Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) | O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.

214 Ratings
Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)

Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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:

Added by Todd on 11-27-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 214 |  Reviews: 123
Photo of monketeeth
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of Arloxen
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of johnrobe
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'97 edition:
As I sipped this glorious elixir, I reminisced other occassions when I have enjoyed some of life's finer simple intoxicating Cuban cigar, a particularly delicious cup of Yemen Mocha/ Aged Sumatra coffee, etc. And I knew this brew had taken its rightful place on that mantle of hedonistic pinnacles. It pours a somewhat dusky brown with dark orange highlights with an ever so scant ring of bubbles for a head. The aroma....magnificent...worth the price of admission alone. Richly complex, I could sense port, a slight nuttiness, deep caramel, sweet chocolate, and loads of dried fruit; blackberries, plums, dates, currants. Frankly, I was surprised at the level of fruitiness in a 6 yr. old brew. The taste is an amalgam of rich toffee, dates, currants, nuts in the background. Sweet but not cloying and very smooth, I was reminded of a rich, young tawny port. There is a touch of alcohol in the taste, but this brew is so silky smooth it is hardly noticeable. In contrast, many other barleywines seem to have a coarse alcohol bite that is thankfully missing in this brew.
Barleywine perfection!

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Photo of MassiveBeerReviews
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of MeisterSmudge
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of chrispoint
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of aorloski
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of pma7779
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of tbeer40
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of davidwhatshisnam
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: A small, classic looking, 6.33 fl.oz. brown glass bottle. The obverse label has the Bottle No. E 169956 in red, with the year 1990 in a smaller black font. The reverse label states that this is the rarest ale in Britain, it maybe now. The crown cap & top inch of the bottle neck are deliciously sealed in a lovely thick gold foil that seals a wrap of scarlet red string, which in turn holds a gold colored metal disc with a Hitchcock-like profile of Thomas Hardy. A grandiose presentation.

Appearance: A dark lucid chestnut color, little inherent carbonation results in no head formation. A thin ring of tan colored bubbles cling to edge of the beers meniscus. A gentle swirl of this majestic ale results in a wave-shaped viscous ethanol coating that slowly creeps, Cognac like, back down into the glass. Regal.

Nose: Pungent malts, strong dark exotic fruits in an emulsion of high alcohols. Years of captivity & maturation are slowly released, the sheer marvel of the dark odors are enough to induce salivation. Terrific.

Taste: Smooth, oh soo very smooth. A seraglio of flavors start with sweet malts soaked in a rich Dundee fruit-cake in the entrance. Hints of Madeira, sweet sherry, caramelized brown sugar & a prune-like fruitiness in the middle. Rich toffee tastes lightly cloy in the back of the throat, reminiscent of the finest English Devonian Toffee. Later these develop into a more astringent fino sherry like finish, dry & heated. A low strength spiciness breaks through in the latter parts of the swallow. Solvent-like, the alcohol convokes all these tastes, & is ever present, like a Gas, it fills all available spaces. Ultimately this helps to warm the epiglottis & stomach, rather than the mouth. Quite amazing, the last 13 years have eroded the rough edges & polished the raw surface of this Masterful English Barleywine, into a mature, yet serene, Grand Master. Awesome.

Mouthfeel: Immense but never over-powering. The smooth ale enters the mouth like a SuperModel gliding effortlessly down the catwalk. Smooth & Silky, it coats the mouth & warms the stomach. Incredible.

Drinkability: I so wish I had a Case, or even just one more bottle.

Overall: Alongside a 1987 Courage Imperial Russian Stout that I had a few years ago before leaving England, this is probably one of the very best bottle-conditioned Strong English Ales that I have ever had the privilege to try.

Astounding, Marvelous, Stunning, Breath-Taking - PERFECT!

THE Quintessential Classic English Barleywine.

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +12.6%
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 HopStoopid120
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of valdieu2
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of harsley
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of DmanGTR
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Updated review (1992 Vintage)
Thanks to TheBigEast (Bob) for bringing this beauty. Body and color was similar to that of 93, simply a beautifully crafted English Old Ale/Barleywine. Lovely sherry, toffee, and fig/date notes all over the bouquet. Please sir, can I have some more? (Reviewed in Jan 2010)

Updated review (1993 Vintage)
Slightly lighter in color and body than the 94 vintage. This is just as delicious as I remembered it, a lovely dark fruit and caramel puree topped with a hint of cream sherry. Not as thick and chewy as the 94, but damn this is an awesome sipper. (Reviewed in November 09)

My 150th beer review. Vintage 1994 opened on the last minute of January 1, 2009. The first beer I've had of 2009.

