October 28, 2014 by Alex Hannagan
A few weeks back I decided to drop by Forge Brew Works to meet a co-worker for a quick flight for Friday happy hour – the birth of Friday Night Flights! My focus then had been on some of the heavier beers in their arsenal – imperials, doubles, and stouts – and I came away surprised at some of the flavor profiles. Of my two recommendations, I brought home a growler of The Seaward, so let’s talk about it a bit more, shall we?
The Seaward, Forge Brew Works (Lorton, VA) – @ForgeBrewWorks
Double IPA, ABV 10.2%
Presentation: Growler pour into snifter.
Appearance: Surprising amber complexion, but darker than an amber ale would suggest. Thick head dissipating at a medium pace, with some lattice marking the peak head level.
Taste: Forge’s description notes that this recipe is based more on Pacific NW beers and to expect pine, citrus, and malts. I disagree a little bit with what appeared to be a whiff of cherry on the nose. It was fruity for sure, but not in an acidic or tart kind of way – almost sweeter. A heavy dose of malts in the body balance out the hops. The result is something closer to a Saison/Amber Ale than a Double IPA, albeit with a lot of heft.
ABV/IBV: You don’t realize you’re drinking something that comes in over 10%. Other doubles have shown that’s possible (with a particular nod to the blessing/curse that is Hopslam), but what’s interesting here is that the hops utilized – particularly Cascade and Centennial – typically leave a much more bitter palate. This makes me pretty curious about the malts/spices used as the result is very well balanced. While I couldn’t find an IBV, I can’t imagine it’s higher than 18-20 or so.
Overall: This is an excellent beer. Over time when you try enough beers you get into a little routine to try to pick out flavors – it’s not enough to sit there and sip on something, hoping for a revelation. When I talk about “nose, body, and finish” those are my three tests for flavor: a quick whiff up front to get the nose, a strong sip for the body, and then a second whiff to see how it finishes. It’s not the most sophisticated technique (and owes more than a bit to wine tasting), but on an elementary level I’ve found that’s the way I can capture most of the flavors brewers describe. In the case of The Seaward, six months ago I would have missed the fruit notes entirely, but here I’m happy to have found them because what I can best describe as “cherry” was to me a unique experience with a beer. However Forge describes it, the result is a wonderfully complex DIPA which needs to be tried regardless of how your beer palate shakes out.