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

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999)
215 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: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1533/16858

Added by Todd on 11-27-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 215 |  Reviews: 123
Photo of igl
5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2016

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.38/5  rDev -1.6%
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 Beersnake1
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1986 vintage poured from fridge temp and allowed to warm over an hour. No carbonation at all. Just a slight pop but no hiss when the cap came off. No carbonation on the pour. It's a syrupy black - beautiful. Smell is so amazing. Sweet, thick, creamy caramel. Super strong dark fruit - cherries, raspberries, and a blackberries. Black currant. Taste is much different from the nose. Not as sweet. A slight metallic. No bitterness. Lots of dark fruit, but not sweet. A bit of a licorice flavor as well. Overall, this was a crazy experience. Lucky to have tried it. Mouthfeel is really nice a creamy.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

 1,192 characters

Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.35/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of rab53
4.16/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Photo of Lamar
4.92/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bottle from 1991 No F07844
An amazing sipping beer. The look is dark brown in the glass with no head at all. There is an amazing complexity on the nose with notes of clove, spice and sherry that I was able to detect. Rich in taste with a strong chocolate finish. Paired perfectly with my Fettuccine and Black Truffle Oil ; as good a beer as I have ever had.

 357 characters

Photo of Narthax
4.75/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.09/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

6.33 oz. bottle. 1991 bottle. Deep amber with a couple of floaty bits. No head. Smells of raisins, oxidations, and something like charred wood. Tastes of rich sweet caramel. Brown sugar. Raisins. A little cardboard and sherry oxidation. Mild bitterness the cut the flavors. Tingly alcohol. Medium heavy and flat, but never sluggish. Remarkable. I expected this to be terrible, having had a 2007 bottle that was unpleasant, but this is delicious.

 456 characters

Photo of SkylerShores
4.42/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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


Figs, dates, chocolate, tobacco , hint booze, slightly vinous, rich and decadent. Still but feels dense, almost viscous.

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Photo of smi69
4.93/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Hayley_86
3.5/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Share of a 1975 bottle in honor of a friends birthday, very special.

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Photo of mattreitz49
4.15/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Budlum
4.39/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1996 vintage.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
3.36/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

17 years old.

A: Cola coloured, darn near black. Not much of a head.
S: All the usual barley wine flavours.
T: Medicinal with dried fruit, still sweet, – all the usual barley wine flavours. However, it's gone a bit flat and sour.
O: Probably nice when fresh. I fear I have a bad bottle, but I'm not going to spend hundreds of pounds on the rest of the stock to be sure. For what it's worth, a home brewed version of this is one of the best beers I've ever had.

 463 characters

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.36/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jaydoc
4.26/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Treyliff
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
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 deonreds
4.75/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of WTKeene
4.51/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A 1993 vintage I bought for my brother's 21st two years ago, we finally cracked it tonight. Spent the last two years in the back of a fridge. Poured into a 2015 Jester King Funk and Sour fluted tulip glass.

Appearance: A translucent burnt caramel color, it looks more like a dark brown liquor than anything else. Pours almost entirely flat but with a few small bubbles of coffee-milk colored head upon the first pour.

Smell: Wow. Bright, brandied raisins, hints of cognac. Little bits of burnt toffee and fruity dark chocolate, this is seriously something to behold.

Taste: Mostly follows the nose, the chocolate isn't quite so prominent but the bright, fruity raisins certainly are. Caramel and burnt toffee is here too. Vanilla and fragrant toasted coconut on the finish. This is easily among the most complex barleywines I've had and quite a difference from the 04 and 06 vintages I've had. It's also clearly better than the 04 and 06 vintages.

Mouthfeel: Really thick and luscious, much more so than the relatively thin 06. Sticks to the palate and has quite a long linger. More carb than I was expecting, which is to say it's nearly flat but not entirely so. This is truly something.

Overall: Wow, everything I was hoping it would be. I'm not super familiar with ports and cognacs and brandies, but this does remind me of a truly complex tawny port. The Thomas hardy vintages have earned their reputation as among the best aged barleywines and they are absolutely worth seeking out. I'm going to need my own birth year vintage in the future, for sure.

 1,562 characters

Photo of PDXAmbassador
3.62/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1987 vintage, shared with cellar partner in 2016.
Now I've never had a TH Ale of any vintage, so it was a very interesting experience jumping right into a 30 year old bottle.
Poured pitch black with no head, but some viscosity was evident. Smell was meaty, Madeira, leather, booze. Very savory and umami. Taste followed suit -- much less sweet than the JW Lees we tried side by side with it. It was strangely quite puckeringly salty, and rather tart. I wondered if there might've been a slight infection. Fairly bitter as well, not sure from hops or tannins or what-have-you.
Overall this was the most INTENSE tasting beer I've ever had in my life. To be honest I couldn't finish my pour, but I understand the allure of old bottles like this. A fascinating and complex ale quite unlike any other I've ever tried. Glad for the the opportunity.

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Photo of BrownBottle
4.64/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Boogski
4.3/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

93- had it since 93... Was in great condition, still very high alcohol flavor.

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Photo of atrocity
4.25/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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Thomas Hardy's Ale (1968-1999) from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.45 out of 5 with 215 ratings
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