Rui Lucas, brand manager and general manager at Iron Abbey, becomes visibly excited when discussing all the changes currently underway at the Horsham gastropub. His enthusiasm is apparent throughout every detail of the Iron Abbey, from the finely curated beer list (organized by flavor profile) to the custom shelving system being assembled for the new bottle shop upstairs. Bringing up their exclusive line of beers, Abbatia, certainly taps into that well of energy as he explains the craft and thought that has been going into the creation of the beers. It also gives a peek into why Iron Abbey has organically rooted itself as a reputable destination over the past six years.
Before diving in to the beers, Lucas explains that Abbatia (aba’tia) is simply the Latin translation for ‘Abbey.’ Influenced from hearing the Latin masses growing up in his native Portugal, Latin names have become a common thread throughout the Abbatia beers and the Iron Abbey itself. ‘Ferrum Abbatia,’ which translates to ‘Iron Abbey,’ was floated as a possible name before it opened.
Tying in another theme, the Abbatia beers are all Belgians, with different takes on the basic dubbel, trippel and quad introduced throughout the year. Credit for the initial series of beers goes to Rui’s close collaboration with Manayunk Brewery’s Doug Marchakitus, whose degree in chemistry translates well into brewing science. “I love the way he [Doug] works. I think he’s an unbelievable brewer, kind of an undiscovered talent,” offered Lucas.
The first release was Abbatia Octo (or 8), an 8% Belgian dubbel released in June that caught on quickly with patrons. The original 20 kegs offered notes of cherry, Belgian chocolate and some caramel. The Octo was followed up with their take on a trippel, the Abbatia Decem (10). This beer comes in at just over 9%, and has a thick, frosty-white head, a nice coriander bouquet and a buttery intensity that sticks. Last summer also brought on the release of their saison, Abbatia Tempore (Season). The duo felt they needed something simple and approachable while offering a bit of orange peel and farmhouse funk to keep it interesting. The series will be rounded out with Abbatia Duodecim, or 12, a heavy quad that’s hovering around 12% and contains dark fruit and caramel. Rui describes it as “full-bodied—a lot of cream so that you feel like you’re almost eating it, like dark chocolate or chocolate pie.”
These new beers will fit well into the soon-to-be-upgraded Iron Abbey, as they’re adding on-site brewing capabilities to continue their evolution into a brew pub. If you stop by, you’ll see that they’re also in the process of a major expansion to 220 seats and adding an innovative upstairs area dubbed The Loft. Taps of the Abbatia beers will be available upstairs next to a small artisanal shop containing exclusive cheeses through Di Bruno Brothers, Rojo’s coffees from Lambertville and other curated artisanal provisions. The highlight of The Loft, though, may be the 1000+ bottle, temperature- controlled, walk-in bottle shop, which promises to please seasoned craft beer drinkers and newcomers alike.
Looking forward, Rui also plans on working with other breweries on the Abbatia line, giving new takes on these traditional styles, while making bigger batches along the way. With the new Abbatia line and the organic growth taking place at Iron Abbey, Rui summed it all up by saying, “We wanted to make sure the business was screaming for it. We’re going to be bold.”