Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale | Yards Brewing Co.

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Thomas Jefferson's Tavern AleThomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale

Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This powerful and complex golden ale pays homage to Founding Father and fellow brewer, Thomas Jefferson. Yards Brewmaster, Tom Kehoe, worked closely with Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern to recreate this recipe, employing honey, rye, and wheat, just like the beer Jefferson made at Monticello.

Added by NeroFiddled on 08-01-2002

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Reviews: 289 | Ratings: 835
Photo of slusk
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Pours a clear light red with little head. Nice clean caramel malt aroma with little hops. Caramel and a bit of toffee amid a bread crust note. Nice caramel flavor with medium low hop bitterness. Nice bready notes throughout. A nice brown ale.

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Photo of Altrurian
4.75/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

It arrives at the table with a tight, topographically variegated foamy cap surmounting a perfect amber body with a perpetual upward swirl of tiny bubbles. The enticing aroma is of toffee, or, perhaps, flan. The beer's flavor brings home the aroma's promise of savory, sophisticated sweetness. It's a soft and smooth taste--almost that of a "comfort food"--yet deeply satisfying as beer. The texture is rich. For all of its 8%, it goes down easily. I'm a little reticent about giving a beer this high of a rating, but this is pretty good stuff.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle at 40 degrees into standard pint glass
Aroma very faint piney aroma
Head Large (4.5 cm), off white, frothy,
Lacing good – mostly complete lacy rings of very small bubbles; slowly diminishing to a thick irregular frothy layer
Body medium yellow, slight haze
Flavor very mild, slight hop bitterness rapidly yielding to a faint malt sweetness, fading to a bitter aftertaste. No alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate light to medium, watery, lively carbonation.

A pleasantly refreshing ale which neatly hides the 8% ABV. This seems like a lawnmower beer until it runs over you.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Medium amber color with a glare. Stocky white head looks good. Sits heavy a-crest the beer. Visible carbonation adds some excitement.

Sweet treacle nose with buttery vanilla, apple pie crust, kettle corn, salt water taffy, and a hint of artificial banana. Strange aromas for a beer, but it's quite balanced and appealing. Malts have a creme pie note that I like. Interesting, so far.

Tangy and metallic. Has that treacle sweetness with a note of creme pie over graham cracker crust. Specifically, banana. Caramelized sugars with light kilning. The roast doesn't do a whole lot. Lots of obvious barley malt flavors going on. The hops are slightly minty. The esters might be coming, yeast-side. They're fruity and juxtaposed with the aforementioned banana dessert notes. Pomme, stone fruits, and pear are reminiscent. I pick up on the honey and the wheat; and if the rye is only imparting some light dry spiciness, I get that, too. More aggression in the finishing bitterness than I could have anticipated. It's almost welcomed, after the sweet opening salvo.

Drinks with a light syrupy feel, but steers clear from being sticky. Has that oiliness, but not in the hoppy way. Carbonation is struck right down the middle of the fairway.

A solid English Strong Ale. Not entirely forgettable. Worthy of a pick-up.

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Photo of farrago
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pleasing finger of eggshell white foam, adequate retention, the lacing sticks for a brief while, more breadth than length to the streaks. Bright zinc orange colored liquid, quite a few visible bubbles and they are super-fat, transparent and clean throughout. There’s a well-cooked bread crust stiffness to the nose, however, at the same time sweet grapefruit to orange citrus, honey and ripe apricot, peach notes, then more peppery, grainy bite, definitely has an earthy funk to it as well, a forest floor covered with pine needles and fallen leaves and branches. Full-bodied, sweet and sticky attack even though the carbonation does punch as hard as possible to get things stirred up. Actually turns appreciably drier through the mid-palate, earthy and herbal. The return of banana and bubblegum seems close to Belgian, loses most of the honey as well as the juiciness in the apricot, peach, apple fruit. The citrus in turn comes off as more sour. The textural fullness extends the finish when most of the primary flavors have begun to trail off. Due to its palate weight can’t say it is sessionable or the like. But it has this unique, just off-center character which ultimately keeps you sipping again and again.

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Photo of Mumps
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a pint glass.

