I’d Tap That: Gingerbread Stout goes perfect by itself or with a variety of desserts
Glassware: The inviting aromatics of Gingerbread Stout must be experienced fully for the full effect of this beer to hit. Spiegelau has a wonderful stout glass that captures the aroma and also allows the beer to warm slowly through body heat from the hand. If this is not an option, a snifter or tulip glass will suffice.
Description: Gingerbread Stout pours dark blackish brown with dark khaki head that leaves small traces of lacing behind on the glass. The aroma is subdued at first if too cold, but as it warms the strong notes of spices, ginger being the most dominant, make an appearance front and center. Notes of sweet chocolate and honey also appear in the aroma as backing notes.
The taste truly unleashes the flavors of the beer with ginger spice present throughout, along with honey and sweet chocolate, this truly is a decadent gingerbread cookie. Notes of rich cream and vanilla become apparent as very subtle touches of earthy hops providing perfect balance and keeping the beer from becoming overly cloying.
Despite the abundance of sweetness, Gingerbread Stout is extremely easy drinking and does not fatigue the palate. The medium full body and moderate carbonation make for a very smooth and creamy mouthfeel that is absolutely textbook for the style. If you are a fan of stouts, dessert, and especially gingerbread cookies, than you must try this world class beer.
Food Pairing: While the idea of pairing a stout with a dessert dish is a bit overplayed and a very easy reach, sometimes it is the simplest pairings that make for the best. Immediately after the holiday season, our homes are filled with cookies, cakes, and many other sugar based goodies and Gingerbread Stout goes perfectly with all of them.
Try pairing with a creamy chocolate mousse for a dessert match, the creamy chocolate will melt into the beer and bring forth the natural chocolate flavors from the roasted malts.
However, if you are looking for a truly simple pairing than grab yourself a pint of vanilla bean ice cream, the creamier the better, and add a scoop or two into the beer to experience one of the best beer floats ever.
Freshly baked cinnamon buns also make for a wonderful pairing, especially if they are warm and the icing is melting. The cinnamon flavors are a natural match with this beer and the creamy icing will gravitate toward the sweetness in the beer.
The final match is with the most obvious, a gingerbread cookie piled high with icing.
The Final Word: Hardywood has only been open since late 2011 but the brewery quickly developed a stellar reputation. With beers as good as Gingerbread Stout, after one sip you will realize how that reputation was earned.
The idea of gingerbread spices with a creamy milk stout sounds great, but unfortunately many of us have tried a beer like this and it has failed miserably because of the overabundance of spices used in the beer.
Hardywood has perfected this with great balance and a high drinkability factor, something they seem to have perfected with all of their beers. The brewery has even brewed a great deal of variants using this delicious beer as a base. They have a bourbon barrel-aged variety of Gingerbread Stout, an apple brandy barrel-aged version, and my personal favorite, Christmas Morning, which infuses the beer with fresh brewed coffee for an unbelievably delicious treat.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewery: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Beer: Gingerbread Stout
Style: Milk/Sweet Stout
ABV: 9.20 %