• Horeca Expo

    We are pleased to inform that we will attend the upcoming Horeca Expo exhibition from the 20th to the 24th of November 2016 in the beautiful Belgian city of Ghent


    HALL 6 – BOOTH 6126

    We will present our Thomas Hardy’s Ale and a brand new Oak Aged special release…
    Looking forward to meeting you there!

  • The best Barley Wine in the UK

    The prestigious World Beer Awards welcomed back Thomas Hardy’s Ale: the title of “Country Winner” in the Barley Wine style is proof that the 7-year interruption has not diminished this beer’s singularity – it’s “English” by vocation.

    Thomas Hardy’s Ale is finally back in production and it has already added another seal to its rich, tormented and illustrious history. After the recent gold medal at the International Beer Challenge, the title of “United Kingdom Country Winner” awarded by the competition’s international jury to the Barley Wine as the best in the country is the confirmation that Thomas Hardy’s Ale is ready to pick up from where it left off.

    After all, the label changed ownership in 2003 (and with that, a change of location for its team of workers and production) when the American importer George Saxon and O’Hanlon’s Brewery decided to resurrect the beer dedicated to the English poet and novelist produced by the Eldridge Pope Brewery from 1968 to 1999. Unfortunately, Saxon also was forced to throw in the towel in 2008 due to the high production costs of a beer that requires supervision, production time and the quality of prime materials that are far superior to those needed for the classic Lager beers.

    But today there is a growing awareness on the part of public which is always on the lookout for quality, authentic stories and a flavour that goes beyond conventions. In this regard, Thomas Hardy’s Ale has admirers and collectors throughout the world thanks to its smooth yet complex body. The beer’s many subtle flavours make it difficult to describe in just a few words: notes of candied and brandied fruit, dried figs, fresh tobacco, chocolate, bitter orange marmalade, dried fruit and chestnut honey.

    Another reason why it’s so well loved is because it ages very well. 25 years in the cellar perfects its structure and refines its aroma.

  • Voices from the web

    Ever since the rumour got out that Thomas Hardy’s Ale was coming back, we have started to notice a kind of positive vibration, a mixture of happiness and apprehension coming from every part of the world. When, in autumn 2012, the previous version of Thomas Hardy’s Ale website was launched (www.thomashardysale.com) messages began to arrive from fans. These messages are the most tangible indication of what Thomas Hardy’s Ale means to the world beer community. And they have amazed and thrilled those who have read them.
    This is why we wanted to share again the voices of the most important people. That is, the people who have loved this beer and who love it still, people who treasure the old vintages in their cellars, people who were keeping the last precious bottle without knowing when to open it, simply because they thought it was really the last…
    Below you will find a selection of messages from these passionate and enthusiastic people.


    Stuart says:
    December 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm
    When & where will we be able to purchase the beautiful elixir please?


    Stefaan says:
    January 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    Congratulations. I am looking forward to it. Please keep a few bottles for a poor Belgian home brewer ;-).
    But will it be with that same yeast strain giving it the “pineapple” taste?


    Håkan says:
    January 26, 2013 at 2:43 am
    Greetings from Sweden!
    Thank you for trying to bring Thomas Hardy’s back from the dead. This was my favourite beer and I still have 5 bottles of the old brew but they won’t last forever.
    I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing it on the shelves again.
    Good luck!


    Adam says:
    February 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm
    I just wanted to say thank you so very much for the resurrection of this wonderful Ale. This was literally the first beer that I had ever tried and enjoyed.


    Robert says:
    March 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm
    I just opened one of the 25-30 bottles that I have hoarded for the past 5 years, then decided to see if there was any new news. I am so happy to see that I won’t have to spread these bottles out over the rest of my life, I may go pop another!!!! Can’t wait to try the new batch.


    Josh says:
    March 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm
    It’s exciting to see that this beer may come back into production. I’m glad that it’s being done for the right reason: love of quality beer.
    I hope this makes it to Canada when the first batches roll off the line. Looking forward to it, and wishing you the best of luck!


