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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: 122 | Ratings: 241
Photo of Dotcubed
4.6/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got hooked by the name, sold on the medal they claim to have won at the world beer championship.

Tawny color. Looks like it needs to be in a British pub
Chestnut brown, some fuzz of foam.

Toffee smell. Reminds me of a cask ale. Smooth, malt, heavy toast. Really pleased I warmed it up on the coffee table for 30 min before I opened it.

This is what I'd want for a session beer. Except there is more sweetness than I'd want. The mouthfeel is good for the style, but a little watery finish. Still better than most.

Very drinkable. Well made. But no telling how old the bottle is.

Needs label date codes.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle from a Xmas gift sampler of Maine brews from my friend Joe. Brew #01546, with "4" embossed on the bottom of the bottle. Thanks!

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/4" beige head above the reddish brown brew. Head is quite frothy, and recedes very slowly, with heavy, foamy lacing. Aroma is well-balanced, with brown malts and crisp hoppiness apparent. Taste is hearty grain hulls, with some light hops character, and finishes with a slight aftertaste that reminds me of sunflower seeds. Odd, but I like it. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and drinkability is superb. This I would search out in Maine, for sure.

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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 RBorsato
4.5/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Solid brown color with a nice beige head, good carbonation, and spotty lace. Nice balanced roasty, nutty, chocolate aroma and flavor. A fairly robust Brown Ale. Medium bodied with a roasty dry finish; also has a light smooth creaminess...

Would love to have again !

Brew # 01512 ('03' emb on bottom)
Tasted: 11/06/04

(22 oz.)

(Mike Ryan)

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.42/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brown ale is a find. Pours a dark brown with a creamy tan head that lasts till the end and laces on the way down. Taste is spicy with subtle roasted grain and bready flavors. Hops are rounded and in the background but contribute to the balance and drinkability. With a smooth medium bodied mouthfeel and crisp well defined flavors this is one fine brown ale.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.39/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Up to a strong light its browned ruby with a husky glow and dimmly clear in body. Solid dark leathery brown in the shadows. Perfect capping of light sandy brown, firmly set foam grows to just over an inch high and sinks slowly to keep an always plumply present amount. Adequate lacing in gooey-like patches and thick stringy globs stick across the glass. Eventually, a bunch of big spots remain. A very nice looking brown.

Aroma is slight and fair with a clean present essense of cocoa dusted graham crackers and a sliding caramel noting.

Taste is solid. Fluffy, mild, milk chocolate with a slight undertoned sweet malt of caramel and a snappy firm body at the healm. Tiny little ascents of cherry, apple, and powdered cocoa make for nice plays along the way. The cocoa becomes quite evident as it finishes well with a very nice fluffy-like dryness of powdered sugar mixed with creamed milk. A mild yet steady pace of flavors make this a very pleasing drinker.

Feel is also solid. Firm, soft, creamy, subtle, with a slight snap of carbonation in the front half. Medium bodied overall, perhaps a nudge more when colder. As it warms it becomes even, calming, and super damn drinkable. A solid brown. A well done brew in a style that in most cases is a bit boring. This has lasting interest and flavor. Solid and sessionable.

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Photo of number1bum
4.38/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber purchased at the brewery earlier this summer pours a reddish brown with nice clarity and a soft, creamy beige head. Head recedes slowly and retains a nice lace, also leaving a little patchy stick on the sides of the glass.

Smell has a nice sweetness to it, with caramel malt primarily. Also a hint of hops and some nutty aroma.

Very pleasant, smooth and straightforward flavor. Caramel malt and grain mingle with a nice nutty flavor and a bit of chocolate to make this sweet but smooth and easy drinking.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and nicely creamy. This is a very drinkable brown ale (a drinkable style to begin with).

You're not going to find this outside of Maine, but if you see it in the state pick it up. It's quite good.

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Photo of jreitman
4.35/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thunder Hole is a spot on the ocean, near the brewery, where waves crash against the shore and create a thunder sound. It truly is a site to behold. Thunder Hole Ale is a darn good brown ale. Mildy bitter, but a nice balance between the hops and malt character in the ale. Good brown color. Very easily drinkable.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.3/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I exspected the beer to come flying out of the bottle when I uncapped it, like it's namesake. Thank goodness it didn't. A nice brown clolor. The taste was semi-sweet and malty, with a hint of hops. Almost a porter, but not quite. This was quite a tasty beverage.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from purplehops courtesy of the Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color with a medium, foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, nuts, maple and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is very malty with a good amount of sweetness and flavors of caramel, nuts and maple. There’s a mild hops presence that comes in and provides a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky but clean for the style.

