Port City has built a strategy around a stable lineup of solid, reliable beers across a fairly broad spectrum. Imagine our surprise, then, when they announced last summer that for DC Beer Week they would be serving up an exclusive, one-time beer for one of the events at the National Building Museum. We couldn’t get there, but were delighted when the illusive Metro Red made a surprise appearance during the Scavenger Hunt event. We dug it, but the exclusivity kept us from doing a feature on the brew. Third time being the charm, we sat down to lunch on April Fools Day to see a Twitter notice that bottles of the beer were being released that very day! After confirming that the joke was not, in fact, on us, I secured some time to trek down and immerse myself with this red unicorn.
Metro Red, Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, VA)
Double Red Ale, ABV 6.5%, IBU 60
Presentation: Draught pour into Pilsner-style pint glass.
Appearance: Ruby with rusty copper inflections. Moderate, slow dissolving head with strong lattice.
Taste: Mellow citrus nose thanks to Amarillo Hops, but also similar to dark berries glazed in brown sugar, and the fruit shows through in a secondary aroma following a good sip. To get that effect, allow a healthy sip to sit on the tongue with your nose over the beer. As indicative of the style, strong malt backbone but more roasted and earthy than caramel sweet. Halfway through the glass the malts begin to resemble that same coppery hue (which Port City describes as toast in their tasting guide). Long bitter hop pull on sides of tongue form the finish but otherwise there’s very little true bitterness.
Mouth Feel: It’s a beer which honestly weighs on the palate but not in a hoppy, bitter fashion. The malts are increasingly dominant as the glass dwindles down, and the sediments owing to low filtration contribute to this effect.
Overall: While billed as a Double Red, there’s a lot in common here with a hoppy Amber, and your mileage will vary depending on your level of enjoyment for malts. This is a recipe that the Port City staff loved so much at DC Beer Week that Brewmaster Jonathan Reeves mentioned they didn’t change a thing for this special re-release. It helped that a break in the production schedule allowed the timing for Metro Red to coincide with Port City’s spring seasonal, the Tartan Scotch Ale, another malt-forward specialty. If you’d like to look for this beer right now, go no further than your grocery story (if you’ve somehow not noticed it!) It should be available in most stores through May and potentially into June.