Where in Town: Lost Rhino Retreat, 22885 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn, Va.
Price: $12 for 22 oz.
Traditional holiday beers like big barleywines, heavy winter warmers, and Belgian ales simply aren’t as appealing when it’s in the upper 60s and seeing a snowflake is as likely as seeing the Abominable Snowman. But for those of you determined to ring in the season with a festive brew, allow me to recommend a less hefty option: Lost Rhino Brewing Company’s RhiNoel. Medium-bodied and 7.5 percent alcohol, this Christmas beer is full of flavor without being overwhelming. A traditional Belgian dubbel, the beer is made with Abbey and crystal malts, Belgian “candi” sugar crystals, and yeast from Brasserie de Rochefort, one of Belgium’s legendary Trappist breweries.
This year’s version, Cherry Bourbon Barrel-aged RhiNoel, was released on Thanksgiving after it spent six months in bourbon barrels with loads of tart cherries from Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Va. Before bottling and kegging, the brewery adds more tart cherries from Oregon. The resulting brew features rich, dark cherry flavors (as opposed to the cough syrup kind), joined by notes of vanilla and caramel. Cherry is prominent on the nose as well, amid date and white bread aromas. The beer carries a surprisingly prickly mouthfeel and finishes dry thanks to additional fermentation while in the barrels. Sound tasty? Kegs have been popping up around town, but RhiNoel is most easily found at Lost Rhino’s brewery or new restaurant, both in Ashburn. If you miss it, look for a sour version coming out mid-winter.
Photo by Tammy Tuck