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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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 739 |  Reviews: 565
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 No. P 07901 Edition

Presentation: The comforting classic golden nature of England’s finest Barleywine resonates far beyond the rather new 8.5 fl.oz. brown glass bottle of O’Hanlon’s version. The slightly bigger bottle stands taller and slightly wider than the previous 6.33 fl.oz. Historic offerings from the legendary Eldridge Pope Brewery. The main obverse label retains the classic design but adds the 11.7% Alc./Vol. in the bottom right hand corner. Has the Bottle No. P 07901 in red, with the year 2005 preceding this in a smaller black font. A simple black crown cap hides underneath a gold foil which clings to the top inch, or so, of the bottle neck. The wrap of scarlet red string is loose, previous versions had it embossed into the foil. The gold colored disc has the classic Hitchcock-like profile of Thomas Hardy on one side whilst the words ‘Thomas Hardy’s Ale brewed & bottled by O’Hanlon’s Brewing Company, Whimple, Devon, England’. A Classic, Traditional, Exquisite, High-End Quality presentation that continues the custom of some four decades past with a few minor updates - but this bottle is still instantly recognizable to affiliates and connoisseurs.

Appearance: Massive off-white tanned head rises in my half pint 1993 13th Wakefield Beer Festival CAMRA Mug. The foamy beige plug fills at least 2” of the glass receptacle before it starts to fall and collapse leaving a crumbly rock-pool surface with some thick overhanging rings. Dark amber body has a deep rich copper colored body which resonates with a Hardy Devonian Englishness. Russet carbonation shines and shingles like the setting sun on a Dartmoor’s high plains.

Nose: Immense rustic charm, striking caramel sits underneath a plum soaked prune juice. High alcohol, figs and some strafing Devon toffees. Figs, dark Rum and sugared plums finish the nasal enticement. Sharp tannic malts stain the hops and fight the brown sugar infested yeast. The nose is never incandescent but always pervasive, even at rest it shines with a Shakespearian melodic charm, self deprecating but yet high evolved and projecting.

Taste: To taste this fresh is such a treat these days. My young palate, back in the kid 80’s found this intense and high end, punching alcohol and massive malts knocked me out, literally. These days, it seems like my palate seems more refined, but still, this is a massive beer. Intensely demonic malts with an alter of halo-hops which redeems this huge English Barleywine. Make no mistake; it’s a bad boy, a winking Charlie-Farley with no Piggy-Malone to balance its rude nature. It stands in polite company with a stance that has a charming nice side that your Mum would love, and maybe secretly fancy. It is, as it always was, Thomas Hardy’s Ale. That in itself is such a comforting respite. It went and came back, rose from the dead so to speak. Warming Madeira, some Vanilla and a soothing Shandy-Bass ending wrap up this monster.

Mouthfeel: At barely One year old I recall that the O’Hanlon’s variant is far more Customer friendly than its Eldridge Pope predecessor. That said, the creamy smooth texture has a lovely carpet nature that allows you to sink into the malt laden alcohol with some aplomb. This is a beer that you can chew for sure.

Drinkability: So hard to fault this one, yet you know, deep down, that you should not enjoy such a devilishly string brew with such vigor. But I care not; the conditioning is perfect, the sharp crossing hop malt body and a rich finish. This is so fucking good it is criminal.

Overall: As an Old Devonian, and I am, I just find myself continually drawn to this marvelous brew. This is, for me, THE single example of the Olde School English Barleywine, the one that would bugger you senseless, slip you into Tom Browns hot crusty crumpet cheek holder, and have you effortlessly slipping into Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns and fighting off the School Cheetah in Tomkinson’s School Days. This is so English it hurts. O’Hanlon’s carries the Torch from a heavy dark past but it seems with a firm bright light toward the future. Eldridge Pope and Thomas Hardy could not wish for any better marathon runner into the new decades of the 21st Century.

Superb Stuff !!!!

Stock Up and Lock Up.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.
-Thomas Hardy

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Photo of 86sportster883
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had only found this 2003 THA (No. O 05845) in my new favorite liquor store about a week ago. I was going to save it to share with a friend up until that Sunday afternoon when the Jets' season ended in New England. Suddenly, I felt the ugent need for something strong.

