Hoplar Imperial IPA | Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

54 Reviews
Hoplar Imperial IPAHoplar Imperial IPA

Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by siege06nd on 04-22-2012

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Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 393
Photo of Thorpe429
2.44/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Matt for picking this bottle up. Served in a cervoise. Pours a fairly-dark caramel-copper color with a short off-white head. The nose has a fairly-pronounced bit of poplar wood with some backing citrus and pine. The hop aromas aren’t really overpowering at this point. A bit too malty as well. Flavor is again fairly malty with a fairly-strong bitterness. Heavy wood presence. It seems like the hop flavor either wasn’t really there, or has fallen off. For wood-aged IPAs, I’m never normally too much of a fan, but I’m not sure why places don’t just ferment in the barrel to extract the character and not lose volatile hop flavors and aromatics while it’s wood aging.

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Photo of ZachKelly
2.92/5  rDev -28.1%
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.

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Photo of bubbaoyster
3.01/5  rDev -25.9%
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.

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Photo of krbrevard
3.41/5  rDev -16%
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.

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Photo of curasowa
3.46/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour for New Brew Thursday's 3rd Anniversary event held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, citrus zest, and brown sugar. Taste is much the same with a tangy flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I am not sure where the tangy flavor is coming from.

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Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a copper color and a clear texture. There was a big, two inch, foamy, long-lasting head. Very good lacing.

S: A very underplayed aroma of hops, citrus, and malt.

T: Tasted of hops, a little citrus, some malt, grass (not that pleasant), and the advertised poplar. Not quite as powerful or complex as it could have been. Decent, but not a spectacular flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a sharp finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Definitely an uneven beer, Hoplar does have some good attributes. Could have been better than it was.

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Photo of starrdogg
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange/amber with a fluffy off-white head. Already I have the feeling that this is going to be a malt-forward DIPA without smelling or tasting it. The smell is a little underwhelming - I'm just not getting as much of a hop aroma as I would expect in a DIPA. I'm getting more of a harsh wood/piney hops aroma, which is nice, but doesn't stand out as much as I would like. Flavor is interesting, it's certainly a maltier DIPA, but not sweet at all. It's actually very bitter - the wood and the hops come together to give it a harsh bite, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this just isn't my kind of DIPA, but it's far from a bad beer. I like slightly sweet, big citrus flavors with the malt playing a small role in the DIPA, and this beer really isn't citrusy or sweet and it's quite malt-forward. Fans of Dogfish Head 90 Minute might enjoy this, but I'm not the biggest fan of that one, and I don't love this either. That said, it's well-constructed for what it is.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
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

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Photo of drabmuh
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Eh, wood aged IPAs hardly ever turn out to be good. This one is OK though. Beer is amber with a mild haze, a white / off white head of small bubbles, low retention, no lacing, moderate carbonation.

Aroma is piny with some oak.

Beer is medium in body has an odd bitterness on the backend, an interesting beer all around but the hops are subdued, some pine in there some resin but nothing else. It is OK but I doubt I'll have it again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.72/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Gift from the ever generous Brad. Shared with the dudes in the band this afternoon.

The beer is transparent and radiant orange with an inch of off white head. Hops and wood in the aroma, as expected. Fresh cut pine, woodshop scents. Very dry finish. Grandiose wood presence. Extremely dry finish, like sucking on a board (that's what she said). Grapefruit rind and pine cones. Wood aged IPAs are really not my thing, but this is done well. Worth a try.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.72/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This one is aged on a Virginia tulip poplar. Poured into a nonic pint...

A: Pours a cloudy copper with a massive three finger eggshell white head. Tons of lacing that positively coats the inside of the glass...I'm talking a good finger of lacing on the glass alone. Pretty good head retention as it settles to a half finger and lingers. Color is not quite as vibrant as I would hope...a little murkier and dark for the style. One of the most impressive head retentions and lacing I have seen.

S: Very very good. What stands out most is how floral the bouquet on this is, no pun intended. I get rose and tulip petals, citrus, honey. Not lots of pine resin or spiciness detected on the nose, just a beautiful floral aroma with hints of citrus. I like.

T: Extremely sweet. I get a lot of honey, some very light pine and herbal bitterness, floral notes, some woodiness, and perhaps a touch of booze. The flavors are good, but not particularly bold. And the honey flavors are a little over the top...lots of the sweet stuff, maybe even a little vanilla and caramel. Huh.

M: Interesting flavors, but lacks balance. Sweetness is too much and hop presence is decidedly thin and one note. I also thought the carbonation way too low for the style.

O: This is definitely a unique DIPA, with a very memorable nose and flavor profile. However, the sweetness just undercuts everything, covering up both the malts and the hops and making this one drink a little thin and one-note. Very very very interesting, but needs a step up in hop profile (or down in residual sugar) as well as additional carbing to make it a bit more crisp and refreshing.

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Photo of oldn00b
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

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Photo of jmutoml757
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the Hardywood brewery in an old fashioned plastic cup.
Appearance -was a deep copper color, maybe a burnt amber. One finger head with few carb bubbles but some lacing throughout.
Smell- got my lowest rating. Nothing stands out. The hops comes through with a slight floral note.
Taste- great hops taste that has a hint of grapefruit and perhaps caramel. Nice bite and bitterness
Mouthfeel- excellent balance on the front and back of the tongue. A little lingering metallic taste. But the hops stand out nicely.
Overall - what I love in an IPA . Great hops bite. Highly recommend it.

