California common, 4.8% ABV
Port City’s Derecho Common is the product of divine intervention. Four summers ago, the Alexandria operation was brewing a batch of pilsner when a quick and violent storm knocked out its electricity for five days. Like most lagers, pilsners ferment at cool temperatures, so without power -- and in the middle of a heat wave -- Port City was in a bind. In response, head brewer Jonathan Reeves decided to improvise and turn the beer into a California common. Historically known as "steam beer," this distinctly American style combines a lager yeast strain with an ale’s shorter, warmer fermentation, resulting in a crisp but fruity beer. California common isn’t what Reeves had set out to make, but it’s what he ended up with. As far as origin stories go, it’s a good one. But what’s most notable about Derecho Common is how every summer since, Port City has not only reproduced the beer, they’ve actually made it better. Part of that comes from the foresight of planning to make a California common, of course. A bigger part, though, is that Reeves is a perfectionist, and he’s steered Derecho Common to a marvelous place. Exclusively hopped with Centennial, this year’s iteration has a distinctly citrusy and slightly spicy finish. Its golden body is fuller than it looks, too. Ultimately, Derecho Common will please hopheads in search of lighter fare, and lager fans that want to walk on the wild side. There’s plenty of room in its big tent -- weather permitting.