“We believe everyone should get lost once in a while, then come back and swap stories with us over a great beer at Lost Rhino Brewery” —from the Lost Rhino Brewery Twitter Feed.
Well, Lost Rhino, I could not agree with you more!
When I go behind the scenes to discover the taste of a favorite Virginia product, I often find the spirit of the founding entrepreneurs. It is often the spirit and the grit of the founders that add that distinctive taste. What’s behind the taste of Lost Rhino Beer? Is it bacon or wild Virginia yeast or is it the eye-catching can-art? Perhaps it is a combination of the adventure-spirit of each team member.
First, what’s behind the name Lost Rhino Brewery? Check out the brewery’s logo and notice the silhouette of the rhino toting a surfboard. The name “Lost Rhino” comes from a surfing term, Rhino Chaser. A Rhino Chaser is a surfer that looks for the biggest wave.
“One who looks for the adventure”….
The story starts with founders Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia. They embarked on a coast-to-coast journey in search of discovering traditions in beer-making. They returned to produce an award-winning Virginia craft beer. They assembled a team that includes brewmasters, a chef, a graphic designer and a knowledgeable Tap Room Team. It’s all part of the experience of a visit to Lost Rhino Brewery.
The beers crafted by Lost Rhino Brewery have stood out in the Virginia craft beer field and have won national awards. The team has taken home medals at the World Beer Championship, the US Beer Championship, and the Great American Beer Festival. They are riding the big wave. Summer in Virginia means the celebration of Virginia’s Craft Beer Month in August. It is the perfect time for DW&S to visit the Lost Rhino Brewery and Tap Room in Ashburn, Virginia.
The Beer of Lost Rhino Brewery
A visit to the Lost Rhino Tap Room is a taste adventure. Of course, you will find the year-round favorites such as Rhino Chasers and Face Plant (that’s a Pilsner and an IPA). You will also see a sours collection, pale ales, a hefeweizen, a Kolsch, amber ales and some aged stouts. The collection has a foundation in the Virginia farmland. Recently, the Lost Rhino team traveled to Whippoorwill Farm in Madison, Virginia to string hops and started the growing season. Later, the hops will be harvested and used in a future beer.
To learn about the spirit of Lost Rhino Beer, I reached out to them.
Kim: Lost Rhino is dedicated to keeping things local and being part of the community. Could you tell me a few things that Lost Rhino does to give back?
Rhino: There are several things actually. Lost Rhino gives all of our spent grain to a few local farmers who use it as feed for their animals. We are also committed to supporting those in our community who support us. We are proud to work with outstanding organizations like Loudoun Interfaith Relief, African Wildlife Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and The Down Syndrome Association of Northern VA. We are also 100% clean energy.
Kim: Tell me about using wild strains of yeast in your beer. Do you obtain the yeast from Virginia farms, meadows and even Virginia fossils?
Rhino: We have brewed a couple of beers that had yeast that was obtained from not-so-conventional sources. Our “Bone Dusters Paleo Amber Ale” was made with yeast that was harvested from a 35 million-year-old whale fossil, and the yeast used in our 2013 Farmwell Wheat was taken from a co-worker’s backyard. Our Native Son Virginia Beer was one the first beers that we used with 100% Virginia ingredients, with the yeast coming from the same strain as the “Farewell Wheat.”
Kim: You have embraced the Sour Beer Movement since 2014. What is one of your favorites? Is there a “Signature Sour” that visitors should sample?
Rhino: Our Exesus Sanctum Peach Sour Beer is my favorite sour that we’ve done. It’s effervescent, a bit on the dry side and possesses a juicy/fruity profile. I think the closest thing that we would consider to be our “signature sour” would be the Exesus Sanctum Peach Sour. It’s not on tap at the moment, as I am writing this, but I am fairly certain it’ll be back soon.
Kim: As I am writing this story, a new beer on tap is the Gueuzilla. It’s a sour blend that is a tribute to an old brewing tradition in Europe. Tell us about starting with an old traditional technique and adding a Rhino “Made in Virginia” twist.
