The Great Return
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

The Great ReturnThe Great Return
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American IPA
Ranked #1,205
Ranked #8,126
3.97 | pDev: 10.58%
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States
Very Good
The Great ReturnThe Great Return
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 643 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of daliandragon
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a cool little brewery in Richmond I recently found out about. This pours amber with a creamy head and healthy citrus and pine nose with only minimal malt.

The flavor is more balanced than I was expecting, and the hop bitterness is never truly withering, although this isn't a bad thing. This is a tasty, medium strength hop bomb. The seven point five abv could be a little scary as this goes down very easy.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Traded for this quite a while ago, as the date on the bottom of the can read 11/1/16. Sure, this was old but I kept it in my basement and it held up pretty well as this was quite a sticky and resinous beer that was indeed, something reminiscent of the West Coast.

Not a bad pour to this as the liquid was a muted golden with a moderate amount of haze and fine sediment floating in it, with a ton of frothy head topping it off. Copious lacing was left behind as each thick ring connected down to the one below it. Lots of grapefruit, Caramel Malt, and resinous pine in the nose as the taste had all of those in it as well. The taste was enough to make this feel like something from Humboldt or Green Flash as there was a decent amount of dank, skunky weed underneath all of this with plenty of bread and body to balance out the aromatic and oily hops. The carbonation was light as this felt heavy and lingered for a while as such once I finally finished this off...

Just the right amount of booze was present here as this had a mild amount of heft to it that warmed me up a bit on this abnormally cool spring night. IPA's are a dime a dozen but one like this showed how they can be enjoyable, even when they're not that impressive to me. Just as good as something from California, this held up well over time and gave me plenty to literally and proverbially chew on at the same time!

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Photo of Beginner2
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

There are ways to make it seem like you included the rind of citrus...and there are ways to not do that. The latter succeeds The Great Return. While it Looks and Smells above average, I give it average scores for Taste and Feel for too much rind !

But, the brewer is celebrating how a fish has returned to a once-badly polluted waterway. I went on their website and read they were pioneer crafters in Richmond; one of the first to use the new law allowing taprooms, starting some 11 years ago. They also give back to the community, particularly in the conservation and sustainability areas. So, I give them big OA hugs.

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Photo of hman43
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: It pours golden and clear. The head is white with good head retention.

Smell: There are strong grapefruit and stone fruit aromas. The stone fruit is closes to peach. There are very low grainy notes.

Taste: There are strong stone fruit flavors with grapefruit. There are some dank elements that are in support. There are very low pine notes with some floral and grainy notes.

Feel: It has a moderate body and the finish is quick bitter, but not in a harsh way although it does have a certain sharpness to it.

Overall, A combination of very hoppy elements that blends well with minimal in the way of malt or other elements

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Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16 oz can from ATL with an 18 May 2018 canning date.
Pours with a very lightly hazy, pale amber body topped by a frothy white head that has very good retention and leaves plenty of sudsy lacing on the glass.
Aroma: resinous and fruity (citrus).
The flavor has moderate strength but with bitterness that is a bit mild for style. Notes of tropical fruits and bread, but primarily resinous hops.
Medium body with lively, medium carbonation.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.87/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A 16oz can with a canned-on date of July 2018. Acquired recently from a webshop. Described on the label as a West Coast style IPA; brewed to benefit the James river association and named after the return of the Atlantic sturgeon to said river.

A: Poured into an IPA glass. Can-conditioned. A deep, hazy amber hue with intense carbonation and tons of fine suspended sediment. Yields a large head of creamy white foam that lasts for a while before settling as a persistent surface layer. Some lacing.

S: Aroma of insanely resinous hops with hints of pine, weed, citrus peel, grapefruit, leafiness, caramel malt, subtle grain, ale yeast and earthiness. An avalanche of hops - very nice.

T: Tastes of zealously aromatic hops with notes of pine resin, dank weed, citrus peel, grapefruit, leafiness, caramel malt, mild barley sugar, ale yeast and earthiness. Slightly sweet, followed by a strident hop-driven bitterness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with lively carbonation and great body. Quite astringent; hop oils stimulate the palate. Aftertaste of bitter aromatic hops, pine resin, weed, citrus, caramel malt and ale yeast.

