Old Tom | Frederic Robinson Limited

very good
98 Reviews
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Old TomOld Tom

Brewed by:
Frederic Robinson Limited
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by cokes on 01-13-2003

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Reviews: 98 | Ratings: 175
Photo of AEK
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml brown bottle poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter.

A. Burgundy in colour with a one and a half centimetre tight, bubbly white head.

S. Nuances of figs, prunes, raisins, cognac and port. Claret wine notes join in the blend.

T. Raisins, cognac, oak and bitter chocolate.

M. Thick and oily.

D. Strong English barleywine who's alcoholic warmth soothes the chest. A lovely sipping ale to have at hand. A good nightcap.

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Photo of mjgarrett2
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Rather murky chocolaty brown. Minimal pale grey head and lacing.

S-Aromatic dark malts. Sort of roasted caramel or preserved fruit smell (in a good way).

T-Pleasant balance of malts and rich deep fruit undertones with a lingering bit or tart.

M-A full representation of the major characteristics gives way to a light and dry finish, not over extending your palate in any one direction.

D-Supremely enjoyable on it's own account, could potentially be even better with so mild cheeses or some savory fruits.

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Photo of ivanwatling
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark, almost opaque. No head
Smell: Hints of barley wine, suggests a heavy body
Taste: Like a subtle barley wine, sweet with a hint of biterness in the backgroound
Mouthfeel: More carbonated than barley wines I've tried, leaves a sweet taste and some warmth
Drinkability: One to savour in the winter months

Not sure whether this is a stong bitter or a barley wine. It has a deep, rich taste that relaxes and soothes in the cold winter months.

Served from a 330ml bottle.

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Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of bobsy at his insane barleywine tasting.

Pours a clear ruby red, some orange/brown highlights, medium sized light tan head forms, settles down to a thick ring, lace spots stick to the glass, looks good.

Smell is nice, brown sugar, caramel, very malty, lots of fruit, raisins, alcohol, pudding, pretty intense maltiness, a bit of alcohol comes through, good stuff.

Taste is similar, very sweet and malty, grapes, raisins, brown sugar, lots of dark fruit, alcohol, biscuit, pretty solid although not as good as the aroma.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation. A pretty solid English barleywine, I like it. Thanks Rob!

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Photo of bobsy
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked up this bottle in England because 1) Robinson's is local to where I grew up, 2) English barleywines kick ass, and 3) cats are amazing. Shared this one with a few other guys at a barleywine tasting.

Pours a rich russet colour with an off-white head that soon dropped to a collar. Nice sweet aroma with strong notes of raisins, alcohol soaked dark fruit and sherry. The flavour follows up with the same elements, but has the added bonus of some decent hopping, and a nice combination of flavours. In a way it felt like a cross between a barleywine and a pale ale. Medium body and carbonation. I thought this was quite well done. While not as rich and heavy as some of the others we had, I think this may well have been one of the most drinkable bottles we popped, which surprised me after the disappointing Chocolate Tom.

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Photo of Derek
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Chestnut, tan head, thin ring of retention, very little lace.

S: Awesome plum pudding, Christmas cake aroma, plenty of dark raisins, brown sugar & sherry. Really great aroma.

T: Dark raisin, christmas cake, dark toffee, warming alcohol.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body.

D: A decent drinker.

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Photo of JohnfromDublin
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a 330 ml bottle that I tasted on Oct 17th 2009 (BBE Dec 2010). Firstly, I have to comment on the presentation. It came in a superb bottle with raised writing and an embossed label.

Poured into a Straffe Hendrick glass, this was a dark brown ale with a coffee coloured head. An immediate rich aroma rose, a bit like "fruit of the forest". Very interesting.

The taste was warming, of stewed fruits, brandy & port and malt bread.

Overall, I found this an excellent beer. It was to me a Belgian strong ale, reminding me of Goudon Carolus or even Chimay Blue or Unibroue's Maudite. It was not quite at the level of the three I mention, but a very drinkable strong ale.

