From Rob Fink. Follow him on Twitter @RobDFink or email him at rob[AT]borderstan.com.
Over the last several years, the DC area has seen a vast proliferation in local craft beers. We have seen the likes of DC Brau, 3 Stars and Chocolate City, amongst others. However, the first craft production and packaging brewery in the area was not any of the aforementioned breweries, but in fact Port City Brewing Company.
Adopting its name from the vibrant and storied history of Alexandria as a colonial port, Port City served to revitalize craft beer for the entire metropolitan region, making artisanal, honest local beer not merely a possibility, but a reality.
Only a few turns off of I-395, 3950 Wheeler Avenue is the Alexandria home to Port City Brewing Company. As someone of direct Bavarian descent, the blue and white emblazoned tasting room was a welcome first sight.
My Three Favorites
Considering this was my first return visit since Port City opened, I opted for the flight of all six beers currently on tap. The following three were my favorites of the bunch.
- Revival Stout — 5.5 percent ABV, 38 IBUs — This English/Irish inspired stout utilizes War Shore Oyster Company oysters throughout the brewing process (shell and all) to contribute a whiff of briny salt water to an already complex beer. Oats help to add a mouth-feel of round silkiness while ample hop bitterness balances against residual sweetness. If you’re fortunate enough to snag a growler while it lasts, take it out of the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, pour yourself a pint, enjoy with raw oysters on the half shell, then quickly repeat.
- Essential Pale Ale — 5.5 percent ABV, 35 IBUs — Essential Pale Ale is a crisp drinker of a Pale Ale that displays its elegance in its restraint, meaning it’s not an IPA masquerading as a Pale Ale. Columbus, Chinook and Amarillo hops create a pleasant interplay of dank herbal spice and sweet citrus with enough hop character to entice even those like myself with an unapologetic penchant for hop flavor.
- TWO — 9 percent ABV, 50 IBUs — To commemorate their second anniversary, the brewers at Port City concocted a mammoth imperialized version of their already delicious Porter, but swapped much of the regular base malt for German beech wood smoked malt, allowing flavors of smoky and savory caramelized ham to accompany dry bittersweet chocolate. This was easily my favorite of the day. Despite its American bravado, a nice German meal of bone-in roasted pork loin and Bavarian potato dumplings would be a great accompaniment for TWO.
Thankfully, Port City is widely available throughout the District, including Borderstan mainstays such as Whole Foods on P Street and Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street NW. If you’re at the 9:30 Club for a show, you can grab a Port City beer there, too. Having just celebrated its second anniversary earlier this month and armed for firm plans for expansion, Port City thankfully shows no signs of stemming the tide of craft beer in the DC area.