O'Hanlon's Thomas Hardy's Ale (2003 - 2008)

Formerly brewed at Hanlon's (prev O'Hanlon's)
Style: Barley Wine
Newton St Cyres, England
Serve in Snifter


on tap

Local Distribution

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RATINGS: 1196   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.95/5   EST. CALORIES: 351   ABV: 11.7%
Scarce, subtle and complex, Thomas Hardy’s Ale is the beer enthusiast’s equivalent of rare cognac. Bottle-conditioned to mature in the bottle like fine wine, this old ale/barley wine will improve with age for at least 26 years (and we’re still counting!). Not for the faint of palate, especially when young and brash, maturity brings an elegance of flavors unmatched by any other beer—if you have the patience to cellar it for at least a decade.

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Crosling (1864) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - OCT 3, 2004
UPDATED: FEB 22, 2008 2003 # 015846 Edition. Pours with very little carbonation. The color is a majestic ebony with accents of magenta. The thin layer off creamy head diminishes quickly into a ring, then disappears entirely. The nose is astonishing. Raisins, figs and red apples covered with caramel. Wow. Cinnamon, plums and sherry up front. More dark fruit comes later followed by caramel and toffee. Molasses and honey on the finish. Dry but juicy. Odd. Unbelieveably smooth. Unbelieveable drinkable (I want 4 more). Unbelieveable mouthfeel. Rerate, after many sampling in 2008 and prior. The 2003 and 2004 vintages are really amazing right now. I believe Ohanlons is doing an excellent job recreating this brew. I think they’ll even get better, hopefully as well as Eldridge Popes versions.

noelcb (271) - Toledo, Ohio, USA - JUL 19, 2005
2004 bottle. Poured a huge glass full of dense foam, took several minutes until there was enough ruby-black liquit to taste. This was the most incredible head I’ve ever seen on a beer. When it finally did recede it left intricate lace to the top of the 8-inch tall glass. The aroma was an intense melange of sweet malty caramel, raisins, dates, fruit esters, oranges, and alcohol. There were a few notes of diacytel. The flavor -- OMG -- although strikingly bitter and well hopped, this ale is a love poem to malt. It is intensely imbued with dark sweet fruit, brown sugar and molasses, toffee and espresso, cream and alcohol. Its a sticky wicket, mouth-wise, viscuous and chewy. The malt fiesta goes on and on, stuck to the tongue until it fades into hoppy oblivion. This is an intense, full-bodied, creamy malt experience. Definitely a must try!

gnoff (11145) - Göteborg, SWEDEN - JAN 26, 2006
UPDATED: AUG 24, 2014 First rating
2005 bottle 04482.
Tried on May 28, 2006
250 ml bottle, 11.7% ABV.
Fairly normal CO2 level.
When poured it builds a big beige head.
Clear mid brown to red brown color.
Almost a bit like wine in the scent, a touch of Belgian ale in the scent as well, but not much. Alcohol to some extent, also dried fruit and some burnt character.
The head falls back into a finger thick creamy foam.
Extremely thick body, it fills the entire mouth and leaves a lean oily feeling in the aftertaste.
Very sweet taste like of syrup, not much bitterness, also some raissin flavor.
When the beer reach room temperature and goes a bit flat towards the end of the glass the beer has so much taste that my eyes almost gets filled with tears.

2004 number 00380, from bottle.
Almost no CO2 left, but amazing and fantastic flavours. Nice dark color to it.
Ar: 8 Ap: 4 Fl: 9 Pa: 4 Ov: 16 = 4.1

2003 bottle
Tried at Bishops Arms, Västra Hamngatan, Gothenburg on August 25, 2006.
Clear light brown color, no head. Very sweet scent of raissin. Extreme sweet taste of raissin and a bit alcohol. Very smooth mouth feel.
Ar 8, Ap 3, Fl 8, Pa 4, Ov 12 = 3.5

On May 26, 2007 I compared vintage 2005 to vintage 2006, both from 250 ml bottles and marked 11.7% ABV.
Vintage 2005, bottle no 0457.
Clear red color, small tan head. Sweet, raisin and alcohol mixed with fudge scent. Some chocolate and grains as well. Taste is sweet and grains mixed with sirup. Also raisins and alcohol, withs ome spices like clove. A touch of smoke as well. Harsh bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, huge sediment.
Vintage 2006, bottle no 12215.
Shady brown color, small white to tan head. Alcohol, sweet scent with some grains. Taste is sweet and alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel, medium bitterness.

