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 kingcrowing
2.48/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber poured into a schlitz mug.

Pours a slighty ruby deep brown color with not much head at all, totally acceptable for the style. Nose is like vomit! It's gross!

Taste luckily is nothng like vomit which is good, but it's still not too great. Lots of nutty malt, caramel and sweet molases dominate. Light carbonation and a thin body lead to a dull mouthfeel. Ok beer but not fantastic.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
2.7/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours dark brown, bit of a tan head.

Aroma is a bit roasty and just a tad nutty.

Taste is a bit of roasty malt, a bit nutty. Finish is just a bit nutty, maybe the tiniest hint of cocoa, watery. Not much of anything really.

Mouthfeel is kind of thin, watery, carbonation seems just a bit off, comes close to dominating the flavor.

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Photo of smcolw
2.88/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours like Coca Cola in every way--Large bubbles that die to a flat surface. There's even soda-like bubbles on the side of the glass. The only thing missing is the ice. Color looks like water with caramel coloring.

Darker malt aroma. Some metallic elements

Very spritzy. The body, in a word, is thin. This is distracting. The flavor cannot make up the difference. Darker malt (perhaps darker crystal). Mid-taste the metal shows up. Nearly no hop...the aftertaste dies quickly.

The bottle features a World Beer Championship Gold Medal. I don't see it.

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Photo of jsanford
2.98/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a clear, dark amber-brown with a fluffy, khaki-colored head that never fully dissipates.
S - Pretty mellow and subdued aromas of toasted caramel malt, baked brown bread, and brown sugar.
T - More slightly roasted toffee and caramel flavors from the malt, along with a bit of brown sugar and roasted nuts. No real noticeable hop flavors, but there is a slight copper-penny oxidized flavor that's making me think this is an old bottle.
M - Medium-thin bodied with a slightly watery consistency and sharp carbonation.
O - This could be a nice, sessionable English Brown Ale if it was a fresh bottle. As is it's a bit bland and watery, with a oxidized flavor that ruins it. If only more breweries dated their bottles, this might not have happened. Sigh.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not bad, but not awesome. Pour was a medium dark amber, pretty clear, big frothy head died down, but it has taken it a long time. I've had this beer in the glass for well over an hour, and there's no foam or froth left (no lace whatsoever), I can hear the bubbles popping as they still come up in the glass. Aroma is slightly toffee-like, with some roasted coffee-type notes. The taste is where things start to be less than they should...I find the mouthfeel thin, almost watery, and there's some metallic notes as well. There's some maltiness to be found, but also an overabundance of small tight carbonation that wraps itself around your tongue. There's also something a bit off in the finish...a bit of hop bitterness, but something else I can't put my finger on that makes this just an average micro. Maybe some kind of peanut or other nut note that just seems off. Not bad, just off.

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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 jdhilt
3.06/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light tan, three finger head, fades slowly and leaves a good lace. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Deep, clear amber color. Nose is nuts and coffee. Starts slightly malty, hints of burnt coffee, finish is smooth but a touch of bitterness. $3.99 for a 22oz bottle from Otter Creek Market Otter Creek, Me.

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Photo of mobud
3.15/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into nonic pint glass.

A- A dark caramel brown with an active head that remains thru the sample.

S- Very malty with some fruit salad notes.

T- Not as sweet as expected from the smell, but nice level brown ale taste with some roasted malts and a slight sweetness that balances it out.

M- Very light.

D- This beer was very drinkable to me. I think they only do bombers and you have to get them in Maine, so this was a nice beer to try that I will never see again.

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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 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 FtownThrowDown
3.2/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark mahogany brown, with a wisp of frothy head around the rim.
Smell is very heavy on roasted barley. Taste is more the same. This is a good, basic, all around brown. Easy drinking and smooth. A well put together beer. Very sessionable, but not impressionable.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.22/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 22oz bottle. The beer was a light to medium brown color with a small head that quickly disappeared. It had a caramel, nutty aroma. The taste was a little nondescript. It was mostly sweet, with some coffee/chocolate undertones. A mild beer, and a little thin.

 260 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.23/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium brown with a slight haze. Small bit of light brown, reddish head that remained for quite a little while. Grassy hop aroma with chocolate malt followed by a bit of caramel. This follows through into the flavour, along with acidity and a light bitterness. Short finish. Coarse, high carbonation with a dry, grainy texture. Overall, not bad but a little lacking. Thanks Viggo.

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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 gueuzeonhigh
3.31/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours and looks like a light brown ale.
Creates an enduring head
Light nose of mild malt and some fruity wisps.

The flavor is rather light-- lighter than I'd expect
from an ale. I'd almost be tempted to claim that
this beer isn't an ale.

Given the look of the pour, I found the initial flavor is
somewhat of a let down-- I expected a more
aggressive more prominent ale flavor. More hops
more of everything.

Regardless this is a fine but not remarkable beer
that's likely another in the "thirst quencher"

I've tasted less admirable brews-- still I wouldn't
go out of my way to acquire this beer.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heard from a friend that this brew was good. I will judge for myself. 12 oz bottle best enjoyed by November 2010...

A: Ruby red with dark brown highlights. Crystal clear with a 1 inch white head that quicly fades to a lace atop the brew. Good.

