of alcohol. Strawberries and a slight medicinal smell.

Taste is complex for sure. Starts off with tart cherries and gradually moves into a sweeter strawberry jam like flavor. A nice warming bit of alcohol on the backend. Just a hint of hops in there as well.

Mouthfeel was a bit thin for me. I like my old ales and barleywines to be nice and creamy. This one just missed the mark on that.

Overall, I'm glad I finally tried this famous brew. Complexity is there, but something is just a bit lacking IMO. Maybe one of those pre-1999 examples will rub me the right way. Worth a try, but I'd rather have a Fuller's Vintage Ale anyday.

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Photo of joecast
4.64/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle No P09595 11.7%abv.
my second of two bottles thanks to BA vancurly.

forms a light lacing of tan bubbles when poured into the glass. virtually no carbonation ensure those bubbles dont last long leaving a cloudy, light brown ale sitting alone. it actually resembles some sort of fruit juice,maybe prune?
shows its viscosity when stirred leaving a thick layer of liquid clinging to the sides of the glass unwilling to let gravity to do its job.

just had a quick review of my 2005 review and am still in awe of this beers' aroma. surprising that any harsh alcohol is barely noticeable. probably due the other factors coming on so strong. many dark fruits have some influence an all are welcome. to my liking this is what an old ale/english b-wine should smell like.

this is where the differences start to show with the '05. much smoother and more drinkable. not harsh, but still supremely potent.
heaps of dark fruit and sweet malts with a touch of alcohol heat to ensure the beer is sipped as it should be. do not disrespect this beer as it will come back to kick your arse.

250ml of beer has never lasted me so long, its been a good hour (literally and figuratively). enjoyed this thoroughly and wish i had another in the fridge.

i'll finish this off with a toast to Michael Jackson The Beer Hunter. thanks for all you've done for the beer industry. cheers.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2004.
A mahogany, glossy brown pour topped with a very minimal head, if you can even call it that. Foam appeared from the side and moved inward, but quickly vanished. No biggie, but makes the ale look very thin.
Vanilla, caramel, figs and dates dominate the nose. A bit oaky, very subtle, though. Alcohol is hinted.
Taste has a strong sense that it's gonna burn, but it doesn't. Very smooth. Rich almond, caramel and vanilla. Weakens towards the finish. Clean. Alcohol makes its presence felt, but it's not over powering.
Not a bad brew. Paid a bit much for it. Won't have again at this price.

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Photo of CharlieMopps
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005

A: The pour absolutely no head, which makes sense considering it's been laid down for a couple years. Only a wee bit of bubbles collect at the edges. The beer is a murky brown, almost like dirty swamp water, yet more appealing.

S: Lots of fig or dark fruit in the nose, very mellow and mild with a touch of caramel.. I want to say a hint of Werther's original in the background. This old ale brings back old memories.

T: Again, fig is the most dominant feature in the taste, and a maltiness is imparted yet has been relaxed over time. Perhaps a hint of spice that has long since mellowed. Overall, a real flat profile in terms of transitions or added flavors, but delicious nonetheless.

M: Somewhat syrupy, but still watery and smooth. Hardly any carbonation to speak of, but I rather like it that way.

D: An easy-drinking old ale that seems to scratch the itch for a flavor profile of fig and spice. Overall, an enjoyable offering that makes me curious about how the others I have stashed away will taste years from now.

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Photo of EStreet20
3.34/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

8.5 ounce bottle of Edition No. O02379 bottled in 2003. Snifter glass.

A - Pours out an nice brown color. No head whatsoever. Guess you can't really expect one from a strong brew aged four years.

S - Huge fruity aroma. Raisins, dates.

T - Huge fruity flavors with alcohol still present. Extremely sweet and slick.

M - Honestly, the total lack of carbonation destroys this one for me. I need something to make the body fuller.

D - I find this borderline undrinkable. I like old ales and was excited about this brew. Just the total lack of carbonation and lack of any balance to the sweetness hurts this one in my opinion.

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Photo of wingman14
3.35/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Year: 1991, No. 6962

Pours a caramel brown with a very tiny tan head that faded fast. Smells very sweet with fruit notes with an obvious high alcohol presence. The taste starts sweet with the fruit and finishes with the warming of the alcohol and a slightly charred taste, but not like a smoked beer. This had a medium/light body, somewhat smooth, and had hardly any carbonation. It was harder to drink due to its intense taste, high ABV, and how harsh it was on the palette. This is a beer like no other, very interesting and was fun to enjoy. I do not think I would drink this often but was fun trying.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition @ the Moan n' Dove on 8/12/07 on the ride back from the Gathering of the Vibes music festival in Bridgeport, CT.

What an amzing way to top off a very amazing weekend.

AP: Pours out of the bottle really hefty and flat looking with a light-maple syrup-like amber color. There is initially a thick white head that is small and dissapears totally within seconds.

