Derek Warren

DRINK IT DOWN: Kentucky Christmas Morning Gingerbread Stout by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

DRINK IT DOWN: Kentucky Christmas Morning Gingerbread Stout by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
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Beer: Kentucky Christmas Morning

Brewery: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Style: Milk/Sweet Stout

ABV: 10.60%

Description: Kentucky Christmas Morning pours a very dark brown with a rocky tan head that leaves wisps of lacing on the glass. The aroma is coffee and bourbon forward, with sweet lactose notes along with hints of chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla showcasing the array of incredible flavors locked within. The taste definitively follows the nose, with coffee cascading over the palate first, followed by bourbon notes bringing forth coconut and vanilla that perfectly meld with the chocolate, lactose, and honey flavors already in the beer. All of the flavors so perfectly blend together that it is hard to pick them apart at times because they lean into one another so effortlessly.

The 10.6 percent ABV is perfectly hidden, other than the subtle taste of bourbon reminding you to take it easy with this one. The full body and low carbonation create a beer that is silky smooth.

Kentucky Christmas Morning is a beer perfect for relaxing by the fireplace on a cold winter day with family. It is both nostalgic and forward-thinking in the current craft beer climate. Bottom line, this is a truly world-class beer, and any craft beer lover must absolutely try this on Christmas or any other day of the year!

Food pairing: Heavier beers such as this can easily overpower many dishes, so the trick is to find foods that either have strong contrasting characteristics or those that add flavors that are already within the beer. A perfect combination for dinner is a coffee-rubbed steak. The cooking of the steak will bring out the natural caramel flavors within, while the coffee rub adds a touch of bitterness. The flavors within the beer will enhance the sweetness of the meat while highlighting the coffee.

However, around the Christmas holiday, many of us enjoy indulging in a sweet treat or two, and this is a beer that goes perfectly with them all. A spiced Christmas cake is a favorite among many and will be a perfect match. The cake’s spice flavors will bring the ginger and cinnamon notes of the beer front and center on the palate and allow the coffee and bourbon notes to act as a balancer.

It is also the time of year for cookies, and fewer beers go better with cookies that a Gingerbread Stout. The natural pairing is with a gingerbread cookie, but going beyond that, other great cookie pairings are sugar cookies, biscotti, shortbread, pfeffernüsse, and coconut macaroons.

The final word: While many breweries in the current craft beer movement build a name on limited released IPAs, Hardywood took their own path. This Virginia brewery built their stellar reputation on their phenomenal Gingerbread Stout. GBS was not their first beer, but it was the beer that garnered the brewery wide acclaim. Upon its release, craft beer lovers knew this was a brewery to follow. It is a stout so good that even those who claim to hate dark beers tend to follow that statement with one exception, that being for GBS.

As its popularity took off, the brewery began introducing an array of delicious variables to their award-winning base recipe. One such variant is Kentucky Christmas Morning. The addition of coffee and Kentucky bourbon barrels to GBS creates a beer that will truly take your breath away. Hardywood has continued to grow over the years and continues to release some truly incredible beers that were all started from a festive stout. Get some for your Christmas morning or make any day of the year feel like Christmas with a treat for yourself!


Where can I get it? Currently available in 750 ml. bottles. However, availability is limited, but it’s worth trying to track down. Call around to your favorite craft beer sellers and inquire about availability. This is a beer that is worth the hunt!

Drink It Down is a weekly column that doesn’t just review beer – it provides the full experience of going out and enjoying a quality craft brew. Look for it on Mondays exclusively on NEPA Scene.