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Bourbon Cru - Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Not Rated.
Bourbon CruBourbon Cru

Educational use only; do not reuse.

51 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 51
Hads: 303
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 28.33%
Wants: 48
Gots: 81 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: YumYumGumGum on 05-02-2012

Hardywood Bourbon Cru is brewed in the fashion of the abbey quadrupel, the grand cru of many of Belgium’s revered monastic breweries. Bourbon Cru displays a sunset orange hue with a substantial head and brilliant clarity after months of barrel ageing. The maturity and melding of flavors brought on by the freshly drained, half-decade old Virginia bourbon barrels from Fredericksburg’s A. Smith Bowman Distillery lends an extraordinary sense of harmony to Bourbon Cru.
Almond toffee and oaky vanilla aromatics give way to dark cherries, raisins and mature whiskey. A bit of plum flavor is greeted by caramel overtones and an assertive yet incredibly rounded body and a lingering, bourbon-laced finish.

18 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 51 | Hads: 303
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wowcoolman for sharing this one at his tasting.

2012 vintage.

Pours a hazy honey brown with a foamy beige head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, dark fruit, wood, and bourbon. Taste is much the same but slightly watered down with a woody finish. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and drinkable.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 1.5 finger head with excellent lacing on a straight deep amber hazy body.

S: oak, bourbon, sweet caramel and toffee.

T: oak, bourbon, sweet caramel and brown sugar intermingle near perfectly. Vanilla, maple syrup and cola notes. Slight bitter finish.

M: medium body and moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: very good but very strong. Even for a 10 percent beer te alcohol is strong with the bourbon but this one makes it to your head even faster than expected. Many solid offerings from this brewery.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

sort of a weird one here, dubbed a quad, im not sure it meets those specs. it pours a pink hued burnt orange color with just some suds along the edges. the nose is real sweet, real alcoholic, and real bourbon heavy. some figs and brown sugar as well, and a spice element. its pretty crowded. the flavor boasts a nice Belgian yeast, which is about as quad as it gets, the rest is punishingly sweet, under carbonated, and a little thin. it just lacks the depts. of a good quad, despite flashing all of that in the aroma. I taste alcohol soaked raisins too, which is the best flavor feature. thin on the body, unsatisfying in that way because it doesn't hold up with all the booze, which becomes too intense with all the sugar in the sweetness. a tough combination for drinkability, and when combined with not quite enough bubbles, it drags a bit. still though, an interesting release, and a beer that might do well with some age. thanks to drlovemd87 for exposing me to this oddball.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.24/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Matt for picking this up. Served in a cervoise. Pours a brownish color with a slight reddish hue. The nose has loads of sweet malt and just a touch of bourbon in the background. Mild dark-fruit notes,but nothing really Belgian about this. Flavor is similar. Too heavy on the sugar without much barrel and no notes from Belgian yeast. Medium body. Boring.

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Photo of brentk56
3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2013 Release

Appearance: Pours a murky chestnut color with a layer of big bubbles capping; the head faded quickly though it did leaves a number of dots on the side of the tulip

Smell: Caramel, vanilla and Bourbon

Taste: The caramel base is complemented quickly by the Bourbon, oak and vanilla tones with almond developing, in the middle; after the swallow, just a hint of raisin appears but the finish is dominated by the Bourbon and oak

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: This beer is enjoyable and I would score it higher if it didn't claim to be a Quad, because on that mark it falls short; it tastes more like a barrel-aged English old ale; call it that and it would be in the 4 range

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%

Conjuring up new styles, trends and flavors of ale to take along on a slumbering bourbon barrel journey, Bourbon Cru takes a pitstop with the stronger, darker ale that are famed of the Belgian abbey.

Burnt orange with light garnet low-lights, the ale pours with a mysterious but charming hue. More creamy than bright, the ale layers with a rich lather to cap the glass. Medium intensity of aromas shed sweeter notes of hard candy and brown sugar while dried, dark and earthy fruit layer gently on the early palate.