On May 10, 2008. Sampled vintage 2005, against 2006, against 2 different 2007 bottled stored in different temperatures.
Edition 2005, black cap. Bottle no 04552.
Clear cranberry red color, white head. Turns light particle with sediment added. Raisins, prunes, roasted, chocolate, malty scent, really nice! Raisin, sweet, sugary, malty, chocolate taste. Warming alcohol. Smooth round mouthfeel, medium bitterness. It’s like a very nice dessert.
Edition 2006, golden cap with text. Bottle no 11781.
A bit shady copper reddish color, white head. Goes murky dark brown with sediment. Malty, sticky, alcohol, grainy scent. Big smooth, sweet and phenolic taste. Round, raisin, malty with a quite warming alcohol sensation. Smooth mouthfeel, medium bitterness.
Edition 2007, blue cap. Bottle no 41979.
Stored last 6 months in room temp.
Murky shady orange color, cream colored head. A bit more grey and dark compared to the one stored in a fridge. Cellar, heavy, alcohol, roasted, acidic scent. Round, roasted, bitter, malty taste. Warming alcohol, dry finish. Smooth mouthfeel, medium long bitterness.
Edition 2007, blue cap. Bottle no 41984.
Stored last 6 months in a fridge.
Same as above except for added notes. Alcohol, sweet, acidic, malty, lactic, raisin scent. Alcohol, malty, spicy, wood, raisin, licorice, coffee taste. Warming alcohol, dry papery aftertaste. Smooth a bit sprtizy mouthfeel, somewhat hard and edgy bitterness.

On May 5, 2009 I tried vintage 2005 against vintage 2008. Both in 250 ml bottle, both marked at 11.7% ABV.
2005 vintage, no 04563.
Black cap, has a medal on the bottle.
Clear reddish brown color, smallish tan head. Chocolate, roasted, sweet, raisin, vinous, lactic, alcohol scent. Sweet, raisin, madeira, malty taste. Raisin aftertaste, sweet and tasty. Smooth mouthfeel, medium bitterness.
Vintage 2008, bottle no 35247.
BB 31/12/1016. Black cap, no medal on the bottle.
Hazy reddish copper color, very small tan head. Alcohol, malty, milky, sweet, spicy scent; also solvents and some citrus. Very salty, wooden, alcohol, licorice taste. Smooth mouthfeel, a bit acidic and mouth puckering. Medium bitterness.

On June 1, 2010, I sampled vintage 2005 against 2007 against a 2008 that had been stored in room temperature a while. All were from 250 ml bottles marked 11.7% ABV.
Vintage 2005, bottle no 04561.
Black cap, medal on bottle.
Clear dark red color, smallish tan head. Sweet, sugary, plums, raisins, alcohol, vinous, some solvents and a bit of resin scent. Full, sweet, bitter, sirup like, raisin taste. Roasted, burnt pop-corn aftertaste. Warming alcohol. Full, smooth, thick mouthfeel. Low bitterness, or rather masked by the very high sweetness.
Vintage 2007, bottle no 41986.
Thanks to Micke (non ratebeer)!
Hazy light brown color, medium sized cream colored head. Sweet, smooth, fresh scent. Some alcohol and solvents. Somewhat harsh, bitter, a bit sweet taste. Alcohol and solvents aftertaste, then turns sweet and spicy. Some warming alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel, medium bitterness.
Vintage 2008, bottle no 35071.
Black cap, no medal. Bottle thanks to deft!
A bit shady, brownish color with hints of red, lighter color thatn the 2005 vintage. Ratehr small tan head. Bitter, solvents, alcohol scent, some dried fruits. Alcohol, solvents, bitter taste. Some sweetness, a bit sugary. Also a bit of salty licorice. Light burnt aftertaste. wArmin alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel. Medium bitterness. After bitterness more dry and pronounced.

On May 28, 2011 I sampled vintage 2005 against vintage 2008, both in 250 ml bottles marked 11.7% ABV.
Vintage 2005, bottle no 04569.
Clear dark brown color with red streaks, small tan head. Milky, acidic, smooth, alcohol, vinous, grainy, raisin scent. Smooth, salty, soy sauce, raisins, alcohol, some ash taste. Oily, raisin, salty aftertaste. Full, smooth, velvet mouthfeel. Warmin alcohol. Medium bitterness.
Vintage 2008, bottle no 33859.
Thanks to Micke (non ratebeer)! BB date 31/12/2016.
Hazy reddish brown color, very small bubble tanhead. Harsh, resin, alcohol, wood scent. Salty, alcohol, vinous, red wine, wood taste. Full msooth mouthfeel, medium high bitterness. Salty aftertaste. Warming alcohol.

2006 vintage thanks to thomat, bottle No 11807
250 ml bottle sampled on January 13, 2012
Clear reddish brown color, very small head. Sweet, malty, alcohol, raissin scent. sweet, harsh, resin, bitter taste. Warming alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel, harsh high bitterness. A bit salty taste, minerals.
Had 2006 vintage quite a few times, this year was one of worst for my taste, as 2004 and especially 2005 were great.

2005 vintage, bottle no 04548.
250 ml bottle marked 11.7% vol. Sampled on May 6, 2012.
Clear deep dark red color, small tan head, looks amazing. Sweet, malty, raisins, vinous, sugary, sirup, some alcohol scent. Sweet,malty, fudge, raisins, grainy, superb taste. Grainy, fudge, sweet aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel, sort of salty, medium high bitterness. Very close to perfect to me! Warming glowing feeling from the alcohol. Thick yeast cake in the bottom. Got some cream, dark fruits, fruit cake, lingering molasses. It keeps very well for the age. Drinks very well, so complex and nice. Puts me in a poetic romantic mood, this if for sure a beer to share with the one you love. I’m sort of biased this year for the tasting I feel. A little bit too salty in the taste, some burnt notes too.
Deducted one from taste in the end, 9 instead of 10.