O: Very nice - a massive hop bomb with exceptional bitterness. Looks superb, while the aroma and flavour are stuffed with bitter resinous hops, caramel malt and ale yeast. Lovely body. Very drinkable - goes down like a dream. Worth sampling if you have the chance.

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Photo of southdenverhoo
3.64/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Nice beer. Hops are piney, more than citrusy or dank. On the malty side—bready, honey, like a baklava—I wouldn’t call this a West Coast IPA, at least not in 2018. Maybe a west coast IPA in 2006. But quite nice all the same. Kind of like a (very technically proficient) English craft brewer’s take on an American IPA, to me.

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Photo of avalon07
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a tallboy can to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a hazy consistency. There was a half inch of foamy / rocky, fairly long-lasting head. Fantastic lacing.

S: A nice aroma of hops, citrus, malt, pine, and a bready quality.

T: Tasted of a moderate amount of tropical fruit (passion fruit, perhaps?), a good shot of hops, light malt notes, a tinge of the bready quality, pine resin, and citrus (grapefruit). A very focused and well-balanced flavor. It's not overly hoppy or fruity, but strikes a good balance between the two.

F: A well-carbonated beer with a lively, prickly finish. Medium-bodied.

O: While this isn't a brilliant IPA, it is incredibly solid and well made. Definitely drinkable.

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Photo of tucl
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is perhaps my favorite IPA right now, incredibly fresh and creamy - complex and hits in all of the right ways. I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking for a local brew.

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Photo of obywan59
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy tropical golden orange, like pineapple juice. A 3 finger off white head leaves great lacing.

The aroma is hop dominant, yet there's a fairly strong syrupy malt backbone. Biscuit, grapefruit and tropical fruits, especially pineapple.

Light piney hops upfront becoming more citric in the middle. Moderately sweet malts last the duration.

Medium+ in body. Light syrupy coating in the middle then drying in the end.

Possibly the best canned beer I've had. I'm generally not a fan of canned beers, but I'll be trying this again.

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Photo of haines710
4.31/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 16 oz can into a pint glass. Nice orange color with a pretty good head. Smell is fruity and pleasant. Taste was not quite as good but still very good. A little maltier than some other IPAs. Beer is hazy and definitely not a session beer. This has a lot of flavor and I will definitely have more.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz can into a can style glass.

Look is a slightly hazy orange amber with a thin frothy head.

Aroma is extremely malty, wonder if this is a little hop faded.

Little bit more hops in the taste but it might be slightly faded. Still not bad.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong metallic gold and clear appearance. Light pine with moderate grapefruit notes in the smell and taste. Medium body and smooth. Light carbonation. Pretty good ipa.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a pint glass.

Appearance: Golden with a thick white head.

Smell: Hops and citrus.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of sweeter citrus with bitter pine notes.

Overall: Good IPA. I would have this one again.

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

Pours a cloudy yellow orange color with a white head about two fingers thick. Smells of grapefruit, pine, and malts. Tastes of oranges and pine, leaning towards the rind. A little on the bitter side but certainly in line with a west coast IPA. Touch on the thinner side to the feel. Flavors fade quickly but the bitterness lingers. Overall it's fairly nice, probably quite good on tap.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours slightly cloudy yellow orange, with a nice fluffy and sticky white head. Smells of grapefruit rind and pine. Tastes similar, with an emphasis in the rind, along with some sweet and crackery malt, with a tiny bit of a buttery finish. Feel is very bitter, low medium fullness, well carbonated, and slightly slick. Overall, this is a pretty good interpretation of a west coast IPA, and was very happy to try it. Cheers!

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Photo of Semh57
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bought 4 pack 16 oz cans at Kroger's Grocery Swift Creek Midlothian 1/20/17. Bottom of can states 1/10/17. After drinking the first 3 cans I am finally reviewing beer today! Pours light golden color and you can smell the hops right away! Pine resin and citrus moderately bitter (70 IBU's). Very good mouthfeel but slightly thin Watery!? on the finish! Very good IPA especially refreshing in the Summer months (It being very humid in Richmond area!) Must be Great on Tap! Recommend wholeheartedly!! Enjoy Fresh Beer!!