Woven tightly into a creamy, dense, and doughy middle, the fruit and malt sweetness tie together to suggest fruit and spice cake. But with the rising balance of peppercorn spice and bourbon nuances, the sweetness is held in check and the raisin, cherry, apple and fig fruitiness begin to recede.

More creamy and warm than dry and spicy, there's a barleywine character to the lavish texture, but keeps the brunt of twelve-percent held in check. Peppery, bourbony and numbing on the tongue, the ale echoes with the whimsy of oak spice, vanilla and dry caramel.

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Photo of jlindros
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Once again huge thanks to rudzud.

Big fizzy 1+ finger fizzy head fades fairly quickly decent lacing, fairly hazy cranberry chestnut reddish mahogany colored.

Nose big bourbon, vanilla oak, sweet molasses caramel like, the bourbon is ridiculous. Some toffee and light nutty caramel malts, little earthy grassy spicy hops as well. Then some fruits, dried dark figs and dates like little plum. Very nice.

Taste starts kinda sweet, caramel toffee malts, little toasty and syrupy. Then bourbon and vanilla galore! Nice sweet toffee bourbon, light oak barrel and vanilla, etc. Some candi sugar, toffee and caramel, etc with fairly sweet. Quad is somewhat background like now, with some fig, date, plan, etc, but the bourbon oak overpowers it. Light booze warmth and tingly even, some light esters from the booze with a light green booze flavor. Finish adds light bitterness, more quad flavors and dark dried fruits, some bourbon and vanilla, etc. Long lingering flavor, light sticky sweetness.

Mouth is fuller bodied, good carb for abv,

Overall quite nice. Malts are nice, hops add a decent lighter touch, and most of all the bourbon barrel really adds nicely.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Sean. Served in a Russian River tulip.

A - White foam that settles to a thick collar, but no lace. Transparent amber body.

S - Lots of oak and whiskey presence, with some fruity quad and treacle in the periphery. The barrel-aging is a tad heavy-handed but this still solid.

T - Again, lots of whiskey and oaky vanilla, with notes of chocolate, treacle, red fruits, and estery yeast backing things up. Alcohol is reasonably well-hidden.

M - Medium body, lower carbonation, super dry and tannic texture, and mild alcohol warmth. Perhaps a bit thin for the listed ABV.

D - Solid stuff, but not something I'd be able to drink in large quantities. I wish the whiskey wasn't so overpowering. Executed well enough that I'm interested in trying other offerings from Hardywood Park, as this isn't the easiest style to impress with.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer shared by someone at a recent tasting, thanks. Served in a ticking snifter for the purposes of ticking. Beer is brown and hazy with a thin tan head of small and medium bubbles, no lacing, low retention.

Aroma is sort of bourbony, malty, syrup.

Beer is thick and sweet with a boozy finish, hard to drink, not very enjoyable. I don't think this will be a repeat for me.

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Photo of stakem
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml poured into a tulip. The brew appears a clear mahogany color with a finger of off-white cap.

The smell is cheesy, sulfur, woody like oak and some bourbon infused booziness.

The taste includes a slight fruity alcohol aspect, caramel malt, oxidation and booze. The finish has some minerals and a slight citrus component.

This is a boozy sipper that is medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. Overall not bad.

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Photo of billab914
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into my CBS snifter. It poured a darker caramel color with a thin, spotty lacing scattered across the top of the beer.

The bourbon is pretty noticeable in the aroma with brown sugar, oak and a little bit of booze. I get a pretty big sweet, crisp, apple juice like flavor to it as well as a touch of caramel. The bourbon is very nice, the sweet, crisp fruits felt a little overdone and sugary though.

