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Bourbon Cru | Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

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Bourbon CruBourbon Cru

Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
Hardywood Bourbon Cru is brewed in the fashion of the abbey quadrupel, the grand cru of many of Belgium’s revered monastic breweries. Bourbon Cru displays a sunset orange hue with a substantial head and brilliant clarity after months of barrel ageing. The maturity and melding of flavors brought on by the freshly drained, half-decade old Virginia bourbon barrels from Fredericksburg’s A. Smith Bowman Distillery lends an extraordinary sense of harmony to Bourbon Cru.
Almond toffee and oaky vanilla aromatics give way to dark cherries, raisins and mature whiskey. A bit of plum flavor is greeted by caramel overtones and an assertive yet incredibly rounded body and a lingering, bourbon-laced finish.

18 IBU

Added by YumYumGumGum on 05-02-2012

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 345
Photo of obywan59
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Grapey brown in color with a 2 finger light tan head. Murky.

Aroma of cherries and bourbon with vanilla and musty oak Very fruity. Along with the cherries, I get raisins and plums with a hint of spice and sometimes, substantial caramel.

A taste similar to a fortified wine, grapey and rich. Again, bourbon and oak with dark fruit and caramel. The alcohol is noticeable.

Possibly the best Virginia beer I've sampled,. Outstanding in aroma, taste, and body. Luxurious. Decadent.

Full bodied with low carbonation, but very warming alcohol. Smooth and creamy.

 569 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.09/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Pours a dark amberish with a thin tan head which leaves spots of lace. Dark fruits, molasses and some vanilla notes. Taste follows the nose. Boozy and full bodied.

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Photo of vainosuomi
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap in a snifter

Look: Deep amber.caramel color, frothy tan head, no sediment
Smell: Booze, dark fruit, brown sugar, vanilla
Taste: Follows nose, quite sweet, rich plum and raisin up front, followed by faint but bright citrus/sour notes, caramel
Feel: Smooth, moderate carbonation, medium to heavy body, warm

Overall a solid quad, rich malt flavors.

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Photo of cjohns73
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a nice copper originally that turned cloudy and sludgy. Smell is smooth vanilla. Taste was pretty much whiskey cut with some beer. Overall very smooth.

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Photo of Guppy314
3.96/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a bottle from Whole Foods, pours mid-darkish hazy brown with a thin tan head. Aroma is a smokey malt. Taste is malt-forward with oak and a sharply high alcohol "sting". Decent carbonation, but mouth feel is syrupy. Interesting at first, but I was pretty well over it half way through the 75cl bottle.

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Photo of KevCan
4.51/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 750ml bottle from Whole Foods in Arlington, VA. 2015 release. Poured into a tulip glass.

Look: Reddish brown, slightly hazy, lots of visible sediment, well-carbonated but with little head retention. Not as dark as a typical quad.

Smell: Sweet like cherries, bourbon.

Taste: Just a little bit sour/tart/acidic, very interesting! Good balance of sweet and sour. Very little to no bitterness. The high ABV is very well-hidden.

Feel: Just a little syrupy. Decent carbonation.

Overall: Very enjoyable!

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Photo of Jimmys
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage.

A: pours fairly hazy. a bit too much so. copper otherwise. head is slightly off-white and frothy.

S: a little bit of bourbon, a lot a bit of plums. this thing smells like a quad. big time. alcohol heat. dried raisins.

T: starts sweet and really dark. brown sugar, rum, Belgian candy syrup, dark malts and fruit. any alcohol in here is perfectly fitting and is not overpowering. perhaps the age lent some to that, but I cant say for sure as I have never had this fresh. lingering sweetness isn't cloying, but is loaded with dessert like dark fruitiness.

M: moderate carb on a very full body.

D: overall I feel like this has held on over the years pretty well and really mellowed out. however, I think most of the bourbon flavor and aroma has dissipated too much as well. it is definitely a really good quad, however I am disappointed by the lacking bourbon character. with that said, I don't know how to review this overall. I guess drink fresh if you want some heat (perhaps), age if you want a solid quad.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.01/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 Bottle poured into an oversized wine glass. Comes out a pretty light brown in color. Gave it a somewhat hard pour and a small eggshell colored head foamed up but it fizzled away quickly. It had chunks of yeast sediment in it but other than that it had good clarity.

Smells good. Certainly some bourbon/whiskey aromas, but nothing too crazy. Some dark dehydrated fruit aromas along with a little bit of tobacco/leather.

Taste is good too. Some of the same bourbon whiskey flavors, but it doesn't overpower the beer. Some apple skin and fig flavors.

Mouthfeel is really nice. Light bodied yet some lingering flavors. Sweet, fizzy and a somewhat dry finish only the slightest bit of heat. Very drinkable. I'd do this one again. Thanks T Love for the bottle.

 777 characters

Photo of cvm4
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2015 vintage

L - Pours a semi-opaque orange/amber body with a light tan one finger head. Not much retention or lacing to the head.

