January 3rd

Every now and then, an unexpected gift from the beer gods comes your way. Patrons of the LCBO got lucky when some crazy Albertans decided they’d had too much of O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2008 and shipped it out this way. Seeing as the beer is currently in limbo with no brewery willing to buy the right to brew it, it was quite the gift.

What’s so special about it, other than the fact that it is no longer produced? For starters, the beer was already made in small batches, with numbered bottles. The little medallions are added by hand, one of the reasons why O’Hanlon’s claimed it was too expensive to keep making. But most importantly, it’s an absolutely delicious beer, though one that some may have to acquire a taste for, a problem I first encountered (and one I’m not ashamed to admit).

After pouring out the bottle (stupidly forgetting, in my excitement, that the last bit would be mostly sediment), I took a while just enjoying the smells rising from the glass. This beer is definitely a sipper at 11.7% ABV, but it goes quickly due to the 250mL size. (And seeing as the last bit is sediment, the amount you drink is a tad less than that.) Like any good barley wine, the malts give off a complex aroma of caramel, toffee and molasses. The alcohol is definitely present in the taste, as well as raisins. A lovely bitter finish that balances out the sugars and cleanses the palate for the next taste.

My only worry was how this beer was being stored for the past year, but evidently those concerns were for naught. If someone tells you this needs more years of cellaring, don’t listen to them! They only want it all for themselves!

O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2008 on Ratebeer

Today: 230mL. Year-to-date: 45.46L.

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