Port City Brewing's Tidings Ale

“Everyone else goes dark, we went light,” Bill Butcher, owner of Port City Brewing, explained of his new seasonal brew, Tidings Ale, during a tour of the brewery in Alexandria on Tuesday.

Instead of concocting a Christmas ale buried in cloves and ginger and cinnamon, head brewer Jonathan Reeves sourced area ingredients for a Belgian style blond ale. Maryland contributed wildflower honey and Virginia provided the wheat.

Starting Dec. 1, the new beer will be available in bottle and on draft at the brewing company’s tasting room, as well as area bars and liquor stores.

Below are a few shots of the brewery and its trademark-pending Hop Cannon.

“There’s a certain amount of gut that you just have to trust,” Butcher (pictured above) explains of his 30-barrel tank. For a start-up, the size of tank is quite risky, but he felt that this area has “pent-up demand for local craft beer,” he says, and took the ambitious route.

Port City’s other brews: Monumental IPA, Essential Pale Ale, Optimal Wit and Porter.

Introducing Port City’s “Hop Cannon.” Brewmaster Reeves designed this himself, sent instructions to the manufacturer, and as Butcher put it, “hoped for the best.” The cannon lets Reeves dry hop the beer later on in the process without adding excess oxygen to the beer. The hops shoot into the tank in a closed loop deoxygenated environment. The less oxygen introduced, the longer the beer’s shelf life. Port City is filing for a trademark for the cannon.

The Hop Cannon close up.

With a background in wine, Butcher officially tests Port City’s brews in a wine glass to better sniff and taste.

In the Alexandria warehouse, Port City can bottle 15 beers a minute and 18 kegs an hour.

Gotta love industrial humor.

Photos by Stefanie Gans