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Bourbon GBS (Gingerbread Stout) - Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Not Rated.
Bourbon GBS (Gingerbread Stout)Bourbon GBS (Gingerbread Stout)

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

420 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 420
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 9.63%
Wants: 325
Gots: 139 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Milk / Sweet Stout |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MasterSki on 12-10-2012

Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, described by BeerAdvocate as “freagin’ Christmas in a bottle,” is an imperial milk stout brewed with vanilla beans, cinnamon, fresh Casselmonte Farm baby ginger and Bearer Farms wildflower honey. Gingerbread Stout is then matured in Virginia bourbon barrels, where it adapts an incredibly mellow character with oak, caramel and bourbon undertones, and emerges 12 weeks later as Bourbon GBS. A festive blend of spice character laces this rich, chocolatey stout, which warms the palate and the soul.

55 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 420 | Reviews: 59
Reviews by StoneBrewFanatic:
More User Reviews:
Photo of TubaManJack
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is Christmas in a bottle. It's more mellow than it's regular cousin. I like it a lot more and the fact that the bourbon become a flavor not the dominate force is it's strongest attribute.

Photo of siege06nd
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A. Pours a dark brown with a solid three quarter finger of tan head that quickly dissipates. Scattered lacing cloaks the sides of the glass.

S. My most precious childhood memories lovingly dipped in a viscous Belgian chocolate concoction. Fresh ginger and cinnamon effervesce out of the glass, cocoa with marshmallow topping, honey dashed with orange zest, and fresh-from-the-oven Christmas cookies. Yum

T. Gingerbread house, glazed chocolate, honey, some coconut, and subtle char from the bourbon barrel.

M. Full bodied, higher than normal carb keeps it from becoming overly saccharine, loaded with bold, well-integrated flavors.

O. In years past, I've criticized this variant of GBS for not adding anything to the base beer. I stand corrected. The subtle complexity added by the barrels here makes this an improvement over the original, albeit a very slight one. Bourbon GBS is a remarkable beer, derived from a similarly remarkable beer from a brewery that knows it has a golden goose on its hands and is squeezing every penny they can out of it. And they should, as this is utterly unique and inspires years' worth of sentiment and fond feelings of Christmases past, present, and to come.

Photo of CMerrill
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer!! Not much from Hardywood that doesn't make you say "WoW"! A perfect winter stout! Slight hints of bourbon and a gingerbread finish.

Photo of dogfishandi
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Pdiddy3d for sharing this! You the man Pete!

750ml bottle poured into a taster.

Pours out nearly black, some reddish brown hues are defiantly visible. A nice light tan colored head with decent retention, minimal lacing.

I maybe expected a bit more from the aroma. Gingerbread cookie is defiantly there in full force, but lacking a little on the bourbon. A bit light.

Much better taste, gingerbread cookies are at the forefront, but melds with some nice milk chocolate, a bit of caramel and bourbon and hints of vanilla. I maybe expected more bourbon to show through, but still an amazing taste. A fair amount of sweetness.

Medium to heavy in body, adequate carbonation for the style.

Overall, this was about on par with the regular version, not really better or worse. The bourbon added a nice dimension to it, but I expected a lot more to come through. Also some of the flavors from the original beer were just a tad muted.

Photo of ehammond1
3.87/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle (2012)

Thanks for opening this with me, VaTechHopHead!

Dark brown body with a small light brown head. Leaves the glass slightly spotted and oily on the way down. Pretty enough and appropriate for the style. Doesn't look particularly thick, heavy, or viscous, however.

Very nice Christmas aroma. There is definite gingerbread house, Christmas spices, molasses, and brown sugar here. A tiny bit of alcohol emerges in the aroma, especially as the beer warms. Definite caramel and baked, crispy brownie crust as well. Everything comes together nicely. This is a great smelling beer.

The flavor is similar to the aroma. There is a wonderful combination of gingerbread cookies, molasses and slightly burnt brown sugar, bread crusts, and a little bit of chocolate. A little bit of oak, but very little, if any, bourbon character.

This would be where the beer disappoints, if it disappoint anywhere. A fairly thin mouthfeel, even for the style, with very low carbonation.

Very tasty, and a beer I never thought I'd get a chance to taste. Much appreciated, and quite tasty.

Photo of CLCardinal84
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Louisville Beer Store snifter. Big thanks to Taylor (mocktm) for sending this bottle!

A: Cola colored pour with a nice finger width head that becomes a soapy white ring with minimal lacing.

S: Like a freaking gingerbread man and Christmas in a glass. Haven't had a gingerbread stout and have never smelled a beer like this. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg all hits the nose. Smell opens up big time after 5-10 minutes after pour.

