In a nondescript, red-brick office park in eastern Ashburn dreams are brewed, bottled, and canned at Lost Rhino Brewery. Founded more than two years ago by Matt Hagerman and Favio Garcia, Lost Rhino is a brewery determined to capture a sense of adventure with each beer.
The two spent much of their twenties planning road trips to breweries all around the country, and when the opportunity came to start their own, they jumped on it.
This release of MIG is technically version 2.0, as this is the second year they’ve released it. General Manager Becky Jordan said that their first release last summer went so well, that they had to bring it back for a second go-round.
“Last year it sold out before we could get our T-shirts made,” Jordan said, referring to a shirt that says MIG, where the M is a Nintendo 64 controller. “We’re sort of in the midst of a wave of popularity when it comes to hoppy IPAs, so we’re excited about this one.”
MIG is a collaboration with Hop and Wine Beverage, a distributor that handles Lost Rhino. Chris Turner, senior sales manager, said the name came out of a joke, and the recipe evolved from there.
“I get calls all the time from people asking where they can get some beer from 2007 that was only brewed for a few weeks. These are serious beer nerds,” he said. “This is sort of a sarcastic jab at those guys. We decided to make a nerd-themed beer, and we went into the back, into the lab, and grabbed whatever hops we could think of, and they played around until they came up with something.”
The result is a beer that Turner describes as an “aggressive IPA,” brimming with flavorful hops and sporting a beautiful cloudy golden color.
“I like hoppy beers, but I don’t often get them in more than a six-pack, because the flavor is too much, and I can’t drink more than two or three,” said John Stevens, an Ashburn resident and fan of just about everything Lost Rhino puts out. “But this one is really well-crafted, it seems like a whole lot of time went into making all the hops compliment each other perfectly.”
Collaborations are nothing new to Lost Rhino, they’re always working with other local home-brewers to unearth something new. Other collaborations include Pretty in Pink, as reviewed by Chad here on Beer and Pig, Wandering Belgian IPA, Lost Hog Belgian-style Dark Ale and many more.
But collaborations are only one part of the overall philosophy behind Lost Rhino, who also happen to be patriots through and through, going out of their way to buy equipment solely made in the US of A.
“It’s hard to find equipment here, everyone’s just getting cheaper stuff shipped over from China, but we’re not into that,” Hagerman said. “We looked long and hard to find someone to make our tanks, eventually getting them from a company from Detroit. Our canning line, which we got recently, came from Boulder, Colorado.”
Currently Lost Rhino cans their Faceplant IPA (which has become their flagship brew) and their Rhino Chaser Pilsner, both of which are available at Wegman’s, Total Wine, Harris Teeter and Norm’s in Virginia, and should be coming to Washington, D.C. very soon.
Lost Rhino’s loyalty isn’t limited to the country in which they were born and raised. They also have a special love for Virginia, a love which has led them to their next great project: an All Virginia beer.
Local microbiologist and home-brewer Jasper Akerboom began trying to collect local yeast samples from Ashburn, eventually getting about a dozen different strains.
“He invited me over to try the beers he made with these various strains, and some really showed some promise,” Garcia said. “We ended up making our Wild Farmwell Wheat beer out of one of them, and right now we’re working on a strain for our Virginia beer. We thought yeast was going to be the hardest part, turns out, we’re taken care of.”
Other Virginia ingredients ready to be played with in Lost Rhino’s glorious laboratory are hops from Sage Hill Farms in Leesburg, and malts from Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, one of a few places in the country that malts its own barley.
Garcia said there is no shortage of ideas for future brews, and knowing the spirit of exploration that led them to create Lost Rhino in the first place, I’d say theirs is going to be an awesome journey.
Special thanks to B&P field correspondent Alex McVeigh for his coverage of this event!