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The Great Return | Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

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The Great ReturnThe Great Return

Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by blackie on 10-26-2013

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Reviews: 67 | Ratings: 581
Photo of woemad
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
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 -6.4%
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 -0.5%
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 -5.1%
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 -0.5%
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 +9.9%
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 -45.9%
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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Photo of 11-52_4hops
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed a draft at the brewery in a plastic cup. Nice amber color, head was a bit light. A very pleasant fruit bouquet. Taste is dominated by grapefruit flavor and hops. Comes off just a bit harsh for my taste, I would prefer a little more balance. This is a very good West Coast IPA that just barely misses outstanding.

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Photo of Bruvar
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Had a draft, Looks pretty light in color but very opaque. The smell is pretty sweet, nothing too strong, same with the taste. The fruit is definitely there and complements the bitterness well leaving the beer easy to drink.

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Photo of DavidCville
3.06/5  rDev -21.9%
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 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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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: pours a copper to gold color. a two finger off white and foamy head forms and has decent to strong retention. frothy lacing left behind. hazy and completely opaque.

Smell: tropical fruit hop, mostly in the grapefruit to pineapple realm. fresh cut grass and earthy, resiny hops. light pine. backend has a slight lemon bread malt character

Taste: opens up with strong fruity hops. grapefruit juice blends with pineapple, more citrus towards the end. hops open up quite a bit of earthy to resiny hops. fresh cut grass filters in a bit. malt backbone comes through with lemon bread and more bready aspects.

Mouthfeel: fairly bitter and some lingering hops. medium body. fairly refreshing.

Overall: perhaps the best of the canned/bottled IPAs in Virginia and easily the one thats most in my fridge. great hop taste and good bitterness. also doesn't fall off super quickly so freshness isnt the biggest worry.

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.74/5  rDev -4.6%
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 oldn00b
3.89/5  rDev -0.8%
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 MrIncognito
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
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 cavedave
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Even more and additional big thanks to gopens44 for this Virginia treat.

Stiff pour yields a turbid elixir the color of cider. Nicely topped by two fingers of thick white foam, that only gradually settle down, and leave behind righteous lace.

Sweet citrus and bitter orange goodness, pineapple with merest hint of herbal bitter, and grass. Med. strength aroma, but full strength enticement from its perfume.

Woahhh east meets west in this hop fest celebrating OG San Diego for sure. Right off the bat the bittering charge grabs hold while all the citrus and tropical hopflavors of the bouquet play around it. The sip ends with herbal bitter palate assault. In a good way.

Med. viscous for style, and despite a bitter hop resin linger, this baby drinks easy. It's nicely low carb. despite its look, and refreshing despite its dry, clean finish.

Excellent beer, highly recommended for the hophead in your family.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
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 uvachief
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can chilled to 37 degrees and poured into a pint glass. Golden orangish yellow hue that is very clear. Soft fluffy head that dissipated quickly. Aromas of grapefruit, pine, hops and maybe another citrus fruit. Tastes is a traditional citrus hoppy west coast ipa. Little pine tar but that's dominated more by the grapefruit than not. Proceeds for barrel sales benefit the James River Association. Zero sediment. Great tasting, clean finishing wc ipa. Would go down way too easy on a warm day on a boat or at the beach. I'm not an IPA fan but I like this one..a lot.

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Photo of wedge
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bright gold with some flaky sediment and a soft, frothy head. Bright hoppy aromas like grapefruit, peppery grass, pine resin, mango, and some earthy dankness. A little biscuit malt underneath, but it's mostly a bold, sticky hop affair. Bitter citrusy hop flavor like an old-school West Coast IPA. Zesty grapefruit, leafy dankness, pine, and lingering oily resins. Very bright, crisp, and lively. Aggressively bitter compared to many other modern day IPAs, but I dig it. I like this a lot...underrated.

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Photo of tastybeer
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Lovely white cakey head over amber colored, well filtered beer. This beer is fun to smell... Things that come to mind are orange creamsickles, wild flowers, pitted fruits, sugar cookies, toasted caramel...Very pleasant. West coast style with a little something else. Taste is both dry and steadily bitter. Flavors include grapefruit pulp, citrus in general, yummy bready malts... This particular West Coast style IPA is more aggressively bitter than a lot of other current versions of this style. Not a problem though... Crisp, refreshing and pleasantly assertive. Good stuff!

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.09/5  rDev -21.2%
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 Big_V
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
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 MisSigsFan
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy orange color with a white head. Smells like grapefruit, orange, pine, and slight alcohol. Taste is mostly the same with a decent malt backbone. Can says "West Coast Style" but I'm not sure if I agree. It tastes a lot like some midwest IPAs I've had. The typical super orangey taste you get from those. Weirdly enough it tastes a lot like a Pliny clone I made that turned out not like Pliny at all. A decent IPA but that's it.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
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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The Great Return from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 581 ratings.
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