August 6, 2014 by Alex Hannagan
A couple of months back I was looking for breweries to stop at and help break up a long slog down I-95 on a Saturday morning. Idiocy yet sheer brilliance on my part, right? I spotted Forge Brew Works on the map and saw a young brewery that appeared to be just getting off the ground…alas, Lorton is well above the traffic Hell that is Fredericksburg so our sights were set further South that day. However, I hadn’t forgotten about them when I was told that they’d be bringing a few kegs to a DC United tailgate. Since Ben and I were going, that was all the more incentive to take a sip (or six) of the brews they were featuring. While one was a bit underwhelming (a petite saison, but that’s typically not up my alley), their hefe and Belgian blonde were decent enough that I made the whopping 2 mile trek from my office to their taproom last Friday. My goal was to taste everything else they had, then pick a winner to fill up my growler for the weekend. Given my experience with the petite saison, I was really surprised by what I ended up bringing home.
Saison, Forge Brew Works – @ForgeBrewWorks (Lorton, VA)
Farmhouse Ale, ABV 6.5%
Presentation: Growler pour into pint glass.
Appearance: Deep amber with yellow base. Medium head dissipating at a normal pace.
Taste: Caramel on the nose with a bit of pine and nuttiness on the tongue. The medium body is absolutely packed with flavor, so you may pick up something else.
ABV/IBU: There’s very little standing between you and this beer. I couldn’t find information on the IBU, but it’s probably somewhere in the 25-30 range.
Overall: I’ve had a few rants about how unnecessary some of the flavors floating around in craft brewing have gotten, which is why I appreciate a saison that’s not trying to convince me I’m really drinking an herbal-infused tea or a caramel macchiato. To me, a beer with a deep amber color should taste of malt and caramel, and that’s certainly the case here. What prevents this beer from going the way of a märzen or a Vienna lager is the subtle, earthy flow of nuts (not quite hazelnut sweet, not quite almond bland, but somewhere in there). This was a truly pleasant surprise and keeps me from losing faith in the whole saison craze that has somehow supplanted the traditional wits and hefes of the summer. Bravo, Forge!