Inside an inconspicuous red-bricked industrial mall building with a large bay window, green awning and readymade front deck, Lorton-based FORGE BREW WORKS opened its doors during October 2013. Concocting fulsome American ales alongside well-rounded Belgian-styled fare and whatever strikes their fancy, this admirable Northern Virginia microbrewery provides owner-brewer Matt Rose with the friendly local hangout he’d envisioned as a home brewer.
A black and white Forge signpost, rustic wood furnishings and reclaimed wood-lacquered serving station adorn the barebones space. Veterans are saluted by the Marines, Army and Navy flags hanging on the right wall and a cornered TV shows the Michigan State football game as I settle in at noon on a sunshiny Saturday, September ’15.
Doing ”modern takes on old recipes,” Rose now bottles the locally popular Kelsenator Doppelbock (reviewed in Beer Index) and plans to have more styles readied for retail shops soon. Presently, Forge crafts six flagship beers ranging from easygoing saison to rich stout.
The above-mentioned saison, simply known as Farmhouse Ale, stayed light on the tongue as white-peppered yellow grapefruit and navel orange tartness picked up candi-sugared plum tones over grassy-hopped earthen herbage and modest barnyard acridity. Sunny day rejuvenator, Belgian Blonde, brought peppery citrus spritz and beet-sugared sweetness to toasted pilsner malts for another winsome moderation.
A few fruitier choices made the rounds as well. Shandy-like crossover, Grapefruit Radler, provided stylish salted coriander and lemon-limed tartness to this grapefruit-juiced ‘petite saison.’ Dry Jaryllo hops deluged Jary Dewit (a wit-styled saison hybrid) with its floral-perfumed grapefruit peel zest and orange rind bittering while the aspirin-like solvency gained astringency. Peat-smoked malts inundated washed-out Smoked Berry Blonde, where honeyed blueberry tartness faded alongside ancillary blackberry, boysenberry and raspberry undertones.
A few more flagship brews caught my attention thereafter. Soft-tongued Abbey Ale, a strong dark Belgian knockoff, brought candi-sugared fig and dry prune-raisin-cherry fruiting to sweet molasses malts. Salted yellow grapefruit-peeled bittering spread across Slake IPA, a pine-oiled citric hop topper with lightly spiced pineapple, orange and juniper splendor given ethyl alcohol fuming. Even more vibrant, heavily hop-embittered Seaward DIPA loaded tangy grapefruit, orange, peach, tangerine and cantaloupe luxuriance atop subtle 10.2% ABV as its Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus hops created a Northwest India Pale Ale likeness.
Another popular flagship, Roggenbier, allowed subtle rye spicing and tamped-down dry hops to spread across wispy banana-clove sweetness and candied orange tartness. Meanwhile, Wild #3 Experimental Sour Ale doused green grape esters with light balsamic vinegaring.
Though the ever-popular Oatmeal Stout was unavailable, an adjunct version scored well. Cask-conditioned Oatmeal Stout with Cranberry & Cinnamon brought soured dried fruiting to cocoa-dried Baker’s chocolate. Mild orange, fig and gooseberry soaked up the tart cranberry pucker softly contrasting the reclusive cinnamon sugaring.
For dessert, fabulous Daywalker Tripel sweetened its wheat-sugared raspberry adjunct with hop-spiced orange blossom honey to contrast musky orange-dried tartness and pale-malted yeast phenols. Though presently only a limited edition ale, this Belgian-styled slow sipper deserves serious investigating.