Hoplar Imperial IPA
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hoplar Imperial IPAHoplar Imperial IPA
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IPA - Imperial
4.05 | pDev: 10.37%
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Hoplar Imperial IPAHoplar Imperial IPA
Notes: Hardywood Hoplar follows the wood-aging tradition of the earliest India Pale Ales, which were matured on oak. Rather than oak, we’ve selected the delicate wood of a fallen Virginia Tulip Poplar, which was TreeCycled by CitiWood and toasted for use in this hearty IPA. While this Poplar can no longer rustle in the wind or give shade, it is able to offer balance to the bright citrus and pine character from heaps of Cascade, Columbus and Summit hops with subtle notes of caramelized vanilla. And the tree was hoppy.

In the mid-1800s, when the early IPAs were being shipped in wooden barrels from the breweries of Burton-on-Trent to thirsty British colonists in India, our Tulip Poplar was a mere sapling on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. On September 18, 2003, this towering Poplar prevailed to the fierce Hurricane Isabel and fell on Bell Creek Road. Richmond-based CitiWood Urban Forest Products helped us transform the wood from this fallen Poplar into custom designed flavor- and aroma-enhancing infusion sticks. Post fermentation, Hoplar is dry-hopped with a generous helping of whole-flower Cascade hops and conditioned on the toasted Poplar.

Hardywood Hoplar is mahogany in color with a hearty, tan head and offers an aroma of grapefruit brûlée and pine needles, as well as delicate vanilla toffee and a hint of campfire. Medium- to full-bodied with assertive (100 IBUs) yet delightful hop bitterness, Hoplar is balanced with ample caramel malt backbone. A bit of earthy tannin from the Poplar harmonizes with the resinous hoppy character, which dissipates into a lingering finish.

100 IBU
Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 393 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of citizencane
citizencane from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Yes, it's heavy on the poplar. If you're looking for something totally balanced, this probably is not it. That said, the poplar adds a fascinating note of wood that is sweet but not like birch. Unusual and definitely drinkable and high quality. Maybe not one of the top beers in existence, but very good and distinctive.

Jul 02, 2016
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Emersonio from District of Columbia

4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour: Bomber bottle into a tulip glass. Appearance: Attractive amber in color. Started with a large white head which reduced to more of a minimal offering yet still present after settling. Lacing present on the sides of the glass, but not much. Aroma: Juicy and dank hoppy aroma. A bit of spicy pepper is detected. Woody notes are also present on the deep sniff. Slight alcohol aroma is also detected as well. Taste: Dank and juicy hops are immediate on the sip. the taste mellows out a bit to reveal the Poplar wood roast. Smooth and velvety despite a higher IBU (100). The juicy hop and wood qualities compliment each other nicely. Aftertaste: Woody and earthy elements remain on the back end. Lots of linger after a few exhales. The deep back end reveals a noticeable bitter quality with definite onion like notes. Notes: Big fan of the nose and taste. Love the interplay of the wood and hops. Very unique. I wish it could have finished a little more clean. The back end could be better. Had this at the brewery the previous week and the freshness and taste was a total knockout. Result/Rating: Very Good/ 4.42

Jun 24, 2016
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AMCimpi from New York

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: A darker IPA, Amber. White fluffy head that stays. S: Pine, dank hops, herbal, grassy, a touch of wood. T: Some wood, a little melon, some pine. M: This beer is creamy, silky smooth, some bitter on the backend but the silky smooth feel just invites you in for more. O: I'm becoming a fan of these wood aged IPAs. It added a smooth mouthfeel that is almost barleywine like. An overall nice beer, I'm really enjoying it

May 31, 2016
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delta490 from Virginia

4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep Amber, just so slightly hazy. The head is dark cream, foamy, and has big volume and great retention. The aroma is multifaceted, varying from caramel malts, to floral and citrus hops. The taste is much the same. No one quality overwhelms any other and compliment each other. The poplar is subtle and at times it's hard to tell its there. But other times it's a nice addition. The body is remarkably light but not watery and has a light carbonation tingle.

May 18, 2016
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krbrevard from Virginia

3.41/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have to say, the casking really messed this one up for me. Just not feeling the poplar wood, which is the star of the show. Mine apparently brought out the alcohol taste.

Oct 02, 2015
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MehNahMehNah from Virginia

4.36/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is in the same vein as DFH Santo Palo with the unique wood aging. Super hoppy beers work well in this sort of brew!

Had this in a tulip glass because of the IBUs, I wanted get a good idea of the bouquet of the hops.

