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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: 515
Avg: 3.96
pDev: 32.07%
Wants: 31
Gots: 94 | 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: 515
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 stephenjmoore
4.19/5  rDev +5.8%

Gorgeous bright orange body with a pale amber hue to it. Huge, fluffy cream-colored head that stays around and sticks to everything. Body has just a slight hint of haze to it, but is otherwise very transparent. Piney hops in the nose with hints of tropical fruits and sweet malt. Flavor follows with lots of pine, lots of tropical fruit flavors (mango, pineapple, even some white grape). Smooth sweet malt backbone balances things out nicely. Body is terrific, full enough, but crushable. A very solid IPA overall with very nice flavors aroma and feel.

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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 brentk56
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours from the can (three days old) with a clear amber color and is capped by a decent head that delivers a few strands of lace

Smell: Citrusy, with floral grapefruit and slightly resinous tones

Taste: A touch of malt and then we are off to the races with the citrus; grapefruit and floral elements with a bitter edge in the middle; a touch of malt in the finish but clearly hop weighted

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A classic "C" hop IPA; an excellent version of the style

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Photo of argock
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Poured from a 16 oz tallboy can into a clear glass tulip. No freshness date evident. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Burnished amber with 1-finger frothy off-white head with below-average retention but a few lace forms on the glass. (3.5)

S: Big dank, resiny aromas fall away to reveal some peach and tropical fruit, pine, and floral notes. There are also some more earthy notes with mint and grass too. Maltiness is light caramel and backing. No yeast or alcohol. Really a complex and delicious aroma. (4.5)

T: Flavor is big too but not as big as the aroma. Maltiness is not prominent but does carry forward some light caramel sweetness. Hops are the force with more grapefruit and citrus than in the nose, still some mango and pine resin cut through without a doubt. There are some more leafy minty, herbal flavors too. Good flavor, just less cohesive than the aroma. A little tea like flavor in the finish. Moderately bitter and not afraid to show the 70 IBUs. No yeast character and alcohol is well-hidden. (4.25)

M: Very crisp and quite light for the ABV. A little sticky, a little oily, but mostly just easy to drink with moderate carbonation and light-medium body with a very dry finish. (4.75)

O: I really enjoyed The Great Return and I quickly ordered up two more 4-packs from my local store. A really complex and interesting near-DIPA that hits a broad spectrum of hops notes while maintaining a highly drinkable beer. Great work on this brew by HP.

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Photo of Tastesalot
4.75/5  rDev +19.9%

A: hazy yellow-orange pour, off-white head

S: sweet fruit scent

T: pink grapefruit juice, mild tropical fruit, biscuity

M: medium to full, semi-sweet finish

O: The 16 ounce can being reviewed is 5-days-old, straight from last weekend's visit to the brewery. Serving poured into a tulip. Having had this beer both super-new and with six months of age on it, it is amazing regardless. I think this is Virginia's best IPA. Very highly recommended!

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Photo of reebtaerG
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured can into New Belgium globe

A-Pours lightly hazy orange with a one finger off-white head, good lacing.

S-Aroma is pine, citrus and floral hops, dank, biscuit and malt with pear and apple.

T-Flavor is heavy hops and bitterness, light crisp malt, light fruity esters with a dry and prickly finish.

M-Medium body mouthfeel and moderate carbonation.

O-Overall a great IPA I hope they make some more.

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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 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 athomasPSU
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice burnt orange with a light off white head that's about half a finger.
Smells of grapefruit and citrus but it's not very strong.
Wow this has massive hop flavors. Lots of resin and stickiness. Bitter backend that's pleasant and very much compliments the malt backbone.
Medium bodied but not heavy or too light.
Overall this is great. It's exactly what im looking for in an imperial IPA. Balanced with resin stickiness and bitterness.
My second brew from Hardywood and I already love their stuff.

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Photo of jacewg
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Draft at Brookland Pint

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, deep orange color. Big, fluffly white head and great retention. Outstanding looking beer.

Aroma: Big, pungent aroma. Almost like a blend of old-school and new-school hops. Big, punchy grapefruit with lots of resinous pine. Hints of lighter citrus as well.

Flavor: Follows the aroma pretty well. Solid malt backbone with hints of caramel that balances but never intrudes. Great hop flavor. Again grapefruit dominant with some citrus and lots of resiny woody, pine character. Hints of dankness. Exceedingly drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Outstanding. Big and full/coating for an American IPA but well-carbed and never syrupy. Lots of hop oil character. Slightly chewy.

Overall: Nicely done. One of the better American IPAs I've had in awhile. Well-rounded and super enjoyable to drink.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can shared with stillmatic2232, thanks man.

Pours a beautiful opaque dark orange, very hazy, some sediment noted. One inch fluffy head, with a little bit of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is quite nice- and very hop forward, as I'd expect. Lots of citrus- grapefruit, orange, pineapple and the like.

