by Jon M. Casey
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, host site of the Nov. 3 Glasses of Grain Roundtable, followed the afternoon educational meeting with a tour of their award winning facility. With more than 70 people in attendance, industry professionals including grain growers, brewers, distillers, educators and financial representatives gained new insight into how to better serve the mid-Atlantic region by growing grains commonly used in the craft brewing industry.
The group toured Hardywood in late afternoon, while workers were busy bottling the company’s seasonal reserve, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, an early winter Imperial Milk Stout brewed with fresh local ginger and honey (9.2 percent ABV with 55 IBUs).

Co-owners and life long friends Patrick Murtaugh and Eric McKay welcomed the group to their facility, briefly explaining how they founded Hardywood in Oct. 2011, following ten years of planning. Their partnership came to fruition after they had visited a sheep station in Australia, back in 2001, called Hardywood Park. It was there they initially discovered craft brewed beer.
Since that time, they worked toward opening their own craft brewery, which happened four years ago. More recently, this past July, the company announced a $28 million expansion plan for a new facility in nearby Goochland County, Virginia. That operation is scheduled to go online during 2017.
Tour guide Jillian Ewell noted the company attempts to use local ingredients in their brews whenever possible, especially in the reserve line of products. For example, the current brew being bottled in the bottling plant is the Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, which is brewed with local ginger and honey as part of the ingredient list.
Ewell explained that the malted barley, stored in outside storage silos, is milled as it is brought into the building before fermentation. She said they routinely bottle four beers per day, five days per week. The company is capable of bottling 1,300 bottles of beer per hour in the 750 ml bottle size. When bottling 12-ounce bottles, the bottling rate can increase to 2,300 bottles per hour.
Currently, the company produces several naturally conditioned, unpasteurized and unfiltered beers, with two brand leaders for which the company is widely recognized. Hardywood Singel – a Belgian Abbey-style Blonde Ale – is available year-round. Other year-round brews include Hardywood The Great Return, a West Coast Style India Pale Ale and Hardywood Cream Ale. Their Hardywood Capital Trail Pale Ale, a dry-hopped pale ale is available spring and summer months.
Hardywood’s Reserve Series beers, beers that are released at various times throughout winter, spring and summer, include Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout Brewed with locally roasted coffee; Hardywood Raspberry Stout, a chocolate stout brewed with local red raspberries and Hardywood Hoplar, a dry-hopped imperial IPA conditioned on Virginia Tulip Poplar wood. The lineup also includes Hardywood Peach Tripel, a Belgian Abbey-Style Tripel refermented on Peaches; and Hardywood Virginia Blackberry. Fall beers include Hardywood RVA IPA, a Community Hopped India Pale Ale; Hardywood Farmhouse Pumpkin, a Wallonian-style Farmhouse Ale Brewed with pumpkin and spice; and the current release, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout.
Hardywood also produces a number of barrel-aged brews. The current list of nine, barrel series beers, include such Hardywood indulgences as Rum Pumpkin, Bourbon Barleywine, Bourbon Barrel Raspberry Stout and Rum Barrel GBS. Their Brewer and Artist series beer offerings for 2015 included Hardywood branded Classic loaf, Walpurgisnacht, Evelyn and Lämmergeier.
Hardywood products are currently available throughout Virginia and eastern Pennsylvania.