Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)
Hanlons Brewery

Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)
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English Old Ale
4.49 | pDev: 11.14%
Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)
Notes: This entry is for vintages brewed by Eldridge Pope & Co. PLC. / Thomas Hardy Brewery from 1968 to 1999. O'Hanlon's took over the brand and revived it in 2003:
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Reviews: 126 | Ratings: 224 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Durandal_777:
Photo of Durandal_777
5/5  rDev +11.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Treyliff
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1987 Vintage
Half-pint bottle poured into a snifter glass

A- prying of the cap produces just a faint hiss. Pours a deep brown color with zero head or carbonation in the appearance

S- intense dark fruit aroma up front with notes of bold prune, fig & raisin. Wet cardboard (oxidization) follows the fruit aromas, along with caramel, wet leather, tobacco, beef broth & a hint of smoke, very interesting

T- Wow, this is quite possibly the most intensely flavored beer I've ever had. Sweet, savory, salty umami up front that opens up to flavors of prune juice, dried figs & raisins. Mid-palate adds a meaty element, reminiscent of salty beef broth or pot roast. As it nears the finish, I find notes of soy sauce, caramel, port & that wet cardboard oxidation. The linger gives flavors of more dark fruit and more of that savory saltines that almost makes you salivate

M- thick bodied with virtually zero carbonation, silky mouthfeel that stays viscous throughout into the finish, alcohol is hidden quite well

O- wow, this was an experience, like anything I've ever tasted. I can see what these are only 6oz, as it has taken me over an hour to drink it. Glad to have had the opportunity to taste this one, a 29 year old beer the night before my 30th birthday.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

rating #: 2,750.

6oz "nip" bottle that is so old that the label is no longer readable. The bottle is sealed with Golden foil with black lettering that reads: "Huntsmen" and a pressure cap. A red string comes out from the bottom of the golden foil and a medallion hangs from this red string which shows a man's head silhouetted on the front of the medallion. On the back of the medallion it says: "Thomas Hardy's Ale Brewed and bottled by ELDRIDGE POPE Dorchester Dorset"

Vintage 1986.

poured into unbranded snifter.

Appearance: A dark black bodied beer. The head pours out to almost a thin uneven cap, but is mostly a bunch of uniform medium to large sized bubbles. Booze legs on the side of the glass after each sip.

Smell: Rich dried tobacco. Dark Fruits. Caramel. Soy sauce. Bakers cocoa. Flour-less chocolate cake. Black truffles. Hint of black licorice. Truly unique nose, I have never smelled an old ale like this before.

Taste: This beer is rich and sweet. Dark fruits are the first thing that you taste. Lots of plums and also black currants. Raisins & plums too, but they are more subtle. The unmistakable flavors of leather and tobacco with lots of it to be had. Port wine. Molasses. Light meaty smoke flavor. Dark chocolates. Finishing with a hint of caramel and vanilla sweetness and balanced by a hint of bittersweet tobacco / leather...then more prunes to round out the finish. This beer is very flavorful and complex. Very "English" if that makes any sense to anyone...

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation level. Not a hint of booze in this beer; its a very smooth drink. Still a sipper, but because it has such big flavors.

Overall: At 31 years old...this is the oldest beer that I have ever drank. Prior to this beer, it was a 10 year old Gueuze. I have always been a huge fan of old ales, so this is without a doubt a true treat to get to try since Thomas Hardy's is the holy grail of Old Ales. Word on the streets is Thomas Hardy Ales have done well with proper cellar conditions for a long time. I can confirm this fact now. Flavors are so big here that 6oz is all that I wanted to drink. The brewer knew what he was doing putting this beer into a 6oz nip bottle. I am pretty impressed with this Old Ale. It is about as authentic as it gets for an Old Ale!