The bourbon is the flavor that continues to shine for me in the taste. Again, I get a lot of very sweet, crisp fruits with apple juice coming through more up front as a little grape comes out in the finish. The dry, woody oak shines in the finish as well with a touch of vanilla to it. The Belgian yeast spice started to come out a little more as it warmed. The notes of brown sugar and caramel really mix well with the bourbon.

The mouthfeel feels a little too light and slightly watery for the style. Carbonation was a little on the high side, but very delicate and almost silky.

Overall I thought the bourbon flavors were fantastic. They managed to get all the really great flavors out of the barrel without much boozy alcohol at all. The beer flavors however seemed a little overly sweet and sugary to me with the lighter, crisp fruits being the focus of that component. I think it could have used a little more of a darker fruit character and a little more balance to the sweetness. I loved the bourbon flavors though.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured on tap at Churchkey into a snifter glass.

Real nice deep red and dark brown body color, very clear too. Forms a nice light espresso and coffee tan head. Settles to a solid collar that always gets populated.

The bouquet on this beer is stunning. Huge classic perfect bourbon notes of caramel, charred oak, charcoal, thick and full and lucisious. It smells more like bourbon than beer, no hint of Belgian style or malt or even sucrose like sweetness. Very impressive.

As impressive as the nose is the palate just doesn't deliver. Light bodied and quite wet for a quad. Virtually no Belgian character to this beer at all. Ashtray like char and the sensations on the nose don't come out on the palate. Some light toasty oak chips and very grainy character with a weak whiskey heat. There might be some mild sensations of grape like fruit towards the end hinting there might be something Belgian to this.

Overall it starts out very impressive, but for a barrel aged quad this really let me down.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 cork and cage into a snifter, the beer is a deep, vibrant, ruby caramel coloring with a foamy, fluffy, off-white head that quickly settles out into a halo. Aromas of rich apple, vanilla, date, plum, raisin, caramel, toffee, almond extract, brown sugar, and subtle booze warmth. Very dynamic and layered nose. Flavors are rich and heavy forward, with a solid dose of vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, apple, and whiskey spice and warmth, with a backbone of old world fruit richness. Date, plum, raisin, and cherry all blend together to support the richness that comes forward on this beer, with highlights of wood spice, whiskey heat, plum, and grape. The body is big and robust, with a boozy slickness to it. The aftertaste is all rich, old world fruit sweetness, with a building warmth form the elevated ABV and bourbon imparts. The finish is spiced and warm, with notes of vanilla and bourbon lingering on past the smooth, slick, and slow transition across the palate. This is a damn good beer.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle into a snifter.

pours a dark brown with a nice head. smell is kind of light on bourbon and sweet . taste is terrific with caramel, candy sugar and slight bourbon that compliments greatly and doesn't overpower. medium bodied, low carbonation. ABV very well hidden.

overall a very impressive quad!

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

From 750mL C&C bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/10/12
*From notes

-- Thanks to John & Eric for picking this up for me --

*It should be noted that this beer has been aged in Bowman Bourbon barrels

A: Surprisingly clean ruby in hue. A slow pour yields a .75 finger head. A thick, rich collar rims the beer. Minor lacing follows.

S: Pretty fantastic stuff. If you're a bourbon guy (or gal), then you owe it to yourself to check this BBQ out. Mounds of freshly toasted coconut, warm vanilla bean and a pretty hefty amount of bright red cherry and vine fruit. As it warms, I do get a bit of that Belgian yeast quality in the bouquet.

T: Some banana, Belgian candy sugar and a touch of rustic yeast. The Belgian influence here is right up front. But it doesn't own the profile, as it morphs into a certified bourbon bomb - a controlled, well put together bourbon bomb on the mid. Extremely expressive and wonderfully constructed. At no time did I feel that the bourbon or booze was too much, it paired beautifully with the base Quad. It finishes with a touch of residual sugar - maybe a gram or two at most. As it lingers in my mouth, I continue to get the coconut, vanilla, maybe even a hint of warm chocolate. Complex from top to bottom, and really God damn delicious.

