A virtual godsend for the city of Richmond, HARDYWOOD PARK BREWERY resides inside a luxurious 12,000 square foot red brick warehouse in the light industrial section of the former German brewing district. Co-founded by enthusiastic New York transplants Eric Mc Kay (Fordham business grad and creator of GreatBrewers.com) and Patrick Murtaugh (Masters of Brewing at Munich’s renowned Doemens Academy), Hardywood Park takes its name from an Australian sheep station where the pair first discovered hand crafted beer in 2001. Open since October 2011, this outstanding brewhouse bottles, kegs and serves growlers to go.
On my February ’13 journey, a blackboard lists today’s available tapped beers and a community table just to the left of the entrance sports a flatscreeen TV. Glass-encased brew tanks and wooden barrels behind the serving station hold various full-time, one-off and seasonal brews. To the right side, a gray-floored room with high ceilings, exposed pipes and metal beams features a growler filling station and food stand (with cheeses, croissants and locally grown foods).
Hardywood Park serves four libations from its atrium taps. One’s a Belgian styled staple that’s put thru a Randal tube dispenser with fresh fruit and vegetables and the other two are related dark ales.
Sitting at one of the couches to the left of the tap room, I get ready to throw back my 6-ounce samples amongst a litany of beer enthusiasts. One of ‘em is a native New Yorker who attended Richmond University. We get to talking while I sip on my first offering.
A zesty citric effervescence brightens the white-peppered grassy hop spicing and Belgian yeast cellar musk of Hardywood Singel (Abbey-style Blonde Ale). Its tangy grape-skinned tangerine, navel orange, pineapple, melon and banana sweetness contrasts lemon-rotted peppercorn, coriander and dank cannabis resin.
Put thru the Randal dispenser (with fresh lettuce plus lemon and orange slices), the fruitier tapped version softens its funky Belgian yeast attributes and tones down the Cascade-hopped carbolic fizz, leaving a fresher citric frisk to mellow out the buttery biscuit bottom.
On the dark side, Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout loads Ethiopian coffee (from local Lamplighter shop) atop serene caramel-malted milk chocolate creaminess. Its roasted coffee bean bittering picks up dark-spiced dried cocoa, molasses, toffee and hazelnut undertones for a soothingly approachable Russian Imperial.
For this wintry cold day, the most worthy libation is the fascinating one-half Bourbon Cru and one-half Sidamo Coffee Stout concoction simply known as Brian’s Barrel Blend. Its creamy bourbon-soothed mocha contour outlines sour raspberry, brambleberry and dark cherry fruiting. Dewy peat mossing soaks into the chocolate-covered blueberry center (where tertiary raisin, red grape, oaken vanilla and pecan nuances reside).
While in Richmond, don’t forget to pick up beers at Once Upon A Vine (www.onceuponavine.us), owned by beer enthusiast Robert Kocher. I picked up several cool local brews by Williamsburg Alewerks, Devil’s Backbone, Center Of The Universe, Lost Rhino, Blue Mountain, 16 Mile and O’Connor.

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