Thursday, February 24, 2011

Port City Brewing

There’s a new brewery in Alexandria! I believe Port City Brewing is the first new brewery in Alexandria since Bill Madden's Founders' BrewPub closed. Port City joins Shenandoah as one of only two breweries in this part of metropolitan Washington, DC. Welcome!

I stopped by the new brewery’s tasting room last Friday evening for the tapping of their Monumental IPA. There were about a dozen at the bar at any given time during the free tasting. Others have told me about MUCH bigger crowds; perhaps I got lucky with my timing. I had a nice chat with owner Bill Butcher, brewer Jonathan Reeves, and some fellow patrons. 

Bill's vision is to produce really good, balanced beers for the neighborhood. He's convinced the demand for local craft beer far exceeds the supply, even after the half-dozen or so other micro-breweries coming soon to the metropolitan area are online. Breweries all across the region are brewing to capacity, indicating pent-up demand. Bill wants to fill a bit of that gap with his array of sensible and session-able ales. The current line-up fits that bill.

The four beers on tap are good, especially the dark, rich and roasty Porter. The Monumental IPA is my second favorite. Bill says 50 IBUs and I don't doubt him but as a confirmed hop-head, I was hoping for a bit more bite. The Optimal Wit is nice. If someone in Alexandria has never had a Belgian Wit, they will find Port City Optimal Wit to be fresh, light, spicy, and refreshingly different. In my opinion, it ranks between Blue Moon and Hoegaarden. The Pale Ale is the least flavorful of the bunch. It's solid, just not all that interesting. It reminded me more of a Blonde or a light-colored Mild than a Pale Ale in the vein of Sierra Nevada’s. The ideal tasting progression for the flight is in reverse order of my preference, culminating in what I consider to be the best of the lot. 

It's great to have a brewery in my backyard and a brewer who is offering some tasty beverages for the neighborhood! Port City beers are showing up on lots of local taps. Plenty of people were buying new growlers and getting growlers refilled during my brief visit. Clearly, people love Port City beers! 

The door between the tasting room and the brewery was open, so I took a look. Like the tasting room, everything in the brewhouse is pristine.  There’s plenty of room to double of even triple the brewing operation from its current 5,000 bbl annual capacity. Port City is in a good location with a great facility and super people.  I'll go back for an official tour, and another draft of that Porter! 

Bottom line: The beers are well-made, with a focus on balance and moderation. They may not be overly exciting to my jaded palate, but they are certainly good and very drinkable.