Abbey Ale, Forge Brew Works (Lorton, VA)

The VBR crew went on a royal tear around the NoVA and DC region during the week of the ACC Tournament in early March.  We visited new spots and old favorites at a rate of several per day, and our very first stop was back at Forge as the whole crew hadn’t sampled the burgeoning “Lorton Beer Trail.”  For those who don’t know the Lorton/Newington area of NoVA, it includes a series of industrial parks just outside of Fort Belvoir.  Forge was first onto the scene followed about a year later by Fair Winds.  Despite being separated by barely three minutes driving, a lot of love (in addition to beer) flows through both spots, and for good reason: the chosen styles between the two are so varied it almost feels as if they’re not really in competition.  As a result of Forge’s love of all beers Belgian, you’ll see selections ranging from a Saison/Farmhouse to a Blonde, Roggenbier, and this little treat we’re here to talk about today.

Abbey Ale, Forge Brew Works (Lorton, VA)
Strong Ale, ABV 9.0%

Presentation:  Growler pour into snifter.

forge abbey

Appearance:  Velvety, ruby seguing to opaque brown in low light.  Similar to Belgin Quads in a number of ways.  A slight amount of fizzy head dissipates rapidly without any lattice on the glass.

Taste:  Smooth malty nose with an earthy element that’s reminiscent almost of a pile of raked leaves.  The body is very silky (but not in a bourbon-barrel manner) with a backbone that suggests chestnuts with some mild tartness resembling black cherries or even currants.  A mild bit of bitterness for balance but it’s more related to the roasted elements than to hops.  A fairly complex profile overall that evolves in the glass as it warms to room temperature.  Straight from the pour is where you get the malts, but after letting the beer sit for a while I was able to tease out those fruit inflections.

Mouth Feel:  Most of the beer crashes to the back of the tongue.  The growler pour didn’t lend itself to a lot of carbonation, but the body of the beer is still quite lively.  Without even a passing hop presence as a precaution, the ABVs are fairly well hidden but those silky notes should hopefully indicate to you that this is a sipping beer.

Overall:  This is an interesting beer to include in a flagship lineup, but a worthy one for sure.  Forge has gone all-in on Belgian styles and that love shines through clearly with this Abbey Ale.  They have plenty to excite both hopheads and those fond of (once) obscure European styles.  While a lot about this beer screams cold weather, socks, and fuzzy blankets, don’t ignore it as the days stretch longer.  It’d be good to pair with a cherry pie or dark chocolate, or a hearty sauce like a bolognese.  Or do we what did, and split a mini-growler over a longn conversation.  It’s the kind of beer you relax to, and ponder all the flavors without much of a care in the world.

Score:  7.9

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