Bill Cox was just trying to make Hardywood Park Craft Brewing founders Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh do good on their promise to use local ingredients. So was Cy Bearer. When the two Virginia farmers brought their crops of Hawaiian white ginger and wildflower honey to the new Richmond brewery, they could never have known they’d be creating a Christmas icon.
Eight years later, Hardywood is still churning out Gingerbread Stout, its made-for-Christmas imperial milk stout that’s packed with vanilla, cinnamon, and that Hawaiian ginger and honey. Now, there are six different variations of Gingerbread Stout, each one more delectable than the last. But it’s the original that maintains Hardywood’s initial spirit of community, intuition, and Yuletide.
Gingerbread Stout looks like a fresh mug of hot chocolate. Sitting atop the maple syrup body is a cinnamon-brown head that’s as fluffy as a meringue. For an imperial, it’s well-carbonated, which explains that chocolatey cloud floating up to the edge of the glass.
Farmer Cox’s ginger crop is fragrant. Pry off the cap, and sweet rushes of candied ginger pop out of the bottle. There’s a whole bakery at work: toasted molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla extract abound. You can smell the fresh-baked gingerbread
In Virginia, Christmas doesn’t start until Hardywood releases Gingerbread Stout, and it’s easy to understand why.”
Gingerbread Stout is pure cookie batter. One sip and you’re transported to a fireplace from your youth, snacking idly on a lightly frosted Christmas treat. Sink your teeth in, drink in the sweet breadiness, feel the ginger tingle linger. This is Christmas witchcraft.
You can build more than a gingerbread house on sugar and spice. You can build an institution. In Virginia, Christmas doesn’t start until Hardywood releases Gingerbread Stout, and it’s easy to understand why. Make this X-mas confection a family tradition.