M: Here's the one snag: the feel. Shockingly thin for such a big, bold and flavorful beer. The carbonation is proper and right on point. My issue is the weight. Not all BA beers need to be the consistency of used motor oil, but something a little bigger, a little thicker would make this Bourbon Cru even better. Mediocre body at best.

O: My biggest complaint about this beer (other then the mouthfeel) is that I drank my only bottle. This is a fantastic BA Quad - quite possibly the best BBQ I've ever come across. I'll be heading to Richmond soon to snag another couple of these for the cellar. Heartily recommended.

*Watch out for Hardywood Park, folks. Good things in the making.

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Photo of rudzud
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in a trade and poured into a Kate the Great tulip.

A - Poured a deep dark crystal clear dark maple syrup amber grade hue with a one finger off white head that fades to leave light clouding and nice fluffy halo.

S - Aromas of loads of nice sweet bourbon, vanilla, and white oak. Nice malty sweetness and and more delicious vanilla.

T - Taste is just delicious. More vanillay bourbon so delicious so bourbon sweet. Light buttery oak but mostly vanilla oak barrels here. Incredibly faint dark fruit on the end that immediately fades to bourbon alcohol. So much bourbon here which actually cancels out most of the quad. Still, just delicious.

M - Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated for the style to help keep this up off the mouth/tongue. Very tasty.

O - Overall this was a very enjoyable beer. The bourbon was strong, but I enjoyed that immensely. Delicious vanilla too.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a reddish brown with minimal head. I do pick up traces of plum and raisin as stated on label, but mostly pick up an oaky, boozy aroma replete with caramel, toffee and black cherry aroma. I did find this beer boozy at first, even a little heat, but it mellowed as I sipped and sipped. Touches of tart cherry, sticky caramel, toffee, possible vanilla and raisin, smooth, fuller body thanks to the barrels, overall a good beer but not something I would label quad, at least not in the traditional sense. Nonetheless an enjoyable beer that is a pleasure to relax with.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Real good vanilla, brown sugar and oak flavor. Nice balance to this. On the thinner side but don't mind. Sips easy with lower carb and a medium finish.

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Photo of maximum12
3.42/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again to Moses_Malone for this bottle; after having regular GBS, I wanted more, & here it is. 750ML corked & caged bottle with classy, parchment-and-black-ink label split with my wife.

The pour is clear pine sap amber with a low-hanging head that’s quickly parted from the body; now it just looks like a light glass of vino. The nose is quite nice: coconut, vanilla, light powdered sugar, with an undercurrent of Charon. Which I hope I never experience in person.

Bourbon Barrel Cru is a gulpin’ Cru. Sweet, sweet candied sugar coats the beer like a smooth liquid shell. Underneath that gum-receding shock is light vanilla, creamy caramel/toffee combo, pink bubblegum, peppery hit from the yeast (?). Bourbon? Hardly present in the taste, but as a warming afterglow. Supremely smooth, which is its best feature, but with a skimpy, scrawny body. Drinkable as all get out, but I like sugar-water.

Despite my many descriptors, this is a beer that doesn’t light up the radar gun. The combo isn’t dull, but it’s…not terribly interesting. Just sweet & easy-drinking. Pretty good brew.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to portable 2014 vintage enjoyed from a GBS flute.

a - brew pours a rich transparent sienna amber with a thin bubbly kind of creamy head that never fully left...a thin skin was always there, some spotty lace if that.

s - nose is rich caramel toasted plum. Really nice.

t/m/o - really complex and flavorful. Toasted caramel toffee with a thick glazing of raw bourbony vanilla oak. Rich, decadent, and strong wood presence. Very well rounded beer with a fantastic flavor. Surprisingly light and thin, but overall super tasty and although somewhat hot, the booze is well integrated for the strength. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of Pencible
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: This poured a nearly clear dark copper with a little light tan head.
S: It smelled like rich coconut and milk chocolate, with some oak and toasted almonds.
T: It tasted like sweet raisins and toffee, with toasted coconut and oak. It had a clean mostly sweet aftertaste with alcohol warming.
M: It was oily with smooth natural carbonation. Nice slick body.
D: This was a delicious beer. Not as much quad character, but tons of tasty bourbon. The finish was hot, so must be sipped. Age would likely really help. Fresh is still really enjoyable in small doses.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to BJ for this awesomeness. Shared with a few friends at a beer tasting.