L: Looks like a red ale, deep sunset red hue. Robust head that has good staying power, and persistent carbonation that put on a perpetual show. Head fades with some modest lacing. Super attractive beer, IPA or not.

S: A nose of sweetness like spun sugar. Not as much hop aroma as I expected for a high IBU beer, it smelled like the last day of a state carnival; bare dirt, stale tobacco, animal musk, weathered wood in the sun. Not unpleasant, but like a faint memory. As the beer warms, grapefruit notes appear, but so does the onion/garlic traits of the summit hops. This beer lacks olfactory impact considering its specs.

T: Initially when served cold (about 45 degrees) you get sweetness first, but it is brief. High ABV beers+High IBUs are tricky and once you get over the shock and awe, the sweetness of the malt rides through. Taking slow, thoughtful sips lets the nuance of the wood come through. Novel and pleasant. I'm not a superfan of summit hops and I think after a while I was picking up a green wood flavor from those; I would have liked to have had more of an aromatic hop to minimize some of the funky qualities of the summit. This beer would suffer from too complex of a hop schedule, and I salute the brewery for not getting carried away. Definately unique and somewhat complex, but not going to appeal to everyone.

F: The carbonation level is really enjoyable and helps deliver the complex flavors across the palate. The initial sensation is a modest body, slightly heavy for a IPA, then it fades to a lingering consistency kept afloat by the alcohol and lingering hops, the wood's presence in the background. My mouth watered, yet my lips were sticky. I suspect the big malt bill needed to hit the ABV resulted in a lot of leftover sugars.

O: I'm no master brewer, but I bet if Hardywood had gone easier on the Summit hops and maybe had used some amarillo to distract from the onion/garlic traits this would be spectacularly complex as a hop bomb. Like the Santo Palo, this is a clever spin on a wood aged beer. The lingering sticky sweetness makes me wonder if it could have aged longer or tweaked some other aspect of brewing - whether it was altering the grain bill, choice of yeasts or temperatures I can't venture a guess. It still would go down well paired with some semi-soft cheeses and nuts or a skillet-seared steak with rosemary grilled potatoes and zucchini. It's a little niche-y but more subtle than the Dogfish Head Santo Palo.

Jul 05, 2015
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, the beer is a deep, vibrant, caramel copper coloring, with a foamy, clingy, off-white head. Gorgeous. Aromas of rich vanilla, subtle pine and resinous hops characteristics, rich smoky caramel, subtle orange and grapefruit, and woody notes. Flavors are rich and perfectly balanced forward, blending vanilla, wood, and caramel with pine tassel, wet grass, and dank vegetation. Extremely balanced, and as smooth as it is robust. The body is full and smooth, with a bitter resinous aftertaste lined with a tart grapefruit edge. The finish is layered smooth, with a dry undertone, with lingering resinous and citrus notes. Great beer, a truly great beer.

Jul 04, 2015
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challenja from Virginia

4.62/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Copper gild orange golden his. Honey comb bee pollen. Light sticky milk cloud head.
S: sweet pine sap grapefruit candied lemon heads.
T: powerful full bodied multi layered mouth banger. Full turtle hop bah. Mush mouth fallout throat tickle.
M:medium to full mouth feel. Powerful resin sap. Power up punch mouth feel.
O: a superb complex DPIA. Hardywood strikes again. So far the brew company on the East Coast.

May 17, 2015
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AndrewMichael from Virginia

4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 mL capped bottle poured into a stemmed glass. Very well balanced and smooth for an Imperial IPA. Was hoping for just a bit more wood flavor to come from the tulip poplar conditioning.

May 17, 2015
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qchic from Maryland

4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Amber with a rosy glow. Head lingers a while. Pine and caramel in the nose. I Had no prior knowledge of what poplar smells like, bit I am getting a sweet and spicy wood aroma that tamps the hop pungency. Lots of flavors from hops and poplar. I'd recommend sipping and savoring the battle between caramel and pine with fruit and plenty of bitterness. The wood brings an earthiness that rounds off the edges. Big body to this IIPA, and I love the oily mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little too fine. Still, very enjoyable to enjoy through the evening.

May 01, 2015
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obywan59 from Virginia

4.71/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours crystal clear and coppery in color with a 2 finger off white head that leaves substantial attractive lacing.

Smell of ripe grapefruit, pine, and maybe a little biscuit.

Taste of pine, light caramel, and a light woodiness. Very bitter, but sweet malt counters well.

Medium full in body. Excellent retention on the palate. Moderately slick. Moderately crisp. Warming alcohol.

A luxurious brew. The flavor matures as it warms. Full in both taste and aroma and well balanced. Decadent.

