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

735 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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Ratings: 735 |  Reviews: 563
Photo of Damian
3.21/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Drank from an 8.5 fl. oz. bottle
2004 vintage, No. 74266

Poured a cloudy, crimson-amber with absolutely no head.

Smell was intense and unpleasant. Soy sauce was most apparent followed by burnt sugar and a woody, oaky aroma.

Taste was rich and somewhat brandy-like. Prunes, raisins and dried fruits along with some caramel sweetness were noticeable. The beer had a big alcohol punch which was nicely offset by the hearty flavors and aromas.

The mouthfeel was syrupy and rich with only a minuscule amount of carbonation.

At 11.9% ABV, this beer was definitely more drinkable than expected. Nevertheless, this is definitely a sipping beer, perfect for savoring on a cold winter night.

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Photo of mcarroll10177
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass

A- copper in color not a lot of head, with some lacing on the glass

S- not much nose to this beer, but some fruit with some spices maybe nutmeg

T- good with some fruitness and some sweetness, reminded me of a sweet red wine.

M- balanced but with to little carbination

D- a good tasting easy drinker. But there is generally to much sweetness in the beer.

2005 offering

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Photo of PartyHatjo
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Figured I'd do something special for my 100th review...found this bottle a couple months ago and decided to save it for this one.

Appearance: Milk chocolate/caramel brown, very hazy, huge head (2 inches, dissipates fairly quickly, light tan in color), could barely fit the entire bottle in a tulip glass.

Aroma: Caramel, with some strong alcohol notes. Very fruity, winelike character to the brew as well. Hints of pear, apple, mixed with light chocolate. Small amount of roastiness peeks through.

Taste: Caramel and pears come to thought initially. Alcohol prominent, but not overbearing. Roast comes through as well, more so in the taste than the aroma, fading to a hint of chocolate. Aftertaste is heavy on the caramel.

Mouthfeel: Loads of body, and surprisingly well-carbonated for the style. Not much bitterness in this brew, but then it wouldn't be that fitting the "Old Ale" name if it had loads of bitterness. Sweetness isn't overbearing but hurts its...

...Drinkability: Definitely couldn't have more than one of these brews. Not necessarily for the high alcohol content, but for it's ability to overwhelm anything you would have it with except perhaps a very lightly sweetened dessert.

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Photo of sullysbeer
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2004 No.15621 Edition

Aroma: Roast, Caramel, Chocolate, Sherry, Raisin and Alcohol served to your nose with oak.

Appearance: Clear ruby red with a slightly dark tint, beautiful color! Slightly off white head that rings the glass. Murky after I poured the sediment in the glass.

Flavor: Complex syrupy sweetness, raisins, plums, oak with hints of sherry balanced with a delicate hop bitterness that lingers a bit and finishes with an alcohol warmth that fills your chest.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and slick on the tongue, very light on the carbonation but bottled conditioned and has a very large starting gravity (sugar to water ratio before the yeast is added) so this makes sense.

Overall Impression: HUGE Old Ale or more of a Barley Wine style. Kind of like a dessert wine. You could age this beer for quite a while. Delicious!

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

Vintage 2005; P 05356 Edition

Deep, murky amber color with a thin, bubbly head. Smells of nutmeg and spice, raisins, molasses, and more. There’s a funky little “back smell” going on that I can’t place – it’s almost moldy, but after a deeper whiff, it gets a little more bready or yeasty.

Cloying, winey taste, leans strongly towards barley wine, but with a decent balance of hops and effervescence that nearly save it from being overly syrupy. Mouthfeel is velvety, but all in all quite heavy for such a little package; packs quite a punch in the ABV department.

A little too sweet for my personal taste, but I’d definitely cellar a few bottles just to have an idea of how aging affects the composition.

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Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage into wine glass.

Wonderful deep ruby red with an off-white head that stayed for the duration of the glass. Deep caramel, vinous, nutty, raisons, and though subdued, earthy hops blend together for an excellent aroma. Sweet caramel beginning with red wine hints, but the caramel stays throughout mixing with nuts and an earthy flavor, with a sweet and grassy finish. Lower carbonation, full bodied, heavy on the tongue, sticky. Though you can feel the alcohol, this one makes for an excellant sipper, worthy of keeping around for any special occasion.