I bought this bottle a few months back on sale for $9.95. Since this is the most vintage bottle I had, I decided to review this one and let my other TH vintages age a while longer. This is a review from notes. No numbering of any sort on the bottle.

Served at 50°F (to allow for warming) in a chalice.

This baby poured a lovely dark brown with amber-red hues in the light. No sediment, very clear, yet very dark. No carbonation was detected, as expected from a 15 year old beer.

Even as I poured, incredible aromas of dark, ripe fruits: prunes, strong tones of figs, and black currants dominated the air. Toffee, very sweet caramel malts, molasses, and a hint of yeast was also abundant in the bouquet.

A sip yielded sweetness in the forefront with tones of ripe blackberries and black currants. This was followed by a darker, richer taste of molasses, toffee, and cabernet sauvignon. The finish is long and complex. Hints of ripe plums, a touch of smokiness and dark chocolate are present and lasts forever. Despite all the sweetness, none of it was cloying in the least bit. Very little alcohol was perceived at all.

As expected, the TH Vintage '94 was full bodied with no carbonation. Being thick and chewy, it coated my palate nicely like a delicate yet rich dressing for my tongue (obviously I don't mean it to be as thick as salad dressing). Extremely smooth.

This beer is so drinkable, I would give it over a 5 of 5 if possible. Alcohol only warms the throat as it is consumed, barely gracing the palate but accenting every sip. You don't realize how quickly it disappears until you're on your last sip and you want to make it last forever.

Overall - This is an impeccable beer. I can't believe it took me this long to open one up and try it. Its smoothness is unsurpassed by any beer I have yet tasted. With the fullness of a porter, the sweetness of a dark Belgian, the boldness of a red wine, the delicacy of French vanilla, this is a beer fit for any occasion calling for beer, wine, tawny port, whatever! This was the perfect beer to start off the new year of 2009.

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Photo of rye726
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Pours a dark woody brown with a thin tan head. Perfect color more than makes up for the small head.

Nose has sweet malts, ripe fruits, sherry, figs, toffee, plums, cherries and caramel.

Taste is equally complex. Hugely rich malts, dark candy, aged sherry and dark pitted fruits.

Thick, creamy body is perfectly carbonated. Amazing stuff.

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Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of Durandal_777
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of ale1
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i was fortunate to have several cases of this reserved in my cellar over the years, we have reviewed this wonderfull ale before and seems to have gone missing. I use this ale as the benchmark for all others a 5+++ in it's old style i hate to see the greediness with only 4 small bottles now available and not even quite the same, but close

pours a deep ruby red with natural carbonation and lots of lacing , reminds me of a fine brandy in a large glass , nose of raisins,plums,pear, barleywine

almost gone now my stock of the old ale ,it is for us priveleged few in jupiter Florida that had the foresight to save some so nyaahh nyah nyaah nyaahhh

go pout with your bottled budwizer

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Photo of RoryOMoore
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of afsdan
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of mikecharley
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of ajs4bd
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of Svejk
4.97/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First of all, I really appreciate Derek giving me a chance to try this beer.

This was a 1999 vintage bottle, and I was really interested to see what a ten year old beer would taste like. I had an idea in my head that there may be a little bit of oxidation or other flaws that I could attribute to age that I would need to overlook. As it turns out, there was nothing to apologize for. It is amazing.

A- This is a gorgeous beer, and really deserves a 5, but it is hard to give all 5's. Anyway, it is dark garnet colored and looks great.

S- This beer smells very sweet and almost like a very nice port. No hint of the age in the smell.

T- Wow. I tried this beer with my brother, and he said "Raisins and Rum". I agree. I'm sure there are no raisins or rum in this beer, but the intensity of the flavor is there and it is delicious.

M- Surprisingly dry. I was expecting a much less attenuated beer considering the smell. Instead, this beer is reasonably dry and I wonder what it would have tasted like 8 or 9 years ago. At this point, it is absolutely perfect.

D- Oh, how I wish I had more of this. Any beer that tastes so good that you want to drain the last drop from the glass has perfect drinkability, and this is one of those beers.

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
4.44 out of 5 based on 214 ratings.
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