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

BitterBill sent me this. 1975 vintage, pictures posted on untapped and talkbeer. I poured into a snifter. The appearance was a ruddy burnt red almost brown color with no head nor lacing, (me, given the brew year, I get it, I’m not worried). The aroma starts off with sweet figs, plums, light spice (blend of cinnamon to orange zest to allspice). Sweet earthy almost leathery stickiness. Warms into some prunes. The flavor leans to the prune side so much with a tingle of vanilla and some leathery sort of tobacco to bready sweetness. The aftertaste is somewhat a sweet to wet pruniness running on into a quick finish. On the palate, this one sat about a medium on the body (this really kept it’s weight, what in the what? Yeah, it really did). Carbonation, haha, well, look at the date, and I’m pretty sure most rational beer drinkers will realize, that there’s no carbonation left to this. Overall, despite no carbonation left, this amazingly held up so well. I never would have thought that a beer older than me would have held all of those aromas and flavor and just blend so well. Amazing, just doesn’t seem like a word remotely close to describe my true feelings for this beer.

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a personal tragedy. I only had one bottle of this vintage (1997) and several 1999s. I pulled what I thought would be an immature, but more numerous 1999. It was only when I logged on here, looking for a place for this review, that I realized that I had opened my last 1997 (!). Oh well, another 1999 survives to see another year. Bye bye 1997...:-(

I had taken the first whiff and taste before I realized my mistake. "Wow," I thought, "this is richer and drier than I expected." To describe the flavor, think tip top Cuban cigars, Valrhona chocolate, Scottish butter toffee, Hennessey Paradis... there is no justice words can do this beer. It is the culmination of a great brewing legacy. Even better than the 1999. Perhaps the greatest ever.

A notbeer. A world of beer within itself.

Mature, preserved fruit is evident, covered with toasted sugar and rancio, Madiera-like thickness everywhere. Obscenely luxurious...and buttery...and strong.

This is a Top Secret improvement on Port, which costs 10 x as much and delivers the same pleasure.

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Photo of stevoj
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

1987 vintage bottle from Douglas88. Brown, clear, pours flat (understandable). Smoky, peaty aroma, leather , tobacco. Taste too is the old ale sweetness, mellowed by age, more peat. Mellow sweetness. Aged perfectly.

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Photo of ivegot3Dvision
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Last night I had a 1987 Thomas Hardy's ale... opened with a little tiny hiss, poured a nice brown color with a ruby hue. Flavors, oh man that thing was complex... leather, soy sauce, meaty, sweet, slight tartness. It was definitely a sipper and something you can really only have a small amount of, but I'm very glad I got to taste it.

Still have a 1986 and a 1988 to drink at a later time.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This old legend is the color of my favorite old Docksiders, except Hardy's has a very thin beige head and rapidly sliding lace. The mix of sweet malt, honey, hops and alcohol aroma remain potent almost throughout the entire glass. Butterscotch and blended Scotch whiskey flavors meld together with candy sugar and a light citrusy bitterness and prunes. Earthy and slightly nutty with a yeasty, astringent background. Alcohol rounds out the complex, ever changing flavors. The nearly syrupy malt body is oily and velvety textured like a fine sherry. I hope the new Hardy's lives up to its legendary past.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1993 (Anniversary edition). Sampled 8/30/03.

This ale poured a clear to cloudy reddish-amber with no foam (careful first pouring gave a clear liquid). The smell was wonderful: vinous, malty, fruity (figs, currants), mollasses. There was a slight, sharp edge to the aroma. The taste was fruity (figs, currants) and vinous. Slightly sweet with the taste of caramel, and a hint of alcohol. The flavor lingered nicely. The mouthfeel was smooth, creamy, airy, and warming. The body was medium with almost no carbonation. This was a wonderful ale that had aged nicely. Very drinkable, though this was a sipping beverage.

Thanks to Todd and Jason for sharing this.

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Photo of genaro
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I hadn't drank one of these for several years and I was surprised to find a restaurant nearby had a case or more of 99's. It poured a cloudy, root beer color with not much of a head. The complex aroma was a bit yeasty and citrusy as well as sweet with a strong suggestion of alcohol. The taste was equally complex - caramel, honey, apples and butterscotch...and the alcohol. A very nice, mellow sipping beer which makes the drinker very mellow as well.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1982 Vintage Bottled and shared with the head brewer and owner of Beer Nouveau at their brew tap on the Friday night
Murk free dark brown boday
smells of booze and Christmas pudding
balance of molasses and yeast supplement
Ale supreme

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.84/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle no. 04367 180ml, 1991 Edition, 12%abv.

