Port City Brewing Logo 2

Beer alone seems like liquid hospitality, but one of the take-aways from locals and beer-loving visitors to this Mid-Atlantic brewery—after commenting on the tasty brews—is how pleasant the Port City Brewing experience is. Heck, repeated tours, wherein tour goers just so happen to get five samples for seven bucks instead of the $2 a la carte samples, are pretty common. That’s not a coincidence. And they have a pineapple to prove it.

“I come from the wine business, and worked for the Mondavi Family of Napa Valley for twelve years,” says co-owner Bill Butcher. “I learned a lot about hospitality and education from them. Robert Mondavi always focused on educating customers…It was a great way to connect with customers and show them what we do and why we do it the way we do.” To let passersby know the Tasting Room is open serving suds and smiles aplenty, they simply look for the pineapple—the international symbol of hospitality!—upon the brewery sign.

Port City Brewing's Bill Butcher

Bill Butcher of Port City Brewing. Photo by Mike Pak.

Another thing DC is missing, other than perhaps statehood, is more quality, local craft beer. Port City became the first brewery inside the Beltway in 2011. Clearly the existing world-class restaurants needed world-class beers. Says Butcher, “I thought that if we could do something in the DC area that focused on brewing consistently great quality beer for the local market, then we would have a good chance of succeeding.” So far, so good. And paving the way has only helped Port City even more. Adds Butcher, “We have seen the rise of several other small local breweries since we opened, and it has only helped the overall awareness for beer drinkers that we now have great local options. It’s great to see our other local breweries starting to get some attention and win some medals at beer competitions across the country. It really helps shine a light on what is going on here in the DC area.”

As for the house beers, that’s something everyone involved—from the brewers to the “Beer Guides” to the customers, of course, “are all very opinionated” about, says Butcher only semi jokingly. In addition to staples like the robust and roasty Port City Porter and the floral, resinous Monumental IPA, nothing gets fans as excited as the return of favorite limited edition stuff. Revival Stout, made with Chesapeake Bay oysters, has locals happy as a clam. And Taplister has become an invaluable part of that communication with them.

“Taplister has helped our business by providing an elegant, easy-to-use solution for showing our customers what we have on tap,” explains Butcher. “Our customers like the look of the Digital Beer Boards in the Tasting Room. Our team likes it because it is easy to use and update as we rotate new beers on and off the taps.” And it’s not just for the eyes of those in the Tasting Room. “As soon as we add a line or remove something and update Taplister, that updates the tap list on our website.”

The full range of a dozen beers, from the session IPA Ways and Means to anything from their “Colossal” series of high gravity ales, can always be found online, courtesy of Taplister’s HTML tap list.

Port City Taps

Of course, it’s not just the beer updates Port City likes to refresh. “We like to change up the look of the Digital Beer Boards, to keep it fresh,” says Butcher of Taplister’s skins. “It’s great when there is an update with new formatting options so we can give the boards a new look. We are looking forward to even more formatting options, including new fonts and color options.”

Listening to what its customers want is chief among Taplister’s aims. Same goes for Port City with the social aspects of its community.

First came Joggers & Lagers each Monday night, where fitness minded patrons got group running support from a regional running store called Pacers Running. Then came the monthly bike rides, starting and finishing at the brewery. And BeerYoga, instituted on a slow weeknight once a month, has become so popular that not only is it offered weekly, but it sells out the day classes go on sale for the following week. All of this, combined with live music and the straight-up, old-fashioned love of beer drinking, adds up to approximately 2,000 people walking, running, dancing, or yogaing through the Tasting Room doors each week.

Concludes Butcher, “We are elevating craft beer by giving beer drinkers the best beer experience ever!”

Brian Yaeger is the author of Oregon Breweries and Red, White, & Brew. When he’s not drinking beer or writing about it, he welcomes beer trippers to Portland at his bed’n’beer, Inn Beervana.

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