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Photo of sjones5045
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/18/73 Penn Taproom

Pours and smells ok but let's cut to the chase. It's very dry and bitter. Very dank and the aftertaste is hard to enjoy. Kind of a dumper. Would not drink this again.

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Photo of woemad
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

oz. can from a box of mostly VA beers from Gopens44. Canned on July 27, 2016 (at 0905, for those keeping score at home). Apparently this is brewed in support of a non-profit organization devoted to the restoration of the James River, a cause I would be happy to support if I lived where this beer is sold.

Poured into a Mad Bomber IPA glass, this was a chill-hazed, golden shade of amber, with a large, sudsy white head that left lots of lace.

Initially the aroma consisted of a somewhat restrained grapefruity hop scent. I was frankly surprised how much came through considering it's age. Sadly, as it warmed, a caramelly scented malt backbone arose from the depths, verging on butterscotch.

The mildly citrus hop flavor led the charge, seemingly more lemony than the nose foretold, but was closely followed by a coating, cloyingly sweet maltiness that almost, but not quite, drowns out the hops. Mildly dry finish.

Fairly light bodied for the style. Normally, I'd say it's too light for an IPA, but I think it actually helps fight off the diacetyly maltiness enough to keep the beer drinkable.

I suspect when this is fresh, it's a nice, lighter bodied IPA with a lot of appeal on a warm summer day, which my one visit to the region (1989!) told me they can be humid in that vicinity. It's still drinkable now, but it's definitely turning against the drinker at this point. Hopefully, at some point I can make it back there (and actually check out Richmond and some Civil War sites in the area), and drink it under such circumstances.

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Photo of jakecattleco
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can dated 08/03/2016 into a tulip. Pours golden yellow with finger of medium density white head that left minimal lacing. Nose is piney and earthy. Taste matches the nose but with way too much malt sweetness for my taste. Wasn't dry enough for me, too much malt backbone, nor bitter enough. Finish lingers, very earthy. Mouthfeel had good body, carbonation low. Meh.

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Photo of rdoggg
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 16oz can, dated 8/3/2016
A: hazy, orange, nice lacing
S: maybe mild grapefruit, but definitely not bursting for me
T: follows nose; I want it to be great, but something is missing.
F: crisp, yet smooth bitter finish
I feel like this has the making of a great IPA, but it's missing the citrus/grapefruit aroma and taste. I'd try it again.

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Photo of stevoj
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Draft at Yard House-Springfield. Hazy medium golden body, small soft head, tons of lacing. Hops first on the nose, followed by minor citrus notes. Taste pushes the citrus up closer to the front, hops close it out with a short, sharp bite.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks cjgiant for this as part of NBS BIF #3.
Maybe it's because I brewed but there is a fresh wort character with a nice rounding off of hop character that leans towards the more recent "classic" west coast aroma with grass with fresh fruit tending towards citrus but not exclusive to that. A little soft spice too. It's appealing.
Rather cloudy golden amber and a dense tan head is also appealing. So let's get to the drink already.
Bitterness shows first starting soft and growing through the drink. There is a little tartness/grapefruit to the bitterness too. A fair amount of complexity with hits of caramel sweetness that blends with some hoppy fruit flavors. Some additional sweetness up front too. The grass hop character is prominent and shows frequently.
At first this seemed to drink small but in time is more towards moderate with ample carbonation.
In sum it drinks nicely. The bitterness push but doesn't cross the limits towards excess. It's rounded out nicely for a satisfying drink.

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Photo of midpack
4.31/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Strong piney grapefruity hop explosion. Reminiscent of DC Brau Corruption but more of a flavorful taste beyond the bitterness. It probably was 4 ounces too much - not fond of 16 oz cans.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
2.12/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had on tap at Hardywood in RVA. This pour was definitely not an IPA in taste or nose. Sweet, had some off spices in the nose and taste. Very unusual for the style.

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The Great Return from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 643 ratings