Monday, January 2

tasting notes for Thomas Hardy's Ale

1993 Immature aroma; sweet, fruity, and noticeably alcoholic. A slightly saline front on the palate, a peach and apricot sweetness, and a warming brandy-like finish.

1990 Very full, complex aroma, with a deep fruitiness and notes of burnt toast, dark chocolate, and anise. Well-developed body, with lingering alcohol on the finish.

1987 The fruitiness had aged out of this one, leaving a curious chocolate-mint aroma. Thin body, with notes of chocolate, fresh dates, and burnt spice. Quick finish.

1987 This was a special additional bottling of the '87, aged in sherry casks. A huge, smoky aroma; a woody body with notes of vanilla bean, sherry, and black cherry. An unusually dry finish.

1984 Spoiled. Black cherry, currant, and licorice in the aroma. Tart, acidic body and finish.

1982 Some deterioration, with bitter chocolate, anise, and mulled fruit in the aroma, and sour cherry, bitter chocolate, and red and black currants in the musty, astringent body. Woody, bitter-sour finish.

1974 Complex nose, suggesting chocolate, caramel, dates, allspice, roasted chestnuts, marshmallows, and other aromas. The body had more in common with whiskey than with beer -- very dry, with notes of wood, walnuts, bitter chocolate, and a hint of brine. The finish was drier still and very woody.

1968 Rich, full aroma with notes of crème brûlée, cognac, bitter chocolate, and tanned leather. Lightly fruity and tannic in the front, leading to a complex body of burnt wood, dried black currants, vintage port, fino sherry, and a faint hint of bitter chocolate. Lingering, off-dry finish with a suggestion of fresh dates.

-- Stephen Beaumont, in "The Brewer of Casterbridge" Saveur No.4 (1995)