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After losing power from last week’s storm, Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company feared it would lose 13,000 gallons of beer. (That’s 104,000 pints.)
The brewery now brings word that five of its six tanks are just fine. The sixth? It fermented at a higher temperature than intended. But that’s not a bad thing. Turns out there’s a style of “steam beer” developed in San Francisco that is brewed at higher temperatures. So, Port City is turning nature’s f-you into the limited edition beer called Derecho Common. It will be released in August. Founder Bill Butcher explains more in a letter sent this afternoon:
An Open Letter to the D.C. Beer Community:
Last Friday’s freak storm caught the entire D.C. area by surprise. The destruction that the unexpected derecho caused is astounding. As I write this, there are still people without electricity, and our thoughts are with them as the region continues to recover.
Our power was out for five days at the brewery, and our production has been completely shut down during this time. We have been unable to brew, package, or ship any beer to market. We were fortunate to find a generator to supply enough power to run our critical systems to try to keep our 13,000 gallons of beer from spoiling.
All of us at Port City Brewing Company were absolutely amazed by the community’s response to our plight. The support from the D.C. Beer community has been unbelievable. We received messages of support and offers of help from all over. Our fellow brewers, our restaurant and retail customers, and many beer drinkers contacted us to ask how they could help us to save the beer.
The willingness to step up and help a neighbor is what defines a community. We found in a very real way that D.C. Beer community is strong and supportive of each other, and we will always be grateful for this. We are truly honored and humbled by the response, and we’ll always remember the support that everyone has shown us.
We have a long way to go to get our brewery back to normal operations. It will take weeks to get caught up with production, and unfortunately, there will be ongoing out of stocks in the market as we try to recover. We appreciate your patience as we work to catch up.
Many have asked us if we were able to “save the beer.” We continue to monitor the beer very closely, and we test and taste it daily. Five of our six tanks appear to be just fine. The 6th tank is a 60-barrel batch of lager beer that fermented at a higher temperature than we intended.
There is a beer style that developed in San Francisco called steam beer, or California Common beer. It is a beer made with lager yeast and fermented at higher temperatures like an ale. This is exactly what happened to this 60-barrel tank of our beer.
As a result, this storm has given us Derecho Common beer.
We will release the limited Derecho Common beer in early August. It will be draft only, and will be limited to about 120 kegs, which will be sold only to bars and restaurants in the D.C. Metro area.
Thank you for your continued support.
Port City Brewing Company
Photo by Greg Powers