T: This beer tastes amazing. I would not serve it a degree under 55. This beer opens up greatly with a little warmth and it is incredibly balanced and smooth. All the smells above hit the tongue.

M: Creamy, smooth and coats the tongue nicely. All you can ask for here.

O: This beer is outstanding. One of the better barrel aged stouts I've ever had. Perfect beer for Christmas day with the family. I will seek out more Hardywood in the future.

Photo of spacecake9
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed the regular Ginger Bread Stout and was looking forward to the Bourbon Barrel version. This did not let me down.

I gave the regular GBS a 5 and this is just a little better with a little more of an alcohol kick. But this is not an over the top bourbon barrel beer, still very drinkable and not "hot" at all. Ready to drink now no aging required.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.14/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Sam for this one. 750ml corked and caged bottle into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Heavy pour yields a 2 finger frothy light mocha colored head with great retention. Beer is black but not particularly thick. Lacing is rich and layered with excellent stick. An awesome looking beer.

Nose is cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, cream, lactose and just the slightest hint of bourbon. Moderately aromatic. The nose belies the flavor here... which is a bit of a shame.

Opens huge gingerbread and cinnamon notes. Molasses, brown sugar, sugar cookie, chocolate, and bourbon in the middle. Some oatmeal cookie overtones. Ends sweet and syrupy with a boozy finish and a bready, sweet aftertaste. Delicious!

Medium bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Lively but smooth in the mouth and goes clean with a messy finish and a sticky, lingering aftertaste. Hugely drinkable for 10.6% and the alcohol feels barely there!

What really gets me about this beer is how hugely drinkable it is. Very sweet with nice complexity but at 10.6%, this drinks like its about half of that. Feel is rich without being overwhelming and the thinner body actually works great here. A pretty under-the-radar stout... and definitely one to seek out!

Photo of dirtylou
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, thanks @blackie

Was quite dissapointed by the standard version - upon popping the cork, you can immediately tell that overcarbonation wont' be an issue here. Not a particularly robust aroma - hints of ginger cookie, bourbon, spice. The flavor profile opens up a bit with clear defined notes of ginger, molasses, chocolate, coconut, bourbon and the like. To me, the intended flavor profile works a lot better in this version. Not without its flaws though - a bit thin, and 12 weeks in a barrel seems a little rushed.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.68/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body that looks dark brown at the edges. Not much of a head. Thin off white collar.

Smell - Graham cracker and chocolate. Cinnamon. No real barrel. Slightest hint of bourbon among the booze.

Taste - Still no barrel, even less than the nose. Maybe some oak and vanilla. A really tasty graham cracker and cinnamon flavor. Some chocolate but it's mostly adjunct.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Kinda boozy. No real barrel.

Overall - The slighest of barrel characters. Wish there were more, but it's still very good.

Photo of KYGunner
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The nose is a bit lighter on the gingerbread as the barrel imparts a stronger vanilla and coconut tone.

The flavor is a mellowed gingerbread cookie with tempered spice, light vanilla sweetness and a stronger shaved coconut taste.

It drinks incredibly smooth and viscous. This seemed to lose a bit of luster from the base beer, which is unusual for anything in a barrel, but maybe I love the original too much.

Photo of Beejay
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

My 31st Birthday, birthday beer.

A: Deep brown as it pours, dark black in the glass. The head is rich, full and a beautiful medium tan in color.

S: Vanilla, oak and chocolate come out right away. The next bit smells like raisons that have been given a candy crust, with a hint of spice. Almost like the candy coated almonds. The second whiff and you get the ginger starting to come out, the 3rd smell and the ginger is in your face. It smells like chocolate, and ginger, and Christmas morning.

T: The bourbon and ginger fight each other in am epic battle, for what dominates the tongue.. followed closely by chocolate and dark malts. The ginger goes really well with the bourbon's vanilla and oak character.

M: Somewhat lighter than I would have expected, although certainly in the medium thick area.. Nice. Carbonation works for the brew.

O: Overall a damn fine brew.. I like the addition of the bourbon, and I like the subtlety of the bourbon as it plays with the ginger, and dances around the chocolate. Fine work.

Photo of smakawhat
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a globe/snifter type glass not unlike the one pictured on the label. Vintage 2014, nice to finally get a proper review of this thing. Solid pop off the cork when opening.

A real nice thick and creamy light tan head. Very fine bubbles in it's creation with some silky like occasional ring lacing while it very slowly settles. A very nice dark walnut brown to mahogany stain, with just a touch of red to the edges. Slight clarity to the light, and a great looking brew.