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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 auburn tinted brown with two finger head and lace patches. Hoppy aroma, to say the least, as I get citric and some grape and a little bit of malt. Beer is good, hop strong of citric and grape, but like the aroma the balance is a little off and I get mostly hops and just a little bit of chewiness for the malts and no real sweetness. Not a major complaint but the hops start to wear down my palate and the finish is crisp but a little warming for some reason. A good but not great DIPA.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-slightly reddish deep amber color with a nice off-white head and good lacing

S-malt, citrus fruit, wood, brown sugar

T-caramel malt, citrus, pine, wood, hint of vanilla, a little booze coming through, moderate bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth and crisp

O-an interesting DIPA but more malty than I prefer, I like the wood though

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Photo of Chaney
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of Seanniek91
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 750ml C&C bottle into a Woodcock Brothers Imperial Pint. 2013 release, but no date.

Appearance- Huge 4 finger head (and I didn't pour wildly). Clear copper with tons of bubbles.

Smell-Boozy malts up front, light wood, light hops. Smells very malty, hopefully it's not.

Taste- Initially when I first took a sip, I thought it was a booze bomb, but the second sip was fine. Big hop bitterness, medium caramel malt sweetness, I don't get any wood though- at all. I wan't less malts and more wood.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, relatively viscous, not as carbonated as it looks.

Overall- I think the Poplar is akin to the "Beechwood Aging" that Bud does, whereas it may exist, but you certainly can't taste it. Solid enough IIPA though.

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into a Haw River teku glass. Spring 2013 release so not the freshest.

Pours a dark copper color with a half inch thick white head with terrific lacing. Mild amount of hoppiness on the nose..as well as some piney goodness. The taste has a ton of wood flavor..wow. Really piney and woody, this beer is the definition of what a piney IPA is. Hops have faded a tad in 8 months and i can imagine this would be much more hop forward fresh...though it is still quite hoppy and now the wood characteristics are more pronounced. Cant say its my favorite flavor for an IPA but its what the brewery was going for and i think they nailed it. Medium bodied with mild carbonation.

Overall Hardywood nailed this woody IPA. If thats what youre looking for..look no further.

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Photo of Beejay
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Slightly hazy in the glass, and peach to tangerine in color. The dense head is tan in color and fairly solid.

S: Citrus notes as well as a hint of grass. There is a nice malty sweetness that comes out in the form of caramel. There is a touch of pine, as well as a little bit of fruity sweetness. Perhaps in the finish there is a little cherry, or almond.

T: Huge citrus flavor; grapefruit, orange, and lemon peel. The brew is resinous with pine notes followed by a caramel malt flavor. I am picking up a little woodsy flavor, I think you have to search a little to find the poplar. The bitterness seems to linger on for a while, and with it a touch more of the wood flavor I want from this brew.

M: Medium to medium thick in body. Carbonation is appropriate for the style. The finish leaves a lingering bitterness and a little bit of a hop oil feel.

O: Overall I like it. The bitterness is solid, nice hop flavor, and some good malt balance. I wish the poplar flavor was a little more forward, but still a good brew.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 750mL C&C bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 7/10/12
*From notes

A: Hazy blood orange in hue. A 2.25 finger eggshell white head lingers on a good pour. Solid retention, lacing and collar follow.

S: Unlike any IPA I can recall. It's herbaceous. It's woody. It's got a really rustic and old world vibe to it. Nothing if not unique.

T: Not too far off from the nose. Very sticky, and pine forward. The wood works it's way in there, and adds a complexity I've not found in an IPA before. It's like they brewed the beer knowing that the brewed product was the rough draft, like they brewed it with the wood fully in mind. Really tasty stuff. I'm getting some tannic acid, light toast and a firm malt backbone. As it warms, intense lemon becomes more prevalent.

M: Chewy and dense. This is easily the best mouthfeel of all the Hardywood beers I've quaffed.

O: I am always down for something different, and this, then, is right up my alley. The integration of wood and hops is really well done, as I've never encountered an IPA that sat in wood and was actually good. But I guess there's a first time for everything. Another solid offering from what's quickly becoming Virginia's finest brewery.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle courtesy of ncaudle. It was poured into my Firestone Walker tulip.

Hoplar pours a fairly clear bronze, with some orange highlights. Two and a half fingers of bone colored foam crown the beer. Head retention is good and a decent bit of lacing is left plastered onto the inside of the glass. Aside from the color being a bit dark the beer looks very nice. The nose is largely shared by woody and grapefruit aromas, with a bit of vanilla just noticeable as well. The flavor profile manages to add more layers. Some caramel sweetness leads things off, and that a subtle vanilla flourish give way to a noticeable, but not overly aggressive bitterness. The back end of the beer is made up of a woody base, on top of which grapefruit and tangerine zest proudly display themselves. The mouthfeel just misses by a bit. The body's a hair too malty and the carbonation's a bit too dull for it to really shine. My initial reaction has been to be fairly skeptical of wood aged IPA. That said, between White Oak Jai Alai and now Hoplar, I'm forced to reconsider my opposition to them.

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Photo of rjs246
4.02/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of Pencible
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of garuda
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy bronze, khaki head is thick, fluffy, laces very well and retains incredibly well.

S - Juicy hop bouquet backed up by a touch of toasted wood, slightly floral.

T - Leans a little more towards caramel malt, slight vanilla, with grapefruit flesh and resinous pine.

M - Full body, medium carbonation, very smooth, yet prickly and finishing bitter.

O - Oaked IPA/DIPAs can go either way. This one's a winner. I'd get it again. No bottle dating though, at least that I can tell.

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Hoplar Imperial IPA from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
4.06 out of 5 based on 393 ratings.
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