Port City Brewing

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California Common / Steam Beer
Ranked #28
Ranked #38,512
3.68 | pDev: 11.14%
Port City Brewing
Virginia, United States
Notes: Mid-Summer 2012, a violent derecho windstorm barreled through DC, leaving one million people without power. Our brewery was out of power for five days, which left us unable to control the fermentation temperature of a tank of lager. We were determined to save our beer, the tank fermented at a higher temperature than intended. As a result, the beer changed from a lager into a California Common beer.

The storm’s gift was this DERECHO COMMON™.

DERECHO COMMON™ is deep golden in color, and has toasty, biscuity malt flavors. It is medium bodied with an assertive hop profile. It is hopped with Centennial hops, which give it a spicy, citrusy hop kick on the finish.
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 105 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Urtravel
Urtravel from Pennsylvania

3.42/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

L: cloudy yellow high carbonation and light lace and head
S: toasty citrusy hoppy smell
T: follows smell but with stinger hop finish
F: light bodied all the way through
O: Refreshing and spicy

Nov 13, 2020
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Hophead from New York

3.59/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I agree with Hophugger's assessment. There's something about this that's reminiscent of a Michelob but on an elevated level. It was just a simple lager that tasted like beer with none of that weird bubble gum'ish finish that allot of craft lagers have.
First off, I"m a hop head that typically drinks 7.5-8.5 abv high abu IPAs but have been looking for a change from all the heaviness. Haven't had much luck but I saw this and had to try it as I loved the metro city red that port city puts out so figured I'd give it a go.

Poured it from a 16 ounce can (drank the second out of the can- you can drink 32 ounces when the abv is so low).
Looked great, sort of like a brooklyn lager. Nice change form the cloudy IPAs I'm been downing lately.

Had a nice biscuity aroma with a hint of citrus.

Tasted like an old fashion beer. Enough of a bready malt taste with a pronounced hop bitterness for this type of beer. I was rather surprised. Decent malt without the cloying unfinished texture of an amber, with a crisp clean finish. My only complaint is there was a bit of a metallic aftertaste that lingered on the palate for a while. I could do with it being a bit smoother, but all things considered this is the only lager I've found to have a respectable hop presence and bitterness to balance the malt.

I didn't note anything worthy of speaking about regarding the mouthfeel, but I'll focus on that the next time I carck one open.
All in all a very good lager that I guess falls into that "crushable" category.

Jul 28, 2020
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akaizer from Virginia

3.93/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a pint can. First off, the labeling this year is top notch, absolutely sets a great tone of what is to come. Pour had a great, fluffy white foam head with a hazy blonde body. Scent is bright, crisp/clean, and citrusy. Some bready notes are present, but not too pronounced. Taste is a great fight between the malts and hops, verging between bready-biscuity-caramel to citrus-hop spice flavors. No one flavor ever wins out, although the hops definitely shine a bit more. Feel is clean and aftertaste has a nice citric hop, but a bit more on the hop side. A fun brew all around commemerating a less fun weather event.

Jul 11, 2020
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Tripel_Threat from Michigan

3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap at Hank's Oyster Bar in Alexandria. Shaker pint. Clear golden ale with a finger of foam. Aromas of biscuit malt and floral and citrus hops. Nice malty flavor with a fruity finish. Deeper malt flavor than the color let on. Decent.

Aug 23, 2019
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obywan59 from Virginia

3.74/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hazy and golden in color with a 2 1/4 finger off white head and plenty of carbonation and light lacing,

Aroma is lemony with spice and biscuity malt.

Taste of lemony citrus and light sweet malts.

Medium bodied and rather sticky. Great retention.

Another good beer from Port City. I knocked the taste up a notch from my initial rating. It gets better as it goes. I'd definitely try this again.

