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Hardywood Virginia Strawberry

Beer style: 
Belgian-style White Ale Brewed with Fresh Virginia Strawberries

Brewed with wheat, a touch of rye and a ton (yes, a whopping 2,000 lbs. in a 40-barrel batch) of fresh, ripe strawberries grown by Agriberry at the Chesterfield Berry Farm just 30 miles from the brewery, Hardywood Virginia Strawberry is a fruit beer in all its glory. The color of a southern sunset, with a refreshingly delicate body, Hardywood Virginia Strawberry finishes with a hint of tartness and an irresistibly quenching character that makes it the perfect summertime libation.

Best with: 

Hardywood Virginia Strawberry beautifully complements fresh salads with walnuts or berries and vinaigrette or citrus based dressing. Soft, spreadable cheeses like brie make a great pairing as well. While Virginia Strawberry is adept in pairing with lighter fare, it also works well with fluffy desserts or pastries. Try it with an Eton Mess, banana and Nutella crepes, or strawberry shortcake.

Strength (ABV): 
5.8 % ABV
Color (SRM): 
7 °L
Bitterness (IBU): 
12 IBUs
Early summer
Next release date: 
Sat, 06/29/2013
First release date: 
July 2012
8 56718 00301 3


Anonymous's picture

JT's picture

There's a really plastic-like chemical taste going on in this beer. Multiple bartenders are reporting this issue around the fan.
Anonymous's picture

It tasted like New Car Smell.. But I agree about the middle.
eric.mckay's picture

We greatly appreciate feedback of any kind. We like to sail uncharted waters with our beers, and as a result, can't always expect to appeal to everyone. That said, we're extremely quality conscious (with BJCP judges, Certified Cicerones and GABF judges on our team) and will not release a beer that has legitimate character flaws. Many people have told us Hardywood Virginia Strawberry is their favorite yet of our offerings. Others have told us they perceive a vinyl, phenolic or tart flavor. This is consistent with the introduction of a wild yeast to a beer. While nearly all fruit beers are made from syrups, fruit extracts, or flavoring compounds, we chose to brew Hardywood Virginia Strawberry exclusively with fresh, local strawberries. We brewed only one 40-barrel batch and added over 2,000 pounds of hand-sliced (thanks to many dedicated volunteers and employees) strawberries. In 10 years in the beer business, I haven't heard of another beer made with fresh strawberries on this scale. We didn't have much a point of reference for what the beer should or would taste like, but our brewing team is pleased with the results. We've ruled out other potential causes for these perceived flavors, as we remove chlorine from our water with an activated carbon filter, our mash and fermentation temperatures were spot on, and fresh, lab-raised Belgian white ale yeast was pitched, yielding a very healthy fermentation. In using fresh, local strawberries, our goal was to offer a beer with the freshest, most natural aroma and flavor available. We kept processing to a minimum - freezing the berries to rupture cell membranes and intensify the fruit character, then thawing them and smashing them. Before blending the berries with the beer, we added Campden tablets (used for 90 years in beer/wine/jam making) in hopes to inoculate the wild yeast that naturally lives on the skin of the berries. The alternative would be to boil or pasteurize the strawberries, which we felt would compromise their flavor. For better or worse, it seems that the wild yeasts contributed by the strawberries were not entirely inoculated and may have contributed flavors to this beer that some have found to be "weird" or "plastic-like". Given enough of this type of feedback, Virginia Strawberry may not make it back in 2013. For those who love it, enjoy it while you can. Hardywood Virginia Blackberry is finishing up beautifully, and to the best of our collective palates' ability, we cannot detect any wild yeast imparted flavors.
Rusty Maness's picture

I came in last Saturday from Va Beach and came to the brewery for a friend's 30th. That was the best beer I have ever had and have been raving to friends around the beach. I'm planning another 2 hour trip to buy as much as I possibly can afford. Please bring this beer back in 2013 and forever for that matter. There are plenty people who will agree that beer is amongst the best.
Josh's picture

Is this still available somewhere?
Hardywoodington's picture

Eric, I was one of those in the 'tastes mildly odd' camp for Virginia Strawberry, but I must say, I'm extremely impressed with the response you posted above. You addressed the issue transparently and honestly and, for being such a straight shooter, I feel you deserve my kudos. Cheers!
Will's picture

Paid ten large for a bottle of this--tastes like pure rubber.
Phillip Connelly's picture

Yeah, thanks for your honesty and transparency, Eric, but seriously, I was relieved to read that I was not the only person to think this beer tasted odd. I was curious to taste a "strawberry beer," so I ordered one at a local restaurant that featured it on tap. To be blunt - after a quick burst of strawberry, this beer's aroma was quickly overtaking by the smell of airplane glue. That was tough to get past - and, unfortunately, it didn't taste any better. As others have said before me, it had a chemical taste. This was a "fail."
Jacob's picture

Wow. The negative comments here are very familiar with regard my experiences with a Strawberry wine made by Hilltop winery in VA: Sweet Vixen (made only from strawberry juice, possibly a little honey as well but I can't remember for sure). The description promised a "slightly sweet and slightly tart strawberry wine with an intense fruit flavor. Absolutely delicious". Loving their wines and meads, we picked up a couple bottles. When we tried it however, I was stunned by its flavor. It smelled wonderful, the first taste was sweet, but the second and after tastes were acrid, like burnt plastic. My wife agreed. As a result of this experience (wondering if there was some genetic weirdness going on with respect to our flavor perception of fermented strawberries as others had described the wine as like sucking on a ripe strawberry), I have not tried Virginia Strawberry. As such I can't yet speak personally to the flavor - now I will try it at the next tasting I am at. However, when I read these comments I thought it worth sharing this experience in the hopes that it might be even a little helpful.
A. Fan's picture

I tasted a pint of this at Capital Ale Downtown and it tasted fine, a nice summer drink. I tasted a bottle I bought from Trader Joe's and it was superb, so much I didn't share with friends. It has a lovely strawberry aroma and a nice tart finish (then again, I love sour ales). I think it's worth doing again so those who had poor experiences can taste the unique brew.
Blaine's picture

First let me say I have tried every beer that has been made. This is the only one I did not love. I had the same experience of air plane glue. Tried it again to see if it was the pairing and same experience. I was happy the blackberry did not come out the same way. given the wide variation it may be individual taste differences.
Brian's picture

I tried the Strawberry beer a few weeks ago and thought it had a slight chemical taste as well. I still thought that it was decent, other than the final flavors on the tongue. Anyway, I spoke with a pastry chef I know and she mentioned this: "I use to make strawberry sorbet from local berries. In order to get the most flavor I always used very ripe berries. The berries were so ripe they were practically fermenting, the "chemical" flavor comes from the fermentation. Some people couldn't pick it up, others did. It wasn't that strong in my sorbet, but in the beer that is fermented... Probably added to the plastic taste." Anyway, I thought that was interesting she had a similar experience and thought I'd share. Look forward to the next concoction!
Brooke's picture

Interesting comment. I agree! I thought I was the only one getting that flavor. My friend did not have the same flavor experience. I thought, maybe this is similar to that of the flavor experience for cilantro. I did some research, and found an interesting article on cilantro: I wonder if the fermentation process of the berries creates a flavor that sends a warning signal to our brains? All speculation. I just wish I could figure out the reason..