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Photo of Dizzy
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 Bottle

Pours dark brown with a reddish tint. Light tan head, seems to be sticking around awhile. Smells of carmel and maybe raisins?
Thick, sweet full flavor. It masked the alcohol quite well until the finish, when theh alcohol burn is noticeable. Malt dominates the flavor. Some winey or cidery notes to it as well. Full bodied with light carbonation.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this one develops, this is a great beer and I'm hoping it gets better with time.

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Photo of BAbaracus
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage No. P51992

Pours muddy amber with no head whatsoever, only the faintest trace of carb bubbles along the glass.

Nose retains a spicy blend of raisins, apple cider and molasses laced with a strong current (currant?) of alcohol

Thick, almost gelationous core with an oily membrane that slides over the tongue like raw shellfish (it's better than it sounds)

Sour, almost uncarbed hodgepodge of tart fermented fruit, sharp roasted malt notes with the alcohol conducting the whole symphony. Bravo.

One at a time, brother. One at a time. This is a dessert/desert beer.

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Photo of DaveFL1976
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 model

Pours a murky brown with a thin, tan head that seems a bit sticky.

The nose is potent. Sweet malt hidden behind a wall of alcohol and dark fruits. Plums, raisons, and the like. I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm not expecting a smooth taste. It smells sharp and edgy.

Oh, I was wrong. Intensely sweet all the way around. Coffee, chocolate and a subtle warmness from the alcohol. Reminds me of Maple syrup. The taste is unique and bold. Suprisingly smooth!

Mouthfeel is rather heavy and syrupy. Definately a sipping beer, but for the 11% alcohol, it's remarkably drinkable.

Worth trying.

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

2005 Vintage

Pours a dark ruddy brown. Large off white head that leaves a small amount of lacing. The nose on this is gorgeous! Dark fruit, molasses, caramel, alcohol. There are hints of christmas spices as well. The palate is perfect. Dark fruit begins and shifts to notes of smoke, nuts and caramel. The finish is surprising. WIth every sip I expect there to be a cloyingly sweet finish and I am plesantly surprised when it doesn't happen. Good hops and a exceptionally dry finish. The drinkability is slightly lower that one might hope for simply because of the alcohol and carbonation of this young brew, but I think that it will only improve with time.

Fantastic beer!!

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

2005 vintage.

Pours opaque burgandy brown. Head is tan and thick, but dissipates to a thin sheen.

Smell is predominately dark fruit and chocolate. Nice caramel maltiness. Spicy Belgian yeast and strong alcohol notes.

Taste is similiar to the nose, but the dark fruit and alcohol flavors are much stronger. Caramel, and toffee. All the flavors are quite strong.

Mouthfeel is medium, and slightly thick and syrupy.

This beer remonds me of a belgian. high ABV and spicy yeast with dark fruit. Unfortunately the flavors are a little strong and may need to mellow while cellering for awhile.

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Photo of bashiba
2.61/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is a 2005 edition.
Poured a dirty brown color with a thick creamy head with good retention.

Smell is almost overpoweringly sweet and fruity.

Taste is super sweet malts with tons of sweet fruit flavors, lots of raison and cherry, and plum, with hints of oak and a strong alcohol flavor. A bit of hop bitterness at the end, but not enough to overcome the sweet malt and alcohol flavors.

Mothfeel is creamy and hot.

Overall this beer is just to sweet and hot right now, maybe a couple years in the cellar to mellow it out.

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Photo of matjack85
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Small 8.5 oz. bottle with a $5.99 price tag on it at Sal's Liquor in Addison, IL. My bottle lists the abv at 11.7% rather than the 11.9% listed on this site. No freshness date as they claim this beer improves with age and can be stored for 25 years. I'm not waiting that long to find out so I opened my 2004 vintage bottle in June of '06. Bottle # P 00836.

The beer poured a cloudy cinnamon color with a 2" white head but when held to light it was ruby red. It left no lacing on my glass at all as the head dissipated and left no lacing as I drank it either.

