Thomas Hardy’s Ale, Vintage 2003July 1, 2004 Devon, England
O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co.
Imported by: Phoenix Imports
Ellicott City, MD
Available: CA, CO, CT, IL, IN, LA, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, VA, WA, WI
This famous barley wine, first brewed in 1968 by the Eldridge Pope brewery to commemorate the poet Thomas Hardy, was discontinued in 2000. This vintage is the first brewed by a new brewery, in an effort led by George Saxon, its American importer.
Alcohol (wt.): 9.2
Alcohol (vol.): 11.7
Although there is almost no CO2, this has great bouquet, and wonderful aromatics with a smooth, well-balanced maltiness. The high alcohol content doesn’t lay heavy over the beer. Although it is rich in hops, one can see how they will mellow; but even so, this beer is delectable as is, and it is difficult to imagine how 3-4 more years in the bottle will affect its flavor. It’s great now. As is. It holds favorably next to an Eldridge Pope ‘86 version from my cellar (just for the fun of it), which was several shades darker. Wonderful beer. Good job, O’Hanlon.
- Fred Eckhardt
I don't envy O'Hanlon's the challenge of assuming the Hardy's mantle. Such a legend is not easily re-created-- we must take this beer at its own word. The liquid pours deep red-orange and almost still. The nose is malty, fruity, and slightly sherryish, with stewed hop notes. The palate is quite sweet, with an almost syrupy consistency. This is balanced by malt acidity and thin, sharp bitterness; the finish is long and fruity. Hardy's was always an aging beer, and this is young. Nice with Stilton now, perhaps magnificent in a few years.
- Garrett Oliver
Welcome back! Cream-colored head; Burgundy brew; beefy aroma; muscular body. Youthful, but maturing. Flavors reminiscent of a rich goulash: beef cooked in Bull’s Blood and cream, with paprika, plum brandy, prunes and cherries. That’s my recipe, but you could skip all those ingredients and braise the meat in Thomas Hardy’s Ale, perhaps with a dash of oloroso sherry.
- Michael Jackson
Fred Eckhardt lives, writes about and drinks beer in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style and Saké.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
Author of Ultimate Beer, the Simon & Schuster Guide to Beer and numerous other works on drinks, Jackson has created legions of converts to fine beer.
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