Saturday, February 05, 2011

Port City Brewing ships, opens

Port City Brewing Company

Port City Brewing Company began shipping kegs of its beers this week to a few select restaurants and pubs in Virginia and Washington, D.C. That makes Port City the first production brewery to operate in the city of Alexandria, Virginia, since 31 October 1916, when the Robert Portner Brewing Company last extinguished its kettle.

Port City 4

Port City will have four 'flagship' beers.

Optimal Wit is already available in a few outlets. Essential Pale Ale and Porter (and, that's the name!) will be shipped next week. Monumental I.P.A. is being dry-hopped today, using a hop cannon, a device designed by lead brewer Jonathon Reeves. Monumental will be shipped when he deems the aromatics ready.

To ensure that those pubs which get the beer will have an uninterrupted supply, owner Bill Butcher and head brewer Jonathan Reeves plan to take things slowly at first. The short list, for now, includes Argonaut, Big Hunt, Black Squirrel, ChurchKey, and Smith Commons in Washington, D.C., and, in northern Virginia, Columbia Firehouse Restaurant, Evening Star Cafe, Food Matters, Galaxy Hut, and Rustico. More will follow as production is ramped up. At present, the beers are kegged only; the bottling line will first be used on 14 February.

Port City Brewing is NOT a brewpub; it is a production brewery. However, the facility WILL be open to the public today from 12-5 and tomorrow, Sunday, from 12-4. Owner Bill Butcher and lead brewer Jonathan Reeves will be on hand to offer sample tastes of Optimal Wit and Essential Pale Ale, and, yes, to fill growlers. (Open as well for a preview on Friday evening, the tasting room was filled with nearly 200 people, Butcher told me.)

UPDATE: The tasting room is now officially open, but only on weekends:
Friday 4-8pm
Saturday 12-5pm
Sunday 12-5pm

Public tours begin at 2pm and 3pm on Saturdays; reservations are not required. The cost is $5 and includes a tasting glass to keep and a full tasting of all the beers on tap. Growlers (take home re-usable glass containers) can be purchased. Growlers from other breweries will be filled, for a fee, as well.

Tour group

For more details, go to Facebook, Twitter, or the website: The physical address is: 3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA, 22304.

  • More photos from the preview tour: here.
  • Photos of the brewery under construction: here.

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