The Thomas Hardy Ale pours with a minimal tan head that quickly fades. It's hazy and a reddish caramel color, a Carmine Red, when held to the light.

The aroma is incredible from the outset and just continues to change and even improve as the beer warms. It starts with malty sweetness and the scent of ripe dried figs mixed with a faintly port-like aroma. As it warms, the smell transitions to more of a caramel-like aroma with hints of toffee and alcohol.

The chill haze fades, and the beer becomes brilliantly clear long before my glass is empty. The taste is intense. You don't drink this like a normal beer; you draw on it like a fine port. There is a velvety smooth mouthfeel, full bodied, very low carb and almost like wine.

Each slug blazes its own alcohol warming trail down your esophagus. The taste is a complex malty sweetness that is balanced by an almost imperceptible hop bitterness. There’s a lot going on but it isn’t overdone. Then, a great warming finish that levels out any lingering sweetness with alcohol.

Not everyone is going to like this beer, but if you like a BIG beer, and you enjoy a fine tawny port from time to time, I think you're really going to like this one.

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Photo of beerphilosopher
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 vintage - #P08002 edition

8.5oz bottle.Pours a murky deep brown color with almost no head to speak of ... what there is appears a cocoa color. Nose is very rich - stewed fruits, bread, and a slight alcohol scent. Palate is very, very sweet up front ... like liquid mollasses. Hints of raisin, plum, brandy, port wine, and baker's yeast present themselves. Very lightly carbonated and medium thich mouthfeel, mainly due to the sweetness. Alcohol content is initially masked, but really presents itself as it lingers on the tongue. A truly classic beer that only gets better with age. As the label states, this beer can age and improve for 25 years. Impressive.

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

A-Auburn colored with a frolicking frothy tan head on top that simmers down quickly.


S-Port like impression right away...followed by a musty leathery aroma, dark fruits (berries, plums), some Red Man like tobacco, molasses, and some honey.

T-Port like...very sweet and rich....big on the dark fruits, molasses and honey....deeper in, a boozy alcohol impression is evident.

M-Rich and full bodied...most definitely a sipper.

D-A nice treat on occasion but even if the price was lower I don't think I would reach for these more than a few times a year. It's a dandy of an Old Ale and has its place....just not one I would kick back often. However, if given the chance to drink any old ale in the world once...this would rate highly which is why the score is what it is.

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Photo of Grundle20
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 No. P 02720 (1-1-07)

The beer is ruby in color and is completely clear. There is a sizable amount of soapy off white head to the beer which displays great staying power and some clumpy lacing.

The scent is strong of raisin and licorice. There is a note of alcohol too but it's kind of a side note compared to the strong malt presence.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
I'm not really sure what this is supposed to taste like but it's strong to say the least. There is a big and thick malt body of anise, figs, and raisin. This consequently makes for an astringent alcohol sting. I would describe this beer as very "foody." The finish is surprisingly clean and the aftertaste is that of a nice warm alcohol like a barrel aged bourbon.

It's a pretty good sipping beer. I think a scotch or bourbon drinker would enjoy this beer quite a bit. It's not exactly downable but there are a lot of appropriate instances in which you could drink this beer.

Bottom Line:
It's not as awesome as I was hoping it was going to be but it was certainly an interesting beer. Again, if you are a fan of bourbon or scotch and obviously beer, then this beer would probably serve you well.

2005 No. P02725 (1-3-10)

The beer is a murky dark brown color when held to light. The tan head piled on nicely when poured in to a glass forming a sizable inch or more of lingering bubbles.

If it didn't have 2005 tacked right on the side of the bottle I'd hazard a guess I was pulling this from the fermentation vessel. The nose is big with scents of tanned leather, toffee, caramel, underlying cherry tones, and a very mild earthy scent.

Again I'm dumbfounded by how robust this beer is coming across. I'm finding a pretty potent note of black licorice paired with some high roast malt flavor with a mild caramel edge in the finish. The high alcohol content lends itself surprisingly well in this instance and lifts and cleanses my palette as a drink. The aftertaste is a little cherry like with a bit of vaporous alcohol sensation.

As far big beers are concerned I'd consider this particular rendition amongst my most drinkable. The flavors are very to-the-point and don't linger undesirably long in to the finish and again the high alcohol level is done well.