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Photo of DerBayer
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The look is more of a Porter or Schwarzbier than a Barleywine -- minimal head though. Not bad in all.

Smells like a good old Barley wine, summer fruit, some alcohol and harvest spice. There is some chocolate in the background though again more like a Porter or maybe a Stout

Taste is overpowered by chocolate like Porter Stoutness

Mouthfeel is refreshing and creamy. I could have it again but I am disappointed since this should be labelled a stron Barley Porter so you would know what to expect

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

330 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

Cola-coloured ale sits underneath a very thick and rich beige foamy head. Lots of carbonation bubbling up underneath.

I didn't pick up much in the way of smell, to be honest.

Tastes of brown sugar and maybe a little dates or molasses.

Mouthfeel is very thick, rich and syrupy--more so than any other beer I've had so far.

Despite the relatively high ABV, this is a much more drinkable ale than other barleywines I've tried. There isn't the strong taste of alcohol like there is with some other strong ales. The smaller size bottle makes it easier as well. Very interesting indeed.

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Photo of thepeter
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - very dark brown, mahogany, slight orange color when held to the light. Head is a combination of tiny and medium sized bubbles that became a film rather quickly, and left a little bit of nice lacing.

S - dark fruit and candy sugar right off the bat. This smells sweeter than it tastes. A bit of brown bread, nuts and metal.

T - Burnt Roasted malt dominate the palate and give way to the dark fruits, raisins, caramel, nuts and booze. A lot of the nuttiness is in the finish and can be a bit bitter. A heavy aftertaste that was not my favorite but not all that bad was also present. The booze was not hiding anywhere which is OK with me.

M&D - Medium Carbonation, and a bit harsh going down. Would have loved it to be a bit smoother and easier drinking, but, HEY! this is a barley wine. So I should stop my Whining.

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Photo of crowncapcollect
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

330ml bottle (design is different to photo)

A good example of this style, but not really a style of beer I like. The treacle taste is a bit too dominant for my liking and it is a touch on the sweet side. But, it does look lovely and the smell is quite intriguing.

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Photo of soulgrowl
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surprisingly excellent head, sandy white, airy and smooth with great retention. Body is thick coffee brown with sparks of bright red-orange. Lovely nose with plenty of caramel, chocolate, raisins, and vinous dark fruits, plus a honey-biscuit note reminiscent of graham crackers. Flavor is big on prunes, black tea, caramel, and dark rum, although the alcohol is well-integrated - not exactly hidden, spicy but not too hot or medicinal. Cola and oaky red wine round out the flavor. The mouthfeel is a nice balancing act; it's medium-bodied, lush but also quite dry. It could be richer, but that might make this too sweet. Overall this is very nice, almost Belgian in character - fruity, spice, drinkable and complex.

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Photo of Suds
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer falls into the category of brews that I'd wanted to try for a very long time. I'd read about the beer years ago, but never found a bottle until coming across it in a great beer shop in Italy. The beer pours a dark chestnut color with a firm and soapy head. The foam is densely packed and a chocolate-tan color with lots of staying-power. The aroma is solidly good, vinous, with plenty of oak and malt. There's also a touch of vanilla, caramel, and booze-infused dark fruit. The taste is complex and mildly sweet. Balance, drinkability, and subtle flavor nuances are the key to this beer. It's quintessentially English in style, not the in-your-face American strong ale. This suits the beer perfectly. Smooth and complex, the beer is a real joy. The carbonation was a little more pronounced than expected, but it fit nicely with the brew. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle, bought in Scarborough. Mahogany coloured beer, large and lasting tan head. Malty sweet aroma, notes of port wine, oak and bakery. Excellent mouthfeel, full and rich. Flavour of generous malts, caramel, dried dark fruits, moderate but noticeable hops (Goldings and Northdown), port wine finish. Fairly sweet, but not cloying. A true classic!