Deep gold, slightly amber with a quarter inch off white head, moderate lacing. Fair amount of bubbles.

My nose has some difficulty picking out a distinct aroma of this brew. Honestly not sure if its my nose, or the beer. What I can smell isn't unpleasant, a faint malty sweetness.

Taste is incredibly balanced. I can clearly taste the honey, with a hint of the rye in the back.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, but I think that works in this brew's favor. Makes it very easy to drink, despite the 8% alcohol.

Overall, I really enjoy this presentation from Yard's. I liked the Tavern Porter, but this beats it hands down.

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Photo of delta490
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours out a deep gold with a shorter-lived creamy white head. Not much lacing left. The aroma is pretty minimalist, with some mild light fruit notes. The taste is a little bit more robust, with some nice balance from the rye and the honey. The body is a little thinner, but it fits with the almost delicate flavors, which doesn't really include alcohol despite the 8% ABV. The third president knew something about brewing.

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Photo of brentk56
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear amber capped by an inch of foam that leaves some crossing strands of lace

Smell: Treacle sweet with tones of dried fruit

Taste: Sweet treacle, up front, with a developing herbal and dried fruit character; modest bitterness in the mid-palate but the finish reinforces the sweeter tones

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: My second ancient beer of the evening; interesting but in both cases they lack the bitter balance I prefer; hope to return to the 21st century tomorrow

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into a Burley Oak snifter

A: Deep copper color with some effervescence. Only the slightest head with a tiny collar.

S: Lots of raisin and fruit cake. Quite sweet. It smells quite Belgian actually, like a Tripel or Quad.

T: Just some raisins. It is in that weird limbo of strong ales, old ales, and Belgian strongs. Interesting but pretty mild in taste, comparable to similar ones. The smell is much stronger than the taste.

M: Very smooth, with no bubbles.

O: Decent beer. I would say this is my second favorite in the Ales of the Revolution series, with the Porter being the best and the spruce ale coming in last.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I had this a couple times lately this time at Wegman's chilled in a tumber from the 12oz.

The color is medium brown with translucent clarity and thin white cap with fine bead thick lace collects in a film. The smell is strong with malt which also brings a light herbal and woody odor perhaps from the hops with mild alcohol in the background. The feel has thick body w/ moderate carbonation and spiced middle with subtle alcohol in the feel and a nice balance between malt with moderate lingering bitterness.

The flavor has a brown malt toasted quality with spiced yeast element that enhances the moderately bitter hop profile and there is a gentle English yeast with mineral quality that comes in near the finish with a slight alcohol warming. Overall a pretty decent strong ale - you get the English influence and it is pretty drinkable for the strength.

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Photo of PA-hunter
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured bottle into glass. 8% abv.

Appearance- Transparent orange amber. Very clear with a white two finger head.

Smell- Malty with some citrus. Nothing too pronounced as far as aroma goes.

Taste- Great balance of sweetness and a bitter finish. Toasted malts with that classic bready sweetness. The roasted proflie blends nicely into the somewhat spicey finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium, with moderately retained carbonation.

Overall- Enjoyable to drink. I was surprised since the smell was nothing special. The taste was much more memorable. Decent complexity. The fact this was based off of Thomas Jefferson's ale recipe adds intrigue here. A great ale indeed!

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Photo of miaandmae1
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this both on tap and in bottle. The latter is more subdued and hop-forward, while the tap version has a sweetness on the front end which was pleasantly surprising. Either way, this is a well-balanced ale which is imminently drinkable and (for better or worse) never belies its high octane nature.

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Photo of Beermaster70
4.11/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16 oz draft on tap at the Victory Athletic Association. Medium carbonation. Nice lacing. Great appearance in my glass. I could not pick up as much of a smell as I reach middle age and my senses dim. Gotta say I really enjoyed the taste. Enjoyable ale on a Saturday afternoon!

