ALEXANDRIA, VA – About three weeks ago, it was impossible to walk into a local grocery store in the metro D.C. area and pick up a bottle of some locally brewed craft beer.
Thanks to Bill Butcher, the man behind Port City Brewing Company, those days have come and gone.
Port City Brewing Company, the area's first to package and distribute it's beers since prohibition, is focused on creating quality craft favorites that are quite recognizable.
The brewery is currently making four styles (IPA, Pale Ale, Porter and Wit), and focusing on quality before branching out to 'experimental' styles.
“The most important thing to our company is establishing ourselves as a high quality, innovative and reliable producer of craft beer in the D.C. and mid-Atlantic area of the country," said Butcher.
Butcher should know a thing or two about being reliable, as he previously represented the Mondavi line of wines in the mid-Atlantic region. After taking a sabbatical from the wine industry, Butcher began investigating the local beer culture.
"I have always been a fan of craft beer," he said.
What Butcher found was that the metro D.C. area was the largest city in the country that did not have its own packaging brewery.
After putting together a business plan and conducting market research, Butcher enlisted the help of probrewer.com, in an attempt to find an experienced brewmaster. After sifting through 150 application that were submitting over just three days, he finally settled on Jonathan Reeves, who has been brewing beer for 17 years and won five GABF awards.
"He helped design and layout the brewery as well as spec all of the equipment we bought," said Butcher.
The four styles currently being offered are the brainchild of Reeves and Butcher. But they aren't stopping there. Butcher plans to have an entire seasonal lineup of brews that will become available in September.
"We will start brewing our first seasonal offer in July for release in September," said Butcher. "It is going to be an Octoberfest."
Butcher said that the initial response has been to his suds has been overwhelming.
"Restaurants are buying the beer and re-ordering, so we couldn't be happier with how things are going," he said.
His plan is to make about 4,000 barrels this year and hopes to be doing five times that amount in seven years.
Butcher has the space to do it too. His current warehouse location is 11,000 sq feet with an additional 10,000 sq feet for offices. In five years, port City will have 19 fermenters and the capacity to make 25,000 barrels per year.
The Port City Brewery is open for public tours on Saturday's. Their tasting room is open on Friday's from 4 p.m. to 8p.m., and Saturday's/Sunday's from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.