We’re joining you from the penultimate event of the 2018 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, which has been hosted right here in Loudoun County! For the Live Beer Blogging event, we’re holed up at Lost Rhino Brewing in Ashburn for a “speed flight,” allowing us to taste 10 samples from throughout the Commonwealth. The event will kick-off around 4:30 and go for an hour. Our line-up for this evening includes beers from:
- Blue Mountain
- Lost Rhino
- Old Bust Head
- Port City
- Starr Hill
We don’t know yet what they’ll be serving, but check back over the next few hours to get our gut-shot reactions to some of the biggest names in Virginia!
Old Bust Head: Table Talk, a fruity Belgian Wit from the Vint Hill Series
Substantial coriander up front, followed by berries and late orange peel. A subtle twist on a classic style.
Lost Rhino: New River, a flagship Pale Ale featuring Amarillo and Cascade hops
Mild fruity esters in passing aroma, very floral across the body. A very cool story featuring a recipe that won two GABF medals in the early 2000s, that Lost Rhino has kept alive after the original brewer died.
Legend: Imperial Brown Ale, a supercharged version of their most popular beer
Some chicory and velvet, followed by biscuity malts. It’s a lot more flavor-forward than the original, with some late addition fruits that partially remind of currants.
Blue Mountain: Dark Hollow, a beer we’ve already put into our Hops of Fame!
This is the 2016 version, which just doesn’t seem fair. Rich smoky malts, dark chocolate body, and a fiery, peaty finish. Man. This is one of the reasons that barrel-aged beers in Virginia are a thing.
Ardent: Pilsner, a standard offering at the taproom
Dewy, grassy, slightly astringent without offending. The body reminds of a Kolsch in that it offers some butter elements. Very crushable.
AleWerks: Weekend Lager, a relatively new offering that just won Gold at VCBF!
Very fresh, some light fruit overtones on the body. Drinkable in a demanding way – you will not stop at just a few sips.
Vanish: Peach Pie, which should be fairly self-descriptive but is actually a NE IPA
Sugary peach is indeed present up front. This is a very Juicy Juice sort of fruity, 100% natural flavors that could overpower but as a taster is pleasant and refreshing.
Reason: Blonde Ale, one of their original offerings that quickly pushed them up in distribution
Per the brewer, all their flagships are under 5% which makes it difficult to get full flavor. Surprisingly hazy, fresh cut grass and other earthy elements. Some (very) light strawberry, banana, and vanilla round out the body. More complex than you would think while being light-bodied and crisp.
Starr Hill: Last Leaf, a maple Brown Ale that reflects their evolving seasonal styles
Brown sugar with a touch of cinnamon on the nose. “A breakfast beer,” as we heard it is quite an apt description, and some real sweet caramel rounds things out.
Port City: Oktoberfest, a GABF-Silver winning beauty that defines the outrageous progress that VA beer has made
A Vienna Lager that delivers on crispy malts without going into ultra-sweet caramels. Biscuity, but crisp finish that just begs for more sips.
Ok, so while we’ve dished out some quick scores we don’t want to declare a winner. Hamilton and I agreed on many of the above scores, within a fraction of a point (or a tenth?) Our top 5ish was pretty consistent, but the idea is there wasn’t a single less-than-decent beer on the list. We were so glad that most of the breweries took a chance with beers that, even if flagships, weren’t their most popular offerings. Try ’em all if you can, because if #BBC18 has shown anything, VIRGINIA BEER ROCKS!!!