A nice, deep copper tone that kept quite clear until I poured the sediment in. It sported a light white cap that dissipated shortly thereafter. Very excited for the first sip. You can definitely taste the quad. A delicate front with notes of caramel and toffee, bringing forth a multilayered experience with malt, bread, vanilla, oak, and raisins. The bourbon accents the beer rather than dominating. Some may say that the bourbon is too light, but I found this to be a good quality of the beer. A bit prickly on the palate, had to swirl it a bit to reduce carbonation, but overall, a very tactfully crafted beer from a brewery that deserves attention.

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Photo of argock
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750ml brown corked bottle into a clear glass snifter. 2015 vintage. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: clear slightly orange chestnut brown with no head and no lacing.

S: leathery, earthy, malty aroma with a lot of booze

T: also very earthy with strong moderately bitter cherry alcohol bite tempered with sweet, medium caramel maltiness with mild vanilla, coconut, and pineapple barrel notes.

M: a little thin with medium body at most and low carbonation

O: pretty disappointing, boozy without much cohesion. Sweetness with a few redeeming barrel features.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.44/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. Because nothing says a hot summer day like a barrel-aged quad.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color. The head is a one finger off-white shade that starts off looking rough, but becomes smoother as it recedes. It retains a thin collar around the edges of the glass quite well, and tries to leave slight lacing on the glass.

S: There isn't a huge oak character here, more of a general bourbon note - still, it's presence is very welcome. I actually pick up more in the way of milk chocolate and hazelnut than I do typical dark fruits. However, they are there, if not as bold as I'd like them to be. Good aroma, but I expected more.

T: Bourbon opens the flavor profile quite respectably. After that...to be frank, I'm not picking up a whole lot. I think the problem is that apart from the bourbon character, the other flavors blend too much, harming its distinctive complexity. The finishing flavor is far more nutty than fruity, or even caramel-y. I don't note much of an oak character, either. I'd say it's closer to an English barleywine than a Belgian quad. Still, I love how it isn't remotely harsh. In this barrel-aged world, I can safely say I've had a few non barrel aged 10%'ers that were boozier than this. Still, I wish it had SOME depth to it - it's getting a little boring drinking this.

M: This one is pretty dry on the back end. Really dry, actually. It's also rather clean (for a quad) as well - giving it good drinkability and roundness at the cost of reduced decadence and flavor. That's actually this beer's best feature; in spite of the bourbon presence, it could honest-to-Slaanesh pass for a 7% brew. Even as it warms up, the alcohol presence is well hidden. Good carbonation helps drinkability, too.

O: This does an excellent job of providing bourbon qualities without the heat. As a quad, though, it's not very successful. There isn't much sense of complexity or boldness. But you know what? I like it to an extent. I won't have much trouble killing this by myself.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from tap into tulip at Mekong in Richmond Virginia. Deep amber brown color with white lacing. Looks too light to be a quad but still looks good. Wow the aroma is fantastic! Huge bourbon and vanilla aromas with sweet date and caramel hints.
Same for the flavor...raisony caramel and vanilla bourbon flavors are dominant. Woody and boozey vineous finish. Its packed with flavor. Its very dry and boozey but really amazing sipper. Awesome brew and a style not often aged in bourbon barrels. ..but after having this, they should. Highly recommend this brew.

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Bourbon Cru from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.