Hardywood Park The Great Return IPA: Like a Sturgeon

Next up, Hardywood Park’s The Great Return – West Coast Style IPA:

hardywoodHardywood Park is a brewery out of Richmond and a recent arrival to the area. I’ve been looking forward to them getting up to Northern Virginia. So let’s get to it.

The Great Return is a reference to the return of the Atlantic Sturgeon to the James River. The Atlantic Sturgeon has actually been around since Utah had oceanfront property, but it’s numbers have dwindled recently. So, it’s resurgence is certainly a testament to James River conservation efforts. But I never understand why animals that survive millions of years of evolution aren’t more badass.

Except for you, crocodile. You still scary 'n whatnot.

Except for you, crocodile. You still scary ‘n whatnot.

The Atlantic Sturgeon can reach 15 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds, but it wouldn’t even rustle one jimmy of Jeremy Wade (of River Monster fame). They aren’t dangerous. With their beaky nose, slack jaw, no teeth, and beady eyes, if they attacked you it’d be like being gummed to death by Steve Buscemi…except maybe less creepy.

There is one exception. You have to go all the way to a country so stoic and hardened that it has the world’s lowest number of fucks given per capita: Russia. There, even the otherwise docile and bottom-feeding sturgeon is a calloused and hardened murder fish. The Kaluga Sturgeon can grow to 20 feet long and weigh up to 2200 pounds, it’s got teeth, it likes to hunt salmon, and it’s apparently fond of capsizing fishing boats and dragging fishermen to their death.

Caviar? Come and take it.

Caviar? Come and take it.

The Great Return pours a hazy deep amber with a nice, off-white head that loiters and leaves some lace. From its color, it appears the malt backbone is going to be a noisy passenger. But the first huff reveals substantial resin, pine, and grapefruit with some caramel in the backseat, content to quietly come along for the ride. The malt chimes in a little bit more in the taste, but it’s more like friendly banter than a bunch of annoying requests to change the radio station or to tell you hops is touching it or asking “Are we there yet?”. It has a nice clean bitterness in the finish, and despite the substantial malt character, it doesn’t get all sweet and thick up in here. It strikes a nice balance on the sweet-dry spectrum. And it’s actually a little thin…but not in a bad way. More like, imma go get me another damn can of this from the fridge kinda way.

Get you some. Apparently part of your purchase goes to James River conservation, which helps Atlantic Sturgeon…the non-murderous ones.

The Haybag: This is tasty. How about you be a dear and go fetch me another?