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

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: 296 | Ratings: 856
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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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Slightly hazy dark amber with one-finger, off-white, creamy, foamy head that lasted a couple minutes. Pretty good lacing.

S: Bread and caramel malt and slightly tang.

T: Light sweetness and light bitterness. Bread and caramel malt and slight spice. Very similar to the nose.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation.

O: I've had better English Strong Ales, but this isn't bad. It's really drinkable.

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Photo of metter98
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is relatively clear amber orange in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense and creamy beige colored head that gradually died down, leaving a large pillow of bubbles in the center, a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a collar around the edge, and lots of lacy rings of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of caramel malts in the nose; as the beer warms up notes of brown sugar also become apparent.
T: Like the smell, the taste is a little sweet and has flavors of caramel malts, toasted malts and toffee along with notes of spices and hints of brown sugar and fruity yeast.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This strong ale wasn't that difficult to drink because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste. I enjoyed the complex taste of this beer but it seemed that it could have used a stronger smell.

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Photo of garuda
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Copper, mostly clear, white head has good retention and lacing.

S/T - Malty, with some bready flavors, dark fruits, a touch of green apple, spice on the finish, minimal pine bitterness.

M - Medium to full body, low carbonation, smooth, a touch of heat.

O - Well rounded with a good depth of flavor. Seems like it hits the mark for style.

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Photo of IronLover
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light amber in color with yellow hues and a slight haze. Poured with a short white foam that maintained a thick cap throughout that huge sheets of sticky lacings on the glass. Earthy malt and toffee aromas with a touch of floral hops. On the heavier side of medium bodied with a smooth oily feel up front and a tangy crisp finish. Sweet caramel malt, biscuit malt, and toffee flavors from start to finish with floral bitter hops from the middle to the end. Finishes crisp and dry with toffee and floral hops. Higher abv is well hidden. One of my favorites from the local Yards brewery.

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

Aroma here is a lot like that of a brown ale. The malts of a brown ale are certainly there, with a sweet caramel twinge there as well as a hint of roast.

Taste immediately brought caramel sweetness to the forefront, but is met with toffee malts....this creates a pretty tasty mix and makes me think of a somewhat sweet and strong brown ale. Just a hint of chocolate there as well. There's a prickly herbal hoppiness that lasts throughout the beer and makes this a pretty balanced offering from start to finish. Pretty good.

All in all, I enjoyed it and I don't think it really drinks like an 8 percent beer usually does. Deceptively strong, and tasty.

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Photo of larryi86
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- A clear light brown with a two finger off-white head.

S- Earthy spices, caramel malts, some toffee, some fruits, some bready notes.

T- Fruity, some citrus and cherry, earthy spice, some hops, some toffee, good complexity.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- An other solid beer from Yards. I will pick this up again, a nice unique beer.

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Photo of DIM
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: This was a clear copper color. It poured with a big, very sticky head.

s: Spicy holiday fruit, evergreen, and toffee.

t: Up front I tasted faint cherry and toffee. The finish was very dry with lots of unidentifiable vaguely bitter fruity spice.

m: Moderately thick feeling.

o: Interesting, but more spice than I like on a regular basis.

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Photo of KajII
3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Suggested Glassware: Tulip Glass]

The pour was a clear medium brown with a slight orange hue and an average (1-2 finger) off-white creamy head that lasted a decent time, finally reducing to a large puddle with a medium collar and had good streaky lacing.

The aroma was of a toasted caramel malt, citrus hops and a doughy yeast with notes of toffee, dark fruit (grapes and plums) and possessed a slight alcohol tinge.

The taste very lightly sweet and a bit malty with a hint of toffee from the start, then slowly became exceptionally bitter with a note of dark fruit and a bitter citrus peel ending. The flavor lasted a decently long time after the swallow, with a strong bitterness left lying on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was between light and medium in body and slightly dry in texture with a medium carbonation.

Overall a good powerful tasting brew with a nice bitter malty fruitiness...

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up in Totowa last week, having no idea what to expect. I like this style when done right and thankfully, that was the case here. This was nicely balanced, strong, and had a great taste, and even though this was a bit too strong, it certainly was an English Strong Ale and worth enjoying for someone like me who isn't terribly accustomed to the style.

This had a good pour to it with a light almond hue and decent amount of head. The lacing and the nose were a bit lacking but that was made up in the taste, which started out with a nice up-front burst of citrus and lemon zest. That faded into the rye and esters that were nicely balanced before finishing in a strong amount of warm, leathery hops. There was booze too but it didn't detract and had a bit of sweetness to it that almost bordered on a Belgian beer.

To be fair, this did live up to its style as this was quite strong but as I said before, the alcohol complemented everything else nicely. The balanced is here for those looking for a good example of this style to savor, this is a good beginning. The namesake on the bottle would be well pleased if he could give this a go!

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Photo of deg
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured the beer from the bottle into a pint glass. I noted that after I opened the bottle, the beer foamed. The beer was slightly below room temperature by the way. The color is a good amber color, the head dissapated quickly. There wasn't much lace on the glass. I could smell something, but it was weak (and my sense of smell is weak). I could taste some citrus and spice, I was reminded of an orange spice bread I had once. I could pick up some caramel. The sweetness went away, the aftertaste was dry.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – The beer was served a medium amber color with a one finger white head. The head had a decent retention and faded to give a very nice level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma was bready with hints of a buttery toffee and some light citrus and herbal hop aromas.

