Two years ago, on a strong recommendation from a friend, we stopped by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery outside of Richmond, VA. The place had a great, comfortable vibe, the staff was awesomely friendly, and our flight of beer was one of the most aesthetically beautiful I’ve ever seen.
But by the time we arrived, we’d been on the road for several hours, visited two breweries, and even stopped for directions at a chicken plant. Maybe it was the fatigue, or remnants of the chicken smell on me, but I hate admit that I wasn’t overly impressed with the beers.
So when, on a recent hot day, I had a friend offer to buy me a beer, I looked down the beer list for a nice Belgian wheat beer, and initially passed over the Hardywood Singel.
Frequently, you’ll hear Belgian beers referred to as a Singel, Dubbel, Trippel or Quad. It’s believed that the origin of the names comes from a monastery’s beer lineup (think Ale #1, Ale #2, etc.) a couple centuries ago.
The blonde ale you’re used to (like Blue Moon) is a Singel. The others are more malty and sweet (Dubbels will occasionally be a bit more dry), with Tripels and Quads being “strong ales” with higher alcohol content.
But on this day, nothing else jumped out at me and, since someone else was buying my beer, I rolled the dice on the Hardywood Singel. And am I glad I did.
It poured into a tulip glass as a slightly cloudy, light gold with mild carbonation and an alcohol content of 6.2% ABV.
Like most Belgian ales, this is a very light, refreshing beer. There is some mild bitterness, and you get some cloves flavoring, which is typical of many Belgian beers, but there’s lots of banana flavor, and even a bit of bubble gum. Believe it or not, these are also found in a lot of Belgian beers, too.
So Hardywood is now back on my list, and Singel should be on yours, too. It’s a nice, approachable beer that’s great for casual wheat beer fans, and even the geeks will definitely appreciate it as well.