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The Great Return - Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Not Rated.
The Great ReturnThe Great Return

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

59 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 59
Hads: 516
Avg: 3.96
pDev: 32.07%
Wants: 31
Gots: 96 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: blackie on 10-26-2013

Bold, resinous and bursting with bright grapefruit aroma, this IPA is a tribute to the decades of hard work by conservationists to restore the James River as a bounty of vibrant aquatic life, eco-friendly recreational activity, and in our case, fresh brewing water. These efforts have culminated recently with the symbolic return of the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, a prehistoric, yet majestic behemoth of a fish, spotted as far up the James River as the fall line in Richmond. Your purchase of this beer supports the James River Association. Thank you for being a part of The Great Return.

In our commitment to James River conservation, Hardywood will contribute $10 per barrel of The Great Return to The James River Association, to support their mission to be the guardian of the James River. The JRA's core programs include Watershed Restoration, Education and Outreach, River Advocacy and the Riverkeeper Program.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 59 | Hads: 516
Photo of BarwoodBonanza
2.55/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

Tasted same day it was canned (1/24/14)

Hazy, orangey copper color. White, thin layer of foam. Average lacing.

Citrus zest aromas. Fresh grassy hoppy notes. Mostly resinous with a bitter grapefruit nose.

Hop flavors are mostly earthy and wet but not overly powerful. Something resembling bitter grapefruit rind melded with chewy pine resin but only presents itself for a brief second. A bit of malty backbone but flavors fade quickly and leave a lingering and unpleasant bitterness. Sharp and unpleasant bitterness lingers with really no enjoyable flavors to balance.

Finishes with an unpleasant astringency. Decent carbonation. Finishes dry if overly so.

Overall not good. Flavors and aromas are almost non-existent. Mostly what I pick up is a lot of generally unpleasant almost vegetal bitterness with not a whole lot else. I can pick up some classic American IPA notes (a little citrus) but I have to try really hard. I think labeling this a west-coast style IPA is a stretch. Where are the powerful American hop aromas? It's bitter but that's about it. Not terrible but needs a lot of improvement.

 1,109 characters

Photo of rjs246
2.75/5  rDev -30.6%

Not my cup of tea. The grapefruitiness is overwhelming in both the nose and the taste. Lots of people like it though and I appreciate the 16oz canned offering.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
2.96/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hazy orange body, two fingers of level off-white foam. Thick coating of lace.

Grapefruit and pine aroma.

Begins sweet, but it's fruity sweet not malty sweet. Tons of juicy fruit. Overly abrasive pine finish.

Medium-plus mouthfeel.

Not even malt up front, good juicy middle, tough finish. Pass.

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Photo of DavidCville
3.06/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Beautiful packaging and pour and well-priced, but this is not something I'd buy again. I like citrus and tropical fruits in my IPA, and this skews toward unpleasantly bitter and weedy to me. Maltier than most. It's fine. I drank the can, but I am thoroughly lukewarm on it. I'm not sure why Virginia doesn't seem to be able to produce a great IPA.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.09/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Pour is cloudy dark amber, a bit on the copper side, with some tight white head and solid retention. Nose has a lot of malt to it, caramel, crystal malt, hint of citrus hop but mostly stale resinous hops, a touch earthy and a faint peppery spice. Taste follows suit, malty up front, lots of crystal malt, stale hop, resinous, light biscuit, moderate citrus punch. Well carbonated, medium body, clean finish with a lingering citrus.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

17 day old can

Clear darker golden orange with a thin sudsy head.

Aroma is piney and resinous with faint grapefruit and floral hop. Hefty bready and sweet malt.

Big sweeter bread and caramel malt. Lots of piney hop hanging out in the mouth. Bitterness isn't too assertive. It falls off at the end. Mild carbonation. Medium body.

Meh. Too malty for my taste and at only 17 days I'm surprised.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.42/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz can from ThatCracker (thanks man!). Canned 11/18/13. Served in a Souther Tier tulip snifter.

