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SAVOR 2012 Brewery Profile: Port City Brewing Company (@portcitybrewing)

Name: Port City Brewing Company
Location: Alexandria, VA
Type: Production
Available in DC Market: Yes

What you need to know: It’s hard to believe that Port City has been cranking out beers for just over a year now, so rooted are they in the local market.  Much of their success can be credited to Bill and Karen Butcher, locals whose experience in the wine trade imbued their approach with the discipline and market knowledge to hit the ground running.  That’s not to diminish the skills of head brewer Jonathan Reeves, who has produced a much-lauded core of four annuals and an increasing number of awesome one-offs and seasonals (see: ONE, Tartan Ale).  Committed to reviving Alexandria’s brewing culture – which had been dormant since 1916 – Port City is making serious strides and plans to ramp up production to 6,000 barrels in 2012, with plenty of room in their enormous warehouse to grow further.

Beer #1: Optimal Wit (Belgian-style white / 5.0%)
Notes: This is a straightforward take on the Belgian wit – raw wheat and oats are mashed with coriander, orange peel, and grains of paradise, while Belgian yeast provides fruity esters and the characteristic haze.  It pours a dark shade of straw with minimal head and lots of spice, citrus, and breadiness on the nose.  The taste follows from there; it’s peppery and citric, just as you’d expect.  All in all, Optimal Wit is a refreshing, easy-drinking beer for a hot day…or a long SAVOR night.
Beer Advocate: 86 (40 reviews)
Rate Beer: 64 overall, 80 style (34 ratings)

Beer #2: Porter (Robust porter / 7.5%)
Notes: When the Port City Porter debuted, it was ranked number 52 in Beer Advocate’s list of 100 best new beers, so yeah, it’s pretty darn good.  Opaque and nearly pitch black with a thin yet stable tan head, it looks mean.  Dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and maybe even licorice swirl together in what could be a heady mix, but the balance of these flavors and a judicious handling of bitter vs. sweet make the Port City Porter way too drinkable for 7.5%.  Make sure it’s not served too cold – it opens up considerably when closer to room temperature.
Beer Advocate: 90 (77 reviews)
Rate Beer: 91 overall, 89 style (51 reviews)

Summary: While many of Port City’s local fans – already extremely well-acquainted with their porter and wit – might have hoped for something a bit rarer, it’s hard to get too worked up about having to drink great beer.  Besides, it’s easy enough to find their limited edition stuff in the DMV.   Don’t forget, you’ll also get to chat with Bill Butcher, one of the friendliest guys in the biz.  And yes, I just called it “the biz”.  Apologies.

This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2012 SAVOR participants.

Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.

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