Sunday, April 10, 2011

Port City Brewing Company's Porter

Recently, a friend told me about a new brewery that he visited in Alexandria, Virginia.  The brewery, Port City Brewing Company, is one of a few new breweries that have or will be opening their doors this year.  My friend also mentioned the tours provided by the brewery on Saturdays.  So, on a recent Saturday, Clare and I paid a visit to Port City Brewing to get a tour of the facilities and to try some of its beers.

Port City Brewing Company has four beers that comprise its year-round selection, including its Porter.  The "porter" style of beer supposedly gets its name from the fact that, during the 18th century, this dark beer popular among the street porters and river porters of London.  The beer gets its color from  the use of darker malts, such as roasted or brown malts.   These malts are usually predominate over the hops.  And, for the most part, the ABV of these beers is usually on the lower side of the beer spectrum, hovering between 4% and 5.4%.

Port City Brewing Company brews its porter in the style of an American Porter.  The porter style was introduced to America during the colonial times, and in the eighteenth century, breweries produced American porters in New England and Pennsylvania.  During the middle of the nineteenth centuries, American brewers switched from using ale yeast (which ferments on top) to lager yeast (which ferments on the bottom).  This style of porter, referred to as the "Pennsylvania Porter," continued until the 1970s and 1980s, when some of the first craft brewers reintroduced the "American Porter," returning to the use of ale yeast in the production. 

The Port City Brewing Company's Porter pours a black in color with a smooth foam on top, which is a very good start.  As I poured the beer, I took in some of the aromatic elements, which were very suggestive of ground coffee beans and some chocolate malt.  The beer is slightly sweet  on the front end, which is a nice surprise.  Usually, when I try porters, there is no sweetness, but a lot of roasted flavors.  Those roasted flavors assert themselves in this Porter, particularly in the finish.  The initial sweetness gives way to flavors of roasted coffee beans and to just a little chocolate.  This beer exceeds the style of an American porter in both flavor and, by the way, alcohol content.  At 7.5% ABV, this beer has an alcohol content that rivals imperial porters, rather than other American porters. 

American porters, like Port City Brewing Company's Porter, are best paired with roasted or grilled meats, like a porterhouse steak.  This Porter can also be paired with spicy foods, such as Mexican or Cajun foods, because the roasted flavors of the beer will provide a good counter to the peppers in those foods.  And, when considering dessert, you can guess that a roasted, coffee flavor will go well with anything that has cream or chocolate.

The Port City Brewing Company's Porter is available on draft at many restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, or at the brewery in Alexandria, Virginia.  It is also available in bottle, selling for $9.99 a six pack.


For more information about Port City Brewing Company, check out its website and go for a visit.  They provide very informative tours on Saturdays at 12:30 and 2:00.  For more about the porter style, check out the Beer Judge Certification Program and Wikipedia.  

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