Through the Suds: A Brewer’s Take On Hockey and Beer

For as long as most can remember, beer and sports have always had a special relationship, and we here at Rock the Red are not one to get in the way of this affinity. We have pondered this great mystery of the universe and, after coming up empty (not bottles, but answers), we set out to find out why is it the hockey and beer go so well together.  Our inquiring taste buds minds yearn to know what makes this bond stronger than John Erskine’s Fixodent.

Our initial plan was to ask Stephen Hawking, unfortunately he was too busy creating new black holes- much like the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. So instead looking to the cosmos for answers, we went more cosmopolitan, keeping it fresh and local. We went to the second most knowledgeable source on the topic, a brewer, to get his perspective on beer, Capitals hockey, and the blessed unity of the two.

And what better way to do answers and show some local love than to team up with the Beltway’s own Port City Brewing. For those of you who are not yet familiar, Port City Brewing is the brain child of one Bill Butcher, Founder and a Capitals fan since the beginning.  Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Port City Brewing opened in 2010 and is bringing brewing back to the beltway region (check out their little history lesson). Bill was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and enlighten our inquiring minds and give us the brewers point of view.

Make the jump to see what Brewer Bill has to say!

Rock The Red: Tell us a little about Port City, why and how it got started?

Bill Butcher: The idea for the company came about in 2008, when a simple question dawned on my wife, Karen, and me: “Why does all the beer we buy come from somewhere else?” We both have always enjoyed great craft beer, and we try to buy food from local farms as much as possible, so we started looking into local options for craft beer. This informal “market research” led us to the conclusion that the DC area could use more great local options for craft beer, and that the market would support it if it was great quality. We built the brewery from the start to produce world class quality craft beer. DC is a very sophisticated food and drink market, with lots of options. We knew that people would try our beer once, because we’re new, and local, but we also knew that if it wasn’t great quality from the start, people would go back to what they were drinking before.


I was convinced that we could make it work because of my years of experience in the fine wine business in the Mid Atlantic area. Craft beer has evolved over the past 10 years to be more like the wine business. I see greater appreciation of microbrews, and many restaurants and bars are putting as much effort in their beer lists as they have always done with their wine lists. It’s a fantastic development, and it’s great to see the same type of enthusiasm for beer that I’ve seen in wine.


We’ve had a great response in the market to our beers in our first 6 months of operation. People really like our quality, and stores and restaurants have embraced the idea of a local craft brewery inside the Beltway!

RTR: Bill that’s great, what a awesome success story. Where can our readers find out about your current offerings and where people can find Port City beers?

BB: We update our Facebook and Twitter feeds frequently to keep people up to date with the happenings at Port City Brewing Company. This is the best way to connect with us and learn about our events, tastings, and beer offerings. We have a giant chalk board in our Tasting Room that we update monthly with a list of places that carry our beer. It’s our small way of honoring the stores and restaurants that support our young company.

Twitter: @portcitybrew

RTR: Are the folks at Port City are big hockey fans?

BB: I love the enthusiasm that has grown around the Caps in the past few years! The team has such a great fan base that helps to motivate the team and this fuels more success. I also like that they have a very cool owner who is a great hockey fan, has a good understanding of the game, and enjoys interacting with the fans. The Caps are the most exciting team in Washington sports, and I think they are close to bringing a championship to DC. As the team has matured in the past few years, this may be the year! 

RTR: When did you become a caps fan and who is your favorite Capitals player, past or present?

BB: I remember when the Caps came to DC in 1975. I was in 5th grade and the team made inexpensive tickets available to our school. My dad used to drive me and my friends to Capital Centre to watch games in those early years. I remember how exciting and fast paced the action was, and how we really had to pay attention to follow the puck. Bernie Wolfe was the goalie then and the arena was filled with chants of “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie…” This is what I remember as a ten year old… I also remember the Scott Stevens years in the 80’s, and what an exciting player he was to watch…

RTR: Hockey and beer have a long and seemingly happy history together. As a brewer and a hockey fan, why do you think they go so well together?

BB: We get a lot of hockey fans in our Tasting Room. On game days we see lots of people in their Caps sweaters either on the way to Verizon Center, or picking up some beer on the way home from the game. I think craft beer and hockey go well together because of the intense and serious appreciation of both crafts, by their fans. Hockey fans tend to be very opinionated, and vocal about those opinions, and we see the same thing at our brewery!

RTR: On the lines of beer and hockey, which Port City brew would you recommend our fans try for opening night?

BB: I recommend Port City Monumental IPA for opening night. It is a flavorful, complex India Pale Ale with lots of hop character, yet it’s remarkably smooth and easy to drink. It glides across the palate and “lights the lamp!”

RTR: Do you think it is coincidence or fate that the hockey season and Oktoberfest both start around the same time of year?

BB: What a great time of year! More hockey and beer kismet!

[Editor’s Note: “Kismet” for those who were as confused as we were is Turkish for “destiny” or “fate”…I think…]

RTR: The Capitals open the season on October 8th against the Carolina Hurricanes, what are your predictions and/or hopes for the 2011-2012 season?

BB: I predict an exciting win on October 8th against the Hurricanes. I also think they have a great chance to take the Eastern Conference. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see, but we are excited for a great upcoming season!


We would like to extend our thanks to the Bill and his fine staff at Port City Brewing for taking the time to chat with us and for producing tasty beers. Be sure to stop by Port City Brewing for a visit or to take a tour. For more information check out Port City Brewing online.

We at would like to remind out readers to please drink responsibly… and not to dump your beer on a Pens fan, because that would be wasteful.   Let’s Go Caps!