Apr 20, 2015
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oldn00b from Virginia

3.76/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hardywood has an awesome barrel program and I give them credit for trying new things. I'm unfamiliar with what to expect from "poplar" aging but I felt the barrel imparted something interesting for sure, but hard for me to pin down.

The hop profile here is nice but in general I'm not a fan of aged IPAs.

This is one I'm happy I tried but not sure I'll grab again.

Apr 17, 2015
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Big_V from Maryland

4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Aggressive pour with 3 finger head. Aroma is sweet bread, pine, resin. Major hops up front then resin. This is a hop bomb. The poplar wood flavor adds major flavor. This was a great DIPA.

Apr 11, 2015
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ZachKelly from Virginia

2.92/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Unfortunate that I did not try this beer anywhere near peak freshness. I will certainly seek it out again this year when it comes out in the Spring. I drank it in January, so almost 8 months after release. It was still tasty, the wood flavors came through strong but with a malt taste that was just too overpowering. The dulled hop notes still had a good floral aroma but it was very muted.

Jan 08, 2015
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curasowa from New York

3.46/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy, dark copper color with a huge head that fades slowly with a thick curtain of lace.

Aroma: Candied fruit, brown sugar, lots of toffee, some earthy hops and woody.

Taste: Caramel, thick, syrupy-sweet up front, then some building earthy hop bitterness. Real dank and chewy. The bitterness intensifies through the lingering finish along with residual sweetness and is a bit hot and medicinal.

The Rest: Love the aroma, less so the beer itself. A really interesting aroma descends into a overly sweet, syrupy, somewhat unbalanced beer. For me, it sat too heavy without enough carbonation or hop character. It's definitely bitter, just not very nuanced.

Dec 27, 2014
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Treyliff from West Virginia

3.68/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle, poured into a snifter

A- pours a murky amber color with a creamy off-white head that retains long after the pour, leaving some lace behind

S- the addition of the poplar wood is noticed right away with big woodsy aromas, it even brings our some aromas of dried chili pepper. There are some earthy hop notes, but primarily woodsy

T- woodsy flavors dominate up front that still resembles a chili pepper taste, underlying piney and earthy hops, finishes dry with more woodsy flavor

M- medium body and moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a creamy finish

O- I liked the addition of the poplar wood, but it overpowered the hops, definitely unique

Dec 14, 2014
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Fieldzy27 from North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours apricot orange with a fairly dense head raising easily even with a gentle pour. It deflates over time leaving big sudsy globs of appealing lace scattered around the glass , the head is a khaki color with good retention. The color of this beer is just phenomenal and clarity is perfect.

Aroma: Sweet bread and caramel , vanilla , orange zest and light citrus, aroma is strong and a hint of alcohol melds well the the other scents. There is also hints of all spice or cinnamon. Hop aroma is juicy and full. Great nose.

Taste: This beer has the most distinct actual wood character I have had in a beer. Almost like a tinge of fresh cut pine. Hops dominate soon after though the large amount of orange and tangerine character. The malty sweetness is really a flash in the pan and finish is bitter and clean. Small amount of alcohol can be tasted. The flavors are good and well rounded. Not insanely complex but a solid set of flavors that drink very well.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is lively and bright it carries the hop bitterness very well. Alcohol is felt on the pallet and on the swallow as it warms after. Its viscous enough to carry its bold flavors very well.

Overall: A good tasting beer with no flaws, although it doesn't really shine. The wood character is very cool and im glad it showcases it well however other than that I feel like if someone were to ask me how to describe the "average" DIPA that this would be what I would say (minus the aging). All and all a great beer.

Dec 14, 2014
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rjs246 from Virginia

4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generally speaking I am not wild about Hardywood's IPAs, but the Hoplar is by far their best. The poplar balances well with the hops and provides for one of the more interesting IPAs available from a local brewery.

Oct 03, 2014
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SportsandJorts from Virginia

4.62/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: deep burnt orange but with a strong bright clarity to it. Two to three fingers of a tannish head that fades slowly and leaves a lacing on the entire side of the glass. Moderate clarity.

Smell: very strong smell. A hoppy mix of citrus, tropical fruits, pine and some resin. Silky sweet character as well. Small notes of vanilla to toffee with some boozy oak qualities.

Taste: opens with lots of hops. Hints of citrus, mango, papaya, strong pine, and hops resin. Pine taste comes off as a mixture of bitter and sweet pine sap. Background is full of spice, some burnt character, earth, vanilla, wood. Moderate to strong alcohol that plays very well with the beer.

