I turned 33 on June 10th, and was lucky enough to receive a few incredible beer-related gifts for the big day. My friends clearly know that I have a one track mind. By far the best of these gifts was a growler, growler koozie (yeah, you read that right), and set of pint glasses from my favorite D.C. area brewery, Port City. The only thing that could make the gift better was what followed next… a tour and beer tasting at the brewery.
I’d been meaning to go to the year and a half old brewery for several months, but hadn’t made the time. A few minutes off 395 in a non-descript, drab building, Port City has been pumping out one of the best porters in America, along with a regular roster including a Wit, a pale ale, and an IPA. Port City also produces limited release seasonals, and that’s where I’ll start the reviews, after a quick run-down of the tour.
Our tour guide was clearly drunk. And I’m fine with that. I don’t want to go on a brewery tour led by some stuck up sober dude. We learned the basics of the brewing process, tasted some malt, smelled a sample of hops, and had a chance to taste some young beer. The most interesting part of the tour was a sneak peak of an invention Port City has created to add hops without exposing the beer to oxygen. It’s a patent pending piece of equipment, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I think it just shows how much craft breweries are able to innovate and push the envelope.
The most interesting beer I tried during my tasting was the Revival Stout. This is by no means the first oyster stout ever brewed, but it was the first I’d ever tried. As someone who doesn’t really have a taste for oysters, I was expecting to really dislike this beer. I couldn’t really wrap my head around how steeping a beer with oyster shells from War Shore Oyster Company, then adding the actual oysters to the brew during the boil, could actually add great flavor. But this is one of their best; creamy, almost black, a nice caramel head, roasted malts and coffee without too much of a sweet finish. I didn’t taste anything overwhelming from the oysters, but they definitely gave this one a different feel and taste, and make it an interesting experience.
Port City’s best beer is their Porter. It’s a delicious, complex porter with notes of roasted malt, chocolate, fruit, coffee, alcohol, with some sweetness and nuttiness. Great head, and nice lacing, and a slightly bitter finish. Oh, and it’s 7.5% ABV. This really is a solid beer, and one of my favorite porters.
Port City also offers a Wit and an IPA, both of which are very good. But I’m going to skip to their Essential Pale Ale, because I think it’s a very accessible beer for the friends of beer snobs. I have plenty of friends who aren’t hop heads, and are a little afraid of my tastes. This is a beer that I would feel confident in sharing with these friends, and helping them get into a great local craft beer brand. Essential Pale Ale has a nice aroma, with malt balanced by floral hops and a little pine. This is a smooth, medium, easy drink. Plenty of carbonation and a slightly dry finish, with 5.5% ABV. This beer won’t blow you away at all, but it’s a solid beer from a promising new brewery in suburban Northern Virginia.