D: Pretty tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice beer that you can drink for a whole evening, especially if you’re not in the mood for something hoppy but don’t want something as heavy as a stout. Overall, this is a very good beer and one of the best brown ales that I've had.

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Photo of Truh
4.25/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got hit by a big plume of spray with this one on 3/14/2005. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

Gaseous, full-throttle high hat of head that settles to a filtered skin of off-white shine. Medium brown hue with a touch of ruby to the whole proceedings; mostly clear with a great amount of continuous action. Molasses shot up the nose of malty sweetness with a touch of smokiness and root beer barrel candy. Light oak char on mouth with a pleasant, even malt profile and understated hop character. Not overly sweet or buttery on the mouth like many other browns. Perfectly balanced.

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Photo of orfeu
4.18/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Labeled "Brew #01910," 22-ounce bottle carried back from the brewery a few weeks ago by a good friend who knows my passion for craft beer. Sitting in a nonic, this ale is a lovely garnet-brown with a slightly noisy, substantial, smooth and clumpy light-sand head. Looks perfect to me. Nutty toasty aromas abound, along with some "summer fruit" esters that smell like melon, plum juice, and red grape skins. Some leafy herbal hop notes come through as well but only in a very gentle way. Hoppier flavor than I expected. It's bitter, but not in an American fashion by any means. These hops are grassy, herbal, slightly spicy, and tea-like. There is also a solid nutty malt base here, drier and more acrid than it is bready. Some soft fruit flavors (see aroma description above) are also noticeable. Very subtle mineral bite at the finish. Bright yet sturdy mouthfeel, nothing too filling but a bit heftier than I'd expect at only 4.8% abv. Smooth and dry overall with a slight peppery business at the finish. A very respectable drinker here. Not as outstanding and complex as their stout nor as special as their dark mild ale, but a fine, tasty, sessionable ale. Recommended.

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Photo of jwc215
4.17/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours rubyish brown with a thin off-white creamy head that lasts. Trailing lacing sticks.

The smell is of roasted nuts, toffee/nougat, with earthy notes.

The taste with sweet chocolate, hazelnuts/ walnuts, roast, and earthy tones balance the sweetness. Finishes with fruity tones - mild, but could be milder. Sour touch in the finish, especially as it warms/progresses.

It is medium-to-full bodied. Velvety, Nice roasty character lingers.

Complex - nutty, roasty, toffeeish - a tad too fruity as it progresses. Still-in-all a great brown with a sour touch.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.15/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of many ME brews that I purchased during a recent visit to the state. I am sampling at room temp and poured into a pint glass. THe beer purs a deep mahogany color with some deep ruby highlights. A soft fluffy beige head foams up and recedes slowly to a sturdy surface layer. First sip reveals an average body and slightly creamy texture. Mild rolling carbonation caresses my palate. Flavor is predominantly sweet malt, with caramel, toffee some chocolate powder and even a little bit of almond and dark fruit (plum) lingering in background. These last two flavors are very mild. Overally the brew is very smooth easy drinker with no hop presence to speak of. Quite a nice beer.

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Photo of brdc
4.15/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to cookin420 for this one.
Large capped bottle poured into a pint.

Reddish brown, with a good lightly tan head, good retention and lacing.
Caramel notes predominate on the nose, but floral hops, more than expected, are clearly noticeable, along with a faint earthiness. Interesting.
Medium bodied, quite velvety for such low alcohol, it is well balanced with waves of sweet caramel and even toffee, bitter hoppiness to keep it interesting, and even some earthiness and spiciness.
Not your typical brown ale, but on its own way, interesting and very well done. One of the most interesting beers I found in a solid, but usually not interesting style- even if it does not conform to the style att that well.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New 12 Ouncer:
Pours a very dark, almost opaque brown with hints of ruby redness. The head is about a finger's width in thickness and dies down rather quickly leaving some oily foam on top with and a ring around the color of the glass. Something else I notice is the amount of carbonation bubbling up from the dark depths.

Smell is sweet caramel and burnt sugar, dark rich maltiness and some roasted coffee. There is also a hint of smokiness like burning wood. Pretty good smelling beer.

Taste is sweet dark malts with a dry astringent aftertaste and lots of bubbles on the tongue. The coffee notes come out quite strong after a few more sips. The roasty smoky taste is a lot weaker than the smell might let on. One thing that I notice with this one is a syrupy after taste that is a bit cloying. Not sure how to describe it, kind of like a diet soda aftertaste or something.

Not as good as the old bombers (see below):

Old Bomber:
Pours a nice deep brown with a large fluffy tight head. Smells sweet, malty with small hints of hops. This just smells like a solid beer. Actually all of the Bar Harbor Brewing Co. beers that I've had have been solid. I really need to get up there and pay a visit. I know the brewery was just sold, hopefully that won't affect the character and integrity of their beers.

