Friday, 13 May 2011

Thomas Hardy ale...A pretty tasty 18 year old

Sorry about the slightly pervy title, but it was the best I could come up with :P

As you may of guessed from the title, tonight I’m trying a bottle of Thomas hardy ale…but what you may have also noticed (cause I know what an observant lot you people are) is that this is a rather special bottle of beer because it was brewed in 1993, and as those whiz kids amongst you can work out…makes it 18 years old.

Now I know that to most people, drinking a beer that’s almost as old as they are would be seen as a rather stupid thing to do, with worries of gut rot etc.. coming in to mind, but luckily for me though, Thomas hardy ale is famed for being a keeping beer and is often quoted with lasting for 25 years or more …which is a good thing because it is unfortunately no longer being brewed.

Thomas hardy ale was first brewed by the Eldridge Pope brewery in 1968 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the authors death, and to make it one hell of a special beer, it was brewed to 12%abv and was matured in oak sherry casks for 9 months which was then conditioned in distinctive bottles, and over time was found to mature and improve after being laid down over a number of years. As I said, the beer is no longer being brewed, with production stopping in 1999, then being picked up by another brewery after the turn of the millennium, for it only to be stopped again in 2008. You can still find vintages from 1968 onward on eBay (which is where I got a hold of my bottle from), but obviously its not gonna be a cheap brew to buy.

Being the special brew it is, I'm shearing the drinking experience with my friend and boss Chris who's knowledge in beer...well pretty much in everything really is beyond human and I would probably ask him about anything and everything first before checking wikipedia.

As Chris does the honors and pours the beer carefully into two Belgian chalice glasses, the air is filled with a sweet plum, coco, slightly nutty and a deeply spiced malt aroma that's reminiscent of a Christmas pudding, and with its rich mahogany colour and a thick bodied appearance as I swirl it around the glass so I can dip my nose in to get a deeper whiff, creates an image in my mind of sitting round a fire with friends and tasting a fine port with cheese like a scene from a classic Dickensian Christmas...but I suppose standing at the bar chatting is just as a picturesque moment as any. Oh God, the mouth feel of this beer is fantastic. Velvet on the tongue and as smooth of a body as I think could every of been possible from a beer, the distinct lack of carbonation also really helps gives this brew the feel of a fortified wine. A wonderfully deep malty flavour that feels layered from all the years of ageing that coats the palate with the tastes of smooth milk chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, sherry and rich plump dried fruits, but there's a subtly undertone of marmitey saltiness that just cuts through the beer and fantastically brings the beer together. I'm sorry for waxing lyrical about this beer but it really is that fantastic, and I'm glad I shared the experience with someone because this is something that would of been wrong to keep to myself.

I really recommend trying to get hold of a few bottle of this stuff if you can, because it truly is history in a glass and is probably the best and most complex beer Ive every tried.

Next up should be another post about a rather special beer....but I'll keep it under wraps for now :D. Bye all!!


  1. Might have to get hold of a bottle

  2. I'm bidding on ebay as we speak. Awesome suggestion!

  3. Good luck with your bidding!! You wont regret it if you win. Please let me know what you think of it. Thanks for reading!!