Thomas Hardy's Ale: History in the making
Thomas Hardy’s Ale: A timeless classic celebrates 50 years... First brewed in 1968 to celebrate one of England’s most iconic authors, Thomas Hardy’s Ale is a classic Barley Wine with fine fig, tobacco and old leather notes that has become an icon in its own right thanks to its distinguished heritage and more than a little determination!
Originally brewed by Eldridge Pope, a brewery nearby Hardy’s home at Dorchester in the south-west of England, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the writer’s death in 1928, today it is lovingly produced by London’s Meantime Brewing. Since its first incarnation, this legendary Barley Wine has enjoyed a tumultuous history to rival any of the stories published by the author during his lifetime.
The very first Thomas Hardy’s Ale was produced by Eldridge Pope as a one-off, but thanks to its popularity it was brought back in 1974 thereafter being brewed year after year for a quarter of a century until 1999 when production was stopped due to the cost of brewing such a superb beer.
Meantime - brewing beer for tomorrow's Craft Beer fans today!
This remarkable Barley Wine won a second reprieve in 2003 when America’s O'Hanlon’s Brewery began production under the auspices of American importer George Saxon. Sadly, it was once more resigned to the history books in 2008, but thanks to a little persistence the torch was passed to its new owners, Italian beer importers the Vecchiato brothers, who bought the brand and the recipe before spending three years perfecting the recipe to bring us the beer we know today.
The Meantime Brewery is located in the heart of London, south of the river in the historic borough of Greenwich (hence the name) and, with a little help from this talented brewery, in recent years this superb ale has undergone the alchemy of Barrel Aging, to produce a celebrated Barrel Aged version named The Historical Ale. named The Historical Ale. Aged in a different cask each year, The Historical Ale enjoys a new lease of life, and a truly unique character with each new vintage.
Craft Beer with a story to tell
Pouring deep caramel amber with the faintest of heads, and an even softer carbonation, Thomas Hardy’s Ale proudly sports a rich caramel body with a flavour profile as dramatic as Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd.
Full of rich fig and plum fruit notes, with warm tobacco and old leather tones. The soft, chewy, velvety body also harbours bitter orange and honey notes that lift the complex flavours to reveal a slight chestnut wood sharpness, followed by a sublime beeswax and spice finish.
Barrel-Aged history in the making
Dating back 50 years to 1968, the iconic Thomas Hardy’s Ale is a beer with a lot of history and an equally promising future, as this is one Barley Wine that is sure to improve with age. Indeed, it’s a perfect beer for cellar-aging, with bottles of the original Ale with bottles of the original 1968 vintage still drinkable (if you can find one) and fetching hundreds of Euros!