Nose: Woody, oak-wood chips + maple-brown sugar malt sweetness and a whiskey-like heat and a mild herbal yeast that makes for a pretty heady aroma overall.

Flavor: The oak-wood chip hits you first in the flavor too, with a very barrell-aged whiskey malt with a big-time maple and brown sugar sweetness that is not as dominant in the malt as the earthy, woody oak flavor. This is a major malt Bomb that is oddly balanced with a mildly sour, bitter and earthy yeast that is enjoyable and a pretty high-level heat and a very soft and subtle hop profile.

Feel: This is the really impressive part, full body feel, thick and syruppy, very little to no carbonation tingle...this is hefty stuff.

DA: A true sipper that is to b enjoyed slowly.

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Photo of brantadid
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8.5 Fl Oz bottle. 2003 No. O 05766

Poured a rich, deep brown color with little to no head.

Smell was not as strong as I expected. I could detect dates, raisins, and yeast.

The taste was very sweet at the onset. Again date and raisins but I was surprised to find a berry quality similar to what is present in good dark chocolate. It did a good job of masking its 11.7% alc/vol although it was definately present.

The mouthfeel was creamy and syrupy. Very little carbonation.

Overall is was a nice beer to sip. I would buy it again.

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Photo of jettjon
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the 8.5 oz bottle marked 2006, #28134, into a tulip and allowed to warm. Deep chestnut brown with many tiny bubbles. Hard pour yields virtually no head, just a few brownish bubbles. Quick fade to a very thin ring and no lace. Nose evinces syrupy-sweet malt, candy, a bit of rummy alcohol. Tastes of meaty malts and yeast with a strong alcohol undertone well-integrated but definitely there. Thick dark fruit, plums. Warming alcohol asserts toward the end. Peppery burn in the nostrils. Clean, dry, lightly bitter finish. Mouth is thick and syrupy with no apparent carbonation. Smooth and rich, it’s pleasant on the palate. Drinkability is good; this is an easy sipping beer that I can see me enjoying with a good cigar.

Overall: Overpriced at 5.49 for a meager 8.5 oz serving, still this is a good strong ale, though lacking in the subtlety and complexity I’d expect of a beer of this reputation.

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Photo of Atron67
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottle, # 784

A- poured a medium dark brown, very little carbonation, didnt even cover the top of the beer in my chalice, however it was a slightly tan head

S- has a strongly dark fig and malt scents, some molasses. lots of dark sugars

T- dark fruits start the flavor which moves into a malty dark quality, however it finishes surprizingly clean with a slightly lighter malyt character that leaves the mouth very smoothly and deliciously
The alcohol is non exisistant which is amazing, for something that is ~12 % abv.
M- has a heavy body, not quiet syrupy but its pretty thick, no carbonation to speak of either
D- very good, I could drink it alot, however its too expensive for that, and this is my only bottle

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

2004 edition, 11.7% alcohol. Pours a rich ruby/amber with no headto speak of and very low carbonation. The smell is very rich and deep as well. Sweet malt with alcohol, brown sugar, treacle, brandied dark fruit, and christmas spices. The taste is even deeper if anything. The rich fruitcake flavors are there along with the sweet malt, but these are balanced by a good acidity. Nuts and honey on the finish as well as a little yeastiness. The alcohol is more noticeable in the nose than it is in the taste. The mouthfeel is very smooth and syrupy without being overly sweet. Surprisingly drinkable given its abv. A sipper, but so smooth and balanced it goes down easily. I've had several of the old versions back in the day, and while I can't make any kind of accurate comparison, its nice to see that O'Hanlon has largely safeguarded this treasure.

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Photo of alexatlatx
2.94/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 2

So i have read reviews and articles about how this beer ages for 25 years, etc etc.

I was happy to find this bottle in a Belgium section of a respectable Atlanta Liquor store on vacation.

I snagged this bottle of 2004 No. P 58787. 8.5 ozs, 11.7% and a christmas tree ornament for about $8.

I poured this into my Duvel glass so i could snag the full aroma. No hops, all figs and alcohol. When my girlfriend smelled it she said, "that smells like a barley wine, no thanks."

The taste is like chugging a red box of raisins on the playground...and chasing it with a shot of vodka.

Maybe this should have been a small sample shared between several pals after dinner. I can't say it is bad but I doubt i'll buy it again unless i can find some for cheap.

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Photo of IPAcraig
2.84/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I picked this one up in Panama City. Poured into my Einbecker Ur-Bock glass that was given to me by the owner of Het Elfde Gebod in Amsterdam.

2006 no.P 28582

A - A damn ugly beer. Pours a murky dark brown. No carbonation, no head whatsoever after a pour staright into the bottom of the glass. I realize that bigger beers dont have too much carbonation, but I expect some.

S - It has a nice malty sweet aroma, not much else here.

