The World Beer Challenge awards the fourth gold medal to the re-born Thomas Hardy’s Ale, back in production since 2015 after 7 years. In Estoril, Portugal, it is actually a double win thanks to the silver medal awarded to The Historical Ale matured in Hine Cognac barrels.
There is undoubtedly a big risk involved whenever a piece of history that could even be considered legendary is revived. The Vecchiato brothers were well aware of this when, in the summer of 2012, they finalised the acquisition of the brand and the recipe of the legendary Thomas Hardy’s Ale, produced from 1968 to 1999 by the Eldridge Pope Brewery and later from 2003 to 2008 by O’Hanlon’s.
Three years to carefully study its history, locate a brewery that could reproduce it, fine-tune the recipe and finally Thomas Hardy’s Ale was ready to be produced and, in 2016, it was officially launched on the market.
The difficult comparison with the vintages of the past is amplified by the fact that this Barley Wine par excellence improves over the years, making a “direct comparison” with more mature vintages misleading.
Nevertheless, the palates of the international judges immediately recognized the same mark as the original, awarding the “new” Thomas Hardy’s Ale three gold medals over the course of 2016, to which a fourth has now been added: that of the World Beer Challenge 2017, which awarded this prestigious award thanks to a score of 95.3/100.
The same characteristics narrated by the English writer Thomas Hardy in his novel are what strike you the most and are also mentioned on the label of the Thomas Hardy’s Ale:
“It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire;
full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset;
free from streakiness of taste, but, finally, rather heady.”
A result that is echoed in the fact that The Historical Vintage Ale 2016 won its first medal ever, a silver in the category Wood and Barrel Aged, for its limited edition, matured for over six months in barrels that had previously contained French Hine Cognac.