Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout Gets New Siblings

For those who may have become jaded by the seemingly ubiquitous Hardywood Gingerbread Stout (GBS) and the rapid sell-out of the brewery’s first beer club earlier this year, the Richmond brewery is making changes that just may rekindle that ember of interest.


The beer that put Richmond on the map can draw a mixed reaction these days. Gingerbread Stout from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery garnered national attention promptly after its initial release in 2011 when “Beer Advocate” magazine gave it a perfect 100 score. The limited release quickly became a sought-after whale among beer traders, fetching prices far above retail price.

Here in Richmond, lines for GBS release at the brewery became epic, and fans glued their attention to social media to find out when and where the beer would appear on retailers’ shelves.

A milk stout enhanced with local ingredients — baby ginger from Casselmonte Farm and wildflower honey from Bearer Farms — GBS is rich without being cloyingly sweet, presenting a nice balance of winter flavors, including chocolate from the malts and additions of vanilla and cinnamon.

Hardywood has also aged the beer in a variety of barrels. The initial bourbon barrel GBS has been followed by rum and apple brandy. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Christmas Morning, blended with local coffee, and Kentucky Christmas Morning, the same beer aged in bourbon barrels. And yes, I’ve discovered they do pair well with the opening of presents on Dec. 25).

In subsequent years, Hardywood has increased the size of its brewery and brewed more of the coveted stout, so standing in long lines on a cold November morning has become less necessary — though the barrel-aged versions are still limited.

So, with six years of GBS behind us, much of the FOMO has subsided. But the beer is still as good, and, to keep the hype as fresh as the ginger it uses for the beer, Hardywood has announced new additions and release dates.

Nov. 1: The complete set. Hardywood will sell a limited number of complete sets — GBS, plus all bottled variants and a branded glass. Sales open on Nov. 1, with sets available for pickup on Dec. 15. Merry Christmas!

Nov. 4: GBS, plus new Christmas Pancakes. The GBS release day also includes a draft-only variant, Christmas Pancakes, re-fermented with maple syrup. OK, I guess I can’t skip the release day after all.

Nov. 11: Bourbon Barrel GBS

Nov. 18: Rum Barrel GBS. Available at the brewery only.

Nov. 25: Apple Brandy Barrel GBS. Available at the brewery only.

Dec. 2: Christmas Morning plus new Rye Whiskey Barrel GBS. This new variant, aged in barrels from A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, is new and available only at the brewery.

Dec. 9: Kentucky Christmas Morning

Dec. 16: Double Barrel Gingerbread Stout: This new, brewery-only release was aged for four months in Caribbean dark rum barrels and then transferred into bourbon barrels and aged for another four months. Powerful!


Live and learn. Hardywood has. The response to the brewery’s inaugural beer club was so large that it overwhelmed the website, as customers labored in vain to register. Hardywood postponed signup for a few hours to find an alternative. Once registration opened again, it filled within minutes. If you forgot to dot an “i” or cross a “t,” you would not have been among the lucky 100. I know, I was among the disappointed.

This year, Hardywood has expanded the number of memberships to approximately 150 and chosen a method of registration that offers a fair chance to all who are interested. From Oct. 30 through Nov. 7, Hardywood will open lottery sign-ups for enrollment and 2018 Family Tree members will be selected at random from that list.

In 2018, Family Tree membership offers a way to score the brewery’s most popular releases without waiting in line, beers packaged exclusively for members, plus two member-only events. Cost is $295, plus tax.


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