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The Lost Abbey

155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos

The staff at The Lost Abbey (155 Mata Way, Suite 104, San Marcos) is known throughout the world—seriously—for its inspired takes on Belgian-style beers. From peppery saisons to a dubbel and quad rich in dried fruit character, and sours that are among the best in the country, a session spent drinking at this North County standout feels like stepping into a Belgian tasting room. Well, with the exception of the company’s newest beer, The Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA.

The IPA style originated in England and was later revived right here in Southern California. One of the brewing companies that was key in not only bringing back the India pale ale, but taking it to the next level by infusing copious amounts of pine- and citrus-like hops, was Pizza Port. That tradition has continued at the company’s quintet of brewpubs and its production operation, Port Brewing Company, The Lost Abbey’s sister company.

The brewers making Port’s West Coast beers and the Abbey’s Belgo creations are one in the same. And, though they spend a great deal of time working on witbiers, biere de gardes, and the like, they readily admit to being hop heads at heart and end most days with pints of Port’s Wipeout IPA or Mongo Double IPA. After seven years, director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur and company are ready to knock off with an IPA made under the flag of the European half of the business.

Designed as a yuletide offering, Merry Taj comes in over 7% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), and comes on piney and Christmas-tree appropriate on the nose. It’s delectably orangey in the mid-palate and finishes out with a heft of spice. Lead brewer Matt Webster says that intensity is the result of using hops they received just 24 hours after being pelletized. The beer debuted last week and will be available exclusively on draft while supplies last.

Another new Lost Abbey beer also debuted this week. Dubbed Dates of Wrath, it’s a dark, 6% ABV lager brewed with dates and finished with honey. It doesn’t come across with any discernible date character, but tastes both unique and delicious, bringing on nuances of roasted nuts that also go well with the holidays.

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