Classic aroma not unlike regular gingerbread stout but with a much more mellow controlled tone, and a surprising hint of vanilla sweetness. Hints of spicy sushi like pickeled ginger. Hints of molasses and spiced clove and pffernues like cookies. Creamy, and very dense smelling though and very bready, but even manages some sense of lighter body. Very impressive.

About as big as a barrel aged milk stout can be it seems on the palate. Still a milky and light palate but manages some vanilla cream thickness in flavor on first sip. Ginger follows but with lots of good spiced nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar. Light bodied and gets as much as a barrel aged milk stout can get in mouthfeel but doesn't get into real round coating flavors, or lots of classic thickness. Mild boozy warmth on the finish but very tolerable, and very masked on the palate. Some warmth even brings in some nice black licorice tones and flavors as well after some time.

Overall, about as big as a milk stout gets it seems, and quite tasty. Much better than I had in the past too. Very nice.

Photo of mattsmith413
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fell short for me in the Taste category...wished there would have been more of a Bourbon presence vs. an undertone

Photo of jmarsh123
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ncaudle for the bottle hookup!

Pours deep brown with a small beige head fading quickly, but leaving some good lacing.

Smells like a gingerbread cookie dipped in bourbon. Ginger, brown sugar, vanilla and a light bourbon presence in the aroma.

This one is a great sipper. Still maintains a good dose of the spices and milk sweetness from the base beer, but is amped up with a hefty dose of vanilla and a little oak and bourbon. Bourbon is well integrated and doesn't overpower the base beer, but does provide a nice kick at the end.

Full bodied stout. Alcohol is hidden fairly well and the bourbon is well integrated. It's present, but doesn't overpower or create and overly boozy sensation. Carbonation level is spot on and much lower than the base which was my biggest complaint with the regular Gingerbread Stout.

A very delightful beer. I enjoyed the base, but felt it was overcarbonated. This one hits on all counts. I could drink plenty of this one without getting tired of it.

Photo of yamar68
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to scalzo for this one!

Great looking stout. Dark chocolate brown body with minimal clarity. A fat pillow of khaki head retains well, creating a fresh set of lace after each sip.

All types of inviting aromas coming off the glass... sweet bourbon layered with chocolate, fresh ginger, a touch of nutmeg/cinnamon spice, fudge... as was the case with regz GBS, I'm amazed by how non-Christmas-y this stuff smells... which is awesome. It's not dominated by spice of ginger root. Everything is thoughtfully integrated... brown sugar and vanilla, maple syrup... very dynamic but still approachable.

The taste delivers as well. Rich, bittersweet milk chocolate, coffee and a touch of ginger. The sweet, mellow bourbon character makes for a delicious addition. The finish is probably my favorite thing about the whole beer. It's dry with a subtle sweetness that allows each flavor to evolve and mingle with the rest of the beer.

This is absolutely fantastic. My favorite offering from Hardywood to date.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared last night at Umberto's tasting.

Smells like ginger, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, and a light amount of bourbon.

This is really decadent. I haven't yet had the regular Gingerbread Stout, but the other people last night said that this version was a little bit sweeter than the regular. There's honey, vanilla icing, strong ginger, some light sweet bourbon, and a little bit oaky vanilla.

This is medium bodied, not quite as thick as it could/should be, with a lower level of carbonation, and a creamy, full mouthfeel.

This is a really decadent and tasty treat.

Photo of ThickNStout
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle. Bottled 12/12. Served in a Terrapin snifter.

Pours near black with ruddy edges and a finger and a half mild tan head. No lace.

Smells exactly as the name implies- gingerbread cookies and bourbon! An excellent harmony.

Again, the taste is spot on. Really, every flavor that the name implies- a hearty gingerbread cookie served with bourbon. The booze is extremely well concealed considering the over 10% abv.

A creamy medium full feel with mild carbonation. Long smooth sweet bourbony spiced finish.

Truly outstanding. A great example of an already fantastic base stout being taken to new heights by bourbon barrel aging. If you can get this, DO!

Photo of Math_You
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

In response to GreesyFizeek: This SHOULD be medium bodied!

Photo of HattedClassic
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a bubbly and medium brown tan head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is an opaque dark brown. The texture seems to be a bit oily and not as viscous as the original.

The beer smell is nothing short of divine. The smell includes all of the notes from regular GBS such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, and honey. In addition, the beer also has a strong vanilla and bourbon note. The vanilla note is fairly strong while the oak is a bit weak. The milk sugar notes are pretty much buried but sometimes make an appearance.