S: I get malty banana with some sugary breadiness and some some dark fruit on the backend. Ok.

T: Very watery maltiness with a very faint hint of breadiness and dark fruit. Ok.

M: Medium body with a decent carbonation. Decent.

D: This one goes down very easy, like water. Like a flavored water. Ok to try if you have nothing better to drink. Not worth hunting at all

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Burnt orange infused with brick red, which is pretty standard for a brown ale. A generous amount of carbonation has created, and is sustaining, an airy ecru cap that was at least four fingers at its apex. The foam is barely tacky enough to deposit small splotches of bubble-bath like lace on the upper portion of the glass.

The aroma is par for the brown ale course as well. It's toasted brown bread malty, with a handful of baked nuts and almost no hoppiness. Unfortunately, there isn't much to go on. More power and more depth/complexity wouldn't hurt.

Thunder Hole Ale is a slightly above average English brown. The mouthfeel is a little light and the carbonation is too busy, making me wonder if this bomber is a bit on the old side. On the other hand, it could be a less than perfect batch... or it could be exactly as the folks at Bar Harbor intended. Hard to say.

The cocoa-like brown maltiness is dry-brittle more than sweet-sticky. There's the same toasted pecan nuttiness that is appreciated in the nose, as well as a spicy hoppiness that adds another (much needed) dimension. Properly carbonated, this might be a pretty tasty brown.

The mouthfeel is the obvious chink in the armor. THA is too light, even at 4.8%, and is still buzzy more than 10 minutes after the initial pour. It tastes and feels like a few ounces of tonic water were added prior to bottling.

It's always a danger signal when a brewery brags about a World Beer Championship gold medal that was earned more than a decade in the past (1997 in this case). Something a little more recent would be much more meaningful. In the end, Thunder Hole Ale doesn't make the grade, although I still have the nagging feeling that this isn't a representative bottle.

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Photo of JRed
3.35/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in body.Slight roast, chocolate, alcohol,malt in the nose. Weak chocolate, hops, malt, spices in flavor. Medium bodied brew with weak flavors that don't stand out too well. It's a very subtle English brown, the only thing that stands out to me are the sweets which can be quite annoying toward the end of the drink.

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Photo of marc77
3.36/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tawny garnet hue, with excellent clarity. Thick, airy tan head leaves frothy, bearded lace. Pronounced, mildly roasty, dark lovibond caramel malt upfront in aroma tapers to allow subtle notes of sweet, buttered biscuit and perfume - like floral hops to surface in earnest. Brusque snap of roasted grain bitterness in flavor mellows quickly and yields to a dulcet combination of nutty malt and carob. Malt sweetness augments in character, and becomes the forefront mid palate, and is predominantly honeyish, with a faint, burnt toffee undertone. After a long deliberation, paltry hop bitterness emerges and manages to offset the sweet malt presence sufficiently to prevent it from becoming cloying. Vapid, but perceptibly leafy, fresh tobacco like hop flavor. Thinnish in mouthfeel and well attenuated, but appropriately so as to faciliate easy quaffability. Finishes cleanly sweet, with fleeting hints of cola and cracker. Thunder Hole is an enjoyable brew intermediate in overall character between an American and English Brown ale. It has the malt sweetness of an English, but the clean, esterless character of an American yeast strain. Nothing inherently outstanding here, but that seems to be the intention. Thanks to Bennybrew for the delivery from Maine!

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Photo of jjboesen
3.36/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My sample is from a 22-ounce bottle purchased about a month ago during a trip to Portland - it may not be as fresh as other samplings. A dark, ruby red color, Thunder Hole (great name) opens with a thick head that dissopates very quickly - too quickly, actually - into a thin transparent layer, leaving no lacing. There is a mild nuttiness, but nothing comparable to previous reviews. Still a quaffable beverage; wish I had others from this brewery with which to compare.

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Photo of PCmofo
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Beer is a rich brown color but still surprisingly clear with only a small amount of haze.
S- It has a subtle caramel/mocha smell to it that is not overpowering.
T- This beer is full of flavor and has a wonderful coffee/caramel taste to it with a slightly bitter hops finish
M- Mouthfeel is thinner than a guinness but not by much.
D- I think this beer comes in the 1pt 6oz bottle for a reason.... you probably only want to have one. Its a solid beer but I dont think I could drink more than a bottle or 2 of it.

Over all a great beer but not my favorite flavor.

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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 deltatauhobbit
3.41/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Original 22oz bomber

Pours a copper color with a large sized head, fades slowly with patchy lacing and a decent cap.

Smell is malty and pretty one-sided.

Taste is crisp although it has a bit too much carbonation, malty with a weird sourness, doesn't really work with this brown ale.

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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 geexploitation
3.47/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, nutty brown with a head that is initially huge before fading to a thin layer and a collar. Aromas of caramel malts, some drying English style hops and smooth, residually sweet notes (think old molasses) that round things out but keep things suitably low-key. On the palate, bitter first off, with lots of carbonation that fills the mouth. Bright, hoppier bitterness comes through at the mid-palate, along with some chocolatey malt flavors. Mouthfeel is overcarbonated and a tad light on the malts. Overall, this is a decent brown ale, but nothing to get too excited about.

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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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