Bottom Line:
Probably the greatest success I've seen with cellaring beer thus far even when compared to the previous beers of this 4 pack that I drank yearly. It's a shame it's been discontinued but if you can come across any bottles I'd try to sit on some for a while and see what happens, sadly this was my last one.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger cream head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a some lace. Cloudy red/amber color. Light carbonation and full bodied. Raisin/plum nose. Starts sweet, rich, hints of alcohol in background, raisins, plums, nice old ale. Could easily be cellared but I had to try it. Used a port glass. Gift - an 8.5oz (251ml) bottle from Liquid Solutions Tigard, Or. 2006 Vintage #9753.

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Photo of norwichboy
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage, number 9483. My first experience of Thomas Hardy's Ale or barley wine for that matter. Not being sure what to pour it into - I figured a snifter, but did not have one - it ended up in a big Bordeaux style wine glass. It's funny how small the bottle looks, but how much 250ml is when you pour it out. When I smell it - Jesus! how am I going to get through all this? I should have used a port glass. Lots of sherry and port aromas with raisin and other dark fruits, with some meat broth to remind you it is in the beer family. It seemed a cross between a scotch ale and fortified wine. Taste is also fortified wine like, syrupy mouthfeel, only a touch of carbonation (no head at all by the way) with a long finish. Wooah! An utter experience. I'd share a bottle next time though. The other bottles I bought will be put away for a few years for after dinner purposes - it worked well with the mature cheddar I had it with.

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

Dark blooded ruby, without head or lacing.
Thick. Lifeless. This will damage you. Only after it relays a message or three; so, ask it some questions.
Style is as important as taste, and it delivers.
Borderline band-aid, but this will set you up to meet your master.
If you understand & enjoy big, this is a benchmark!
Hot alcohol, beyond the syrupy-candy fun.

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Photo of MVassar
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

(Bottle from 2004)

A beautiful, hazy, chestnut-brown color, like a rich cream sherry. What little head there is disappears quickly.

There's definitely sherry in the nose, along with rich, stewed dark fruits and sweet buttery toffee. Fragrances just leap from the glass.

Tastes like a dessert wine. Not quite as fruity as a port, but just as flavorful. Sweet dried fruit fills your mouth. Lots of raisin, prune, and a subtle hint of dried apricot. A real sugar rush: Demerara sugar, maple sugar, burnt caramel. A very unique sensation.

Creamy smooth texture, with a finish of at least a minute. Glides down like raw cane sugar syrup. Amazing.

Not exactly an everyday kind of beer, and not one you'd want to consume in large quantities. That said, as a special dessert beer, it's amazing, and enormously enjoyable. If Robert Parker comes to dinner, he's getting a taste of this stuff.

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Photo of phisig137
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

One year old 2005 bottle, numbered 17538. Incredible mahogany brown/ruby color, with amber gold highlights at the edge. A very vigarous pour just barely yields a layer of foam on top of the glass. Despite the etched sparkler on the bottom of this glass, there is hardly any carbonation at all. Tiny specks of lacing.

The aroma almost can't be described. As soon as I pour the beer.... two feet or so from my face, I can smell it. Upon deeper sniffing, once I've prepared myself, amazing malt aromas are abound, with smells of leather, smoke, tobacco, sherry, port, dark fruits, caramel, and butter. Complex doesn't even begin to describe it. Overwhelming may begin to describe it.

Flavor is much like the nose... an absolute onslaught of flavor. Fairly sweet out of the gate, with great toffee notes. Malt character definitely takes center stage here, but not in the traditional way. Leather seems to dominate the profile, but it is so complex. I'm usually decent at describing the flavors present, but this is just so much, I don't feel that I'm worthy to pick it apart... even if I could. Hops are just barely present on the finish, with a smooth lingering bitterness that slightly cuts through the sugars. Alcohol is present, but masked a bit by all of the malty goodness. Mouthfeel is sticky, full, and quite heavy. Drinkability is low.... this one is a sipper. You really need to sit back and savor ever single drop of these 8.5 oz.