The smell was huge on malt, molasses, brown sugar, raisins, and alcohol. It about knocked me over with it's potency.

The taste was like no other beer I have tried. It has a sweet, yet bitter taste with burnt molasses flavor mixed in with raisins and strong black coffee. Then as it sits on your tongue a bit a huge rumlike alcohol flavor comes into play and mixes in with the bitter coffee taste. Then in the aftertaste you get a return of the burnt sugar and raisins along with some bitter coffee and alcohol .

The mouthfeel was lighter than I expected from the powerful smell, but this was due mainly to really high carbonation. I noticed some reviewers complained there wasn't enough carbonation in their samples, but in this 2004 bottle I found the carbonation to be as high as a regular soft drink soda. Maybe carbonation levels vary from year to year, I don't know, but mine was very spritzy. The mouthfeel does gets a bit heavier once the beer starts to warm and the carbonation dies down.

This is certainly a unique, complex and well made beer but it may be one that requires an acquired taste. Not sure if I have acquired it yet.

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

Poured from 8.5oz bottle(2004 vintage #05398) room temp a dark ruby red with a smallish head of foam that disappeared really quick.

The smell is all candy sweet with lots of plum and some notes of alcohol and, well, it smells very port like.

The taste is more of the same, lots more! Sweet molasses, caramel, plum, and a strong orange injection in the finish and yes, it has that nice warming feeling when going down, what complexity and this stuff is *only* ~2 years old!

Bottom line: I had to try 1 of the bottles from my 4 pack to just check it out. Already very good stuff but the rest of my stash is going to join the 2003s in my "cellar".

Edit: I thought it would be nice to revisit this beer 3 1/2 years later, same edition, 2004, Bottle no. P 05400.

A nice hiss when I popped the cap, it pours a dark brownish red, slightly hazy as there is some sediment, with about a half inch of tannish foam.

The smell has loads of brown sugar like sweetness, some dark fruitiness, and again, a very overall Port like aroma.

Taking some small sips, there's a lot of sweetness going on. A brown sugar, perhaps maple syrup type of sweetness that I think is more intense than when I tried it last. There's some light chocolate and toffee, with lighter notes of dark fruits.

The mouthfeel is full and thick with lightish carbonation.

Drinkability? The flavours are very intense, the alcohol seems to have calmed down a bit but when I add things up, this 6 1/2 year old version of the same year that I had at 3 years doesn't quite measure up to the same level. Without changing my numbers, I'd say it was a B+ at best and maybe just a B.

I still have a 2003 to sample and 3 Eldridge Pope samples, 1988-1989-1991. Should be an interesting Christmas day 2009!

Edit: 2003 bottle, my last, No. 00644 11.7%abv.

A vigorous pour from the 8.5oz bottle yielded a temporary thin head of foam but it shrank to just a ring around my glass and a few small islands near the middle.

Smelling it is pure joy. Caramel malts and woody and sherry notes are in top form with a nice nose of toffee joining in. To me...a perfect aroma for an Old Ale.

Tasting equals or slightly, yeah I said perfect aroma, surpasses the smell and I'm somewhat but not totally astounded.
Malty to the nth degree with caramel sweetness-toffee-maple syrup(taste as well as mouthfeel), the woody sherry like goodness that in the taste more resembles a well made Port. Wow. I bought this in 2004 in CO and my cellaring "skills" really paid off with this wonderful elixir.

Thick and chewy body with just enough carbonation to make it clear to the drinker that it isn't flat, it has a wonderfully smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability? Anyone know a source for more 2003s? I'm serious! Thomas Hardy Ales are now gone but not soon to be forgotten?? I hope *someone* takes up the gauntlet and brings this beauty, in its proper form, back into production. Soon!!!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage. This brew pours a murky deep ruby color. The head is a massive two inches in height and recedes slowly into thick lacing. The aroma is enormous: malt and hops are everywhere balanced. Dark fruits, caramel, and butter, with an herbal/piney finish. The taste is also well balanced. The sip begins with caramel and dark fruit, then finishes with a nice hop bite. The mouthfeel is one of the smoothest I have encountered in a bottled beer. It is full bodied, and has low carbonation. Overall, this is the best Old Ale I have ever had. I couldn't drink this everyday, or even more than one or maybe two in a single sitting. However, I would never turn one down.

