Kentucky Christmas Morning, Hardywood Park Brewery (Richmond, VA)

Posted by  Alex Hannagan   in  Beer Reviews     11 months ago     531 Views     Comments Off on Kentucky Christmas Morning, Hardywood Park Brewery (Richmond, VA)  

Oh come, let us adore them…

Oh come, let us adore them…

Oh come,  let us adore them…  Hardywood Park!

Kentucky Christmas Morning, Hardywood Park Brewery (Richmond, VA)
Barrel Aged Coffee & Gingerbread Stout, 10.6% ABV, 55 IBU

Presentation:  Bomber pour into Crystal Tulip.  Yeah, we went extra high class for this one.

Appearance:  The head pours rusty before oxidation leaves it more tan – it’s creamy but no lattice results.  The beer base is a deep black without any coffee inflections.

Taste:  The nose is incredibly complex and, honestly, the best part of this beer.  Remember – smell is the biggest part of taste, and while many beers leave a lot for all your gustatory senses (taste, that is), that Kentucky Christmas Morning assaults your olfactory portions so much means you need to be ready for a big, bold beer.  That nose includes peat, oak, and gingerbread spice.  It’s a smokier version of their Double Barrel GBS, in all honesty.  In the body, however, deeply toasted malts and coffee come more into play.  That’s the big difference between most of the other GBS variations and this one (including regular Christmas Morning) – that essence of freshly ground beans.  It’s not that it’s coffee as a major flavor, per se.  But it is the difference between drinking a Breakfast Blend and an Italian Roast.  There’s something meatier, spicier, and much friendlier to other flavors present.  Once everything goes down the hatch, though, the coffee gives way to bourbon, and we hope you like it because the finish is all about the bourbon.  It’s smoky, peaty, silky.  Like a burst of hops those flavors both linger and weigh on the palate.  This beer will do things to you that don’t seem natural.

Mouth Feel:  Kentucky Christmas Morning plays both across and over the whole tongue.  At colder temperatures it coats more thoroughly, including a sharp initial zest at the tip of the tongue.  You can really place the smoke at the center of the tongue, where sweetness turns to bitters.

Overall:  This is such a big, bold, son of a bitch of a beer.  A little goes a marathon.  It’s impeccably crafted, but…  If you don’t drink this beer the way it’s meant to be tasted, you’ll be asking yourself why anyone prefers this over the original Gingerbread Stout.  When this beer is straight out of the fridge, it’s a lot less drinkable, and the heavy body just totally dominates everything around you.  We did this one in thirds though – once out the fridge at 34 degrees, a second pour at 45 degrees, and a final one at 52 degrees.  Yes, we sped up a little bit, but you try not to as an Imperial Stout lays into you…  That last pour matters so much, though.  It went from a decent stout with a lot of flavors all competing against each other to this smooth, malty, layered masterpiece.  The peat relaxes, the coffee ascends into the nose, and all of a sudden this is a cookie beer all over again – we paired it with peppermint chocolate cookies with incredible success.

We try to offer presentation suggestions during our reviews.  We implore, beseech, all but beg you here:  If you are lucky enough to get a pour (or, thankfully, a bottle in our case) of Kentucky Christmas Morning, please let it warm up once out of the fridge for a solid hour.  Use the tulip or another wide bodied glass.  This beer is so quaffable as to be nigh unicorn.  And please, take your time and sip on this for as long as you like.  The body opens up – incredibly so – the more as it sits in your hand just as a Single Malt Scotch would.  Treat this beer well, and it’ll do the same for you.

Score:  9.1