What is the Lorton Beer Trail, you might ask? That’s what happens when another upstart craft brewer decides to hoist their flag in the industrial park just across the road from Forge Brew Works. Rather than a rivalry, however, it appears that the new Fair Winds Brewing (formerly Top Sail) has become something of a partner with its neighbor. Having heard that Fair Winds had finally opened its doors this month, we of course had to stop in one Friday after work to see how their new offerings were shaping up!
Friday Night Flight: Fair Winds Brewing Company (Lorton, VA) @FairWindsBrew
Total Beers: 6
Featured Style: Original lineup plus first new release
Flight: Quayside Kolsch, Following Cs Pale Ale, Running Light Red, Howling Gale IPA, Flemish Nitro Stout, Bulkhead Brown Ale
Quayside: Very heavy Lager elements, more like an Adjunct than a Kolsch. A hint of almost apple sweetness is followed by a very mild residual hop bite. It wasn’t as crisp as I expected, but the additional flavor was a nice surprise. 5.7 out of 10.
Following Cs: A powerful sugary, sweet aroma blasts you in the face. Honestly, it was almost somewhere between cake batter and icing. That transitions to a piney body and finish more typical for a Pale Ale, but this being twice in a row I’d found a pretty unique flavor profile I was getting the feeling I needed to be on the watch from here on out. To be honest, I appreciated the juxtaposition between the aroma and taste as it mellowed out your palate just enough before your next sip. 8.3 out of 10.
Running Light: Once again, something unique up front with some cinnamon spice on the nose. It segued closer to nutmeg and caramel in the body with a nice, crisp finish. Very solid overall. 8.2 out of 10.
Howling Gale: With this IPA I could really get a sense of the brewers’ hop forward motto. Even then, the flavor is easy to find again as a heavy citrus aroma reveals itself to be grapefruit once you get into the body of the beer. For another surprise, rather than a simple unidentifiable floral finish, I just had to ask, “does this remind you of wildflowers?” You know, the yellow and white ones in meadows that smell like Pottery Barn after a good spring rain. 7.0 out of 10.
Flemish Nitro: For once, Fair Winds’ description and mine are on the mark. A dark chocolate nose (think more Lindt 90% than a Hersheys Special Dark), airy body, and roasted coffee finish are exactly what you’d expect. I find Nitro to be a better delivery for a Milk Stout so I’d be interested to taste the Flemish on a regular CO2 system. 6.0 out of 10.
Bulkhead Brown: This one was a bit of a puzzle as I found some earthy, zesty notes which reminded me more of a Chipotle Stout than a Brown Ale. The appearance (color, head, lattice) also suggested something more hybrid Porter than pure American Brown. That being said, I’m a big fan of a bit of spice in my beer, so whatever they choose to call this one I’d have it again. 8.1 out of 10.
Final Thoughts: Fair Winds made a pretty big entry in the area by going for production capacity rather than a refined menu. But with three really solid offerings in as many weeks, I think they’re on to something. There’s some good flavor to be had, or some good hops if that’s what you’re after. We’ll be back soon to see how things are shaping up with Fair Winds.
Get Out and Try: Following Cs Pale Ale, Running Light Red Ale, Bulkhead Brown Ale