Pours hazy gold amber with a two finger off-white head. Foam lingers for a while and leaves a fair amount of lace.

Nose seems slightly muted with aromas of citrus, earthy pine and bread.

Taste follows the nose- citrus zest, pine, bready malt, pepper and cracker. Straightforward and unoffensive.

Medium full feel fairly strong carbonation. Bitter pine root finish.

This is a good but not outstanding IPA. There was nothing wrong with it but it lacked the brightness that I look for in IPAs.

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Photo of hophugger
3.44/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very Excited to have this beer as I have been extremely pleased with several of their other offerings. Poured from a 16 oz. can, canned on January 23, 2015, the color is a beautiful golden-bronze that just screams sunshine and citrus. Head is nice and fluffy and the only disappointment is that it leaves too early. The lacing on this west coast style IPA is spotty, yet abundant and gets me even more excited to drink it !. Aromas hit the nose with nice grapefruit and other citrus smells. Also, get some smooth malty caramel also, nice !. The flavor smacks you right upside the head with some abundant hop bitterness, lots of grapefruit rind and yet again, that background of smooth caramel that evens thing out quite a bit. The maltiness does play a bit part in this IPA, but isn't that what you want in a bold IPA?. The bitterness hangs in the back of your mouth in a good way, providing a nice remembrance of what you are drinking. Overall, the mouthfeel is nice and what I expected. This is a bold beer and you would never know, by the taste, that it is 7.50 abv. Alcohol is completely hidden and that also adds to the enjoyment of this beer. Balance is right on for the style and I would say that Hardywood has done it again with this one, Cheers !!

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Photo of Beejay
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A medium orange amber, plenty hazy, but with a nice off white head.

S: Citrus comes out right away with grapefruit, and maybe a touch of orange peel. Light tangerine and a little bit of caramel.

T: Citrus with caramel undertones.. The orange peel and tangerine continue through in the taste. There is a nice bit of resiny goodness, with bitter notes of pine and a slight earthiness.

M: Medium in body, with a fairly soft feel. The carbonation is fairly active, and helps to bring out some of the bitterness. There is a slightly drying feel in the finish, with a touch more of the resinous quality.

O: Overall a very good beer, but I would like a touch more depth as far as the hop character is concerned. Putting 'West Coast Style IPA" on the can is like painting a bulls-eye on it, and while it is quite excellent, I think it could be a touch more complex and West Coasty.

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Photo of Roser
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- cloudy, copper, burnt amber. Nice frothy bone white head that remains for a good bit and laces nicely.

S- citrus,malt, and pine.

T- big and bitter up front, eases into spiced pepper finish.

M- medium bodied. Semi smooth.

O- a good to very good IPA. Won't overly wow you, but definitely shouldn't displease, either. Solid marks all around. Each time I tasted, I wanted to give greater praise, but found myself holding back. Still, don't let that stop you. Bottom line: enjoyed it very much, and will be purchasing again.

Cheers all!

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Photo of tone77
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks to the creator of the canquest, woodychandler, for this beer. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a beige color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is bursting with hops, citrus. Taste is hoppy and bitter, only a touch of the citrus detected in the smell, pine and resin are the strongest flavors. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%

16 oz can poured into a shaker pint.

Golden with 1 finger of off-white head. Hazy with some light yeast sediment bouncing around. Moderate carbonation.

Grapefruit, biscuit, honey, honeydew, and caramel.

Yellow grapefruit juice, honeydew, and pine. Honey, caramel, and toasted biscuit. Finishes with dry pine needle, florals, and onion.

Medium bodied, smooth, semi-dry, and semi-juicy with a medium-light bitterness.

A well-malted IPA with your standard grapefruit/pine notes. Nothing too complex. Smooth and easy drinking.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.74/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

16oz can into a Guinness-style pint glass.

