Thunder Hole Ale | Bar Harbor Brewing Company

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122 Reviews
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Thunder Hole AleThunder Hole Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bar Harbor Brewing Company
Maine, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
122
Ratings:
239
Avg:
3.72
pDev:
16.13%
 
 
Wants:
10
Gots:
16
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 122 | Ratings: 239
Photo of jlindros
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in a fun trade with rheisler. Thanks Ryan.

A: Poured a pretty light frothy head that fades quickly. A semi dark raisin brown color with a slight reddish hue that is surprisingly clear for how dark colored it is. Perhaps this isn't a beer that should be filtered.

N: Some light toasty malts, sweet sugar, almost a light brown sugar, some light crisp ale aromas (perhaps this wasn't filtered but they did a good job of dropping the yeast out and giving a good crisp aroma). A slight earthy aroma, and that's about it.

T: Starts semi sweet and wants to be creamy, but not really. I get some nice roasted malt flavor and some darker caramel malts, as well as some light flavors of dark fruit, semi reminiscent of a light porter. Some light brown sugar comes through as well with hints of toasted malt flavor. A slight bitterness and touch of spicy hops, but not really that hoppy. A touch of chocolate malt too towards the end.

M: Medium body with a touch of spicy tingly feeling, and lower carbonation.

F: Finishes a pretty dry and slightly bitter. It's still somewhat crisp and refreshing, but has more of those lingering porter like tastes and slight brown sugar. Otherwise the tastes seem to disappear pretty well, so they did a pretty good job to finish crisp and ready for more drinkin. A good session beer.

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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 PiratePete
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm an SOB or ESB kinda guy but I do like Browns. Usually with a little more oomph! But after three - not all at once - I began to just plain like the thing. It is a nice drinking ale. A very small head but a earthy taste. Not a strong smell but there was a hint of things roasted/toasted like malts and hops and a bit of chocolate. Light nuts in the aftertaste.

What struck me about it was with the three remaining I took them to a firend's place. Neither of the two guys there like brouns or stouts etc. but they weere willing to try a Thunder Hole. They liked it! Maybe, it is a good starter for those who have never explored.

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Photo of berley31
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Served with a spare-sized, off-white head. Body is clear with a touch of haziness, and a dark-brown color.

S: Smells of average, roasted malt. Not as robust here as I would have expected from the style.

T: Taste, however, comes across much with a very nice, roasted flavor. Moderately sweet with a short duration. Nothing fantastic, but still quite respectable and enjoyable.

M: Light-bodied with an oily/creamy texture. Soft carbonation.

D: Quite easy to drink, the aroma is disappointing but the taste of the beer starts to make up for what lacks in the smell. A very decent entry from Bar Harbor Brewing.

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Photo of almychristopher
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer pours a nice clear brown color with an off white head with that recedes to thin layer of lace. the aroma speaks of the sweet roasted malts that are dominant in the taste. this beer is a pretty good brown, and fairly true to the english style. the lack of hops makes it a bit unexciting for me, but the medium body and good co2 make it an easy drinker. thunder hole is kind of cool, but not as good as the view from mt. cadilac.

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

Full foamy light tan head. Clear dark brown cola-like appearance.

Light roasty aroma, with a little sweetness and a some other faint hop aromas.

Has some light sweet roasted malt flavors with a little toastiness. There's a slight hoppiness to it with again a toasty aftertaste. There's not a ton of flavors here, it's fairly mild, but it's still very pleasing.

I find the mouthfeel pretty thin, yet smooth. Light to moderate carbonation. I would like a little more body to it.

Overall I think it's a good solid brown ale, good for a session, although I only brought back a single 22oz bottle from Bar Harbor. There not a lot to think about when drinking it; very enoyable.

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Photo of WesWes
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a trnslucent brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a dry, roasted and crystal malt scent along with some light yeast esters. The taste is decent. It has a smooth mix of dry roasted malts with a bit of caramel sweetness. It's also got some oxidized off flavors. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a pretty good English brown, but I can't see it being a gold medal winner.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.51/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass.

A- Pours a brown color with shades of garnet hues throughout. Great amount of clarity. Revealed a tan head with some retention.

S- Smelled of earth and roasted pecans. Maybe a little bit of sweetness from the malts. Underwhelming for sure.

T- Slightly better than the aroma. There was a pleasant sweetness and a bit of nuttiness up front. However, there was a distinct earthy flavor at the end of each sip...I really wasn't digging it.

M- Light to medium bodied. Left a dry mouthfeel. Decent carbonation.

D- While the taste was not that complex, there was nothing overly offensive. Couple that with the low abv and this one goes down pretty easily.

Overall, I probably won't bother with trying this again unless someone offered it to me.

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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 tigg924
3.62/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear, medium carbonation, minimal head, light brown in color

Smell: toasted malt, nuts, sugar

Taste: Toasted malt, some nut, and sugar

Mouthfeel: smooth, high carbonation that can be felt

Drinkability: A good brown ale. This may be my least favorite of Bar Harbor's three big offerings, but is still a pleasure to drink. I could have up to three and will always bring a couple bottles back when I visit Maine...Although maybe not a six.

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Photo of joerodiii
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a nice, mild brew. While I generally prefer my browns a bit more robust, this beer offers a clean, flavorful ale with low ABV...a nice session beer.

It is a fairly clear and light brown with a small head. The aroma is a blend of crystal malt sweetness and light hops. Crystal malts dominate the flavor, but it is well supported by the grassy hops. There is also a slight biscuity flavor.

The beer is thin, which is OK, but the carbonation is a bit high.

Although it is not the most amazing beer I've had, its mix of easy drinking with a lot of subtle flavors makes this a very drinkable brew.