Rerate - 8th annual tasting of my 25 year quest
2005 vintage, bottle no 04549.
250 ml bottle marked 11.7% vol. Black cap and medal around the bottle neck.
Sampled on May 11, 2013.
Pours clear dark reddish brown color, displays a tan bubbly head.
Scent comes out lovely and intense, leads out with raisins, dried prunes, malty, sweet, sugar, molasses, fruit cake, alcohol, dark chocolate, port wine, madeira, then after a while also comes a note of wet tobacco as well. Lovely lovely stuff, can smell this forever.
Taste then is powerful and intense as well, it is sweet, smooth, tobacco, sugary, muscovado, raisins in cognac, port wine, fresh raisins, it just won’t stop, beautiful, intense and lovely, also very complex.
Tobacco and raisin aftertaste.
Warming alcohol, but in a glowing good way.
Big, smooth, velvet like mouthfeel.
Medium low bitterness.
My first comment on the beer to my mate after some sighs was "why don’t they make this beer any more?".
2005 is one of the best vintages I’ve had from this beer, and I feel lucky this is the vintage I chose for my 25 years of "try one per year" journey.
This rerate is my second 5.0 beer so far after mroe than 7 years on ratebeer to this date.
Lovely and awesome, I am in awe as to how this beer has developed until now. I can’t see how the beer will improve even more to my taste, and the coming yearly event for the next 17 years will be interesting indeed.

Rerate - 9th annual tasting of my 25 year quest
2005 vintage, bottle no 04550.
250 ml bottle marked 11.7% vol. Black cap and medal around the bottle neck.
Sampled on May 03, 2014.

TheBeerLover (1027) - DC Metro Area, USA - JAN 27, 2006
Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2003 Vintage pours to a very bright, deep caramel color with no head and no carbonation. The nose on this beer is incredible with huge aromas of sweet malt, caramel, toffee, and peppery alcohol. The palate is fat and heavy on the tongue with a very sick and oily mouth feel. Big rich flavors of sweet malt, caramel, and toffee lay heavy on the tongue. The cloying richness and sweetness of this beer could be overpowering for the novice, but is relaxing and comforting to a lover of barleywine. Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2003 finishes with more of the big sweet malty and caramel flavors, then ends sweet and malty with a warming alcohol burn. Awesome, but cloying. But that is to be expected. Again, this beer is suppose to age for 25 years or more. In that time the cloying flavors will develop and become more complex. I enjoy it young, but clearly this beer needs at least 5 more years of age before it is really ready. If you can find this beer in your market, I suggest you stock up, cellar it, and enjoy it 5 to 10 years from now. As the old saying goes, "good things come to those who wait."

edelbrauer (61) - Rügen, GERMANY - OCT 25, 2008
Bottle Vintage 2003, cellared at home for 4 years, served at 16 C. When serving it a complex vinous aroma instantly fills the room letting my expectation shoot rocket high. Pours with no head, cristal clear and a most beautyful dark reddish brown color that reminds of dried cherry wood. The aroma is highly complex but seems to be dominated by beach and oak wood smoke, dates, alsacian munster cheese. In the back I can find a little alcohol, which during the entire tasting never gets warm or even hot, caramel and little roast like the crust of toasted white bread. The flavor is a harmonius explosion of chewy caramel and toffee, congac soaked figs, butter scotch and I am not talking about diacetyl here, lots of milk chocolate with hazelnut in the finish, so complex yet so harmonius. On the palate it is rich, oily, highly viscous but never cloying or unpleasently lingering, just perfectIy balanced with hop that hardly shows its present. I would not know what to improve in this beauty other then increasing bottle size. I am looking forward to next year to try the 2004...

crazy_cat_lady (752) - - FEB 10, 2014
February 8, 2014. 250mL bottle from beerbistro. Vintage 2006. Sweet molasses on the nose. Ruby red brown colour. Little head dissipated to a thin rim of foam. Malty chocolate, toffee, molasses, ripe plums and cherries. Very complex beer. One of my all-time favourites.

TorbenJensen (1590) - Valby, DENMARK - SEP 20, 2015
The aroma is dried fruits and great vinous character. The taste of Thomas Hardy’s Ale is like port wine with delicate fruity nuances of plum, raisin and dark grapes. It has a sweetness and very distinctive hoppy bitterness that only the British can figure out how to highlight in their barleys. Gently caress it for the taste buds and the titillating alcohol strength comes never seriously in play but the whims little in the throat. It is certainly a barley is out of the ordinary with its fine fruit nuances will be an excellent alternative to a dessert or perhaps even more perfect to enjoy after a good dinner.

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