Mouthfeel: wonderfully silky and smooth. Leaves some bitterness and alcohol warmth behind.

Overall: a great and unique iipa. Great variety in the character, from all aspects hops malts and barrel.

Aug 03, 2014
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Pencible from Virginia

4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a cloudy dark copper with thick light tan head.
S: It smelled like bitter pine and metallic hops, with some citrus zest and a bit of wood.
T: It tasted like bitter resin and citrus zest, with some spicy wood character and honey biscuit malt. It had a clean bitter aftertaste.
M: It was thick with moderate carbonation. Great big body.
D: This was a nice IPA with subtle wood character to add a little unique scent and taste. The body was excellent, and the finish was smooth with pretty well hidden alcohol. So it was fairly easy to drink. Not my ideal hop profile, but it worked well for this beer. Solid brew.

May 18, 2014
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bubbaoyster from Virginia

3.01/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The poplar aging does not sit well with my palate. Rather than the floralness of a good IPA , I get more of a acidy mouthfeel which combined with a lot of carbonation kind of kills this one for me.

I'm a native Richmonder and happy about our recent explosion of microbrews but this needs some work.

May 07, 2014
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber to auburn, hazy, with lacing edge head that is foamy in nature
Smell of raisin and date, a hint of some unknown tropical fruit

Taste also hits on the dark fruit (little more date-like), initially. The carbonation jumps on the tongue to combine with the bite of the resinous hops (woody/pine base with light mango flavors). The wood taste could be from the Poplar aging. This beer almost tends towards a barleywine (American) in some senses, the lift fruit middle and dryness of the end perhaps saving it.

A very solid beer. I might flat rate it a little higher, but it's crossover in style (to me) confused my ratings slightly.

May 07, 2014
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass. Suggested to pour slowly.

Woah, this sucker is big. Even on a controlled slow pour it's just a huge large head. Light tan and slightly yellow it is as big as a fist. Super thick retention this thing will not go away or quit, a big thick lip hangs over the glass but never cascades down. Body color is beautiful. Crystal clear and this gorgeous deep red amber, with nice rising carbonation that isnt too excessive. A real impressive IPA here in the looks department, big winner.

Real interesting nose, very enjoyable. Big dank earth and hits of pine cone and needles. Some real nice forest green spruce like senses, spicy, even kind of floral a bit. Love this aroma and walking through crushed earth in a forest sense. Inviting.

Real interesting palate. Very subdued bitterness that lingers, with a nice caramel sweetness. Rose petal sweetness and a very long and slowly large and growing hop herbality. Green and black tea aromatics on the finish, slowly builds to a grapefruit large freshness. Incredibly juiced and thick perfect mouthfeel, lush, full, oily but not slick coating with just enough sugared warmth, and subdued carbonation. Lots of leafed tea herbal notes, and mixed citrus, and minimal mid palate bitterness

This is real impressive beer from these guys, as if Great Return was fantastic as it is this one is a winner.

May 06, 2014
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athomasPSU from Massachusetts

4.31/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour is amazing. A perfect ruby amber color that's not as cloudy as I expected. About a finger or so of beige head that leaves a sticky lacing that looks great.

Smell has lots of hops and grapefruit with some earthy wood. It's hard to figure out what it is. Also some malts that seem to come out. Its also got some toasted vanilla coming through.

Taste is very unique. Bright powerful citrus and sticky pine that's balanced by the toasted flavors from the malts and wood. Definitely notice the wood. It's got a great bitterness to it. This beer is so complex. Sweet and bitter with a great toasted malt backbone

Not a lot of carbonation. Very nice mouth feel. Smooth drinking.

Overall this is amazing. Very complex but so delicious. An imperial IPA at it's finest. The poplar makes this beer. It's a beer I would love to get more of. Thanks for the trade upton7418
I would recommend trying if you get a chance.

May 04, 2014
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Chaney from District of Columbia

3.91/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Oh cool, another Hardywood entry. Rock on!

Served in a Game of Thrones glass.

A: Holy crap this sucker unfiltery to the unfiltered power. Pretty much dark orange with tons of yeasties. Only a slight beige head.

S: A whole lotta nothin going on overall, but that's maybe because I just finished a juicy "Flower Power" right before this. Poplar wood huh? I kinda dig it.

T: Not particularly piney or bitter, but it has a very distinct, original flavor profile: Sorta white peppery, non-candyesque, and pretty earthy. Nice.

M: Lotsa lacing left on the snifter, no over-the-top sweetness, and certainly no lingering bitterness.

O: Pretty good.

Apr 05, 2014
Hoplar Imperial IPA from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 393 ratings