Hardywood teams up with Va. farmers to produce seasonal beers

Specify Alternate Text
RICHMOND—Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is committed to using local products in its beer.

“We’ve taken a homegrown, local approach to beer, especially with our Reserve Series, which features local, seasonal ingredients,” said head brewer Brian Nelson.

Always up for experimenting, Hardywood has used blackberries, raspberries, peaches, honey, ginger, pumpkins—and even strawberries, cucumbers, watermelon and oysters in some of its brews. And they’ve teamed up with farmers whom staff have met at local farmers’ markets. They also use local hops when available.

“We try to plan for our brew to coincide with the growing season,” Nelson said. “We are always keeping an eye out for Virginia ag products and what could be a new and creative beer ingredient.”

All of the ginger used in the award-winning Gingerbread Stout is from Castlemonte Farm in Powhatan County. Farm owner Bill Cox brought ginger for Hardywood to try.

The pumpkins in Farmhouse Pumpkin come from Virginia farms as well; the majority are from Grandma’s Pumpkins in Henrico County.

“I was shopping at my local farmers’ market in Chesterfield County and asked the operator of Grandma’s Pumpkins if they’d be interested in planting seeds and harvesting pumpkins for us,” Nelson said.

Hardywood has purchased raspberries for its award-winning Raspberry Stout from Agriberry Farm in Hanover County since 2014 and has purchased the farm’s blackberries for its Virginia Blackberry Belgian-style white ale since 2012.

“The first year we worked on Raspberry Stout using Agriberry’s berries, we won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, so it shows,” Nelson said.

When hand-harvesting the farm’s fruits, Agriberry workers grade and sort them. Berries with any marks, scratches or abrasions are pureed for Agriberry’s jams, jellies and applesauce—or sold to buyers like Hardywood.

“We call it ‘second fruit,’ and Hardywood has been able to absorb by far the largest amount,” explained Pierson Geyer, Agriberry’s field operations manager. Geyer acknowledges that craft beer has an eclectic focus, which is beneficial to farmers.

“You’re able to put blackberries, raspberries, peaches, ginger, chocolate, coffee and more into beer; it’s an increased ingredient list, and that’s where we see the biggest benefit to local farm partnerships. People are really interested in trying new beers, and so many are seasonally driven, which makes it a natural pairing with the seasonality of farming.”

Media: Contact Sara Owens, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation communications, at 804-290-1133.

Support Virginia Agriculture

Join Now

Related Articles

Get Recognized

If your publication or radio or television station is delivering stellar coverage of agriculture on an ongoing basis, this is the award competition to enter. Learn More