• The Historical Ale has reached the top list on Ratebeer.com

    The Historical Ale, a version of the classic Barley Wine Thomas Hardys Ale, aged in Cognac barrels, has reached its first, very important goal: it has entered the prestigious Ratebeer.com TOP 50 list after glowing reviews from the international community.


    Last year the “renewed” Thomas Hardy’s Ale was recognised and awarded at the international World Beer Awards and International Beer Challenge competitions. 2017 promises to be another rewarding year for the Vecchiato brothers, who decided to revive the history of this classic English Barley Wine.

    This time, the most sought-after endorsement of all – that of the general public – was awarded to The Historical Ale, an extremely limited edition of the Thomas Hardy’s Ale, aged for over six months in barrels of French Hine Cognac.

    To be precise, this endorsement was given by many beer enthusiasts who come together on Ratebeer.com, a site that enables visitors to review and rate tasted beers. Reviews and ratings for The Historical Ale are nothing short of excellent, with a total score of 99/100. This means this English “treat” has made the “TOP 50 Barley Wine” list, alongside some of the best crafts in the world.

    Comments by site members speak of fruity and barley notes; aromas of toffee, dried and seasoned fruit and wood, while the Cognac takes centerstage.

    This beer is still very young and will no doubt improve by ageing a few more years in the canteen, but it has already met the approval of enthusiasts all over Europe, especially Scandinavians who are particularly active on Ratebeer.com in late spring.

    The “classic” Thomas Hardy’s Ale, whose aroma and structure is even better suited to mature with age, has also grown steadily reaching an exceptional average of 89/100.

    Thomas Hardy’s Ale’s new adventure got off to a promising start and can already be confident that its community has never forgotten it.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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