S - Lots of oak, vanilla, caramel and leather at first with the backside being classic prunes/dates/plums profile.

T - Compared to the nose, the taste is a bit all over the place. Big bourbon presence. Oak, leather and malts upfront. I'm not getting a big dark stone fruit character, but coconut and pineapple.

F - Light to medium bodied and low carbonation.

O - Just a bit of a mess taste wise. Nothing really brings the beer together.

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Photo of argock
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750ml brown corked bottle into a clear glass snifter. 2015 vintage. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: clear slightly orange chestnut brown with no head and no lacing.

S: leathery, earthy, malty aroma with a lot of booze

T: also very earthy with strong moderately bitter cherry alcohol bite tempered with sweet, medium caramel maltiness with mild vanilla, coconut, and pineapple barrel notes.

M: a little thin with medium body at most and low carbonation

O: pretty disappointing, boozy without much cohesion. Sweetness with a few redeeming barrel features.

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Photo of stortore
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into a chalice.

Pours a hazy amber, not much of a head, a little cling. Nice looking beer. Smell leads with malt; also grapes, dates, brown sugar, raisins, a little bourbon and vanilla. Taste also leads with malt, continues the grapes, dates, raisins. Adds some cherries and caramel. A little more bourbon and vanilla than the nose, some oak. Smooth for the ABV, has a good feel.

Good beer- flavorful and well blended. Have to admit to expecting this to be a little better.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.09/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Real good vanilla, brown sugar and oak flavor. Nice balance to this. On the thinner side but don't mind. Sips easy with lower carb and a medium finish.

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Photo of uvachief
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draft into a snifter. Full finger of fluffy tan head that quickly dissipated into the dark ruby reddish brown body. Definitely a quad/strong ale look to it. Smells of vanilla, raisins, plums, dates, dark fruit. Bourbon. Carmalized sugars maybe toffee. Taste is a little thicker than you would expect from a abbey/quad ale. Really complex mouthful of flavors with bourbon right upfront. Sweet. Smooth for such a high ABV ale. Sticky on the tongue. Love it though. A cascade of flavors really rounds this one out well. Another outstanding brew from Hardywood. One of the top quads.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 cork and cage into a snifter, the beer is a deep, vibrant, ruby caramel coloring with a foamy, fluffy, off-white head that quickly settles out into a halo. Aromas of rich apple, vanilla, date, plum, raisin, caramel, toffee, almond extract, brown sugar, and subtle booze warmth. Very dynamic and layered nose. Flavors are rich and heavy forward, with a solid dose of vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, apple, and whiskey spice and warmth, with a backbone of old world fruit richness. Date, plum, raisin, and cherry all blend together to support the richness that comes forward on this beer, with highlights of wood spice, whiskey heat, plum, and grape. The body is big and robust, with a boozy slickness to it. The aftertaste is all rich, old world fruit sweetness, with a building warmth form the elevated ABV and bourbon imparts. The finish is spiced and warm, with notes of vanilla and bourbon lingering on past the smooth, slick, and slow transition across the palate. This is a damn good beer.

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Photo of bmeehan
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good ass beer. It's not on par with Allagash's Curieux, but it's a great bourbon aged beer. It's got a vanilla aftertaste, which is easy on the tastebuds, but not extremely pleasing because it kind of tastes out of place, but it's a good product overall.

 264 characters

Photo of maximum12
3.42/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again to Moses_Malone for this bottle; after having regular GBS, I wanted more, & here it is. 750ML corked & caged bottle with classy, parchment-and-black-ink label split with my wife.

The pour is clear pine sap amber with a low-hanging head that’s quickly parted from the body; now it just looks like a light glass of vino. The nose is quite nice: coconut, vanilla, light powdered sugar, with an undercurrent of Charon. Which I hope I never experience in person.

Bourbon Barrel Cru is a gulpin’ Cru. Sweet, sweet candied sugar coats the beer like a smooth liquid shell. Underneath that gum-receding shock is light vanilla, creamy caramel/toffee combo, pink bubblegum, peppery hit from the yeast (?). Bourbon? Hardly present in the taste, but as a warming afterglow. Supremely smooth, which is its best feature, but with a skimpy, scrawny body. Drinkable as all get out, but I like sugar-water.

Despite my many descriptors, this is a beer that doesn’t light up the radar gun. The combo isn’t dull, but it’s…not terribly interesting. Just sweet & easy-drinking. Pretty good brew.

 1,103 characters

Photo of stakem
3.52/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml poured into a tulip. The brew appears a clear mahogany color with a finger of off-white cap.

The smell is cheesy, sulfur, woody like oak and some bourbon infused booziness.

The taste includes a slight fruity alcohol aspect, caramel malt, oxidation and booze. The finish has some minerals and a slight citrus component.

This is a boozy sipper that is medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. Overall not bad.