    Kevin says:
    November 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm
    How is the progress coming? I saw the “Raw Materials” post in October. It got me excited. Is there any talk of a brew date or a release date yet?
    + Kevin


    Alan says:
    December 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm
    Having just found your website I look forward to tasting what I consider the nectar of the gods again. I hope it will be produced and sold in bottles, not in tins. I hope it will be produced in nips, 180ml bottles.


    Jim says:
    December 23, 2013 at 8:16 am
    The best beer in the world, ever!
    Believe me this ale is awesome…
    Even the astonishing and excellent Brewdog’s and DeMolen’s ones are not so great than the Thomas Hardy’s Ale! I’ve only one 1999 bottle left and live only for the day I will drink a Thomas Hardy again 🙂


    Andrew says:
    March 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm
    I have been nursing a set of bottles of the 1994 and 1995 vintages. Today I opened one of the 1994s and find it an extraordinary experience. I would not describe it as sherry- or even port-like. It’s like one of those dark chocolates filled with liquid toffee, infusing my entire head with its flavor. I am so fortunate to have held on to these. Why, I must have been gifted with great foresight! I can only hope I’ve retained as much perspicacity as this ale has retained virtue.


    Glen says:
    August 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm
    What great news, Thomas Hardy’s Ale is my most favourite of all time. Do not rush, it will last years, when you finally open it, slowly pour into a jug in one slow pour avoiding the sediment, then leave it to stand for an hour or two before pouring into glass, it will improve the flavour.
    Last year 2013 I had my oldest bottle 1988, it had a slight ‘cellar must’ initially but drunk the afore mentioned way was fine.

  • The legend is back… and has taken gold already!

    September 2006: Thomas Hardy’s Ale, produced by the O’Hanlon brewery, was awarded the gold medal for the world’s finest beer at the International Beer Challenge in London, perhaps the high point in a story cut short too soon. Two years later, O’Hanlon discontinued production, because it took too much time and too much money to brew this Barley Wine first made in 1968 in memory of the English writer.

    September 2016: ten years later, a new chapter in this history of Thomas Hardy’s Ale opens up from where the story left off. At the latest edition of the International Beer Challenge in London, the 2015 vintage of this distinctive ale came away with a second gold medal that appears to have brought its history full circle, confirming – if indeed confirmation were necessary – that the quality remains sublime, unchanged despite the new ownership.
    This award is the fruit of four years of hard work that have allowed the Vecchiato brothers – who purchased the brand and the recipe in 2012 – to put together an outstanding team.

    The official presentation of Thomas Hardy’s will take place on Monday 12 September, during Milano Beer Week, at Baladin in Milan (Italy), with a special guest: the English journalist and beer writer Roger Protz, one of the most authoritative names in the sector worldwide.

    All we can do now is eagerly look forward to 12 September, to find out more and to get our hands on a bottle or two of 2015 vintage Thomas Hardy’s Ale to store away in the cellar so that the lengthy bottle maturing process can bring out its aromas to the full.

  • How to enjoy a Thomas Hardy’s Ale



    Thomas Hardy’s Ale gets better with time.

    By interpreting the original recipes of the pioneer Barley Wines of the English aristocratic cellars at the end of the 18th century, the secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle gives the Ale a fine condition as it matures. The loss of sugars results in a dryness of taste, just as with a red wine. The back label of Thomas Hardy’s Ale makes clear its potential to be laid down like a fine wine.

    The balance between sweetness and dryness is clearly each beer drinker’s choice. One may find it at five years, another at 12, and yet another at 25 or more. Some people who had the opportunity to try it say that it reaches the best aroma and taste after 25 years of maturation in bottle.

    Most vintages of Thomas Hardy’s Ale are sealed with crown corks. Keep bottles with crown corks in an upright position to minimize the liquid surface area exposed to infiltration of air. If one is fortunate enough to have an extremely rare vintage with a driven cork, these bottles should be laid on their side to keep the cork moist as with a fine wine.