Taste – The taste was as would have been perceived from the nose. Very malt forward with a light caramel flavor that greets the tongue. The sweetness soon becomes more buttery in nature, almost more of a toffee like flavor while the bready malt flavor remains strong. More towards the middle of the taste a lighter herbal and grassy hop flavor meet the tongue. While the brew is at 8% abv it does not have much of an alcohol presence and in the end one is left with a herbal bread taste on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thicker side with the carbonation level rather low. The lower carbonation and thicker more creamy body help accentuate the bready characteristics of the beer and are quite fitting.

Overall – Much easier to drink then I would have expected with a decent flavor profile. Not too shabby.

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Photo of OMGTheyKilkenny
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass

A: Slightly cloudy burnt orange. Thin head a nice warm shade of tan. Doesn't leave much on the glass.

S: Not terribly strong. Some nice floral hops. Baked sugar, a little bready.

T: Packs a punch. Bittersweet, extremely hoppy. Those floral hops taste just like they smell, and there are some notes of oat as well. A sharp earthiness. I'm glad to live in the era of refrigeration, because I can't imagine sipping this warm. Some citrus; grapefruit, orange, lemon peel. High alcohol finish with a hint of the nickles on which the master brewer’s likeness appears.

MF: Medium carbonation, not too thick. Dry, almost like a brut champagne. Packs a punch; the high ABV goes down a little rough.

D: Strong but with a nice bouquet. Powerful sense of history. Throw back a few of these, and you’re ready to go kick some British ass!

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Photo of 57md
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy copper with a finger of head that dissipated quickly but left a trace of lacing on the glass. The nose has slight toffee notes. The body is hearty with a strong malt backbone and a hint of coriander. The finish has a touch of tartness, then the definite essence of honey and finally ends semi-dry. The body is fairly substantial for an English Strong Ale.

This is a complex and tasty brew that makes one dream of discussing taxation without representation while knocking down a pint or two.

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Photo of scar
4.48/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Holy [email protected] This is the most drinkable 8% beer I have had in a long time.

Appearance- clear with good lace, like most of Yards' beers.

Smell- Nothing off, but nothing amazing. A little earthy hop, sweet malt,little fruitiness.

Taste- THIS IS THE BEST PART OF THIS BEER. SOOO balanced not sweet, good hop presence. If this is actually Jefferson's recipe its amazing he was able to drafts our countries most important docs. He must have had a proof reader.

Mouthfeel- Much thinner than expected but also a highlight of the beer. Thinner than their IPA, the honey and nonbarley malts most likely thin it out. Makes me want to keep drinking this beer.

Yards just keeps on making great beers, these guys are truely masters. In most of their beers I can really taste the PALE ALE MALT, much like IPSWICH, GEARY's and the UK imports.

Tried again in 2015, 2016 unfortunately this beer has turned into an ipa with honey. Also hotter this time around. This is one beer that certainly didn't need more hops, I don't believe Jefferson would have agreed to these changes.

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Photo of Steasy66
2.68/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz into pint glass
A- Light amber with 3 finger lacy white head.
S- Malty, a bit of 'C' hops.
T- Really sweet, like high fructose corn syrup sweet. A little bit of citrusy hops.
M- A bit thick, decent carb, but just cant get past the thickness.
O- Really cant get past the sweetness on this one, its not a caramelized malt sweetness, its something else entirely, just doesn't taste right.

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Photo of yamar68
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clean tangerine gold with a finger of sticky white head. Good lacing and steady beading.

The nose boasts an array of harsh caramel/toffee malts and soft citric hop notes. Smells darker than it looks...

It really is awesome to think that beer like this dates back to the time of our founding fathers. Beautiful depth and complexity. I don't think "English Strong Ale" but more like hoppy Scotch ale. Good stuff.

Complex, approachable, great concept. All 4's.

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Photo of Ryanm1
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this several different times and just about every one has been from the bottle.

I'm going to post this review through the draught that I had at City Tavern a while ago.

Moderate head, white foam pouring to an Amber colored beer. It is brewed in the English Strong Ale style which registers 8% abv. The taste is on the sweeter side, hints of honey florals, and spices. Full body aromatic and full of various flavors. Most Yards beers have a distinct matl characteristic.

This is a throwback to the turn of the century ales that were brewed back in the day. One of my favorite beers partially cause I am homer.

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Photo of mactrail
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The brewery says this has some rye and honey, which would explain the the more rustic flavor. It's plenty strong and nothing elegant about it. The aroma is beery and biscuity with some herbal hoppiness.

Amber in the glass with some copper and golden, very attractive, but not too much head. Fairly well carbonated on the tongue. A bready yet bitter taste dominates. This whole series is quite interesting for the big flavors that are definitely not in the APA-IPA-Belgian groove. I like the scratchy and grainy flavor, with an underlying touch of sweetness. Bitter enough to give it an edge but the hops are neither the earthy nor piney brand that blot out the malt.

Bought at Food and Friends in Philadelphia, appropriately enough, in the 12 oz bottle. I still like the Spruce best but this is very drinkable.

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Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale from Yards Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 856 ratings.
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