T - Tastes wheaty and malty a bit of caramel is present. It has a sweetness that resembles some of my hombrew before it has finished fermenting. Finishes with a very hot alcohol presence. As it warms, I get notes of sherry, and figs; very nice. A good beer, but still a tad too sweet.

M - Oily and uncarbonated

D - I dont have to pour this one down the drain, but this will be my very last Thomas Hardy.

I didnt knock this beer because of the high price, but this was a disappointment after paying nearly $1 per oz.

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

2006. Pours a deep plum to brown with a cm head that hangs around for a bit but then recedes to the edges. Predominant tawny port nose with a nice dose of brown sugar. A nutty earthiness is also present. Very slight booziness.

Rich malts coats the mouth that are reminiscent of brown sugar covered apple slices. Huge port influence towards the end right before an earthy finish. A touch of hops in the end balance and give this syrup beast a calming dryness. Thick syrupy mouth, oh by the way. Works well in this one. Drinks a lot better than expected, but still incredibly heavy. One of the better (best?) examples in the style I've had. Impressive.

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Photo of drpimento
4.64/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This truly is an exceptional beer. All the levels of the sherry, dark, ripe fruit, hop balanced, very rich strong luscious beer. It's amazing how a beer like this can actually be relatively drinkable. Largley sweet with a bitte quotient that works. A kind of a hazy yet clear around the edges rich copper color. So satisfying. Good burps even.

This is a 1 july,1981 bottle # 15325. Poured flat. Color is dark mahagoney with garnet highlights. Aroma is typical barleywine, malt, sherry, raisins, and dirty socks. Flavor is the same but with more going on: chocolate, a little booze at the end. Frankly, this was a little less than I'd anticipated. Also going to open a bottle of TH Dec. 1975 next: Poured again flat, much better aroma - much more malt, yeast, ripe dark fruit, chocolatey, and must. Flavor's 'bout the same but more. Boozy at the end. '75 is way bettter than the '81. '75 is outstanding, especially considering its age. Both bottles are from the Eldridge Pope & Co. Brewery, Dorchester, Dorset, England.

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Photo of vanrassel
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 edition, #P80496

Poured into a pint glass with a thin white head and some bubbles topping a mahogany body. The head actually seemed to grow a little as it settled. Comparing the smell to the 2006 vintage, you can tell some of the fermentable sugars have been consumed over time: it's not as sweet. Instead, there's a rummy, alcoholic aroma with caramel and some fruity esters.

The alcohol was apparent in every sip, and a little sharp. It finished dry, and, surprisingly to me, a little earthy and herbal. I didn't expect as much of a hop profile. Overall, this was full-bodied and warmed the belly, but I was hoping for a little more complexity. Hopefully time will impart a little more flavour on my remaining 2005 bottles.

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Photo of pootz
2.8/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

250ml bottle dated 2003, serial No.# 11474

Poured a dark murkey brown into the cap or lacing, virtually no carbonation....this is one butt-ugly ale.

Aromas of over ripe prunes, rasins, figs....some sweet earthy mustiness...fusil alcohol presense detected as a "licorice"-like aroma.

Rich in ripe fruit tastes, molasses, smoke , some nuts, sweet burnt treacle....big bulky mouth feel...finishes wet with a salty licorice taste.

Definately richly complex and full of great ingredients and a labor intensive process and oak aging.... but it just doesn't come together as an enjoyable ale for me...It has all the makings of a great vinous barley a rich spiced port until the finish where that salty-licorice fusil taste trashes out everything...a good attempt but just not my cup of tea...I don't like these big boozy ales which can't contain their alcohol tastes....where the alcohol creates that licorice-salty decernment in the finish. I have another bottle I may open in 4 or 5 years but not really looking forward to it

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Photo of brendan13
3.37/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 Bottle.

A - Murky brown colour with basically no head what so ever.
S - Very complex smell of dark stewed fruits like raisins & plums.
T - Again very fruity in the taste but some caramel malt also comes through ever so slighty. Quite high, warming alcohol taste.
M -Smooth & full mouthfeel. Almost no carbonation.
D - A complex beer for sure. I suspect this needs to be cellered for a lot longer to balance it out.

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Photo of dbalsock
3.34/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


App: Poured a nice maroon/red (brown) wine color with no head, little carbonation and no lacing... well the color was nice... and it is a couple years old...

Smell: Complex malts similar to old barley wines. Molasses and brown sugar are strong, so is the caramel. It reminds me of brandy.

Taste: Buttery caramel toffee with alcohol, and again the brown sugar. It's a very intense taste that forces one to sip.

Mouthfeel: Smooth on the sip, but the alcohol roughens it up a bit. There is no bitterness... none.

Drinkable: It's hard to work through a glass because of the alcohol, but I'd gladly split a bottle with a friend. It's similar to brandy, and that's not my favorite... but it still tastes better than any brandy I've had.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 739 ratings
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