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Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Brewmaster & Co-Founder Patrick Murtaugh Talks Hardywood Gingerbread Stout

Eric McKay, president and co-founder and Patrick Murtaugh brewmaster and co-founde of Hardywood Park
Eric McKay, president and co-founder (left) and Patrick Murtaugh brewmaster and co-founder.

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
Eric came up with the concept for this beer using local honey and ginger and I wrote the recipe using a popular vanilla porter recipe that we made as home brewers. Eric, head brewer Brian Nelson and I played around with spice additions until we settled on just the right blend.

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
The aroma and flavor of this beer is very much that of fresh baked gingerbread cookies. Because gingerbread is so specific to the holiday season, for me, and others I've spoken to, it really brings up all those fond memories of time spent with family and friends. I'd have to say that feeling it congers up is my favorite aspect of this beer.  If a beer can be described as nostalgic, this is it.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
We set out to create a stout that tasted like a gingerbread cookie, complete with the vanilla icing, and after tasting our results, there really was no other name. Surprisingly, there had never been another brewery to use the moniker "Gingerbread Stout," so we ran with it.

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
While this is among my favorites, I probably wouldn't designate a 9.2%, spiced, milk stout as my desert island beer... dessert island beer, definitely!

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
I would have to borrow the words of the Alström Brothers in their Beer Advocate Magazine review... "Taste's like friggin' Christmas in a bottle.”

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
Within a month of opening our doors in 2011, a farmer named Bill Cox walked into our tasting room with two tall stalks of a plant we could not immediately identify. He went on to explain how he grows this Hawaiian white ginger in high tunnels on his property, Casselmonte Farm, in nearby Powhatan County, Virginia. We sampled it and fell in love with the bright, subtle nuances that seemed to evade lesser gingers. A week later we were introduced to Cy Bearer, the owner of Bearer Farms in Louisa, Virginia, whose bees produce wildflower honey. With the perfect blend of local ginger and honey, as well as vanilla and cinnamon, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout was born.

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
The obvious pairing is any sort of chocolate or cream based desert but I've paired it with a braised short rib and the synergetic flavor it creates in your mouth is absolutely out of this world.

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