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Photo of scotorum
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of my Philly Craft Beer Outlet buys from last month. Gotta love the implied adherence to tradition, and hey, how many beers have the writer of the Declaration of Independence on the label? Good thing HE didn't leave out "endowed by their creator" huh? I'd hate to have my rights - or theirs - determined solely by POTUS, SCOTUS, or a majority of Congress. Oh wait, they pretty much are now, huh. Nevermind.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into an Innis & Gunn stemmed tulip.

a: Clear amber with a huge inch and a half head which retreated nobly to a persistent quarter inch of white foam, then to a fairly even surface film with moderate lacing which lingered to the end.

s: Light mustiness of old paper. Or perhaps parchment, he suggested sheepishly.

t: Malt with some hop bite and balance. Certainly much of what I had hoped for, something you might think you'd be drinking in an old tavern during the Revolution. Except it seems a bit light for an old timey ale, and there is a sharp and disconcerting dark pine or fruit undertone and aftertaste. The unusual flavor grows more interesting towards the finish.

m: Light to moderate, bitterness builds over time.

o: Time travel is interesting but ultimately not quite all that I had hoped it would be. But then I wonder how Jefferson would have reviewed Firestone Walker Double Jack. "When in the course of human drinking affairs,..."

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful golden amber color with two fingers of off-white head that lasted for quite a while, leaving a nice crown of foam on top of the beer.

Aroma: Very pungent. Malty yet floral, with some clover and some hay. As the beer warmed up, some dark fruit aromas of raisins and plumbs started to make their presence known. Finally there’s some caramel notes too. Very nice.

Taste: Lots of caramel and malt flavors up front and some very subtle hops at the finish. As the beer warms up, it gets more floral with some clover and honey coming through. Very good.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy with a slight chewiness. There’s some good carbonation to tickle the tastebuds, and because of the 8% ABV, there’s also a nice alcohol warmth at the finish.

Overall: According to Yards, this beer was crafted from Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe, using wheat, honey, and rye. I found it to be a very damn good beer, one that will be on my rotation of usual beers, as will be the General Washington’s Tavern Porter. Another home run from Yards!

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Photo of Why-P-A
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: Light copper in color, dark golden with a slight reddish tint.

S: Subtle malt but no major dominant aroma. These is more alcohol aroma on the nose than there is when drinking the beer.

T: Very unique flavor, the malts are balanced and light. The finish is quite bitter and hangs in the mouth but it does not taste like traditional hop bitterness. Since this is an old style ale recipe there could be other herbs or grains added which may be contributing to these more complex flavors.

M: Very light especially considering the high alcohol content. The bitterness leaves the mouth slightly dry and thirsty.

O: A hard beer to pinpoint, very unique overall. This beer is certainly strong though it does not taste overpowering and there is almost no residual sweetness which suggests it fermented out completely. This is one of a series of 3 traditional ales from Yards so it will be interesting to see how the other two compare.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours clearish light copper with ring of foam. Mild malt nose. Hard to flesh out. Taste is a funky, stale malt. Odd bitter close that is a bit persistent. Classic mixture, somehow comes together. Odd, but it works.

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Photo of WissBrauSean
4.76/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured this beer at about 55 degrees F into a standard pint and it poured a light amber colour with a full one finger ivory head of tiny bubbles that stay as a nice ring and Friar Tuck center cap and sticky balcony-like lacing pattern. Very attractive this beer is!

Right away I notices the darker fruit notes with this beer as well as the pale sweet malts, honey and a bready yeast. The honey aroma is just fantastic! As the beer warms the honey is more pronounced. This beer is approaching room temperature and it is coming alive!

As you sip, your nose takes in the honey and your tongue is greeted with pale malts, honey, green raisin, sweet citrus a bit of tart fruit and not until the very end do you get the earthy hop bitterness with a black peppery numbing feeling on the tongue that I assume is a combination of the carbonation, the alcohol and the hop dryness. This beer is a pleasure to drink and drink her just a tad lower than room temperature. 60 degrees is awesome.

The mouthfeel of this beer is silky smooth, creamy mildly sweet and approaching full bodied. The carbonation is one step above moderate, no where near hot, but she's a lively English tart this lady.

