Port City Brewery re-releases derecho beer — and ironically loses power

Alexandria’s Port City Brewery planned to commemorate the derecho storms with a special release of its Derecho Common, the beer the brewery improvised when its power went out in the storms last year. Then, the night before the big launch party, a familiar disaster struck: A thunderstorm rolled through Northern Virginia, and Port City’s power went out. Really.

Bill Butcher of Port City Brewing wheels his son Key during the power outage at the brewery in 2012 (Matt McClain)
Bill Butcher of Port City Brewing wheels his son Key during the power outage at the brewery in 2012 (Matt McClain)

“I just thought, ‘here we go again,’” laughed owner Bill Butcher. “It’s been 364 days since our last power outage -- we haven’t had one since the derecho. Customers thought we were playing a joke on them.”

The power outage was, however, no joke, as DCist reported in a great post on Friday. Rain and wind gusts cut power to 7,800 homes and businesses in Alexandria, including Port City. The lights stayed out from 4 p.m. Friday to nearly 4 a.m. the next morning -- forcing the brewery to give customers in its tasting room the commemorative derecho flashlights they’d planned to hand out at the party the next day.

Fortunately, unlike last year, the outage didn’t last long enough to endanger any product. That’s a big difference from last year, when lengthy power outages endangered $20,000 worth of fermenting pilsner and forced brewers to improvise the Derecho Common as temperatures spiked.

Since then, the Common has actually become something of a hallmark for Port City. The release party drew crowds of people who wanted to try it last year but couldn’t, Butcher said. This year, the brewery also produced 180 bottles for sale at local liquor stores and bars, where the brew should appear within a few weeks.

In the meantime, Butcher has no plans to buy a generator.

“We’ve made a number of investments in the brewery this year,” he said. “But no, a generator isn’t one of them.”

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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