A: Pours a nicely hazy copper/gold with 1" white head that recedes somewhat quickly. Retention is OK, lacing is quite poor. The stunning vibrant colors & haziness bumped this up to a 4.

S: Some tropical fruit & a slight funk jump out. There are strong citrus qualities beneath that that are muted a bit by a big, crackery malt note that starts to dominate things.

T: Comes on with more tropical notes & just the slightest trace of caramel sweetness. Mid palate features burly cracker malt paired with straightforward hop-bitterness. Finish is more of the same with a more enhanced resin character that lingers with a touch of black pepper.

M: Lowish to moderate carb married to a fairly thick, sticky body. Not bad, but nothing better than average.

O: Despite some of its shortcomings (in my opinion) this brew is a pretty solid, bitter, hoppy offering. One of Hardywood's better all-year beers.

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Photo of atigerlife
3.76/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had as a cask ale at Chuchkey.

Pour a copper color with almost no head [cask ale]. Some white lacing.

Aroma of grapefruit, sweet malts and some vanilla.

Taste is dominated by grapefruit. Vanilla still comes through. Malty.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly cleansing. Rather dry.

Overall, a very enjoyable beer. Refreshing. Not really sessionable due to the tartness/ABV, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.77/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hardywood is new to PA, so I looked forward to this one. Poured from a pounder can into a nonic pint glass.

A: A medium orange color with a one finger white head. Nice glass lacing.

S: Some grapefruit, pine and caramel malt sweetness.

T: Some slight grapefruit notes, but not near what the description states. Pine is the predominant hop flavor mixed with a huge caramel malt base. The malt seems to take over the flavor and never gives way to the hops. Finish is malty sweet with some pine resin.

M: Medium, a bit prickly, not alcohol and nice carbonation.

O: An "ok" beer, but nothing that would ever entice me to buy another. The can description states "west coast stlye" but for me it was way more east coast with the huge malt flavors. It was worth a try but I'll never seek it out again.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice citrusy undertones with a solid malt backbone. Alcohol well hidden behind the hops. Not as grapefruit-forward as a real west cost IPA but a very good east coast try

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Photo of 4thelvofbeer
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to my buddy Greg for hooking me up with a can of this beer. My first Hardywood beer from this brewer. Pours a medium amber. Smell is good, but a bit muted...not a lot of big citrusy smell or that bitter big IPA smell. Taste is as smells, good, a bit on the light side and a bit muted...kinda lacks the depth of the bigger IPAs and finishes very fast....does not stick around for a long time. Overall, really nice...wish there was just a bit more flavor there.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.81/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz can into a pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy dark amber color. The head is two fingers high, with an off-white shade. I'm fairly impressed with how well the head retains - and even more impressed by the massive lacing it leaves on the glass. The haziness is a slight detraction, but otherwise it looks decent enough.

S: This definitely brings the resinous grapefruit notes. Very sharp, defined grapefruit, actually. It's a hair over two weeks old, so that's no surprise (seriously, there's nothing like a fresh IPA). There are also lesser notes of grass, lime, lemon, and pine. I'm having trouble picking up the malt, apart from a touch of caramel sweetness. A great smelling IPA, helped by the freshness.

T: It starts with a vibrant blast of grapefruit, continuing all the way to the finish. There's also a slight malty touch near the back end, bringing faint caramel. It just dawned on me - while it's certainly an impressive IPA - it's missing a bit of the subtle juiciness I love in the best examples (like Lunch). Still, I like how (relatively) balanced it is: it isn't dominated by crystal malt, nor is it oppressively bitter for the sake of being oppressively bitter.

M: Resiny grapefruit lingers on the tongue nicely. That's about it: the unfiltered body makes it fairly crisp and light for 7.5%. There is, however, a medium body which slows down drinkability ever-so-slightly. Carbonation is nice and soft.