No sound at all when I popped the cap, it pours a murky root beer colour with no foam, no carbonation.

The smell is marvelous. Lots of caramel malt sweetness, dark fruitiness, chocolate and toffee, but the caramel seals the deal for me. It's like sticking your nose in the middle of a milky way bar.

The taste equals the smell in every way. That candy like caramel just grabs me and shakes me around...yeah, the alcohol is there but that's not the culprit. It's that damn love I have for caramel. ;^) I'm tasting a little bit of plum now, very little, but it's there. Now some chcocolate that is almost hot cocoa like brings ever the tiniest suggestion of bitterness and *that* actually grows some during this session. Wow. 18+ years old and I'm floored by this brew.

Totally full bodied, luscious and smooth at the same time. Last bit in the glass and I see a tiny bit of sediment. It's going down as well!

Drinkability? I wish I had a case of this stuff! Strong but clever, tasty and bold but refined. A magnificent brew in every way and one of the most pleasurable beers I've ever had.

A: 4 S: 5.0 T: 5 M: 5 D: 4.5

On to the 1988 Edition, bottle no. D21160 with no abv listed, 5.3oz.

A small hiss when I pop the cap, it pours the exact same colour as the 91 with the exception of a few small bubbles that don't quite form any sort of foam.

The smell has big caramel malt notes but also has more than some hints of a Port like nose. I'm smelling more alcohol here than I did with the younger bottle.

The taste is caramelly sweet, a bit earthy, port like flavours, dark chocolate bitterness, and in the finish, some milk chocolate sweetness. The flavours here are not, how should I say this, as lively and, for me, as vibrant as the 91. Still good but a bit flat on my palate and I'm not meaning the lack of carbonation.

The mouthfeel is also not as robust and at times feels quite thin.

Drinkability? The 91 literally flew down to my gullet, this one isn't in the same league. I feel a lot more warming as well. Scores for me on this:
A: 4 S: 4 T: 4 M: 3.5 D: 3.5
3.9 B+

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Photo of francisweizen
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1994: First, off a big thanks to Beerluvr for this bottle of divine nectar! This is my first Thomas Hardy's Ale and I must admit, it was quite an experience. This beer opened with a barely audible 'pfft' and glugged into my Chimay chalice with absolutely no head. This ale was a dark blood-red, muddy-brown colour. This ale exuded aromas of leather, molasses, raisins, dark fruits, figs, chocolate, butterscotch, toffee bits, and more! It tasted like more of the same. Sweet, fruity, chocolaty, and boozy. The alcohol precense was pretty minimal, considering this brews potent ABV! The mouthfeel on this brew was amazingly thick and rich. Like a meal in a glass! The drinkability was very good but this is a very special type of ale that should only be drunk on special ocassions!

1998: This brew pours out a dark amber/red colour with a minimalistic white head of foam, which only lasts for a short while. The aromas are all across the board and consist of leather, rawhide, chocolate, caramel, alcohol, faint hops and malts, spices, and yeast. The taste is quite fruity, boozy, english-barleywine like and complex. The mouthfeel is quite thick and rich, but never too sweet, thick, or rich to be considered cloying. The drinkability is great for an ale of this size as well! What can I's a Hardy's!

1997: A dark brownish liquid with a minimilistic, but lasting white head of foam. Aromas are all over the place. Leather/rawhide, chocolate, caramel, sugar, spices, dark fruits, rum, brandy, deeply malty, and slightly dry and hoppy. The taste is truly an exceptional thing of beauty. Deep malts, dark fruits, alcohol, sugar, various spices and dark belgian chocolates. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, but not over the top for a barleywine and the drinkability is, as always, excellent for an 11.7%abv brew!