The beer taste is similar to the smell. It contains the spic e notes (cinnamon, clove, etc.) from the GBS and honey. The vanilla notes and bourbon mix well with the spices but are sometimes overwhelmed. Any caramel notes are fairly light. Regardless, the beer taste is still pretty good.

The beer is heavy bodied with very little carbonation, if any. The beer is a bit thinner and less viscous than the originial but is still pretty good since the feel works well with the aging.

Overall, a fantastic variant on the GBS even though the new notes are frequently buried.

Photo of oline73
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a dark brown color with a layer of off white head that fades to a ring.

Smell: This one is quite sweet with bourbon and vanilla right off the bat. I'm getting some spice and a chocolate note. There is also a dark fruit component with the bourbon.

Taste: The bourbon is quite apparent, but it's not particularly hot. I'm getting sweet roasted malt along with a chocolate note. The Christmas spice is there, but it blends in rather than dominating. The finish has a slight bitterness to it along with some oaky bourbon sweetness.

Mouthfeel: The body could be thicker. There is a good amount of tingly carbonation with a dry finish.

Overall: I prefer this to the regular version. The balance was spot on. The spice level was great. I'd definitely have more.

Photo of claspada
4.24/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown color with a medium size tan head slowly recedes to leave some decent lacing.

Aromas begin with bakers cocoa and ample gingerbread, toasted brown bread and some sweeter honey notes. There is some equally large vanilla and lesser cinnamon; much more barrel induced vanilla and maple sweetness with minimal oak.

The tastes begin with some brown bread and milk chocolate with a solid growing gingerbread and honey/maple sweetness. The ginger is much more mellow here compared to the original GBS; more vanilla, maple and baker's cocoa. Light oak but really a minimal bourbon barrel induced flavors besides the vanilla.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium with moderate carbonation. The finish is fairly mellow and slightly sweet from the barrel aging.

Overall, I enjoyed this version much more than the original version which tasted way to ginger-forward and almost like a messy homebrew. The barrel aging has imparted very little bourbon flavors (which is good IMO for this style of beer) and adds a pleasant vanilla and maple sweetness with a light ginger spicing in the background. Glad I didn't dismiss this after not loving the original.

Photo of papat444
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

MY 400th DIFFERENT BREWERY REVIEWED!

Enjoyed at EBF 2014.

Sugary, gooey goodness; real gingerbread in a glass all mixed in with bourbon and there's hints of vanilla sprinkled in there. Nice and sweet but never cloying. This one delivers on its promise. Very, very good stuff.

Photo of jasoncheb
4.66/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into tulip

A - pours a very dark brown with very little transparency when held up to a light.

S - bourbon, ginger, honey, vanilla, and some oak barrel notes

T - So, with having tried this when I first grabbed my allotment at Hardywood, the bourbon barrel overpowered the ginger, vanilla, and honey. Now, with a few months on the bottle, the barrel has fallen off a bit, leaving the beer with more of the ginger, honey, and vanilla flavor that made the original GBS so popular.

M Full bodied stout that leaves a nice smooth finish. Very little heat from the BA on the bottle after sitting for a few months.

O - As this beer has aged, the overall flavor has really bumped up a notch. The complexity of the original GBS is starting to fill back in while the BA falls off, but is still present.

Photo of Rifugium
3.64/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I was pretty let down by the regular version of this beer after falling for the hype, but fortunately, I enjoyed this one a bit more. I have a couple bottles of my own, but someone graciously shared a bottle at SS13, so thanks.

Mahogany brown pour, deep and slightly hazy, with a small tan head that receded to a ringlet, and left a little lacing on the glass. The bottle was open well before I got to it, and thus had a few moments to breathe. Sweet aroma, caramel, cinnamon, ginger, booze, more like flavored vodka than bourbon. As in the regular version, there was a definite cookie taste going on, like a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie, but it wasn't as pronounced as I would have hoped, and in this version it was also competing with the vanilla/bourbon/booze flavors. Regardless of that, I do think that this version tasted better, and the bourbon aging improved it, though there was still a bitter, woody unpleasant aspect to the beer. Again, like the original, my main beef with this beer was the body. It's quite thin for a stout, and leaning more towards an English stout or brown ale. It would be interesting to see if they tweak GBS and try to improve it in the future, but considering the hype over it, it's probably not going to change. I definitely wouldn't turn it down if someone offered it to me, but it's not worth standing in line for however many hours to get it.

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Bourbon GBS (Gingerbread Stout) from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
96 out of 100 based on 420 ratings.