This beer is one of the rarest and definitely oldest beers I will ever have, The Thomas Hardy’s Ale first appeared in 1968 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of author Thomas Hardy.
The brewery Eldridge Pope Brewery made this beer once a year and was claimed to last for 25 years and develop over that time. Today’s bottle is from 1986 which makes it over the 25 year mark but it’s not getting any younger.
The reason that Thomas Hardy is so rare was that production was ceased in 2009 due to claims of rising costs and all people who have some of the later bottles of Thomas Hardy are sitting on them.
When pouring this beer it was totally dead, not an sign of carbonation anywhere about it but boy is there aroma. Dark stone fruits, treacle, heavy port and a sting of alcohol. I am almost afraid to try it incase it hasn’t keep well over the previous quarter of a century.
The beer is strong, reasonably oxidized for the length of time it was siting in the bottle I get stewed plums and brandy and an almost overwhelming sweetness and a little bit of puckering flavours with some peaty characteristics . This bottle is past it’s best without a doubt but there is enough there to make you see the grandness of this beer and why people would compare it. There is still hope that this beer will resurface with the right to brew this beer being held by U.S.A. importer George Saxon. This was a great beer to try even if it was not at it’s best and a decent barley wine if you can catch it a little earlier.