1982: sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium. A dark ruby red (port like) liquid with a small cap of fizzy brown foam. Aromas are unreal. Sugar, spice, caramel, dark fruits, booze (brandy or cognac), sugar, deep malts and more. Taste is herbal, medicinal, leathery, chocolatey, caramelly, fruity...and simply awesome! Mouthfeel is thick and rich and drinkability is surreal. Almost a perfect 5 in my book. Wow, this brew certainly benefits from some serious down time!

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Photo of purplehops
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1989 edition
bottle #0528 355ml.
bought in Pensacola Florida in 1992

The 1989 pours a slightly cloudy ruby-orange with no head and no lacing other than a few wondering bubbles. The aroma is sweet ambrosia and dried fruit with background notes of alcohol. The taste is sweet and alcoholic up front and then settles down to a warm fruity mix with plenty of malt flavors starting to surface. There are also some hints of herb like flavors and a wee bit of citrus blending back and forth with the malt, alcohol, fruit, and some spice flavors also. The finish is a bit dryer but still sweet like a sherry with more earthy flavors. The aftertaste is an even balance of alcohol, fruit, and spices. The herbal qualities and citrus flavors have long faded and are not present in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, even after 13+ years.
Overall a most wonderful product. The smile that comes to your face and the warmth and joy that enters your heart upon sipping this most astonishing beer is beyond my ability to put into words. Needless to say I am warm, happy, and full of mirth (and perhaps a few other things).

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mine is a 6.33 ounce bottle, made in, let's clear the dust...cough, cough!...1995, heck, that's years before I ever heard of it, and lands on my lips courtesy of the remarkable BA called steorn...all hail steorn!
Ohmigod!!! Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!
The nose on first sniff, once cracking this cap, is gorgeous! Right away, port wine, cherries...time to pour...dark russet brown color, ruby edges, no head to speak of...Aroma, though, is extravagant, emergent from the start, ...plums, raisins, thick and syrupy, it occupies a dichotomous realm, it straddles different realities, for it appears dank, yet fresh, deep, and supple, swift and viscous,'s amazing that a brew sat in a bottle so well for for nearly a decade...I've barely tasted it yet, so let's get to...oh, it's murky and sweet,!, more like a tawny port...very mellow, with the alcoholic strength, which would have slain me in it's youth is kind and smooth, no barks and bites from this seasoned, it's just the thing..but only 6 ounces? A cheat!
My 2003, I'm not touching for 5 or 10 years!
If ever I knew what I was talking about, when talking about a brew, I fail here...damn, I need a pitcher of this perfection...I'm going to lustily slurp every luscious sip left...there's a short supply, going quick...oh, my...almost gone...where do I go from here? ...gone, sad, ...ah...
thanks, steorn...a great beer experience, hardly rivaled!

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Photo of Popsinc
4.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well i figured my first bottle of Thomas Hardy should be the oldest, and only one, on the menu. 1984 version sampled at the Kulminator in Antwerp, Oct 2003.

I must say, i was so excited to try this beer that i neglected to take thourough notes. A super dark pour with no head. A glass of black magic! I found the nose to be one of the highlights of this beer. A nice sweetness in the air. Hints of some dark fruits like rasin and plum. A pinch of carmelized raw suagrs. Mild spice. The taste of this beer was outstanding! Again a nice dark fruity sweetness. An alcohol warmth that pleased the senses and ...what else....warms you up. Very complex. I found that the barley sweetness faded into a semi-tart, fruit finish.

Sorry about my poor note taking on such an excellent beer. I guess i'll have to have a few more. Great stuff.

