Brewery Tour – Port City
A few of us reviewers and some friends visited the Port City Brewing Company’s facilities in Alexandria the weekend before last. It was a brief tour and we were provided with five five oz. samples for five dollars. The brewery has their tasting and tour schedules available on their website. You can take a virtual tour here: http://www.portcitybrewing.com/about/brewery-tour (if you’re afraid of leaving your home). However, with the in-person tour you get to taste the IPA before it fully matures, and you can ask the tour guide some in-depth questions about their brewing process and future plans. The pineapple that sits atop their entrance sign is a symbol of welcoming that mariners used to indicate they were receiving visitors. I was the designated driver, so I didn’t partake too much in the sampling. I liked the Monumental IPA the best. Freshness of the beer aside, the Essential Pale ale and wit were good, but not exceptional. A good way to kill a few hours on a Saturday before your evening revelry. Pick up a reasonably priced growler of brew and some Port City swag while your there.
X’s and Shintern’s take on the beer and tour are below.
Wit – crisp, with very subtle citrus
Essential Pale: golden, sweet, notes of honey. A far easier and cleaner drink than the nose would lead you to believe
IPA – I’m really starting to love this beer. It’s got a nice fruity aroma and flavour that really complements the mild and enjoyable hoppiness. I’m probably going to have a growler of this in my fridge a lot this summer.
Port City’s brewery tour was fantastic for numerous reasons. First, the tour offers you a chance to see the beginnings of the DC micro scene. The space does not seem as large as nearby brewery, Flying Dog, and that’s because the brewery isn’t cranking out as many beers. That said, you do get a feel for how Port City could, or is planning to, expand production over the next couple of years. The tour guide described how they envision adding several more 90bbl vats to the site and, when describing their bottling station, stated that the machine could be used for 22 oz bottles but would likely need to be replaced in 2-4 years time as production increases.
Second, the tour guide was the actual owner of the brewery, Bill Butcher. Of course, he took great pride in his brewery but gave a lot of credit where it was due. He big-upped JVNW for they’re craftsmanship in building the brewing tanks, gave a shout-out to his brewmaster for designing a state-of-the-art Hop Cannon, and talked about the long days that his brew crew put in to make Port City’s beer. All the while, he showed a massive amount of enthusiasm for his brewery, rolled with the punches… er…questions (especially the random, funny ones from my date, who may or may not have tried to steal their symbolic pineapple), and had a great sense of humor.
Third, the tour and the facility showed a fantastic attention to detail and the care with which they brew. Granted the facility is quite new, but it was very clean. (Sort of reminded me of the time I went to a new Waffle House, saw someone constantly cleaning, and thought “That’s the definition of a lost cause”.) Like most breweries, they have paid a great deal of attention to preventing oxygen from entering their brewing process. In fact, they designed the aforementioned Hop Cannon to prevent oxygen contamination during the dry hop phase.
As for the beer, I may be a homer but already believe that the Port City Monumental IPA is one of the better balanced IPAs on the market and deserved to win Meridian Pint’s IPA Madness Bracket. What I did not expect was how great their Pale Ale would be. It tasted amazing and had just the right bit of sweetness to make it one of my go-to-beers for this summer. They ran out of the Porter before I could try it, so I can’t really talk to its flavor, and I’m not a big Wit beer drinker, so my opinion would be skewed. The growlers were reasonably priced at $14 for a new growler w/first fill free and $10 for refills. The tour itself was $5 with five samples.
Finally, their staff is extremely friendly, and I’d like to give a shout out to Matt for taking care of our group while we were there.