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The Beer Circle » Breweries, Lost Rhino Brewing Co. » Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Ashburn, VA

Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Ashburn, VA

Several of us here at The Beer Circle now call Northern Virginia our home, and making it a point to visit all the breweries in the area is rapidly becoming high on our priority list.  Despite having lived in Northern Virginia for quite some time now myself (well over a year), there’s still quite a few breweries in the area that I still haven’t yet to made it to.

So, last Saturday, with nothing else going on (a rare occurrence for a weekend), I set off for the Lost Rhino Brewing Company, located in Ashburn, VA.  A rather new brewery, Lost Rhino opened in May 2011, making them just over a year old.  Born out of the move of the Old Dominion Brewing Company to Dover, DE in 2007, some of the original crew stuck around and several years later continued to carry out their passion for brewing in Northern Virginia, the original base of the Old Dominion Brewing Company.

Outdoor View at Lost Rhino

Outdoor View at Lost Rhino

The scene is a bit jarring when one first arrives.  The brewery and tasting room are located squarely in the center of an industrial/commercial park, with the exterior of the building resembling a shipping hub more than a brewery.  It’d be easy to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for.  That’s alright though, because I’m here for the beer, not the decor.

Indoor View

Indoor View

Once inside though, the scene becomes a bit more familiar.  With a relatively spartan, no-frills layout, the priorities of the Lost Rhino crew are clear.  These guys are all about their beer.   This was confirmed twice for me – first when I began tasting their beers, poured for very reasonable prices in several different sizes (taster, 10oz, full pint) , and again, when I had the opportunity to take a tour of the brewery.  A kitchen is available, with limited food selections.  I didn’t try these, so I’m unable to comment on them.  However, the place was filled when I was there, with plenty of people enjoying their brews on tap, and the foods available from the kitchen.  While enjoying my beers, I did notice Lost Rhino does feature one thing that I haven’t seen before –

Children's Play Area

Children’s Play Area

A children’s play area.  So now you can bring your entire family with you as you enjoy the beers of Lost Rhino.  I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing – it’s just something I haven’t seen before.  Or needed to use.

…those trains looked fun though.  Anyway:

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

Lost Rhino Face Plant IPA

While waiting for the tour, I first tried the Face Plant IPA.  Beautifully golden in color and relatively light in mouthfeel and character, the Face Plant IPA allows a good amount of hop character to play on the tongue, while finishing lightly sweet – not too much.  This is an example of a very good IPA, and surprisingly drinkable for a hot summer day, even at 6.2% ABV.

Rhinofest Märzen

Rhinofest Märzen

My next selection was the Rhinofest Märzen.  While I’m typically a fan of big IPAs and stouts, Märzens do also hold a special place in my heart.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this.  Darker in taste and character than in color, big roasty malts dominate the scene here.  It deftly strikes a balance between there’s-barley-growing-on-my-tongue and the sweetness needed to balance a beer like this.  This is an excellent Märzen as far as Märzens go, clocks in at 5.5% ABV, and is an excellent choice if you ever see it for sale.

By the end of this beer, it was time for the tour to begin.  Tours are offered frequently during the day, and it should be no problem to get yourself on one.  Our tour guide, Aaron, was particularly knowledgeable, incredibly personable, and clearly demonstrated his passion and wisdom for what he does.  In short – it was the best, most comprehensive brewery tour I’ve ever taken.

Aaron began by giving us a brief history of the Lost Rhino Brewing Company – first explaining the origins of the brewery born out of Old Dominion, and explaining the name of the brewery.  Lost Rhino refers to the West Coast surfer culture (apparently rhinos surf) and their beers “lost” so to speak, finding themselves on the East Coast – embodied in the brewery’s attempts to bring West Coast styles to the US Mid-Atlantic region.  Aaron also pointed out Lost Rhino’s rapid expansion plans – after just a year of operation, Lost Rhino plans to more than double their production capacity from 2800 to 6000 barrels annually.

Robert Frost on Refrigeration Room

Robert Frost on Refrigeration Room

After this introduction, we were shown the refrigeration room.  It bore a quote by Robert Frost, which I found funny for a refrigeration room.  Unrelated, I’m sure.  But I’m just weird like that.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  – Robert Frost

Inspiring words for any endeavoring brewer, I’m sure.

Kegs in the Refrigeration Room
Kegs in the Refrigeration Room – note ones tapped for serving

And, we were shown the tapped kegs, sitting cozily there in the chilly corner, each ready to fire their delicious nectar down whichever tap line so requests them to.

Where the Magic Happens

Where the Magic Happens

Afterwards, Aaron showed us around the rest of the brewery, explaining in intricate detail each step of the brewing process, going so far as to allow us to look into several of the tanks, taste several various types of barley used in production of Lost Rhino beers, expertly making his tour both accessible to beer neophytes, while providing helpful information for several seasoned homebrewers in the group.  Discussing every part of the brewing process from soils used to grow grain to water used in brewing to boil times and serving vessels, the tour finally ended with a generous tasting of Lost Rhino’s Farmwell Wheat – another excellent selection.  Aaron really does give an excellent tour.

Back at the Serving Area

Back at the Serving Area

After the tour was finished, I thanked Aaron, and sat down to enjoy the rest of my Farmwell Wheat.  I had to take something home with me – so I grabbed myself a Lost Rhino pint glass, which I unfortunately managed to leave behind when I left.

(P. S. Lost Rhino, if you’re reading this, can I pick that up next time I’m through? Thanks so much.)

 

While the facility itself may lack some charm, the friendly, knowledgeable staff, reasonable prices, and very solid beers make for a good excuse to head up to Ashburn if you’re in the area, or just passing through.  If you’re ever headed to DC by way of Northern Virginia, or stuck at Washington-Dulles International Airport for some reason, do make it a point to stop by.

 

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Written by Garrett Miller

Garrett brings a somewhat different perspective on beer to the table. While always thrilled to try any new, exotic brew that finds itself his way, Garrett finds that he's often quite satisfied with reliable, common craft choices. As such, Garrett is a fan of trying and reviewing these (admittedly less expensive) beers, and using them to introduce the exciting, flavorful world of craft beer to those not-yet-acquainted. Garrett’s favorite styles are IPAs and bourbon stouts, but won’t turn his nose up at anything. Find Garrett Miller on Google Plus

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