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Photo of Thorfinn960
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of crookedhalo
3.99/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

C'mere. Take a long whiff into this snifter. I've experienced Thomas Hardy's before so I can appreciate what a great beer this actually is. Not much carbonation, but I expect that in this "young" bottle. Maybe I just a sucker for English noble hops, but my god, the aroma to this ale is outstanding! I could walk around with this snifter duct taped on my face for the rest of my life. This beer has the same salty mineral background as the Stone's barley wine, Old Guardian [which leads me to wonder whether Stone Brewing adjusts their water in order to reproduce English high gravities?]. Maris Otter malty goodness with that alcohol punch. I bought this beer cold and had moved it a couple times so I felt it was time to share it with a friend. I'm looking forward to trying some of the vintages that I can get from my boss [86, 87, 92, 93, 95-99].

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Photo of vitesse
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1995 vintage

poured a dark ruby and amber brown. barely any carbonation at all. thick and sweet with liquid clininging to side of glass like a liqueur.
smell is very fruity. prunes, oranges, raisins...taste is awesomely complex. huge fruitiness melts into toasty, bready flavor and then alcohol swoops in. alcohol hits your tastebud and nose quickly.
very syrupy, brandy-like mouthfeel. drinkability is only so high because of the complexity and alcohol.

this beer definitely tests the limits of beer-dom. will appeal to cognac and brandy drinkers. obviously a lot of care goes into this product. (this barlywine was about 8 1/2 years old when i tried it.)

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Photo of marburg
4.87/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed two nights ago (9/12/03).

Prime nuclear bunker material -- and that's a compliment. And here's why: (1) high abv makes for a great "belly warmer" for medicinal purposes, (2) so rich and big that you could drink this and be satisfied for quite a while, and (3) it would give you something improbably great to contemplate while hunkered down.

Pours with a nutty brown color that shows tiny hints of red in the light. Pretty much a headless brew, as to be expected. Just the tiniest hint of hazing.

Powerful aromas waft up to the nose immediately. Grapes, subdued lemon, apple and fruity esters, maple syrup, sweet cigar smoke. Just an impressive array of strong aromas. The estery apple character carries through to the palate with raisins and an oaky-maple-sap sugar flavor. Intensely sweet with a light plum skin finish. Eminently drinkable for a near 12% brew with such an amazing assortment of flavors.

Powerful. Complex. Big. Awesome.

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Photo of beerman599
4.07/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

this was truely a treat! i had a chance six years ago to try this ale ands it slipped throw my fingers, not this time . recently we sat down with a list of vintage ales and this was the best. fuller bodied than you would think and just wonderful on the toung with undecribable cherry like flavor and maltly finish at 16 years old i guss there right when thay say it improves for 25 years! thanks

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Photo of Ave
4.14/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 1

I picked up this bottle years ago on a whim. I had only recently gotten out of the macro beer hell of youth & was experimenting wildly picking up bottles of anything at random to try. I had never seen a beer with a year on the label before. That & just the overall quirkyness of the bottle I think made me pick it up. I honestly had no idea what was inside. This was in early ’94.

Only in the last few years have I reached any kind of educated level about beer, & so thought I would host a beer tasting for a few friends. It was researching the beer tasting that led me to our happy home here at BA. So anyway, what better time to bust out this mystery bottle that had been collecting dust in my closet for 9 years than with a bunch of friends at a beer party eh?

Well, as soon as we saw the actual goods, we knew we were in for something way beyond anybody’s expectation. Everything about this beer is so complex in its sensation, so overwhelming of the senses, it’s almost a waste of time to try to explain it. The BA number system works great for normal beer, but really dosnt aply to this stuff. But lets give it a try.

Soak a basket of dark red plums in a mixture of cabernet & milk for about 3 months, strain, settle out, & strain again. Run a porter house, a ¼ pound of sweet basil, & a bottle of Vicks vapor rub through a blender & dredge that in the runoff of the plums for another three months. Strain again.

God damn…what can you say? Fermented raisins, plums, chocolate, beef, apples, & cranberries. Heavily laden with clover, nutmeg, & fennel. Such an aromatic assault of yeast & fermented wilderness I have never beheld before. It smells like everything at once, & of course, like nothing else.

Yeah…I guess you could call it that. The sensation in your mouth is not like actual “flavor”, its more like getting injected with rotten fruit. It invades you & you become totally involved at once. It overpowers all outside sensation. You can’t taste anything but Thomas Hardy, you can’t imagine tasting anything but Thomas Hardy, and you can’t BE anything but at the mercy of Thomas Hardy!