Aug 06, 2018
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VoxRationis from New York

3.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Decanted from a 12 oz (355 ml) bottle into a conical pint glass; bottled on 6/26/14.
A: Cloudy amber color with a peach hue. Brief quarter inch head with no retention or lacing. Yeast remnant evident in the beer and glass bottom.
S: Very floral bouquet with a distinctive rose aroma with a clearly peach note. Biscuit becomes increasingly evident as it warms.
T: Definitely pitted fruit, nectarine especially, and citrus flavors. Spicy, with fresh bread/toast flavor in the background and bitterness becoming evident late but lingering (perhaps too long).
M: Medium bodied with lower carbonation. Feels gritty.
O: I really like the back story behind this beer, having been stuck without power for 10 days myself after Hurricane Sandy. That said, after a very exciting nose, and up front solid flavors, the aftertaste was a bit too bitter and lasted to long. I will not say I did not enjoy it, but it's a far cry from, say, Anchor Steam.

Aug 27, 2017
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UPMD_Bill from Maryland

4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours golden, mostly clear, lots of head and visible carbonation
Smell is strong floral and biscuit malt. Taste has a nice bitter kick to it, but balanced. Lots of flavor for 4.8%. Almost IPA-like.

Jul 29, 2017
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oberon from North Carolina

3.74/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Quite a story behind this beer.Pours into a becker a very light golden with a nice bone white one finger crown that sticks around for awhile.A decent shot of spicy and floral hops with a bit of toasted grain underneath,to me somewhat German in the nose.It's a bit light in the feel department but honestly was expecting that.Toasted malt flavors with a bit of lemon spritz and earthiness in the finish,quite dry.Almost a perfect late summer outdoor grilling beer.

Aug 31, 2016
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IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Shorty review: Undated 12 oz bottle. Pale cloudy gold. 3F head with lacing and a ring. Nose is light biscuit malts and light citrus and floral scents. This isn't too old then. Taste is orange and grapefruit, light, with biscuit malts to balance. Light bodied, medium carbonation, good drying. Decent summer beer.

Jul 30, 2016
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Griffin2 from Virginia

3.87/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Pilsner glass.
L - Poured a pale Amber color with a nice white head. No visible lacing.
S - A little lemony.
T - I'm getting a light citrus and maltiness.
F - Light to medium body with decent carbonation.
O - This is a very enjoyable summer beer.

Jun 18, 2016
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cyclonece09 from Wisconsin

4.1/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a bottle. Pours cloudy yellow with a fluffy white head. Smells of sweet grain with piney and floral hints. Tastes of piney hops with great grain that add sweetness. Beer is also quite balanced between the bitterness and maltiness, very nice for the style. Beer is light bodied with good carbonation and very easily drinkable. Overall a very good beer.

Jan 24, 2016
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

3.89/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy pale to medium golden yellow in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and moderate straw + lemon yellow highlights. The beer has a two finger tall foamy white head that reduces to a mottled thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of biscuit malts with a light aroma of toasted malts. Light to moderate aromas of citrus/grapefruit pith hops + herbal hops.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of biscuit malts with a light flavor of toasted malts. That is followed by a light to moderate flavor of citrus/grapefruit pith and herbal hops which impart a light amount of bitterness which does not linger for too long.

M: Just shy of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: This would make a really enjoyable daily drinker for the summer here in the South - easy to drink, refreshing, and enjoyable. A little different flavor profile than other California Common/Steam beers but very nice.

Oct 17, 2015
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Creature Comforts slim pint glass. Bottleneck says Bottled On 07/09/15.

A- Pours a semi-hazy medium golden color with a 1/2 inch white head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Pretty hoppy for a California Common. Mild grassy hop aroma with some bready malt to balance.

T- More grassy/vegetal hops with a moderate bitterness for the style. Decent complementary malt presence. So very drinkable but also quite flavorful for a lager.

M- Crisp, clean and bright. Medium carbonation and a lightish body.

O- Color me surprised. I've had one or two of this brewery's beers before both of which were unmemorable, but this one is very good. I'm not a big lager guy but I could drink this all day every day in the summertime and be plenty satisfied. Honestly, it's the above average hop presence that makes it so enjoyable for me, but I'll take it!