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Photo of DaveUK
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Deep reddish black with a strong head of light brown bubbles. A wonderfully, enticing look.

Aroma - Medicinal, phenolic character followed by rich roasted malt and overtones of dried fruits, such as figs and sweetened dates. A mild but intriguing mixture.

Taste - Rich but smooth malt, ripe fruits. Followed by warming alcohol. Further sips reveal raisins and other dried fruits along with the figs and dates of the aroma. The finish is soft and prolonged, conjuring treacle covered dates and flaming christmas pudding.

Mouthfeel - I dont think I have ever a beer of this strength with such a delicate mouthfeel. I could hardly detect any hint of carbonation, despite the adequate head. No sourness to speak of and superb, thick and chewy body that just slides down the throat.

Overall - A complex and rich brew, hardly any sweetness left on the lips but oodles of character and flavour. An excellent beer that I shall be buying again!

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Photo of haz77
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a red-tinged brown with small, lively bubbles of carbonation. The inch of head is light-tan, creamy and tight. It falls to a thin layer after about a minute, although can be easily refreshed with a swirl of the glass.

S - Chocolate, prune, dried fig, a little liquorice, some wine-like notes, toffee.

T - Initial flavour is of toffee/light molasses. The dried fruit appears in the middle with chocolate in the background. Finish is fairly sweet with a light tobacco flavour. Alcohol is well hidden.

M - Medium, mildly syrupy body and soft carbonation. Very pleasant.

D - A good offering. Lack of alcohol bite aids overall drinkability.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Fat, medium size bottle. No glued on label. Formed glass into the head of a cat. Kinda cool.
A dark brown, ruby pour. topped with a slight head, kind of soapy looking. Solid color, not bad.
Aroma is sweet. Raisin, plum other dark fruits. Almost too sweet. Like a wine, too much like a wine.
Taste follows nose. Plums, prunes, raisins, dark cherry. A bit slick, yet syrupy. Seems a bit broken down. Malts don't mesh well, hops are non-existant.
a bit hard to finish. Too sweet for me.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown 330ml bottle, best before Sept 2008, drank July 2007.

Poured into one of my Gordon Thistle glasses. Very dark brown/red with a well formed off-white head. The head stayed throughout the drink.

Aroma was sweet malts and plum bread.

Tangy, malty, old Sharaz wine flavour, very different from other Barley wines I have had over the years. Complexed and interesting.

A very good beer. By far the best beer I have had from the Robinson brewery.

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Photo of Stephen63
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Strong dark body with slightly thin head, needed to pour carefully to get a finger of foam.

S - Lovely aroma of plums and prunes, very enticing.

T - As above but almost caramel/toffee stickiness in pleasant way. Not too bitter, malty hops on the finish.

M - Good carbonation and full bodied.

D - Nice warming beer but more of a nightcap than anything. Very drinkable as a late night beer.

Would recommend this as a barley wine for those who have not tried the style.

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Photo of karst
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Clearity that suggests filtering in a deep garnet BW with light tan head.
Aromas of dark fruit and kettle caramelization with some notes of licorice and earthy hops.

Flavors of toffee and prunes woody Fuggles hop component mixed with nutty finish. Not as sweet as I would expect in an English BW. The price of good attenuation is found in the medium mouthfeel and thinner body that you expect in BW.

Alcohol well hidden in somewhat complex malt flavors. Interesting flavors help bring up the drinkability.

Presented to the 2007 BJCP class in St. Louis, MO. Thanks for sharing your beer knowledge.

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Photo of stcules
3.41/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A beautiful dark mahogany color. Brownish head, relatively abundant, compact and sticky, even if not too persistent. Good appearance.
The smell has good woody notes, with vanilla and raisins. A good dark maltiness in the background.
The wood note becomes softer in the taste. Not bad at all. Intersting and pleasant. Woody and vanilla. Even some chocolate.
In the aftertaste a good resolute bitterness. And again wood and vanilla notes.
More than plesant.
Good nightcup.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- aggressive pour into a duvel tulip producing a 3 finger tan head with a body so stealthy black it makes children cry for fear its a black hole about to suck them in. Head reduces very fast with very minimal lacing.

