Finally! The famed Hardywood Gingerbread Stout shall pass these lips. I had been wanting to try this famous Virginia beer for quite some time, but it’s not sold here in Georgia. Thanks to Jefferson Evans though I finally got my hands on a bottle. Being the huge fan of Samuel Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout that I am, it was only natural I would want to try the beer that is considered the original gingerbread stout by the brewery and many beer aficionados. I don’t know which beer was really first, but whichever it was I hope that it inspires many more brewers to follow suit with their own versions.
Here’s what the brewery has to say on the label about Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, further described on the label as an Imperial Milk Stout with fresh local ginger and honey:
Made with baby ginger from Casselmonte Farm and wildflower honey from Bearer Farms, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout captures the terroir of central Virginia in a rich, creamy libation with a velvety mouthfeel and an intriguing evolution of flavors from milk chocolate and vanilla to honeycomb and cinnamon to a snap of ginger in the finish. We hope Hardywood Gingerbread Stout contributes to your merriment this season.
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout has an alcohol content of 9.2% by volume with 55 IBUs. I have it on good authority that the beer runs $9.99 for a 25.4-ounce bottle, not a bad price at all. In addition to honey and ginger, whole Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and Vietnamese cinnamon. Milk sugar (lactose) are also added as ingredients.
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout pours to a dark brownish black color with a thick rocky head of foam and a lightly phenolic, soft cookie malty nose not unlike fresh baked gingerbread from the oven. Taking a sip, the beer has a wonderful cookie-like maltiness up front more like a brown ale than a stout really. Then the ginger takes over and combines with the soft, creamy malts and cinnamon to suggest gingerbread right out of the oven. The beer is slightly phenolic as it was in the nose, but finishes dry with spicy ginger much like gingerbread does.
I like the analogy of gingerbread from the oven here whereas Sam Adams Merry Maker has bolder ginger notes to me, a lot like a spicy gingerbread cookie. I couldn’t tell you one is better than the other, to my taste they are very different and personal preferences may vary. To my taste, I prefer the Samuel Adams beer. I did notice more of the distracting band-aid phenols in the nose and palate as the beer warmed, and they take this down a peg in my estimation. A gingerbread man wrapped in a band aid might be one analogy. I will surely try this again to see if that is a function of the ginger or I got an off bottle.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.