Aug 23, 2015
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Dirtyhands from Maryland

3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

You don't see a lot of love for California commons. Barely any review even graces the number four. It's a very simple ale but I'm not surprised. This is a good cc, nothing crazy but the fruity esters abound within this ale.

Aug 02, 2015
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ThisWangsChung from Maryland

3.24/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a hazy straw color. The head is a finger high and white in shade. It won't win any awards for looks, given it's rough texture (though retention is decent for a lager). Webs of lacing stick to the glass. (3)

Smell: I easily pick up the assertive hopping. It's grassy, lemony, and a bit earthy - at first I though it was from noble hops, but it smells like Amarillo instead. Touches of vanilla cream, toast, and cracker help to round it out. Not an overly intriguing nose, but a respectable one. (3.25)

Taste: The first flavor that hits the palate is a lemony snap - a strong lemony snap at that. Soon, the lemon will turn into a slight crackery sweetness to finish it off. It also has a slightly toasty aftertaste. This is a slightly strange beer for those unfamiliar with steam beer: many elements are similar to a pilsner, yet it has a fuller sweetness and a bit more variation in flavor (though said variation is a bit muddled). It does have some elements redolent of Anchor Steam Beer, though it doesn't strike me as a defined common. Let's just call it a hoppy lager. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: This isn't that light in body. But, it's both well carbonated and dry. Call it more of a steady drinker than a chugger. The aftertaste is extremely long, helping it to become the former instead of the latter. (3.25)

Overall: This is a nice summer beer. It doesn't set the world on fire, but it's nice. There are others I'd pick over this one, but I'd gladly drink it again if offered to me freely. (3.25)

3.24/5: Like a gentle summer breeze on the palate

Jul 21, 2015
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hophugger from Virginia

3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

ok, decent beer. It is light. Head and lacing ok. Color is nice. Flavor has a touch of citrus and malt. Kinda has a very light of hint of maybe a lemon muffin. Hope I am not stretching too far with that description. The finish has good carbonation and is clean and crisp. By no means am I comparing to a Michelob ultra, but this beer had somewhat of a similar clean, dry finish. I liked it !!

Aug 18, 2014
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

3.91/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Didn't realize how long ago I rated this beer. Re-visit after buying 2-4 six-packs each year is of a bottle almost 2 months old:

A: pours a cloudy yellow with a bunch of head and lacing. Although there might have been tap issues, the head sustained and was constantly revived by visible carbonation.
(re-visit: this beer is clearer, yellow gold, but with a strong head with wonderous staying power)

S: not much here, light lemon notes, maybe a little wheat??
(re-visit: definitely more of a malt-driven base scent with some citrus notes but with an ever so light hint of skunk that somehow isn't too much of a turnoff)

T: nothing outrageous, just (to me) a solid straightforward beer. I do get those light lemon notes, but it's a more bready overall taste. I also get a little pineapple near the end, unfortunately countered by a little copper taste in some swigs (that I think I get with this style).
(re-visit: a biscuity malt start and base to a grassy bitterness. In between is some high notes of citrus zest/pith, including the lemon I originally got. Still a little metallic twang in the end, but only really noted it after reading my original review)

M: very smooth despite the carbonation, which also comes to play later in the taste.
Has a light dryness in the end, maybe from the carbonation, but there is also a longer term oily pine bitterness. Perhaps this plus the lemon notes give me that "copper" taste.
(re-visit: I'd switch up to a lemon rind and grassy bitterness, and oddly smooth despite long-lasting carbonation that has a mild numbing tingle to it)

O: I think this could be in the running for my BMC replacement at a BBQ. Light enough, great feel. Just wonder if the dryness might build.
(re-visit: as stated, I buy at least 2 6-packs of this when it comes out, more if the situation presents itself. I just like drinking this beer nowadays, though it probably fits in the decent range of balanced pale craft beers)

Jul 15, 2014
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orcrist_cleaver from New York

3.67/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pilsner like yellow. Long-lasting fine white head and good lacing. Not as dark as the typical steam beer.

S: Well-balanced between malt, yeast, and hop aromas. Nothing garish about any of those aspects. Faint fruits, tart apple. Not too many sweet elements.

