Beer fests are a great time to hang out with your friends and try new beer. It is not the best place to conduct a true beer review. For one, the distractions are everywhere. Just trying to keep up with social media while meeting new people takes up 75% of your time, while the other quarter is spent making sure you can sample what brews you came to the event in the first place. But what you can do there is find beer you like and hunt for them later, in a less chaotic setting.
You would think that finding a GABF Gold Medal winning beer would be a chore, but when it comes from central Virginia, it keeps pooping up from time to time. Well, I got my hands on some and was equally impressed the 2nd time around.
Raspberry Stout, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, VA)
Fruit-Style Stout, ABV: 9.2%
Presentation: Bomber pour into tulep.
Appearance: Black with light brownish head that settles fairly quick.
Smell: Raspberry and dark chocolate heavy, with a solid toasted malt stout base.
Taste: Like other stouts from Hardywood the base is cacao heavy and slight thinner. The base supports the very balanced raspberry middle. It is like a raspberry setting on a pillow of stout.
ABV/IBU Feel: I sure didn’t notice the 9.2% at the festival, but you sure could pick up on it on the from the outset of this stout. The thinner style leave a little opening for the alcohol to poke through briefly. Mouthfeel was clean and balance, slightly leaning to the acidic style, but that is crushed quickly. A’int no IBU to talk about here.
Overall: The GABF win was in the American-Style Fruit Beer category, so you could put this into subdivide this a couple different ways. I think of this beer, like Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout, as stout first with fruit. The stout is pretty much classic as they have that dialed in. The raspberry blends perfectly and compliments the beer, not overpowering. Like most stouts, this is a desert/one-and-done beer, but you could sneak another one as an aperitif. We won’t mind. This is another world class beer and one that should be on your to get list for the winter.