S- Very sweet raisins, cinnamon and roasted malt. Hints of marzipan

T- Sweet raisins, and marzipan,dary cherries with a nutty toffeey quality. Finish is rather smooth for 8.5% A little watery even. has a nice alcoholic warmth to it though, which warms through the taste and is not unpleasant.

M- medium carbonation, perhaps slightly more than i like for this level of alcohol. I prefer something a bit chewier for a old ale/barley wine style. this is maybe a bit thin when served from the fridge

D- Its an ok barley wine, but i would take a harviestoun old engine oil over this any day. Its just too thin for my tastes. Actually reminds me of a poor doppelbock

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Photo of GreenCard
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2nd review (bottle purchased at the same time as the one from my original review below)...

Appearance: dark brown to mahogany, good clarity, dense layer of tan foam that collapses to a creamy cap, specs of lace

Aroma: chocolate cake, root beer, malt, rye, roast, sherry

Flavor: mild malt sweetness with an acidic edge of roast; burnt almonds, unsweetened chocolate; woody hop flavor/bitterness; hint of sherry-like oxidation; finishes semisweet with an aftertaste of Armagnac and Kahlua

Mouthfeel: medium body, terse carbonation, alcohol warmth

Other comments: This sample was nearly a year old. Still seems quite fresh and hasn't changed much from the first review. I'll have to let the third bottle sit until beyond the best-by date (Jun 2007) to possibly see some more drastic changes.

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Photo of wl0307
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New packaging: a brownish 330ml bottle embossed with words Robinsons OLD TOM STRONG ALE, with a pix of OLD TOM Cat's face blinking with one eye~~ BBE MAR 07.

Served cool in a broad-rimmed goblet.
A: beautifully clear dark ruby hue, coming with a thick and foamy light beige beer head, gradually settling to a thin layer of froth sustaining constantly on top.
S: deep scent of caramel malts bringing mixed aroma of mildly preserved figs, sweet plums, dried black dates, preserved black cherries, a little licorice syrup and a touch of coconut, with good backbone of treacles/burned sugars and fruity hops; each swirling bring out more perfumy scent of fruity esters and creamy note... so smooth and quietly pleasant~~
T&M: slightly fizzy on texture upfront, followed by raisins, toffeeish malts with a not-so-sweet treacles-edge, coming hand in hand with moderate alcoholic warmth creeping down the palate... the mid-flavour sees a flow of bitter-sweetness and mildly spicy hops developing quietly, lending some depth to the smooth, dark-fruity vinous texture of a forteified wine (maybe tawny port?) and an underlying herbal-syrupy maltiness at the back of the palate. Surprisingly clean and moderately-lingering bitter finish, without the slightest trace of sugary or syrupy aftertaste while the alcohol hides just too well underneath.
D: compared with my previous note of this beer on draught, it seems that the bottled version shows less alcoholic warmth and also less explicit fruity elements but better-balanced... Slightly lighter-bodied than expected, this beer just punches above its weight and makes a really smooth yet complex digestive instead of a glass of port to round off my X'mas celebration~~ Wonder how it'd taste if bottle-conditioned?

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Photo of mdagnew
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle bought from Sainsburys

Poured a dark ruby / mahogany colour... Head was creamy tan and poured very big and foamy. Fades to a very thin layer...

Aroma - Dark fruits - blackcurrent, figs ? Brown sugar, light roast malt, some banana, caramel....

Taste – Raisins, warming alcohol notes, slight aniseed, light maltiness, some nuttiness...

Feel - Quite sharp initially but smooth after.. Quite light bodied - i expected it to be much fuller...

Overall - A pretty good beer.... Worth a try... Not quite as good as i was expecting though....

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Old Tom from Frederic Robinson Limited
3.75 out of 5 based on 175 ratings.
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