    Store bottles in cellar at 13°C / 55°F, away from light, for at least 12 months.




    Before drinking, stand the bottle for 24 hours to allow natural yeast sediment to settle. The suggested serving temperature is from 13°C to 18°C / 55°F to 64°F.

    Pour the Ale in a broad balloon glass and wait some minutes to allow its settling before drinking. In the meantime, you can take delight by the deep amber color with dark golden highlights and by the succession of aromas.




    Thomas Hardy’s Ale is a versatile brew that can be enjoyed with meals ranging from red meat to pasta, and is equally enjoyable at home with after dinner cheese or sweets. It’s in grand harmony with hearty stews and soups, and perfect with plum pudding or fruitcake, especially when young.

    Pairings with blue cheese, dark chocolate or, why not, a good Cuban cigar are highly recommended. It’s a relaxing “nightcap” and a warming friend in winter. In short, the time to enjoy it is limited only by one’s imagination.

    Thanks to its complexity in flavor and fragrance, in our opinion Thomas Hardy’s Ale is best enjoyed by itself.




    Sampling each vintage year after year gives the joy to compare the changing subtleties of taste.

    What’s more, just as with wine, no one is quite sure what happens inside the bottle.


    Differences may exist from brew to brew, and even bottle to bottle.

  • One beer, two styles?

    A barley wine, or an old ale? This is not as pedantic a question as it may appear. Thomas Hardy’s Ale is such an important beer that it can actually be classified in two different categories.

    If the barley wine definition is perhaps the more common and widely-acknowledged, quite a few English experts put this beer in the old ale class. Foremost among these is celebrated beer writer Michael Jackson.

    The distinction is one for the specialists, because the two categories do in fact have many points in common: neither, for example, could be described as a “mass” beer; moreover, both are characterised by a fairly high alcohol content, higher in barley wine than in old ale, and both have a pronounced malty flavour.

    Both types, again, are of British origin and both have long histories. In fact, although the first recorded mention of barley wine dates to the early 20th century, we know for certain that this type of beer had already been produced in Great Britain for centuries. Old ales have an equally long story.

    Both types, finally, are beers which develop and mature for years in the bottle, and so they can be aged in the cellar after purchase. This is why, with a beer like Thomas Hardy’s Ale, we can enjoy amazing “vertical” tasting of various vintages, discovering the differences in the beer’s flavour and aroma in each individual year.

    A feature which has added to the reputation of the beers in question: buying barley wine or old ale is seen as an investment whose only reward is pleasure. On your own or shared with friends.

    On condition, of course, that they know how to appreciate a Thomas Hardy’s Ale.

  • The historic vintages

    When talking of a beer so extraordinary as Thomas Hardy’s Ale the reference to memorable vintages is never an exaggeration. Each vintage, every year if you prefer, is actually characterised by different shades. In addition, the fascinating “miracle” of ageing in the cellar allows to enjoy, as long as you succeed in leaving a Thomas Hardy’s “helpless” for long, the evolution of the aromas and taste that gradually becomes more complex, structured, deep.
    However, authoritative experts have identified, in a number of occasions, some really legendary vintages, the result of exclusive and much envied tastings. If you happen to have any bottle of these legendary vintages in your cellar, well, be aware that you are guarding a treasure. And if you happen to taste an “old” bottle of Thomas Hardy’s Ale … well, please share with us your feelings. We would love it!

    The silver anniversary year, that is twenty-five years from first production, a beer not impossible to find and even at the peak of its potential. Deep amber coloured, with complex and structured aromas that reveal the sweet notes of fruit, almonds and caramel. The palate again reveals sweet notes of caramel that, combined with toasted hints, give rise to an alcoholic accent that is at the same time warm, pleasant and persistent.

