August 14, 2011

∴ Craft Brewed Beer Returns to Ashburn, Virginia

I was lamenting the long-ago closure of the Old Dominion brew pub in Ashburn, Virginia with my wife last week. This happens at the dawn of each new NFL season as I recall stopping in for a pint and a growler fill the Friday before a game. OD was bought by a Delaware brewer in 2007 and, a year later, the brewpub was closed and brewing operations were consolidated in Dover. I missed having a pint of fresh beer ready for the 1 PM kick-off.

No more. Craft brewed beer has returned to Ashburn.

I saw a tap handle for New River Pale Ale, one of the OD brews, while enjoying dinner out a week ago. I found its new brewer with Google later in the week, Lost Rhino Brewing.

Founded by Favio Garcia and Matthew Hagerman, two ex-OD brewermasters, Lost Rhino bought up the stainless steel tanks and other bits and pieces from OD, and moved them to an office park hidden behind Verizon's business offices, a mile or so away. I stopped by for a visit last Thursday.

What I found was what OD must have looked like at its start. Operations are concentrated around the tanks and kettles; seating, consisting of auctioned booths from the OD brewpub, are scattered about. A single counter hosts the taps and a cash register, while a display case for growlers, t-shirts and paraphernalia sits next to it. I ponied up $5 for a tasting and enjoyed Lost Rhino's first three offerings.

Pacific Pils is a cristal clear, hoppy pilsner with just enough maltiness to round it out. Not what you'd expect of a European pilsner, this pils follows the recent American brewing tradition of laying on the hops. It's a refreshing eye-opener.

New River Pale Ale is an old friend, and the second of the samples I enjoyed. A more complex blend of hops and more malt combine to provide an enjoyable, milder ale. I'd go two pints on this one.

Face Plant IPA is aptly named: the hops will give you a slap in the face. This is a brew for the hops aficionado, not quite as light in body as Pacific PIls, and heavier on hops. Good stuff.

There's a tank of Oktoberfest laying in wait for a mid-September tapping, and plans to make and sell food from the existing space in the next year or so. Longer-term plans include assuming the space next door and opening a full-on brewpub. I can't wait.

My growlers have sat dry for three years, but this weekend I'll dig one out, wash it thoroughly and take it for a fill. Fresh beer has a flavor that can't be matched. I'm so glad it's returned to the area.