Rhino: Our Barrel Master, Alex Lynch does a wonderful job maintaining and creating our sour program, so I’ll let his words about the Gueuzilla and Gueuze style speak for itself. “This sour blend is a tribute to one of the more fascinating surviving old beer traditions in the world. Lambic is a style of beer found in the Senne Valley outside Brussels. It is a protected term similar to Champagne. What is most unique about this style of beer is that instead of adding a slurry of yeast from a previous fermentation, this beer is fermented only by the microflora that falls into it as it is cooled by the night air after brewing. Known as spontaneous fermentation, this leads to a distinctly funky, moderately sour beer. Other unique aspects of Iambic brewing include turbid mashing and the use of aged hops. This blend was made to most emulate gueuze, a particular type of lambic that is a blend of one, two, and 3-year-old lambic. Here at Lost Rhino, we spontaneously fermented a blond base and aged it in a puncheon (500 L barrel) for two years. We then blended it with a couple of other select barrels of sour beer to best achieve the acidity, bitterness, and funky aromatics of spontaneous fermentation and aged hops, that Gueuze is known for. This is tasting experience not easy to come by in the US. Embrace the character of a style which brewing has gone unchanged for several centuries or just allow this beer to transport you to the calming bureaucracy of Belgium’s central city.”
Kim: I have to ask about your bacon-infused beer. Two of my personal favorites in a pint glass. You recently tapped the bacon-infused Tmavy Firkin at the Beer, Bacon & Music Festival. What are the plans for the Tmavy Firkin? Tell me about customer feedback on your bacon beer. Will bacon lovers see this beer in the Tap Room?
Rhino: People loved the bacon-infused Tamvy! We would get a few curious looks here and there, but most of the reactions were quite positive. The bacon flavor was fairly subtle and not too in your face. The dark malt characteristic of the Tmavy Dark Czech Lager blended well with the bacon. Unfortunately this was a cask we did specifically for the Beer, Bacon, & Music Fest – although we would be open to doing it again and serving it in our tasting room.
Kim: I am visiting the Lost Rhino Brewery Tap Room and ordering a Tasting Flight. What’s on the flight that speaks to the heart of the spirit of Lost Rhino? If you could pick the beers on my Lost Rhino Tasting Flight, what’s on the Flight?
Rhino: Let’s see. When getting a flight in our Tasting Room, you have two choices: You could get a Brewer’s Flight, which is a preselected flight that we think best represents our brand as a whole, or you can go completely rogue and get whatever five beers you want to try that are on tap. If I had to pick a flight for you, I would go with: Face Plant IPA, Meridian Kölsch, Pumpernickel Honker Imperial Rye IPA, the Gueuzilla of course, and the Tmavy Dark Czech Lager.
Kim: What’s on tap this Summer for Lost Rhino Brewery? August is Virginia Craft Beer Month. What’s on tap?
Rhino: For this Summer we have a few returning brands coming back on. “Dawn Patrol Session IPA” and “My Imaginary Girlfriend West Coast-style IPA” will be coming out early and mid-summer respectively. Both of these beers are best enjoyed at your typical backyard cook-out or the beach.
Lost Rhino offers a brewery tour on Saturday afternoons ($). Take the tour and receive a logo tasting glass and vouchers to use in the Tap Room. For information, visit the Lost Rhino website: LostRhino.com
Beer-2-Go at Lost Rhino
The Lost Rhino logo is unique, and so is the art on the can. In my opinion, the art helps form the taste of the Lost Rhino beer. The art is colorful, and it is fun, much like the beer itself. The cans are vibrant brand ambassadors. Makes you want to grab a six-pack to take home.
When you visit the Lost Rhino Brewery, you may purchase six packs of Rhino Chaser Pilsner and Face Plant IPA as Beer-2-Go. They also feature a rotating selection of seasonal and limited release 12OZ cans. If you want to find Lost Rhino in your local retail store, check out LostRhino.com and use the Beer Finder.
The Lost Rhino Tap Room Experience
The Lost Rhino Brewery and Tap Room is located in Northern Virginia at 21730 Red Rum Drive in Ashburn, VA. The Tap Room is open seven days a week and is family friendly. When a beer-lover visits a tasting room, they are first there for the craft beverage, but the “total experience” ranks a close second. Visit Lost Rhino, and you will enjoy flight tastings of unique beers, a chef-created food menu, and a music scene.
The food menu includes lunch and dinner items, but it is the brunch menu that grabbed my attention. Breakfast tacos, a Southern biscuit with short rib gravy or banana pancakes with beer-infused syrup. A brunch plate perfectly paired with a unique Lost Rhino beer—Yes, please! Not an average weekend experience.
You should visit for the beer, but you will also enjoy the local music. Follow Lost Rhino on social media and mark your calendar. The Tap Room Team assembles an eclectic combination of local music and Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, as well as a variety of pinball machines for all to play.
Unique beer, great food, and live music—it’s the trifecta of a memorable experience.
I hope that you will enjoy a Virginia Craft Beer this Summer. Be sure to stop by Lost Rhino and share some of your adventure stories.