Gingerbread Stout from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Second place: Kentucky Christmas morning from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Third place: Sweet Potato & Sage Autumn Ale from Ardent Craft Ales
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery co-founder and brew master Patrick Murtaugh describes the prolonged excitement over the Gingerbread Stout a "pleasant surprise." It was only the third beer to come out of Hardywood back in 2011, long before Richmond was on the map for its brew, but it was impressive enough to receive a perfect score of 100 from Beer Advocate magazine.
More than one person has described the flavor as "Christmas in a bottle," which is exactly what the brewery was going for.
"The thing that makes Gingerbread Stout so special is that it brings back memories of the holidays, including eating and making gingerbread cookies," Murtaugh says. "The ingredients themselves also make it a very special beer. We use a very unique baby Hawaiian white ginger grown not too far from the brewery and a local wildflower honey, along with whole vanilla beans and cinnamon to re-create those nostalgic flavors."
By the time the beer's 2012 debut rolled around, word had gotten around and a line snaked around the building on the day of the release. The beer's wild popularity has only grown in the subsequent years, and the team has capitalized on its success.
In 2018, the beer was available in 11 varieties, with some aged in rye, brandy, port, rum or bourbon barrels. Murtaugh says he and the team have a few other versions up their sleeves, so keep an eye out for announcements and pre-orders in the fall.