The taste is quite good too, but not quite as good as the super fresh aroma on this one. Fairly bitter, with some great juicy hop flavors cutting down on it- orange and grapefruit, mainly, with more orange noted. Some piney bitterness lingers on the tongue throughout. Not much malt noted, really.

Medium bodied, crisp, dry mouthfeel, with some sweetness near the end. Very drinkable, no alcohol present.

A nice surprise, this wasn't on my radar, and was quite tasty.

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Photo of beatenbyjacks
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - this pours a very light straw color, but once in the glass this one has a nice bronze like color to it. The carbonation pours great, but leaves quickly which is the only down fall.

Smell - lots and lots of bitterness and citrus from this one.

Taste - Grapefruit sweetness up front followed by the hoppy bitterness I would expect from an IPA

Mouthfeel - nicely carbonated even though the head left the beer quickly. Nice smooth feel to this one as well.

Overall - this is a fine example of an IPA. glad I got to experience it via a trade.

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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 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 smakawhat
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a Spiegelau Dogfish Head glass. Canned Jan 17th 2014.

Real thick head, thin bubbled and big off the pour, easily three four fingers tall, with a real off white creamy retention and island capping. Body color is a real mix of controlled murky brown, and deep orange amber color. Some noticeable carbonation but deep color makes it hard to see. Solid looker here.

Real nice interesting hop front. Mix of dank earth, and tropical citrus notes. Real woody and cedar tones, and soft malt qualities. Chewy, leafy, and a faint hint of orange zest. I like that it has a bit of a subtle dank quality at first.

Big pine and large soft dank mix of caramel malts and hop softness. Chewy, leafy. Some good bright tones on the finish of juiced grapefruit and orange, but a subtle controlled earth and dank aromatic depth. Wonderful control on this beer for such a big hop angle. Juicy oily finish, real nice without a large syrup sweet thickness. Controlled alcohol hardly noticeable.

While the West coast is advertised, this is a creation unlike that and something unique all its own. I love the soft dank qualities on this that doesn't get out of control and there's enough west coast style IPA to make it fun too.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is orange with a mild haze and an inch of fluffy, white head. West Coast aroma right off the bat. Dank hops, light pine, resin. Fresh and flavorful. Sturdy malt body supports the hop forward character of the beer. Good drin ability with ABV well hidden. Light bitterness in the finish. Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. A solid beer and good example of the style.y

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

poured a hazy amber orange with a two finger frothy dark white head, good retention and lots of lacing.

Aroma of citrus, pine and light malt.

Taste of grapefruit up front followed by more tropical fruits, pine and light malt.

Mouth Feel is medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth and slightly oily with a slight bitter after taste.

Overall a very good IPA, I hope it has a great return as with the Sturgeon in the James River.

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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 Shumania
4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

16 ounce can poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

A: deep orange/ruby hue. Small head

S: lots of grapefruit, tropical fruit

T: it tastes like you are biting into a grapefruit. Some mango, finished with good but not overpowering bitterness

M: medium body, good carbonation

This is fantastic. This might be up there with two hearted ale for grapefruit punch

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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.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.01/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This pours a deep seductive amber to apricot orange and brown. The head was a billow of dense foam that mounted two full inches with a normal pour and left tons of sticky lacing.

The nose is full of big grapefruit aromas with bitter pine resins. The residual scents are earthy with bits of malt.

As goes the nose so goes the taste as this seems to match the nose precisely. Grapefruit starts the taste with bitter piney resins finishing. The earth and malt dots the flavor throughout.

The feel is astringent and very bitter. The funny thing is the feel hits very late and it is smooth before.

The is very good with bold flavors and aroma.

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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 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 cjgiant
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Edited and adjusted on 7/17 using a 6/5/2015. I think my original review might have been a little older:
My first attempt at a Hardywood beer, and I am happy with the offering. The corporate description is on for the nose, grapefruit-centered with some maltiness evident. I also get a bit of orange and melon in the citrus notes that hit the nose.

Originally: The appearance is quite nice with a sustaining head, although the nice orange-amber color is perhaps a little more clear than I expected.
The re-review beer is definitely more pale and more yellow, but also a bit cloudy with some floaties. Lacing is good, however.

The opening taste is a little earthy at its base, and is tending towards an orange flavor over top. Re-review: I get more grapefruit pith that I might have originally described as earthy. Definitely a little pine bark (impression, not that I've had) as well.
The base turns dry a little early, with a hint of tropical fruit peaking from under the initial bitter opening. Original review mentioned papaya, but the notes un the re-review are not strong enough to pick out individually.

The carbonation and bitterness linger a while. Re-review: bitterness definitely has some staying power, maybe a little too much. It seems to leave a sticky film of grapefruit and pine resin.

Yet another case of a good IPA from a regional brewer. This offering starts down a taste path that leads to an enjoyable pint, a straightforward IPA that relies on a citrus-based bitterness throughout.
Re-review I lowered the feel a notch as the dry coating lingered too long.

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