This is the last beer in our December Stout series, and boy is it a big one. Trying to be objective with the buzz around this beer was next to impossible, as was trying to find it right away. Not being from the Richmond area, and not having the time to wait in that massive line on release day, we were able to track it down a month later around Charlottesville. And, like the few before, it was as good as advertised.
Gingerbread Stout, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, VA)
Imperial Milk Stout, ABV: 9.2%
Presentation: Like the few stout before, I found it from the tap as well as the 22oz bombers. For the tasting, we went tap into tulep glass.
Appearance: Super deep brown into black color with no haze. Brownish head, but not much to speak of. Dissipates quickly to the edge, leaving small ring around glass.
Smell: Like gingerbread, honey, and vanilla having an all out war for world dominance. I thought that the vanilla was the easiest to pick up, but subsequent tastings I could pick out the ginger more and more.
Taste: Strong ‘imperial’ taste up front, with a strong ginger and honey middle, finishing in the vanilla aroma. Also detected some mulling spice notes at the end. It was like a eating a gingerbread cookie and finishing it off with some snow cream.
ABV/IBU Feel: This has a very alcohol front to it, which is the best way to hint at the 9.2% ‘imperial’. But this beer finishes mostly clean with a very strong vanilla taste to it and a little sharp, heighten as it warms up. IBU of 55 is there for balance and the sweetness of the honey counters any bitterness.
Overall: I could just copy and paste our last 2 stout wrap ups and paste them here. (1) We do not play favorites. (2) We review what we can get our hands on. (3) We don’t throw around greatness all the time. But this just happens to be a time of year where we are impressed by some really, really good beer. Again this beer should not fall down the ‘milk stout’ hole, but appreciated for the complexity of ingredients and how they work with each other to make a complete beer. Side note: please remember our scoring system is based on style of beer not ‘best beer ever’. This received a slightly higher score than the others based on the ‘imperial stout’ notes and quality being slightly more evident for its style. This is a truly great beer, but like most imperials, this is an ‘enjoy one glass’ kinda beer. But it is a hell of a glass.