M: Nice high carbonation counteracts a somewhat chewy mid-body.

T: Coarse grains, bread, toffee. Light floral hops, clean lemon pith bitterness dominates the finish.

Jul 11, 2014
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smcolw from Massachusetts

3.64/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

No head--only rim bubbles. There are few spots of lace. The liquid is light gold and clear.

I like the smell. It has a nice blend of the malt and hop with no negative nor strong aromas to detract.

This leans heavily to the hop. Strong bitter (pine-like) bite. Surprising, given the balance of the nose. relatively easy to drink. Low to moderate body but highly carbonated. This resembles a bitter American pale ale.

Mar 30, 2014
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delta490 from Virginia

3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- a paler gold with significant visible carbonation. A nice one finger head, creamy white and lasts for a while

S- mild hops and bread.

T- interesting. A nice balance between the citrus hops and the bready malt. Some sips are malty and some are hoppy. It's definitely different.

M-Lighter, with minimal carbonation

O- Like the taste, interesting and different.

Sep 17, 2013
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HattedClassic from Virginia

3.93/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer is a clear pale straw color. The head is white and fizzy but lasts quite a while afterwards with bits of lacing left on the glass.

The beer has a slightly sweet and malty smell. The hops come off as citrusy and grassy. The fruity notes from the yeast are there but fairly light compared to the other notes and overpowered by the hops.

The beer is extremely bitter and hoppy for a Californian Common. The hops have a a strong citrus and grass notes. The sweet malt gets lost in the hops but is still there as a fruity esther taste from the yeast. Also, a slight mineral taste.

Heavily carbonated and light bodied but on the heavier side. Leaves a nice refreshed finish.

A pretty hoppy common and would do well in the summer for a refreshing drink. Pretty good but not mind blowing. I'd still recommend for the hotter summer days.

Sep 17, 2013
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Smakawhat from Maryland

3.94/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Interesting color for a steam beer, never seen one this light before. Regardless, a real nice lemon opaque yellow, and almost glowing hefeweizen color to it's body color. Matching soapy four finger head with some clumpy soapy retention also. Leaves quite a lot of suds left over after the pour. Pretty solid.

Nose is fruity, maybe some hidden cloves. Strangely some muted sticky qualities, and a real interesting sharp yeast character. Hard to believe this is a lager, but it's quite a good nose regardless. After some reflection, it smells like pineapple.

Palate is real interesting. Large fruit tropical component, and quite distinct with a nice bitterness. It really tastes like a bitter pineapple. Aftertaste has a nice sticky malt quality with some light sweetness, but a real nice hop bitterness to match. Light bodied juicy and fruity quality that doesn't distract from the palate.

This is classified as a steam beer, but it sure doesn't taste like one. Either way, it's actually a real unique and great tasting brew.

Jul 19, 2013
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xylomaniac from Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Unique blend of malt & hops give a up front hippy malt flavor with a spicey back end. Unfiltered WIT appearance with a malty spice aroma. Good hot weather beer. I really like Port City beers this one just happens to fall at the bottom of my list. Port City is a Great brewery Optimal Wit and Monumental IPA are my favorites.

Jun 30, 2013
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Thorpe429 from Illinois

3.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Amyliz4 for grabbing this growler from the brewery. Served in a Port City pint glass. Beer is a pale yellow. Good head and lacing. Crackers in the nose. Faint hops. Toasty and a bit bready. Fairly dry finish. Medium body. Quite tasty and a very nice example of the style.

Jan 09, 2013
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drabmuh from Maryland

4.05/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A happy accident, a very good steam beer. Beer is amber and clear, slightly orange with a nice white head, moderate carbonation, decent retention. Looks good.

Aroma is mild yeast, a little malt. Interesting aroma, nice.

Beer is medium in body and sweet on the front, a lager-ish yeastiness is present throughout. I drink all the steam beers I can get my hands on and this is one of the better ones. I'm glad I got to try it and it should be made again, just based on how well it turned out.

Nov 04, 2012
Derecho from Port City Brewing
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 105 ratings