Thunder Hole Ale | Bar Harbor Brewing Company

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Thunder Hole AleThunder Hole Ale

Brewed by:
Bar Harbor Brewing Company
Maine, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Delicious. Full-bodied. Complex. Sure, you can say all those things. Wouldn't it be a lot more fun to take a sip of this handcrafted brown ale and come up with your own superlatives? This is the brown ale that beat Newcastle, Sam Adams and more, at the World Beer Championships in Chicago.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-10-2002

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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 243
Photo of MacMalt
3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

No date on bottle. Poured into pint glass. It pours a color between orange and cola, with a thin, ecru-colored head and lacing. It smells of roasted malt, cherry, caramel, and faint chocolate. The taste features nutty malt, subdued caramel, and hints of chocolate and cherry. It finishes somewhat sour and with a slight hoppy bitterness. I disagree with the description of "full-bodied." I found it to be rather thin, but easily drinkable at 4.8% ABV. Overall, nothing really stands out to me. I cannot discern the age of the bottle and it may have fallen off it bit.

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Photo of argock
3.57/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a clear glass mug. Best by 01/21/17 smudged on the bottle neck.

A: Burnished chestnut with 2-finger light beige frothy head with good retention and respectable lace.

S: Medium caramel notes, light coffee and chocolate notes with a soft herbal hops note in the finish. Yeast esters are lightly fruity.

T: Very similar to the aroma profile with soft light and medium caramel notes blended with espresso and milk chocolate flavors finished with lightly bitter herbal hop note. Yeast esters are light adding a little fruity complexity. No alcohol detectable.

M: Smooth and light bodied with relatively low carbonation.

O: Enjoyable but not overly challenging brown ale -- nice sessionable offering nonetheless.

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Photo of chicagoish
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A- Pours nice clear nut brown, topped with thin head and no lace.

S- Light sweet. Mild.

T- Similar to nose. Starts with a slightly sweet malt taste.

M- A bit thin and watery. Decent mild carbonation.

O-. Pretty nice offering . Easy to drink. Smooth

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown hue with great clarity. Massive rocky beige head despite a slow pour. Probably an inch thick. After a couple of minutes it fades to a quarter inch. Aroma of dark malt and chestnut. Flavor of dark malt and caramel is prominent. The mouth is smooth and dry.

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Photo of gonzo000
3.31/5  rDev -11%

This beer is above average. Molasses rules the day for me, a taste not usually associated with a brown. Head was HUGE - 4 fingers on the pour. Too much carbonation. The head settles to a .5 finger head of thicker foam that lasts. The finish of this beer is not great.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.71/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thunder Hole; a questionable name for a beer.

Pours out a deep reddish-brown. Glazing microsuds cloud the top. There doesn't seem to be a whole lotta carbonation in this sucker.

Malty brown ale nuttiness with some appealing bitter relief. Not far estranged from flavors of light roast coffee and English toffee. A little tea-like with an earthiness that has good character. I like this aroma.

Ooh, great flavor! Earthy roast, toffee malts, light roast coffee, chicory root, Earl Grey tea, and a finishing minerality. Very easy to drink, and appropriately tasty. Maybe, exceedingly tasty for an American Brown. Mouthfeel lacks from a blandness of low levels of carbonation and a wet medium body. Zapped. Needs some chew or some foam to cut through. Otherwise, a brown ale that is more than trustworthy. I would go to this.

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Photo of metter98
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: When held up to a light, the beer is clear very dark garnet red in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high light beige head that died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles in the center of the glass and a collar around the edge.
S: Moderate aromas of nutty malts are present in the nose.
T: Much like the smell, the taste is very nutty and has underlying hints of toffee malts. Neither sweetness nor bitterness is perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I really enjoyed this beer as it was filled with flavors of nutty malts but was very easy to drink and sessionable. This would make for a nice accompaniment to a burger if you are looking to pair it with a meal.

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Photo of beergoot
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown body with a thick yet quickly dissipating head that leaves a sparse swirl of foam on top. Roasted grains and nuts in the aroma; a bit of dark chocolate. Taste follows the nose along with a twinge of hop bitterness that builds and lingers at the end. Medium bodied, smooth finish.

