Hardywood Park Craft Brewery | Apple Brandy MEGA GBS Imperial Milk Stout
Around this time every year, as the temperature starts to dip and the days shorten, it’s all too common to hear people complaining about the winter. Alas, these poor misguided souls must not be craft beer fans. You won’t hear any grumblings about it being winter around my house. When winter hits that means it’s Hardywood Gingerbread Stout (aka GBS) season! It’ll make you reminiscent of the holiday season.
By now most craft beers fans have probably heard of and/or had a chance to try GBS. Far fewer are familiar with all the amazing GBS variants also rolled out this time of year. I’m talking about you Christmas Morning (GBS with coffee), Kentucky Christmas Morning (GBS with coffee aged in bourbon barrels), and Christmas Pancake (GBS with maple syrup).
Each of these beers are delicious in their own right, but for my money none are better than Apple Brandy MEGA GBS! Doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, when you crack open a bomber of this spiced, roasted, malty goodness, you’re instantly transported to a fireside on snowy winter day and back to the height of the holiday season.
The first year of production, Apple Brandy MEGA GBS is the bigger bolder brother of the previous years’ Apple Brandy Barrel GBS variant. Unlike its predecessor that only saw 3 months of barrel aging and topped out at 11.9% ABV, MEGA GBS gets 13 months in Laird’s apple brandy barrels and weighs in at a hefty 13.5% ABV.
Luckily spending this much time in the barrels hasn’t caused it to lose the subtler flavors that makes the base beer so great. MEGA GBS retains all those cinnamon, ginger, and honey notes, while adding a scrumptious baked apple flavor with a nice warming booze kick in the finish. Think gingerbread cookie meets spiked apple cider. For a beer as big as 13.5%, it’s also surprisingly restrained and well-balanced.
Sadly, MEGA GBS sees limited production and sells out quickly. The good news is Hardywood has been increasing its distribution footprint. With any luck if you keep your eye out you might spot this wintery gem at your local bottle shops or on tap at your neighborhood craft beer bar in the not too distant future.
Feature image courtesy of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.