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

wow , what an experience . 2004 , #41942

Beer poured a beautiful , ruby / amber with legs down the side of the glass with very little to no head .

Aroma of prunes , caramel , pleasant whack of malt , sweetness and alcohol .

First taste impression was similar to an eisbock , big maltiness but much more complex , prunes , raisens , liquorice ? Alcohol , long kind of chocolaley finish with boozy warmth all the way down .
Caramel and smooth bitterness .

Thick and almost syrupy , smooth , slight pucker from alcohol .

Hmmm.. Like this beer a lot . glad there's three more left . Think I ' ll save' em for when it's not so hot . zzz

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Photo of mdagnew
4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast.... 2005 Vintage No. P64068...

Poured a very deep mahogany red / brown colour. No head at all...

Aroma - Where to start ?? Sweet dark fruits (raisins, figs, dates), citrus peel, cinnamon notes, leathery traces, treacle sweetness, bready / biscuity malts, fruit cake, toffee, muscvado sugar, woody notes. I could probably sit and enjoy these aromas all night....

Taste – Again where do i start... Sweet, spicy dark fruits soaked in alcohol (raisins, currents, dates), toasted caramel notes, bready, some brandy / rum traces, biscuity, warming alcohol, spicy hop bitterness forces itself through the sweet maltiness, light madeira wine hints...

Feel - So silky smooth... rich and creamy... light viscousness.. Low drinkablilty for this one - a beer for savouring and sipping slowly...

Overall - A phenomenal beer... Highly recommended. I bought a few of these and will keep some to see how they age - maybe after 5 and 10 years....

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Photo of DogFood11
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip it forms an easily managed full cover, tan head, little lacing but who could expect something to cling to the glass through a near 12% shield. Similar to a quad in color, an unfiltered looking caramel, copper.

Lots of sweet, rich candy in the nose, mostly caramel but there is a lighter citrus, peel, quality to it as well.

Some fig, raisin, makes its way and mends with the syrupy mouthfeel. Of course what would an Old ale be without the alcohol making a name for itself. This comes through rather large in the nose, for me it takes a back seat in the flavor/mouthfeel, malts overpower anything in this fine offering. Towards the finish the alcohol gives a nice warm smacker to finish, with a quick flash of citrusy rind.

Notes: Well, I absolutely love this offering. Some beer experts certainly may dissagree with me but this has some definate quad characteristics and was unique at the same time. I'd have to put this up there with the best old stock's ever and my best to date. As far as aging goes (this is the 2005 version) I personally will age a few just to see for fun but my gut says that aging a malty brew such as this won't produce what i'm looking for. Fresh was tasty.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2004 Vintage No. P82552

Saw this at the local liquor store and decided to give it a try. Bottle is 8.5 oz. Pours a dark ruby with no head. Aroma is a strong sweet malt with a noticable bite of alcohol.Taste is VERY thick, sweet and malty with not much carbonation. Alcohol is definately present in the taste but not overpowering. This is a unique beer that I cannot compare to any other I have tasted up to this point. The drawbacks of this beer is lack of carbonation (mouthfeel suffers because of this) and it's almost overpowering sweetness. I definately could have been aged for a bit longer, but overall a good after dinner beer. I will defiantely purchase this again with the intent of aging it for a few years.

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

I found a small cache of the 2004's last year and bought them all on reputation. Call it a moment of inspiration / insanity but yes, I did it. Had one last year and felt quite justified. Shared one with a friend over the weekend and was quite pleased. My friend was amazed a beer could be like this.

A - Black with nice ruby tinges. Very faint carbonation and almost no head.

S - Rich malty essence, fruit - plums / apple and a hint of alcohol.

T - Heaven! Sipped after dinner in a nice tulip glass this beer really shines! Toffee, plums and a wonderful vinious texture. Well balanced.

M - Medium bodied, a treat for the tongue!

D - Too easy to drink. Tough to share, tougher to not drink a second. I wish I had two cases in the cellar. Lamentably I only have another 5 as of this writing.