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Photo of Tucquan
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had this on 2015-05-30 in Lancaster, PA at The Fridge on tap

A - Clear mahogany

S - Mild caramel and bourbon

T - Sweet malt vanilla coconut

M - medium body and light carb

O - very tasty. Balanced.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL corked bottle poured in a stem glass. Another outstanding bourbon barrel series 2015 release. So well balanced and never overpowering the style they age it with. Smooth for the abv.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

Conjuring up new styles, trends and flavors of ale to take along on a slumbering bourbon barrel journey, Bourbon Cru takes a pitstop with the stronger, darker ale that are famed of the Belgian abbey.

Burnt orange with light garnet low-lights, the ale pours with a mysterious but charming hue. More creamy than bright, the ale layers with a rich lather to cap the glass. Medium intensity of aromas shed sweeter notes of hard candy and brown sugar while dried, dark and earthy fruit layer gently on the early palate.

Woven tightly into a creamy, dense, and doughy middle, the fruit and malt sweetness tie together to suggest fruit and spice cake. But with the rising balance of peppercorn spice and bourbon nuances, the sweetness is held in check and the raisin, cherry, apple and fig fruitiness begin to recede.

More creamy and warm than dry and spicy, there's a barleywine character to the lavish texture, but keeps the brunt of twelve-percent held in check. Peppery, bourbony and numbing on the tongue, the ale echoes with the whimsy of oak spice, vanilla and dry caramel.

 1,076 characters

Photo of KYGunner
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%

The nose is very light but bourbon, malt, coconut cream, toffee and molasses can be found.

On the tongue is a light booziness, maple, an oakey malt, coconut and a slight honey candy. It ends with a bit of alcohol but it remains super smooth throughout.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.29/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

750ml, bottled 9/19/12, poured into teku glass

A- deep amber in color with some orange and red hue, small fizzy white head dissipates completely after settling, leaving nothing behind. It looks like a little bit of oxidization has kicked in

S- huge aromas of sweet caramel/toffee/butterscotch malt up front, followed by aromas of maraschino cherry, toasted almonds, dried fig, raisins and fresh brown bread. The barrel aging gives big nots of toasted coconut, vanilla bean & barrel juice. Very impressive aroma

T- big malty presence up front with an emphasis on toffee and melted caramel, flavors of fresh fruited bread and fig kick in mid-palate with a subtle tartness of dark cherry kicking in. Toasted oak, coconut and vanilla bean close it out with a linger of straight bourbon

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel with am oily finish. Seems to have lost some carbonation over two years

O- two years of aging seems to have meshed the flavors brilliantly. The base quad gives lots of dark fruit flavors that mix nicely with the barrel notes, very well done

 1,106 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to portable 2014 vintage enjoyed from a GBS flute.

a - brew pours a rich transparent sienna amber with a thin bubbly kind of creamy head that never fully left...a thin skin was always there, some spotty lace if that.

s - nose is rich caramel toasted plum. Really nice.

t/m/o - really complex and flavorful. Toasted caramel toffee with a thick glazing of raw bourbony vanilla oak. Rich, decadent, and strong wood presence. Very well rounded beer with a fantastic flavor. Surprisingly light and thin, but overall super tasty and although somewhat hot, the booze is well integrated for the strength. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of MNishCT77
4.24/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottle purchased at Total Wine & Liquors in Alexandria, VA; 2014 vintage; drank over an hour on share with my wife

A: 3/3 - deep orange-brown, pours with a frothy khaki head that persists as a one finger lacing, tight brown carbonation pouring off the bottom of the glass and collects in the head; large alcohol legs

S: 10/12: intense dark fruit, candied sugar, molasses, tobacco, whiskey and oak; alcohol is more muted than expected for 12% but present; no hops

T: 16/20 - on the front of the tongue, there is a moderate sweetness that evolves and is complemented by plum, raisin and stone fruit flavors followed by barrel-notes: vanilla, tobacco, moderate alcohol; although sweet up front, finishes moderately dry and welcomes additional sips

M: 4/5 - slightly hot but overall smooth, creamy and chewy; high carbonation; low-to-moderate drinkability

O: 8/10 - quavering between an 8 and a 9 but eventually settled on an 8 because I wish the drinkability was higher; I had Firestone Walker's Stickee Monkee earlier the same night and the drinkability was off the charts at an ever higher ABV; overall nice price point at <$15 bottle and worth drinking/trading for

TOTAL - 41/50

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Photo of canyouspell
4.71/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bourbon Cru 2014 Release (bottle)

This beer is one of my favorites; boozy caramel and vanilla notes play together nicely with the cru. I believe they changed the bourbon barrels this year (in my opinion, for the better) it seems more vanilla-y than last years. My only qualm with this beer is the price; At $14.99 a bottle, I would think twice about stocking up on a bunch of bottles - but I'll always get it on draft if available.

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Bourbon Cru from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
4.07 out of 5 based on 345 ratings.
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