Overall, I am deeming this lovely lady world class. She gets the Cate Blanchett award for being a true beauty! There is absolutely nothing that I don't like about this beer and I feel that it fits Beer Advocates criteria to a T. Although they mention a solvent aroma as part of the class, and I don't get that, OR want that! 5 out of 5 on this baby Yards! I don't think that I have given a score like that yet!

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Photo of thlayli87
3.21/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Reviewed from notes

A - Copper color with 2 fingers of cream colored head. Decent lacing and retention

S - Grainy malt, not much else

T - Somewhat salty taste, earthy hops. Flavors lack complexity.

M - Good carbonation level. Pleasing on the palate.

O - Pretty boring flavors and a mediocre beer overall. I'd pass this one by.

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Photo of Omnium
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle > Pint Glass
A - Pours a nice goldent color with a thick 2 finger head, white and fluffy with great lacing.
S - Honey, some floral hops and a mild hint of citrus, sweeter bready malt, a few herbs as well.
T - This is a great balance of flavors, good mild hop bitterness of a floral quality, some orange zest, and a moderate malt foundation.
M - Full bodied, coats your palate with good flavors and sticks with you.
O - This is a great brew, you do not taste or feel the 8% at all, if this is actually derived from Jefferson's recipe, then beer drinkers back then would be proud to know that it has kept up with beers of this era. Good, drinkable, and full of flavor.

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Photo of mothman
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Beige head with a lot of lace. Color is a clear dark gold.

Flavors of alcohol and bready malts. Hints of biscuit and some spice flavors. Some earthy spice flavors as well.

Medium bodied with a dry feel. Good carbonation.

Overall, a rather boring beer. Not something I'd drink more of.

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Photo of socon67
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark amber in color, and fairly opaque. Tan foam retains well, and laces the glass decently.

S - There is a fruit scent that combines with some garden spices. A sherry scent comes through more over time until there is a boozy aroma from this beer.

T - Initial sip has a sweet fruit flavor. Esters give a slight acidic bite on the palate. Finish has spicy notes.

M - A heavy styled beer that is pretty complex. There may be too much going on with the sweetess\spice for this to be any more than a one bottle treat. But it certianly is not boring.

O - Always fun to have something from Yards. These guys have consistently made some good stuff. After having this and the Washington Porter, I need to get a bottle of Ben Franklin's spiced ale.

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Photo of popery
3.18/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From notes. 7/27/11. Pours a translucent medium brown-ish orange. Eggshell head. Aroma is caramel, cider, spice and a some booze. It’s not very good. Taste is a kinda one note sweetness with a bitter, boozy finish. Lots of malt shows up, but it lacks complexity. Just sweet caramel. Feel is too thin. It’s not terrible, but it could be drier or richer or more complex. There’s just something missing. On top of that, even though there aren't a ton of English Strong Ales around, I still consider it a strong style, and this beer just doesn't live up to other takes for me. That said, I do plan to give it another shot.

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Photo of gr0g
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Burnished amber/gold in color. Clarity is high. A two finger head with average retention leaves some spotty lacing. Aroma is of biscuity and slightly toasty malt. Toffee malt notes at the forefront, backed up by a very pleasant floral English hop note.

Flavor profile starts off with malty sweetness, but it's held nicely in check by a mild hop bitterness. Overall, it's quite well balanced for an 8% beer. Caramel and toffee for the most part with some bright hops on the finish. Mouthfeel is straight down the middle of spectrum,and carbonation is neither lacking nor overly fizzy. I guess I'd liken this to an "Imperial ESB." This beer is more than the sum of its parts and achieves great flavor and balance for a strong ale.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Situation: a Lego-rebuilding Thursday night...
Glassware: Howard's Pub pint...
Appearance: bright orangee body with a thick, frothy white head...steady effervescence...
Aroma: floral and citric as expected...robust and pleasant...
Palate: nicely balanced, medium-nodied ale; creamy smooth, fortified beeyond the average 8% abv, the alcohol is not overstated here...
Taste: sprucey, hoppy, aggressively biting with citric-orange at the fore...entirely drinkable, despite its strength...
Overall: a beautiful, simple reminder of what an ale can be--strong but drinkable, aggressive but rewarding--worth the sampler purchase by itself...

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Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 289 ratings.
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