    A beer that seems to improve from year to year, according to those who had the good fortune to taste it several times and on different occasions over time. It results darker than that dated 1993, with a greater aromatic complexity that even includes spicy notes. The nose offers hints of smoke, vanilla, apple and cinnamon. The palate is well balanced, rich in malt sweetness but not cloying. The finish leaves aromatic hints of coffee, roasted malt and creamy toffee.

    Despite the many years passed, the taste of the vintage 1987 revealed a beer still extremely enjoyable. The amber colour turns to brown, the bouquet offers notes reminiscent of brandy, chocolate and caramel impressions, hints of dried flowers. The palate is simply sumptuous and complex with clear notes of figs and dates, up to a soft finish that leaves flavours of chocolate and caramel.

    The first vintage ever of Thomas Hardy’s is a kind of Holy Grail. Idealized and highly sought after. Those who have had the good fortune to taste it report, with understandable emotion, notes of crème brûlée, an articulated fruity flavour ranging from nuances of apples, apricots and currants, the vinous finish hint reminiscent of a good quality Port. The first sip is able to amaze with its silkiness, as well as with the warm notes of toffee, apricot liqueur and, again, Porto. A beer yet elegant, complex but balanced and able to ensure a truly memorable taste experience.

  • Thomas Hardy’s Ale

    Thomas Hardy was one of the greatest English novelists and poets of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was born in 1840 in the small village of Upper Bockhampton, Dorset. Not so far from the small city of Dorchester, where the Eldridge Pope Brewery opened its doors in 1881. Following a period spent in London, where he intended to put to use his studies as an architect, Hardy returned to his home county and devoted himself to literature.

    A socially committed writer, often gloomy and pessimistic, his fortunes fluctuated in both life and work, with noteworthy success often followed by vociferous public rejection. After an early series of short stories came what may be considered Hardy’s greatest novel: Far from the Madding Crowd. The success of this book, published in 1874, allowed Hardy to devote himself exclusively to writing, and, at the same time, to become increasingly isolated in the rural life of the Dorset countryside.

    1891 saw the publication of the novel which is universally seen as his most famous:Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In a dramatic criticism of social mores, Tess, a young country girl, finds herself cast into a social setting superior to her own. Four years after the success of Tess came the publication of Jude the Obscure, which nevertheless did not receive critical acclaim. The disappointed Hardy vowed to write only poetry from that moment. A promise he kept until his death in Dorchester in 1928.

     * * *

    Thomas Hardy loved beer. Especially from the Eldridge Pope Brewery. He was frequently seen in Dorchester pubs, and in one of his stories, The Trumpet Major, he describes the beer of Casterbridge (aka Dorchester) in these words: “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. People adored it, and the well-to-do loved it better than wine…”

    Years after the writer’s death, some empty Victorian bottles were found at Eldridge Pope. The decision was taken to pay homage to the great author, and in 1968, on the fortieth anniversary of his death, a special beer was produced for the first time, in limited edition. It was called, obviously, Thomas Hardy’s Ale.

  • The grounds of a comeback

    Basically, Thomas Hardy’s Ale’s return has a single reason.

    It is a beer that we have loved since the very first time we tasted it. So, basically, that’s all there is to it! Simple.

    We haven’t kept records over the years of the ups and downs of this exceptional barley wine, a truly unique example of style. We enjoyed gently sipping it with pleasure every time we had the chance, like all its devotees around the world. We all had small stocks in our private cellars and used to open a bottle on special occasions, enjoying it sitting comfortably by the fireplace.

    Just like all the others, we have received the news that Thomas Hardy’s will no longer be produced with a mix of sadness and nostalgia. The feelings we’ve felt, the deep and lasting pleasure we have always found in every glass, were destined to become just a memory.

    And then, all of a sudden, we had the chance of bringing this fantastic beer back to life, an opportunity that we really couldn’t miss. As they say, a once in a lifetime’s chance. Thomas Hardy’s Ale is our chance and we have taken it without a second thought. With love, respect, the desire and willingness to return Thomas Hardy’s to its passionate admirers, as it always has been. A large family to which we have always belonged to, belong to and will always belong to.

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