Thomas Hardy Ales need no introduction a part of British brewing history, bottle conditioned beers brewed back then by Eldridge Pope until recently by O'Hanlon's. Sadly O'Hanlon's have now stopped brewing Thomas Hardy's Ale so for those of you that are not familiar here is a good link to go by.
Whilst searching on Ebay for Volvo P1800s parts (renovation job) i thought I'd type in beer and see what comes up, well quite interestingly from bottles of Watneys Royal Celebration Ale 1981 brewed for The Prince of Wales & Lady Diana's wedding too bottles of beers from the Truman Brewery and a Courage Imperial Russian Stout 1993 which I quickly added all to my basket.
There was one chap who was selling a selection of 80 bottles dating back from 1970, a mixture of beers commemorating something or the other and included two bottles of 1991 Thomas Hardy ale. With 5 days for the auction to finish and the current bid at £9, I clicked watch and monitored the bid for a few days, on the 5th day with 5 mins to go to my surprise (shock) the last bid was still at £9. My bid of £10 was accepted and a few days later i was off up the M1 to Royston to collect my beers.
I pulled up at a farm and was greeted by a middle-aged gentleman, nice bloke told me the beers belonged to his step father and he found them whist emptying his late mothers house. I actually felt bad that I paid him only a tenner but he was happy to be shot of them and was surprised someone had actually bought them......I said no more.
Both bottles now 20 years old so you can imagine I was a bit worried about cracking one open and seeing if they would still be worth drinking so I Tweeted the question and a well-known beer blogger Andy Mogg tweeted back saying 'they should be great' so I proceeded to see if they would blow my mind.
Poured a Deep Amber color say a Mahogany, as you would expect for a beer of this age it was flat no life in it at all in terms of carbonation. The nose had strong hints of caramel, dark sweet fruits, brown sugar, oak, molasses even. The flavours, I believe, had become more complex over the years and hence also the strong alcohol presence, it definitely felt more than the 12% ABV stated on the bottle. A thick sweet syrupy texture on the tongue that which I enjoyed immensely till the last drop of this 180 ml bottle.
Thomas Hardy's Ale 12% ABV – 8/10
A truly great beer which I am so delighted I opened and now understand why this was one of Britain's best beers for so so long, people next time your buying stuff on that auction site and you look up beers you know you'll will be bidding against me :)