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Port City Brewing Company 'Derecho Common' Beer Brewed At High Temps During Post-Storm Mess

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We call this making lemonade out of lemons -- or good beer with "a nice mouthfeel" out of rapidly-spoiling-from-no-refrigeration beer.

Like more than 1 million others in the D.C. area, Alexandria's Port City Brewing Company lost power in the aggressive "derecho" storm that blew through town on June 29. Port City's power stayed out almost a week, until the following Thursday, during which time 13,000 gallons of beer -- pilsner, ale, lager -- were in peril.

Head brewer Jonathan Reeves told The Washington Post he was worried overheated beer would "taste like nail polish."

In an "An Open Letter to the D.C. Beer Community" sent out Monday, Port City's owner Bill Butcher said that the beer tastes very good, indeed -- and one batch of lager that fermented at too high a temperature will be available in a delicious limited run called "Derecho Common" starting in August:

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.

The Washington Examiner has a preview of how the beer will taste:

Brewery owner Bill Butcher describes the limited-edition beer as "a bit rounder in flavor" than a traditional lager with caramel and fruity characteristics and "a nice mouthfeel."

Derecho Common will be sold on draft at some D.C.-area restaurants and bars, and in Port City's tasting room. Come August, we'll be sure to try one and report back.

Here's the "open letter":

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.

Sincerely,

Bill Butcher
Founder
Port City Brewing Company