Name: Thomas Hardy’s Ale
Brewery: O’Hanlon’s Brewery
Country of Origin: England
City & State: NA
Style: Old Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 11.7%
First Brewed: 1968
On the nose, suggestions of dark stone fruits, roast malt, alcohol, a peatlike smokiness, and a floral hoppiness. Portlike on the palate with notes of Stollen cake, brandy, baked bananas and ripe apricots; a spicy, peppery hoppiness keeps inclinations to oversweetness in check.
The beer has NO head at all. No… I don’t think you understand me. No head whatsoever. But the nose is incredible, and hits you as soon as you start pouring the beer into the glass. The bottle itself is actually pretty small, but the ABV on this little beer is huge coming in at 11.9%.
I am not sure I can recall the last time I had a barleywine… or even what that means. But that’s what this is. Of course, the official style of the beer is old ale, but the folks over at O’Hanlon’s brewery call it a barleywine. I won’t argue either way. Let’s see what this extremely potent beer tastes like.
Drink this one slow… holy cow, this is intense. No wonder the bottle is so small. It hits the palate a bit warm, and those smoky notes that you picked up on the nose remain throughout. The aftertaste is even smoky. There is little to no carbonation in this beer, which is refreshing considering some of the beers we have been drinking.
The beer itself can last twenty-five years in the bottle… this particular bottle of beer was bottled in 2004. I would love to buy a bottle and age it for that long, but I am not sure I have the patience.
The beer is good, but not one that I would drink often. It’s something that might taste better with a room full of friends and a nice cigar. I like it, but it’s just not my style. (Perhaps this is a beer (or a style of beer) that you can appreciate more the older you get. Not sure… but at twenty-seven years old, I don’t see it.)
Bottoms up people!
What I’m reading about our beer for tonight is pretty interesting. I don’t normally even research the beers we are doing, but Ricky was preparing for the blog post and said something about them not even making it any more, but yet, we had one. So that intrigued me and I decided to google it. Apparently they did stop making this beer in 2009, and the bottle we had was from… 2004? I guess it supposedly tastes better with age, like people keep it for somewhere around 10 years, maybe up to 25 years. Sounds like good stuff, right?
When we poured the beer out into a glass (it was in a pretty tiny bottle, by the way), it smelled really strong. It smells kind of like fruit and spices. It had no head whatsoever. The color is a medium brown, and it looks pretty thick. It kind of reminds me of apple cider.
And actually, with the first sip, it tastes a lot like apple cider. It’s a very powerful taste, very fruity, very strong, and it leaves an aftertaste that lingers for a while. It’s almost sour tasting. Having said that – it’s also very good. The taste is every bit as fruity and spicy as it smells. Definitely unusual for something in a book of beers. I think it’s something I probably can’t buy again, since they stopped making it. But, I’m sure going to enjoy this glass I have sitting in front of me right now.
975 bottles of beer on the wall…