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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 brentk56
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a frothy light tan head that tickles lace down the sides of the pint glass

Smell: Brown bread, with hints of malted milk balls and caramel

Taste: Opens with a brown bread and malted milk flavor, along with a kick a hops that adds a nut skin bitterness; by mid-palate, a bit of caramel adds a touch of sweetness; after the swallow, the nut skin bitterness becomes even more pronounced, although the other flavors remain present in a more muted fashion

Mouthfeel: A bit overcarbonated, with a medium body

Drinkability: The carbonation gets in the way a bit with this beer, but it is otherwise a decent example of the style

Thanks, mikeale, for the opportunity

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Photo of DrewOSU
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra, on a trade from Cleeze.

A: Pours a nice dark amber to light brown, with a tan head, 1/4 inch on pour. Lacing is watery and doesn't stick much to the glass after head dissipates.

S: Mild alcohol on the nose, sweet malt smell

T/M: Bourbon on initial taste, followed by a sweet malty finish. Although it finishes dry, does leave a malty after taste in the back of the tongue. Light to medium body, dry swallow, followed by malty aftertaste.

D: Not a bad beer. I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of brown ales, but this is one of the better examples that I have had.

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Photo of beachbum1975
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks to DrewOSU for sharing this one. He got this in a recent trade from somebody. 12 ounce brown bottle with no freshness date. Thunder Hole must be a hole in the rock, as there's a blast of water shooting out of a shore on the label - neat.

Pours a clear, dark root beer brown with garnet highlights. It came on the pour with a 2 finger average tan head. Minimal lacing and average head retention.

Light sweet malts and nuttiness on the nose. It's kinda light overall... Maybe some small spiciness in there, too.

Semi-sweet malts dominant the flavor profile with a slight nutty quality, as well. Some hints of vanilla, like it was kissed by a bourbon barrel, too. Light bodied, medium flavored with average carbonation.

This is a nice simple beer that's easy to drink...

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Photo of dasenebler
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty dark reddish brown, a little murky. Small tannish head dissipates relatively quickly. I found the aroma to be quite good, detecting nuts, grassiness and some hops as I was pouring.

There are a few layers of flavor, pretty complex for a brown ale, I'd say. First you get sweetness and a little bit of tang from the hops. Then you can catch the biscuity malts. And on the finish you get a bit of roast and some bitterness. I liked this beer, and the mouthfeel was great at first, but the carbonation took away from that a bit. An easy to drink, solid brown ale.

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

Out of a bottle this beer was a chestnut brown color with a huge three finger head. The khaki foam died back slowly, displayed good retention and excellent lacing. The aroma was equal parts hops and malt with some nuttiness. The flavors were similar but mediocre. Chocolate malt, general nuttiness and a short finish because of the acidity and some late nipping hops. The body was medium and the carbonation just a little high. If you can buy this, but their Stout instead. All of it you can.

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Photo of Stimack
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decided to give this brew a try last evening as it has been sitting in the fridge for the past month. This brew was from a 22 oz. Bomber, not sure if it is in the 12 oz as well. This was one of the brews that I was able to pick up on a trip to Maine in September. The brew poured to a nice light brown color with a thick creamy/tan colored head that had pretty good retention leaving a fair amount of lacing. Te aromas from this brew where nice, malts and cocoa with the cocoa being a bit of a surprise with the look of the brew. The flavors where a bit of a surprise as the cocoa/chocolate flavor really came out, especially at the tail end of a sip, giving it a dry feel and a flavor that I have had before but was hard to place. Though the end flavor is a bit odd it is very interesting and makes this brew different, which I like. The feel is creamy with adequate carbonation, anymore would probably be a detractor. It is quite easy to drink, though I (probably a minority) would rather not have it from a Bomber.

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Photo of TexIndy
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got from Roberts after this trip to Maine - many thanks! Poured from a 22oz bottle (no date but he got at brewery so should be fresh) into a pint glass. It was a deep brown with reddish tint to it. It had a finger of fizzy tan head that quickly settled to a very thin collar. Not much visible carb which is different from other review so wonder if the heat from shipping damaged it a bit. No lacing at all.

The aroma was good. Nice and malty with toffee tones. A little bit of hops. The taste was nice and smooth. Typical nutty flavor for a brown. Was a little more watery tasty than some others in the style. Nice finish to it.

Overall another very good beer from Bar Harbor. Browns just don't have a ton of flavor to them but want they do have goes a long way. This one is a good sitting around drinking beer. Session worthy.

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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 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 Hokies
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle brought back from Maine from my parents.

Pours a deep reddish brown color with a tannish head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is filled with a huge malt scent with a hint of coffee. The taste starts off with the sweetness from the malt with hints of caramel and then the finishes with a dry hop taste and burnt coffee. This is a very drinkable beer with a nice creaminess to it and is very smooth. This is not my favorite style but this is a very nice beer, hopefully I can get my hands on some more.

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Photo of fdrich29
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle brought back from the brewery by mom and dad.

Beautiful thick and creamy head atop an amber caramel body. Lot's of lacing. Very nice looking beer.

Nice malt nose, just the way I like it.

I'm not a fan of brown ale's but this one is very mild and malty with a little smokiness.

Mouthfeel was a bit tingly but smooth and a touch of alcohol bite at the end.

Glad I had a chance to try this beer. Although definitely not my favorite style, it was a well crafted beer.

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Photo of mbrandon2w
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz.
Nice deep brown color, dense off-white head.
Aroma is fairly light. A whiff of roastiness but that's about it.
Flavor is solid, with a hint a touch of chocolate and hint of coffee-like roast. Nice touch of bitterness at the end.
Mouth feel is smooth, but a bit too prickly with carbonation.
Very nice beer, would be nice in any weather.

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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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Thunder Hole Ale from Bar Harbor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 122 ratings.
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