Enjoy if you have a chance!

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Photo of goochpunch
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2004 vintage.

Pours out a murky, dark tanned leather. The cafe au lait head really came at me at first, but then settled a bit. Really impressive head size for a beer at this strength. Smells of tropical fruits, molasses, dried fruit and chocolate. The initial flavor hit isn't the best, I think. Too much bright sweetness along with sweetish/somewhat bitter alcohol up front. There isn't a lot of alcohol, don't get me wrong, but it could use some mellowing. The finish and aftertaste, however, really make this great. The finish is of medium roast coffee and chocolate, along with molasses and raisins. The long aftertaste is of raisins and rum. At first, just as was suspected from the violent uprise of head, the mouthfeel was violently prickly. I allowed it to sit a while and agitated the beer ever minute or so until some of the carbonation cooled down. What I was left with was a smooth, heavy, and slick mouthfeel. I really enjoyed this, but I'm glad this is only 8.5 ounces.

I could see this needing an extra couple years at least to mellow out and allow the flavors to meld better. Tasted great, but the sweet and loud upfront flavors did not seem to flow well into the rich finish and aftertaste.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours a cloudy dark red with a small white head.The smell has a strong malty and alcohol aroma to it that is truely outstanding. The taste is sweet malt with a nice alcohol bite to it. This is a very good beer. The roasted malt makes this a real classic. The m/f is heavy with well balanced flavors although there is almost no carbonation. This is a classic beer and I highly recomend it.

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Photo of scottoale
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004 No.P54734 edition

Saved this for my 100th beer review...whatever???
From the gigantic 8.5oz. brown glass bottle with fancy label pours a two-tone, reddish to honey-amber ale with no head and no lace...pretty exciting, huh?

Very strong, sweet malt nose, with an alcoholic authority, rising from way down below...very potent and pungent !!

Smells of sweet, thick, syrupy malt, malt and yet, even more this the English version of pancake and waffle syrup???

Taste is much of the same...sweet malt with a roasty, toasted flavor and no carbonation...what's the deal here? You gotta have some sort of carbonation if you like any kind of mouthfeel. The carbonation in my review bottle desperately needs to be bumped up a notch, IMO. This really is tasty stuff, maybe this is characteristic of it's style, "Old Ale".

In the mouth it's quite thick and some what chewy, a very full bodied brew indeed. High alcoholic content makes this a natural sipper, this is not the kind of beer you would drink to quench your thirst.

If you want to expand realm of what hand crafted beer can be, this is a definite "must try", for sure...Cheers!

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Photo of gmcfarre
3.96/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 No. P52047
8.5 oz bottle

A - Dense chestnut color with no head and no carbonation upon pour. You can go ahead and guess that there is no lacing either.

S - Chock full of raisons mixed with dark malt characteristics. A sweet, woody molasses scent is also quite evident. Just a slight hint of alcohol.

T - Dark malt overrides the raisins, but they are still very noticable. Sweetness is potent. Alcohol is hidden fairly well.

M - Smooth at first followed by a quick bite of alcohol. Finishes with a very creamy touch of bitterness.

D - High ABV is evident. An expensive sipper that would probably age well.

Wondering where my carbonation went...

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Photo of kaimcm
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

fancy little bottled poured into a chalice. 2005 bottle, 35535 edition.

A: rich dark ruby body, almost brown, soft beige head. head comes back with agitation easily, light lacing.

S: Rum, butter, raisons, alcohol, caramel, even some apple

T/M: Super soft creamy body. crazy rich malt, molasses, dark fruit, raisons, plums. soggy grains, reminiscent of graham crackers or cheerios in milk. moist rum cake, hints of vanilla. finishes oily slick and drying. filling.

D: high octane brew, nice digestif. hefty price tag but worth the treat from time to time. a heavenly but formidable beer.

reminds me a lot of North Coasts Old Stock, both rare, both expensive (though this much more so), both serious commitments. the Hardy's has a creaminess that Old Stock doesnt quite achieve and slightly more complexity. but for half the price, Old Stock is more than an adequate substitution.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003-2008) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 735 ratings.
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