"In 'The Trumpet Major' Hardy wrote of Dorchester strong beer '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".
On the now defunct website (the Eldridge Pope brewery went bankrupt largely through horrible mismanagement in 2003) they explain what happened next:
The refurbishment of the Trumpet Major pub in Dorchester was the catalyst for the fledgling Thomas Hardy's Ale. 1968 was the 40th anniversary of the authors' death and what better way to commemorate it than by attempting to bring fiction to life and creating the brew that Hardy imagined. This was to be no ordinary ale. Matured in oak sherry casks for nine months and corked in decorative pint and half pint bottles. The strength was a whopping 12% and it was bottle conditioned. Thus the legend began and bottles were laid down with the expectation of improvement as the beer matured.