Brewery Name: Port City Brewing
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Alexandria, VA
Facebook: Port City Brewing Company
Background: One of the staples of the area, Port City has been a part of my beer life for quite some time now. It’s one of the first craft breweries that I appreciated, largely due to their involvement in the local scene in everything from philanthropic sponsorship to hosting bar crawls. Port City has been holding it down across the river from DC in Alexandra for some time now and has the showcase of beer medals and awards to prove it. I had previously been limited to what gets distributed and is easy to find, but I recently had the chance to get over to their tap room and am now an even bigger fan.
Growlers: Yes! Crowler, growler, retail bottles, whatever you’re looking for!
The Beers: Several of Port City’s core beers are leagues beyond most house brews. They’re fairly well distributed locally so I’ll keep it short on those and focus on a few that I hadn’t seen prior to my visit:
Vibe: I’m not sure why, but I expected the taproom to be more similar to an old school beer bar with a long wooden bar, a low ceiling, and not much in the way of light. I can happily say that I was quite wong. The room opens up to seating and a bar on each side of the main room. Only one was running while I was there but I can absolutely see how it would be beneficial to have an overflow tap setup for when it's more crowded. There’s also a back section that has some couches and a few high tops, plus some picnic table style outdoor seating areas.
Everything in here is well done and very modern for the beer world. The bartops, the taps and signs, and even the wall art and neons all fit together really well. The modest branding that's found on their bottles definitely didn't have me expecting a taproom with floor to ceiling paintings of the area, stainless steel and video board tap systems, an array of artwork and a bunch of spots where brewery ambassadors from all over the country have left stickers and notes. There were signs posted for all sorts of events too, from seasonal releases to yoga classes to charity drives. Joggers and Lagers was one that I found particularly clever in naming and it almost made me even consider running sometime with the bribe of beer at the end. Lots going on, but still has a really tight local feel to it.
Service was well above average during my visit. It was another brutally hot day and the first beertender I interacted with pointed me straight towards one of the fresh IPAs they had put on as a crisp summer beer. During a later round, I asked a particular brew and the fella, having poured a few for me and gotten reactions on those, actually pointed me in another direction and absolutely nailed it. Lots of respect for that kind of interaction and it really helps hone in on what their own folks really like coming off the tap.
Dogs: Definitely in the outdoor space but I’m not sure about inside. To be honest, the inside space isn’t the greatest for dogs anyway since it's mostly high tops and primarily just a big room.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Slightly more affordable than average for where it is in my experience. Full pours of house beers start as low as $5 for a pint. Even the smaller batch or specialty stuff is very fair at $7-8 for a snifter size pour.
Food: No kitchen here but their website does reference bringing in food trucks now and then.
Final Thoughts: Really glad to have finally made it to Port City. It’s been part of my beer life for quite a long time and it was a lot of fun to try some of the stuff outside their core lineup. Like many non-city breweries, the location isn’t ideal for transit or to look at but the beer, vibe, service combo drastically outweighs those small details. A staple of the the area beer scene, Port City is high on the list of places to call an easy go-to.
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