Lacing still appeared on the glass despite looking pretty weak and thin. But the aroma and taste really pull this one up. There is a lot of caramel and semi-sweet chocolate notes in this one. Pretty good job of presenting the malt highlights.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.49/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark, mahogany coloring that is vibrant under light, with a frothy, light, off-white head that quickly settles into a sparse coating. Aromas of rich nutty sweetness, with hints of hazelnut and almond. Very sweet on the nose. Flavors are rich and sweet on a light, crisp body. Nut sweetness is cut by the beer's body, and the roastiness is all that carries over into the aftertaste. Flavors fall off a bit, and there is a semisweet, slightly watery finish to the brew.

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Photo of sommersb
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 08-10-2012
Freshness: Best by 12-2012
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle, twist-cap
Glassware: Schooner
Purchased: Received in a trade

Clear, reddish-amber color, with a tan head of 2 fingers. Lacing and head retention are good.

Smells are of caramel, roasted malts and some nutty aroma.

Tastes include caramel malts, and woody/earth hops. More malty sweet than hoppy bitter.

Mouthfeel has a high amount of carbonation and a finish that is balanced well between dry and sweet.

Overall a very good brown ale, my favorite so far from Bar Harbor.

Thanks to Greg for this one!

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Color is a bit light for a brown ale, deep amber red with a 1/2 inch of frothy head.

S - Smell of English and brown malts, a twang of hops, and a bit of toffee.

T - Actually quite good for a hop forward brown. English malts and toffee take the show with bittering herbal hops in the finish. Not too complex but it works.

M - Light to medium would guess it was around 5 or more but the ABV screams session.

Overall the only draw back here is the price since Pittsburgh doesn't distribute these guys I found the single for $3.50 at the House of 1,000. It was good but not over 3 bucks a pop good.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Clear, deep persimmon body under a finger of frothy off-white head that settles slowly into a ring and leaves some spotty lace. Lovely color.

S: Nutty, roasty, and hoppy. Very herbal in terms of hops, but the roundly dark malts take center stage. Nice.

T: Soft, bittersweet roasted malts. Dark fruit, nuttiness, and a hint of chocolate. Herbal hops lend some balance and mild bitterness on the finish. Tasty.

M: Medium body, highly frothy carbonation. A bit much, but still pleasant.

O: Really pleasant beer. Not a style I really like, but this one is totally enjoyable.


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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.19/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Darker reddish brown with a thin off white head.

Smell: Malts and nutty.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of toasted malts and nuts.

Overall: This is an ok Brown Ale. I am not personally a fan of Browns but I enjoy this one.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass:

A: dark brown colored body that yields a foamy creamy head that leaves a decent ringy lacing. The head is small and dissipates within several seconds.

S: malts with just a tad of coffee. Some toffee presents itself as well as the beer warms.

T: malts again, with just a bit of the coffee and toffee.

M: light, leaning on the watery side.

O: I like this beer. It may not be one of the best "browns," but it still does the trick.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look who showed up in Pittsburgh, two beers from Bar Harbor...Thunder Hole Ale, and Cadillac Mountain Stout. This appears a dark crimson amber color, quite clear when held toward the light. Aroma has some roasted malt qualities that bring out a touch of caramelized sugars...these beers are crazy drinkable across the board. Flavor wise minimal balanced sweetness peaks across an earthy English ale type of a brown ale with complex malt flavors and herbal earthy hops. As it warms you get more subdued malt character, these guys know how to ferment out the residual sugars not cloying bone in this beers body, it's amazing. Mellow natural carbonation on the mouthfeel in a medium bodied brown ale, I can't tell you to go out and try these beers enough. Overall high quality artisitic masterful brewers that know their art and have been at the game for a long time. I'm happy to see some of it distributed outside of New England, down here in the Burgh.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours an exceptionally clear reddish brown, topped with a 1/2 finger off white head. Next to no lacing at all.

S- Initially slightly sweet malt followed by a somewhat mineral water scent.

T- Similar to nose. Starts with a slightly sweet malt taste, finishing almost metallic.

M- A bit thin and watery. Decent carbonation.

