We don’t know how to put this, but Port City is so hot right now. No really, they’re kind of a big deal. If you thought those were cheap tricks to get you to click on YouTube videos (which admittedly we’ve been guilty of on many occasions previously), then you may have missed our long chat surrounding their recent 5th anniversary celebration. As has become their custom, the culmination of their yearly milestones is the release of the newest entry into their Colossal Series. The Colossals are big, powerful beers that have been just as successful on the national scene as their flagships. Since they’re only available once per year, though, a high priority for VBR is to trek on down to the Port City tasting room to get an early glimpse of these behemoths – and of course, to compare them in what have becoming increasingly ridiculous flights. Their newest to mark their 5th anniversary, Colossal V, hit the scene two weeks ago but this weekend marks their release of the new Old Ale in bottles, a first for any of the beers in the series. After our initial impressions marinated a bit, we trekked back to Port City to pick up our 4-pack and sip on another snifter of this latest anniversary beer.
Colossal V, Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, VA)
Old Ale, ABV 9.8%, IBU 55
Presentation: Draught pour into snifter.
Appearance: As described, mahogany base of color. Medium lattice but little head.
Taste: Rich toffee malts on the nose that remind you more than a little bit of a Heath or Skor bar. A bit of smoke up front in the body counters that sweetness, especially as the massive malt backbone dominates the tongue. As a bit of a surprise, the malts do give way with dried cherries developing in the finish. That sounds like a complex profile but it’s rather consistent from start to finish.
Mouth Feel: Thick and luscious with nary a hint of hops or bitterness despite the relatively high IBU count. Carbonation from the pour livens up the tongue a bit, and this characteristic also made it through the bottling process (though to a lesser extent).
Overall: The Colossal V release was a pretty big deal for Port City, but you’d never know that as staff chased each other in a prolonged tickle fight or sat among the crowd to chat and answer questions. They were relaxed for good reason, as this Old Ale is yet another big recipe that simply works. The bottle back preorder ($20) also comes with the commemorative snifter, and the guests we hosted later on in the evening were tripping over themselves after the first few sips. Apart from those big malt flavors, at nearly 10% it’s a beer that demands sipping (or even sharing) over the course of a long dinner. In our sampling it matched equally well with pork beans and rice as well as fondant de canard (a sort of duck pate), meaning you should be able to pair this with any sort of red meat. Another quality beer from Port City, though at this point we don’t expect anything less from them (nor will they settle for less than the sort of consistent excellence which has defined their first 5 years). Happy Anniversary, Port City!