In celebrating a Super Bowl win by my beloved Patriots, I deemed it fitting to crack into one of my dearest bottles in the beer cellar. This one is from the 2004 vintage, a bottle stamped No. P 49100.
There wasn't the faintest hiss of carbonation upon removing the cap. Color is a deep amber-brown, with the slightest ring of fine bubbles around the edge of the glass. Aroma is raisins, figs, sherry and maple syrup.
On the palate, there is a deep toasted bread crust note, more figs and sherry, and a hint of earthy/herbal hops. Although it is quite sweet, I still get a touch of lingering hop bite that is very welcome. After a few sips a real nice note of dried cherries starts to build. Surprisingly, I still get a slight tickle of carbonation after 11 years in the bottle.
Thomas Hardy is probably my all-time favorite beer. It's nice to have an occasion to celebrate with one. Alas, I do think that the 2004 vintage is starting to turn the corner. Not that there is anything bad going on here, but I do feel that it is starting to become a bit more cloying/maple syrupy than when in its peak form. I may be finding the fainest hint of soy sauce here as well, but I'm not entirely certain. I have one bottle left from this vintage. As tempting as it is to hold onto it for many more years, I think I may be doing the beer a disservice by waiting much longer. I should probably check in on my 2006 Vintage bottles as well.