Mouth feel:
Like drowning in fermented fruit soaked floating in an ocean of Grand Mariner.

No…’s not.

This...stuff, is beyond anything I have ever experienced in the way of a food product. It is literally as intense a physical sensation as low dose LSD. It just takes hold of you & bends you to its will. An amazing ride, one I hope to take again some day.


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Photo of tavernjef
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage thin neck brown bottle - Color is of a dark caramel amber-like brown, cloudy and deep, thin loose bone white head appears briefly from a vigorous pour out of the thin necked 11.15oz bottle into my goblet. A very thin and small haze whisks across the top and a thin ring around the edge. Minimal spotty lace.

Aroma is a mix of caramel, toffee, plum, and lots of ethanol warming; lots! It flys right into your nose and clears ya right up. Quite a burst of booze in the nose with this. Whoa Nelly this could've perhaps aged longer, wow! Hello alcohol!

Aged longer, no way! The taste is quite powerful with beastly aggresive malts, super hefty and thick, heavenly smooth of deep, thick caramel, solid amounts sticking in every corner of the mouth. Wow, its carameltastic! Terrific sweet tang of candied caramel, notes of toffee underlay some of the sweetness, hops hide out til the finish where a creepingly dark and pine sappy bitterness grabs some of the malts away from the palate for a moment then the malts fade back in with a tangy dulled orange-like sweetness and has some touches of tobacco and wet wood in the lingering areas of the finish.

A powerful full mouthfeel, hefty, belligerent, and brutish, you know your drinking something with gusto with this one. As soon as it hits your lips you get pummeled into submission with mega malts and jabs of warming alcohol in each sip, my goodness this sucker is thick! That said, its amazingly fine to drink, quite smooth and creamy. A wonderuosly big beer to apprehend. Wonderfully wonderful! In a word - Scrumptiouslyheftedbigyummyness.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1996 vintage.

Ive been waiting to crack this one and a buddy of mine stopped by with some beers from his travels so he wins and gets to share the bottle with me.
This is a chilled sample and I pour it into a snifter.
The brew pours an orange amber color with no head developing whatsoever.
There is light sediment in the brew.
The aroma is complex and rich with plums, molassess, oak, and bourbon scents dominating. The first sip reveals a thick syrupy texture and almost zero carbonation. Flavor is similar to a mild bourbon with perhaps maple syrup sweetness, and some caramel as well.
I get some alcohol warmth on the finish. This is an incredibly smooth beer and I cant believe how easy it is to drink!!

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Original review date 12/30/98

Vintage 1989 nip-sized bottle at 55 degrees.

A lack of any whisp when the cap is cracked leads to a mostly flat pour. The surface holds a decent amount of large bubbles that came out of solution from an exaggerated pour for several minutes before becoming totally placid. The body is perfectly clear and dark mahogany.

Aromatics are heavily laced with dark leather, fresh tobacco, Port wine, dried figs, and boozy malt. Very intense and complex.

The body is thickish and syrupy, with a sticky, oily mouthfeel. Zero carbonation lends quite a wine-like essence.

Ripe dark fruit, cocoa, and toffee-dusted leather lead off the palate. Warming whiskey-like alcohols step forward and wrap around dried figs. Dusty, sweet malt and bitter chocolate follow through. Hints of woody tannins, dark rum, and old suede linger.

Finishes with a lingering warmth, figs and toffee stuffed in an old leather coat, luscious malt, and whiskey overtones.

This vintage was heavy on chocolate, alcohol, and leather. Barely a trace of any dusty cardboard. The lack of carbonation was hardly a detraction.

Revisit 1/15/09:

Vintage 1989 as well, and another flat example. Delicious and complex with plenty of toffee-rubbed leather, tobacco, booze-soaked figs, and oily malt. Minimal oxidation. Too bad this vintage is flat.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 224 ratings