O- Nothing bad, but nothing all that memorable. Just o.k. Easy to drink.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.16/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I used to vacation at Thunder Hole when I was a kid so my dad bought me this bottle for sentimental value. Turns out to be a very typical brown, nothing particularly noteworthy, drinkable and slightly above average. Brown with reddish highlights, good sized head. Retention and lacing both solid. Mild malty, bready aroma with a faint mineral note.

Taste follows the nose; mostly bready malt and a subdued floral hoppiness on the finish. Lesser aspects of roast, nuts, light sweetness. Again, the mineral/metallic note is in there and not particularly appealing. Body was medium to a little thin, with fairly high carbonation. Dry finish. Felt a little prickly. I would have liked a smoother overall mouthfeel.

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Photo of ckollias
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours an amber-brown hue with a huge, 4-finger, tan head that slowly dissipates into a solid persistent lace.

S: Strong malty hoppy aroma. Hint of toasted malt in the background.

T: Smooth malty nut brown flavor which is an equal part sweet and bitter.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: This is a solid nut brown ale. Very smooth and tasty.

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Photo of far333
3.03/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Hazey chestnut with an oatmeal colored head that rises u an inch high and settles out quickly. Low aroma of sweetish toasted malt. Flavor of half cooked chestnut, toasted malt, hint of mushroom. Mild bitterness, no hop flavors noted. Full and creamy mouthfeel, very round and rich. Overall below average. Pretty one dimensional, not very complex.

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Photo of speter
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep ruddy brown with a two-finger tan head in the style of a southern English ale. Moderate lacing.

S: Toffee and brown sugar dominate the nose. There's hints of light-roast Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee and a bit of cinnamon.

T: Toasted walnuts and pecans with a light sprinkling of Dutch cocoa. Overall, not very complex, but refreshing. There is an American, rather than an English, feel to the aftertaste, which is quite bitter, which plays up the walnut characteristics of the beer.

M: Well done in the southern English style. The body is light and the carbonation is restrained.

O: This is a very nice Anglo-American Brown Ale. You could well view it as a premium version of more well-known brands like Newcastle.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep reddish brown with a small off white head, a bit hazy. No lacing.

S - A bit of malt and a very faint hint of spices - like xmas cookies that had been cooked in the house hours ago. Mild, but nice

T - Brown malt flavors, a bit of peat and forest floor. The aftertaste is a mild mossy bitterness.

M - Rich is the best word I can think of. Its medium to thin bodied, but creamy somehow. Pretty refreshing.

D - I generally am not a huge fan of brown ales; I find them bland and dull. This one stands out though. It's flavor is true to the style - not overly rich, it speaks softly, but carries a big stick. One of the best browns I've seen.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a nice brown color with a light tan head on top. The lacing was pretty good with a decent retention also. The smell of the beer was a little sweet was a light roasty nutty aroma to it. The taste of the beer was also on the sweeter roasted side. The mouthfeel was pretty normal in my opinion. Overall I think this beer was decent. Nothing too exciting but it was drinkable.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.42/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours a clear cola brown with two fingers of light khaki head. It settles leaving a bit of soapy lace.

Brown sugar and a bit of mollasses on the aroma with a lingering nutty aroma. The pallet is a bit boring. Nothing offensive here but a light walnut flavor with not much else.

Kind of a light body here with lively carbonation. Overall this isn't bad but it really istn' anything special either. One of the more boring browns that I've had.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a curvy pint glass. This pours with a large 2 inch head and there is a ton of lacing. The body is clear amber. This looks great.

The aroma is full of bread crust and a bit of hazelnut. Maybe some mild chocolate as well.

The taste is slightly sweet with an emphasis on malted cocoa and nuts.

This is very drinkable as it's light enough and goes down easy.

This isn't too strong, but the subtle flavors hit in all the right places. Recommended.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once again, the Great Lost Bear comes to the rescue.

Nice pour. Medium/dark brown, looks rich and clean. Light off-brown head. Lacing is good

Aroma is....brown. Nutty, earthy, some caramel and apple

Same same. Brown. It's a subtle flavor, nothing powerful or overwhelming. A bit light in the middle. Nutty, sweet caramel, earthy apples. Unassuming and pleasant. Light carbonation crisps it up a bit.

Would love to see this on cask...but I'm in Denver, so....

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Thunder Hole Ale from Bar Harbor Brewing Company
3.72 out of 5 based on 243 ratings.
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