This is one phenomenal beer. One of the best I've ever had I feel. Granted, $26 is a hell of a lot of money for a 4 pack (especially when it isn't sold in singles), but the quality of this old ale is unsurpassed. It actually is fairly well balanced, but it still has the huge power to smack you around. The leather and tobacco flavors are so rare and interesting in this... I wish there was something else like it that was a bit cheaper. None the less, despite the money, I look forward to buying a four pack of this every year, and throwing it in the cellar. I'm almost sorry that I popped this one open. This should age pretty much forever. I can't wait to pop the next one open in oh.... 10 years or so.

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

Appearance: Hazy deep copper color, with a small tan head.

Aroma: Profound sweet brandy and caramel aroma, with notes of honey and molasses, rather like Madeira, or dry sherry.

Taste: Deep, sweet molasses and caramel at the open, soon followed by honey notes, and slight bitter chocolate. Finishes dry with a very mild hop bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, incredibly full.

Drinkability/notes: Simply excellent, perhaps not as good as when it was brewed by Eldridge Pope, but wonderful, still.

Presentation: 2004 bottling, packaged in an 8.5 ounce bottle, with a pop-off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass.

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Photo of daliandragon
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ah, the granddaddy of all old ales, at least here in the US. I remember seeing this in the beer store years ago and wondering why it was so expensive and fancy looking. Of course, I was probably there to pick up a twelve pack of Molson export, thinking I was a cutting edge beer drinker. 'Twas another time and place.

Pours a dark maroon color with only a cap of head and a mighty waft of alcohol and fruit emenating from the body. Plums or maybe figs I think. Very malty and winey, like port or sherry.

Taste is full of alcohol and character. I never got into Hardy's novels but thought his poems quite good. "Channel Firing" was always my favorite, although "Drummer Hodge" was pretty good too. This beer is burstng with flavor, especially as it warms, and has a similar warming effect as I drink it.
Mouthfeel is heavy but smooth enough. This beer is only for the initiated, but they will apppreciate it.

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Photo of GooberMcNutly
3.52/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. The aroma was strong of alcohol and fusils, but beyond that there was a nice balance of fresh hop aromas and a roasted molasses aroma like gingerbread. The alcohol vapors quickly subsided though leaving a well balanced dried fruit character on the palate and a distinct throat warming sensation.

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Photo of brentk56
4.74/5  rDev +14.8%
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 beerogre
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Version, sampled Nov 2006.

This was pretty much in line with all I'd previously read about this beer. It is a definite classic. However, the appearance is actually quite horrendous to be honest, it reminds me of when I used to work at the hospital and I would occassionally see hematuria in the catheter bags.

Still, it is a great tasting sherry, sorry I meant beer, and immediately reminded me of my Mother's homemade Christmas cake. It also reminds me of one of my long lost favourite beers, Brooklyn Monster Ale, which sadly I am unable to get hold of down here in Florida. It's been almost 3 years now...woe is me. I'll move back to NY eventually (sooner rather than later!)

It is a really good beer, but frankly I don't think I'll be buying it again, because I just feel it's overpriced for what it is these days. I think a few years ago, it was probably worth it because it would have been so much better than what was around then, but today, thankfully for us craft beer enthusiasts, there's so much excellent competition at really good value for money prices.

Glad to have been there and done that though...Right, what's next?

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.17/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Orangish sienna brew with a tiny head and no lacing. The noticeably viscous brew will cling to the sides of the glass when it is swirled.

S - Red grapes, caramel malt, alcohol, licorice, molasses and dates.

T - Some caramel malt that shifts toward a concord grape juice. The grape evolves into a sour flavor of slightly underripe currants. This is joined by a mild citrusy bitterness. The whole flavor is very medicinal. This aftertaste, although unique is more offensive than pleasant. A bit of biscuity notes throughout. Definitely something to be desired here. The aftertaste is rather unpleasant.

M - Very thick, flat, smooth, a bit refreshing too.

D - This is certainly not the sort of beer one can drink everyday. It goes without saying, but I bet this would age beautifully. The aftertaste just ruins this beer. I will definitely have to age a bottle of this though and try it some other time.

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Photo of Viggo
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2005 Edition. Pours a slightly cloudy copper/orange, loose off white head, goes fast but leaves some thick spots of lace. Smell is sweet, caramelized sugar/toffee, a little bit of citrus and canteloupe, alcohol. Taste is canteloupe again, toffee/molasses, some citrus and chocolate, insane malty, quite sweet. Mouthfeel is medium to thick bodied with medium to high carbonation, lots of heat, over carbonated, but quite enjoyable. Would love to get an aged bottle of this.