First sip is a flood of malty sweetness with a bit of hoppiness and a sugary sweet finish. This is a really enjoyable brown ale. I really like the smoothness of this beer and the fact that is a full bodied brown and not at all watery and free of that sharp astringency that some browns have in the finish. Definitely the type of beer I could get comfortable with. Too bad it doesn't come in six packs! (i should not have said that)

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Photo of Phatz
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It is sort of a terrible name but here is the break down:

Appearance: Pours a garnet chestnut brown color that is hazy but does let some light show through.

Smell: The aroma is a bit small but there is hints of grassy hops with along with the malts.

Taste: Smooth and malty, brown sugar flavor. Typical brown ale taste. Easy and pleasant. I like the aftertaste. It has just the right amount of grassy hop flavor balancing nicely, with the beautiful sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth.

Drinkability: As a fan of Brown Ales I find this to be a typical easy drinking, approachable (small) Brown Ale.

Hope this is helpful.

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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 donkeyrunner
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

T'were my beer I call it Brown Thunder Hole...

Anyway, dark chestnut color with a pillowy beige head. Decent retention leaves a few lacey smudges. Looks like a brown ale.

Aroma is hickory and nuts--but sweet like nut toffee. Dry leaf earthiness and light cocoa powder.

Nutty with a toffee sweet compliment. Dark chocolate depth that doesn't really manifest until the end. Hops give an otherwise watery mouthfeel (not terrible considering the style) a prickly liveliness.

While Allagash seems to be slipping and Shipyard was never appealing, Mainers keep me intrigued with their lesser known breweries like Bar Harbor, Freeport, and now Marshall Wharf. Cheers to Maine.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks erik

majestic head.. even and tight with random big bubbles. orange and red shines through the predominantly hazy brown body. looks like a substantial brown, just what i want my EBA to look like.

smell and flavor carry a creamy almond nuttiness with a light spicing of green euro hops. fresh toasted botanical flavor layered into charred malts with appealing bitterness. finishes with hints of fresh cut grass. dry and crisp overall, slightly fizzy and very drinkable. pretty much a perfect brown save the bubbles.

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Photo of cretemixer
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with red highlights. Mocha colored head, frothy & thick. It settles at about 1/4 " solid layer. Nice.
Aromas of bittersweet chocolate, toffee. Slightly bready with a light, floral hop note.
The taste is sweet, creamy and malty. Chocolate & toffee dominate the flavor. A very mild hop bitterness comes into play mid-glass and hangs on till the end.
Medium-full body with prickling carbonation. Wonderfully drinkable.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep chestnut brown, a vigorous pour generating a thick froth of light khaki foam. The head dissipates into a thick film, bordered by a strong collar that keeps throughout the glass. Good clarity, shining an orangey brown when backlit. Sticky, cobwebby lace clings admirably.
The aroma is soft and mellow, with a slightly chocolatey caramel maltiness. Faint estery apple and some floral notes, with a subdued, english styled earthy/herbal hopping. Very pleasant, in the vein of northern english brown ales. Floral esters comes out more as it warms.
The flavor starts with an excellent toasty caramel maltiness. A hint of chocolate rides throughout, blending with a soft estery floral and apple maintaining into the finish. Mild, subtle floral and herbal hopping balances excellently, adding just a whisp of bitterness. A touch of nuttiness right in the end, mildly dry, leading into a nutty, malty aftertaste. Moderate, natural carbonation, just a bit too much for my tastes, supporting a lightish medium body and a smooth, well blended mouthfeel.
A very pleasant brown ale, in a distinctly british style. Soft and mild, with a very drinkable appeal that would make for several enjoyable pints. Flavorful, with pleasant goldings flavor when you burp. Another superb beer from Bar Harbor.

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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 waughbrew
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

[brew # 01746 purchased in February at Downeast Bev. Co.]

A nice brownish red with black lowlights, small fizzy unretentive no-lace head. Very aromatic malts with some good chocolate, faint coffee with actually a little rubbing alcohol(! there is a surprise for a 4.8 beer!) and band-aid. Very nutty too, leading to a cool, complex nose. Flavor is earthy dates with a little fig and grain, but overall pretty mellow. Finish is morphing, complex cold coffee, graininess, and earthy bitterness. Even with a proper pour, the feel is a little sizzly at first and a little dead after that. I prefered it dead, but I would rather not have to choose between those two.

Despite the poor look and feel, this is one nice drinking brew. I like it more than the numbers will show, and I would be pleased to have it often. Cheers Bar Harbor Brewing Co.!

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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 241 ratings.
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