Beer: Christmas Pancakes
Brewery: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, VA)
Style: Stout – Imperial/ Double Milk
9.2% ABV / 55 IBU
Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout is widely acclaimed – and worthy of all its plaudits. The Richmond brewery’s flagship Christmas brew earned a perfect score in Beer Advocate and launched a series of gingerbread cookie stout imitators, but none approach the pleasure of cracking open a bottle of the Hardywood GBS during the holiday season. More impressive is that the brewery has found ways to play variations on a theme with its inspired formula and constantly recast the Gingerbread Stout in new ways through barrel aging and fermentation.
Up until this year, my favorite of the bunch was Christmas Morning, a Gingerbread Stout varietal brewed with Brazilian and Sumatran coffee beans from Richmond’s Blackhand Coffee Company. For those that prefer a distinct coffee flavor in their stouts without accompanying bitterness, it’s the bomb. But I’m now a convert to Hardywood’s Christmas Pancakes – same ABV and IBUs as the Gingerbread Stout, but re-fermented with maple syrup. Genius.
Christmas Pancakes is the Platonic ideal of an imperial milk stout. It pours a perfect onyx color with a minimal (and quickly dissipating) head. The nose is maple, through and through, but there’s a nice interplay between the maple of this formulation with the balanced ginger and vanilla of the GBS. You taste some sweetness and vanilla flavor first, then you experience a little of the bitterness as the back of the palette. Beware: For an imperial stout, it goes down easy. Easy like Christmas Morning.
For more info, check out Hardywood Park Craft Brewery here.