O: Now this is a solid IPA! It's ALMOST spectacular, but not quite - like I said, if it were a bit juicier, it would be off the chart. Still, this is well worth purchasing, and well worth drinking again.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Big thanks to ZachKelly for sending this can as an extra in our trade! Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16 oz. can into a Cigar City pint glass.

A: Pours a deep gold, moderately hazy, with a finger's worth of off-white head with good retention. Lots of visible carbonation.

S: Resin, citrus rind and herbal hops with a bit of dank character over a solid bready sweet malt background.

T: Serious alpha bitterness up front, mostly resin in flavor with some grapefruit rind as well. Strong malt backbone with a fair amount of caramel character along with some alcohol heat hits next, as wave after wave of bitterness washes over the tongue. There's maybe a little oxidation here also. The hang is almost pure hop bitterness with some alcohol warmth.

O: Medium body, good carbonation sensation. The alcohol is more noticeable than it should be for an IPA - more along the lines of a DIPA in my opinion.

O: This wasn't a bad beer, but I'm not floored by my first offering from Hardywood Park. It's a can full of the things I don't prefer in an IPA - more alcohol heat, more caramel malt character, and more characterless bitterness than I would look for (this tastes like more than the claimed 70 IBUs). Still, it remains fairly drinkable and not offensive. Glad to have tried it, though I probably won't look for it again.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a tallboy into a shaker pint, the beer is a cloudy, opaque, copper-orange coloring with a foamy, light, fluffy, bubbly, off-white head. Aromas of pineapple, melon, and apricot, with a healthy dose of grass, cedar, and subtle bitterness. Fairly balanced nose. Flavors are roasted and fruity forward, with a little more citrus to go along with the tropical fruit cocktail. Orange and grapefruit pair up with the pineapple and melon notes, all on a backbone that is tangy sweet caramel and bread. There is an underlying bitterness that keeps everything in check. Big bodied, but slightly effervesced by the carbonation, the beer has a light, citrusy aftertaste, bordering on acidic. Smooth, light finish, with a dry, resinous linger. Big beer.

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Photo of Big_V
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into my pint glass. Orange with 1 finger head. Medium carbonation with medium mouthful. Floaties present. Nose is grapefruit as well as the taste. Grapefruit bomb. Well done IPA. Reminds me of Flower PoweR minus the aroma. Would prefer FP if available.

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Photo of oldn00b
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a really solid IPA. The most prevalent aroma is that of hop's distant cousin. But the flavor is a great bitter but slight citrus IPA. Great to pair with BBQ (where I had it first).

This is one of the better available IPAs from VA.

Yesterday I had this on cask infused with pineapple and it lent itself incredibly well to the sweetness without being overpowered by the fruit.

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a can four weeks old into a pint glass
Look: A pale, light brown color. A finger of head with lots of very large bubbles.
Smell: Candied fruits (pineapple, grapefruit) smells like fruit strip gum. Very sweet smell
Taste: Follows the nose initially with candied fruits then flavors of pine and rind come in. Bitterness is pretty mild.
Feel: Medium mouthfeel
Overall this is a pretty tasty IPA. The candied fruit flavors give is a very unique aroma and taste, setting it apart from the field.

 502 characters

Photo of bmwats
3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz can into a nonic.

A: Dark golden hue. Pours a 2 finger, tight, foamy, white head. Settles slowly and not completely. Persistent beer ring lacing.

S: Hops and pine resin.

T: Hops are very prominent. Charred malt. Bitter pecan.

M: Thick and hearty. Hop bomb lingers on the palate. Steely finish.

D: Sipping experience due to character.

Atmosphere is really good. Large foamy head, plenty of beer ring lacing. Nose is hoppy and sweet. Bitter roasted malt, and prominent hops. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of HotBeerJosh
3.94/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Brew. The look and pour was perfect. Not a lot of head with a solid amber hue that you could barely see through. Flavors were all there. I'd buy again if I could find it on sale. This is another citrus type IPA if your into that sort of thing.

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The Great Return from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.