Press Club

Your Beermonger: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout

This sponsored column is written by Todd Himes, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.

I’m going to skip all of the after repeated mass marketed retail propaganda about this being the most wonderful time of the year, but I will say this is definitely something I look forward to every year, and has quickly become a really important tradition in my house.

Somewhere each year between late November and December 25, I am personally on the hunt for a bottle of a very special barrel-age stout. There are many that come out this time of year, and many people have their personal favorites.

In fact there was one quite large release last Friday that you may or may not have noticed was absent from the shelves here at Arrowine, Goose Island’s Bourbon County stout. I was pretty surprised to see quite a few articles and reactions coming out about the allocations of Goose Island’s Bourbon County stouts. It’s long been something talked about among many of my industry colleagues, but rarely do the details of such come out in such plain view.

What seemed to kick off most of the discussion was this article from the Chicago Tribune which interviews a number of Chicago area stores, some of whom had longer relationships with Goose Island than others, and it made for a pretty interesting read covering quite a few perspectives.

I can now say with a bit of pride that I’ve never professionally spent money on any of the Bourbon County stouts. Sure for myself I’ve bought a bottle or two here and there when it’s not been a hunt to find it. But truthfully for the times that I would have really wanted it, it was not available here on the east coast. Then by the time it was more widely available, many of the demands for big barrel-aged stouts were being met by its many imitators.

Then of course 2015 happened. If you followed along with Bourbon County stout for a while, you may remember 2015 as the year of the infected bottle that made it out, the subsequent recall/buyback programs and the forever altering decision to begin pasteurizing the bottles before they left, which would increase the stability of the beer, but take away some of its aging potential as a living product. Some of you may remember from my little love letter to Orval that a bottle with the ability to completely change over time and become unpredictable is certainly not the worst thing in this beermonger’s book.

However, 2015 was the first time I got my hands on a bottle of Hardywood’s Kentucky Christmas morning, and I tell you the morning of December 25 has never been the same.

Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout first was released in 2011, and shortly thereafter began collecting many well-deserved accolades (100 points from Beer Advocate Magazine for instance), and spun off a number of different gingerbread variants (Bourbon GBS came first in 2012). There continue to be new variants added each year with varying degrees of availability.

Some releases are allocated for retail and bars, and some of them are available only directly from the brewery. There have also been changes in the format of availability over the years; currently the non-barrel aged variants of the gingerbread family are available in 16 oz cans. This year for the first time barrel-aged versions have been made available in 12 oz stubby glass bottles.

2015 also marked my first holiday season behind the cheese counter at Arrowine. Kentucky Christmas Morning came out in December that year, so I had already made it through Thanksgiving, and my first giant wave of hungry cheese customers. I was looking forward to the rush and excitement of the holidays for sure, just not looking forward to it on my day off when I got up early to go into work and wait around for the delivery truck.

There was just one case coming, and we weren’t going to hold a bottle for one of the employees, so I showed up and got myself a slip of paper with a red 9 written on it. Being that this was the week before Christmas, and we had but one monger behind the counter in the morning, I was eventually asked to put on my apron and help out behind the counter.

It was all very worth it because I got myself the first of what became many years of tradition. That Christmas morning while getting together to open presents my now-wife, I opened that first bottle of the bourbon barrel aged gingerbread stout with coffee added to sip alongside the homemade cinnamon rolls she had baked. To say it was a hit would be an understatement. Thus began a tradition of waiting for this beer to be released.

Even when I left Arrowine to work in D.C., I still came back to wait around for that truck. The last time that happened was 2019, right after the shop had reopened following its new cheese counter and growler station installs. I got to make my trip for two reasons, but the truth was I needed that KCM bottle or else there might not be anything for me under the tree that year.

Anybody else out there have a favorite Christmas beer they track down every year? I miss that little bit of the hunt myself, so it’s almost a part of the season for me, the way some people might look for the perfect tree.

Recent Stories

Our two-day stormy stretch is expected to carry on into Sunday, so make sure you take advantage of any sunny and dry periods as we head into the weekend. The…

Navigate the complex world of wine from the team at Arrowine & Cheese in the new The Nose That Knows column.

Inova is setting up a day-long community blood drive in Courthouse on Monday The healthcare company’s blood donation arm is again partnering with Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar for…

A 3 BD/2 BA updated home with a new roof, refinished hardwood floors and private parking space is included in Open Houses.

“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.

Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.

Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.

See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207

Submit your own Community Post here.

Validating one’s emotions has the power to heal, transform, and empower. What Is Validation? Every human being has feelings. We all have emotions that change over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The question isn’t whether we feel; it’s how we handle feelings once they arise.

Building strategies to understand emotions is essential to positive mental health, and validation is one effective skill to practice.

Emotional validation is the process of understanding, embracing, and actively listening to another person’s feelings (or your own).

Understanding someone’s emotions doesn’t necessarily mean you approve of how they are feeling or reacting to something. You can be supportive in acknowledging and validating an emotional experience without agreeing or diminishing it. Validation is a skill to learn and improve over time. It may take practice, but the effort is most certainly worth it. Emotional validation has the power to enhance interpersonal communication and foster strong relationships.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

ACFCU’s Homebuying Happy Hour

Are you ready to buy your first home, but concerned about saving for a down payment? Grab a drink and join us for 45 minutes to learn more about how you can buy your first house with 3%, 5%, or

Azure Dream Day Spa Grand Opening

Azure Dream Day Spa is hosting their Grand Opening Celebration at their beautiful new spa located at 901 N. Quincy St. on Friday, August 12 from 5-9 p.m.

All are invited to come tour the new spa and to take


Subscribe to our mailing list