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Photo of vancurly
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage.

Pours with no head, so syrupy. Swirling in the glass allows a thin cover to develop, but not much. Lovely dark amber, burnt orange.

Aromas of biscuits, toffee, the crust of fresh bread, molasses & licorice, malt, and Vegemite (a yeast extract-based sandwich spread, for those unfamiliar with this Aussie icon). As it warms in the glass, I pick some burnt notes.

Flavours of golden syrup, licorice again. Fruitcake evolves as it warms...dried sultanas, dates, raisins, apricots. A back palate of medicinal herbal bitter notes, like a digestive or Swedish bitters. And a long and interesting aftertaste of iced tea... it took me a while to work that one out.

In spite of the flavour, not terribly bitter. The mouthfeel is rich, of course, and smooth. There is a hint of alcoholic heat; not as obvious as some Belgians I've tried recently, but more akin to a port or muscat.

The heat and medicine bitters seems to hint at the potential for aging. I expect that these will smooth out somewhat, and nuttier complexities start evolving.

I will try another in a year's time or so.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
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 jrb1001
4.87/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2005 No. P 01451

I drank this beer this past summer and it was the first time I have even heard of it. The bottle is a sight to see in its self. The tiny little bottle is disciveing, because it is a big beer inside. The beer is dark in color and very strong. It has a sweet smell to it and it is easy to drink. I think this is a great beer or should be considered one of the best beers of the current time.

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Photo of russpowell
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
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 phishgator
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2004

Poured into a snifter with no head. The color is a deep rich copper. The consistence of the brew is maple sryup. The flavor is close to the same. The malt is big backbone, but there is a hop presence that you can't ignore. The high amount of unfementable sugars is sickly sweet; a little too much after one, IMHO. Good old ale/ english barleywine style if you like those styles a must try.

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Photo of geetlord
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

serving: 8.50z bottle from 2005 poured into a goblet.

This beer poured a hazy red/orange with a huge head. The head remained thick and present untill I finished drinking the beer.
The aromas that came off of it were all of fruits, plums, apples, cherries and the like.
The flavor was intensly fruity but mellow. It contained lots of dried fruit flavors like prunes and rasins, as wella s some apple or pear. There was almost no hops. The finish is explosivly fruity, and the alcohol carries the flavors so that they last well after the beer has been swallowed. The mouthfeel thickens as the beer bubbles in your mouth, giving it a very full and "chewy" feel apropriate to the heavy flavors that it carries.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer and am holding on to a bottle to see how it ages

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Photo of Quaig
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This ale was poured into a goblet, and appeared a reddish, dark brown, resembling stout. After pouring, the foam settled down to a shallow but dense head that persisted right to the end of the glass.

Initially, the aroma was quite pungent with tones of smoked wood, prunes and Shiraz wine. Further down the glass, the aroma was more rounded with a little more bite from the alcohol now.

The ale tasted of rye bread and more hints of plums and sherry. It was more drinkable than I imagined, given the strength and had a sweet and pleasant aftertaste.

Despite the 11.9% ABV, the ale didn't have as much alcohol heat as I anticipated and it felt rather smooth with very little gas.

Overall, this was a very drinakble dark ale with alot of deep flavours that offer plenty to savour right to the end. I think this is really worth trying at least once because this was much better than I expected and will be something I'll look out for in the future

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Photo of jwc215
2.74/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2003 no. O 05953 edition

Pours hazy caramel with no head. The color isn't bad, but nothing great and even for the abv level the head retention is poor.

The smell is of raisin, prunes and sherry. The alcohol is very upfront. The smell is quite potent, but not as complex as it could be.

The taste is of sticky, sweet fruits, especially prunes, with a sharp alcohol backbone. It has definate port/sherry flavors. It's a malt bomb - no hops or yeast noticeable. The alcohol is consistantly present. The sweet malt is backed by sweet alcohol, making this cloyingly sweet. The flavors are almost lost in to the sweetness and cutting alcohol.

The flavors linger, but the sweetness and raw alcohol are almost over-the top. I felt like I just drank sherry rather than an ale.

There are better balanced, more complex old ales out there. I didn't find this to be enjoyable, or easy to sip.

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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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