The Brewery vs. the Power Outage

My favorite local brewery, Port City, found a clever way to make lemons into lemonade. Or, more precisely, a power outage into a new beer.

When last month’s freak storm, El Deracho, left the brewery and much of Alexandria without power for five days, the owners worried they would lose 13,000 gallons of beer. When the power switched back on, they found that five of the six tanks were fine. However, beer in the sixth had fermented at a higher temperature than intended.

Not ones to let a bad storm ruin good beer, brewery founder Bill Butcher took inspiration from Kiuchi, a Japanese brewery that which had reworked one of its beers into a special edition brew after equipment was damaged in the earthquake and tsunami.  Butcher wrote this in his letter on topic:

Five of our six tanks appear to be just fine. The 6thtank 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.

The Derecho Common will be out in August. Port City isn’t bottling the beer. Rumor has it that it’s only being sold in kegs to local restaurants and bars affected by the power outage.  So check out Del Ray and Old Town establishments soon for the brew.

Cocktail Trials: The House Punch

Mixing up punch

Like many thing, a good punch is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

My husband has been arguing that our house needs its own punch. Every home needs some basics, he says, like an address, a bathroom, some furniture  … and an official punch recipe.

Greg, a huge Alton Brown fan, was inspired by the celebrity chef’s show on punches. In the episode, Brown points out that back in the day, all clubs had their own punch.  Liking the idea of my living room being transformed into an 19th century gentleman’s’ club complete with leather armchairs chairs and a library of well-worn books, I agreed to try the punch.

What Makes a Good Punch?

Armed with Alton’s golden ratio for punches,  I hit the grocery store drink aisle and gathered a selection of beverages that I thought would go well with gin, our house’s favorite liquor.

Here were our contenders (along with the ration Alton recommends).

1 of Sour (Key lime juice / Trader Joe’s sparkling limeade)

2 of Sweet (pinapple juice, sweet tea, Sprite)

3 of Strong (gin)

4 of Weak (a lager, club soda, Sprite, sweet tea)

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Cocktail Trials: The Sazerac

Note: I have been drinking the same cocktail since college. The humble gin and tonic has served my 20s well. It’s simple, frill-less and ubiquitous.  However, I’m broadening my horizons and finding a new (for lack of a less cringe-inducing, pretentious-sounding term) signature cocktail. Here is the journey, one drink at a time. Now up:

The Sazerac:

This classic from pre-civil War New Orleans and is (debate-ably) the country’s oldest cocktail.  It’s getting a tryout because of it’s awesome birthplace, history and bad-ass alcohol content.

After spotting the main ingredient a rye whiskey (shockingly, called Sazerac) on a recent trip to Brookyln, I decided that I had to try this at home.

Collecting the ingredients took some thought. I picked up a bottle of Peychauds Bitters from that same NY liquor store, but absinthe had to come from Virginia (it’s not yet legal everywhere) and my husband made up a batch of simple syrup.

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I Know What I’m Drinking – Oysters and Strawberries

A friendly pint of oyster stout at Hank's Oyster Bar

It’s a good time to be an Alexandria resident who likes some novelty with her beer. Out in Virginia this week is my favorite Abita Strawberry Lager. I just picked up a six pack from Rick’s Wine and Gourmet, and I’m waiting for it to cool down in my freezer right now. Cool faster, beer!

Oysters, Beer and Charity

On tap over at our friendly neighborhood brewery, Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company, is the beer come charity project come history project: Revival Stout. In the Irish and British tradition, the beer is made by steeping Chesapeake Bay oyster shells in the brewing water to add mineral content, and then adding the oysters and their liquor to the brew during the boil.

Apparently, the oyster shells add a”briny” quality to the beer.  I can’t comment because I haven’t actually had the beer. It’s on tap at bars and restaurants around DC, but I was unable to find a central list. I’m better Hank’s Oyster Bar in Old Town has it. Update to come.

As for the charity part: 5% of sales from the beer go to benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a non-profit based in Annapolis.  Save those cute, little oysters; have a beer.

Update: Thanks Hank’s Oyster Bar for the friendly pint. I hate to disappoint, but the oyster stout tastes like, um, a stout. Oh well.

The Marketability of Brooklyn Beer

Flight of the Conchord stars

Yes, I know they actually lived in Manhattan on the show

Six Point brewery is everywhere in the DC area these days — dinner parties, beer store tastings, on tap at my favorite bars. It’s great. It comes in cans. It’s from Brooklyn.
The key point, I believe, here is the Brooklyn. A beer from Brooklyn is an easy sell. The main demographic for craft beer (white, male, 25-44, with a household income of more than 75K/year) is the same one that wishes they had moved to New York after college and started that band, written that book, launched that career as a stock trader/journalist/comedian/filmmaker or indie lay-about.  Selling Brooklyn is selling what could have been to the late 20s/ early to mid 30s crowd that abound in DC.

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