A Q&A with Portico Brewing

Portico Brewing

Looking for a new summer beer? Point your compass to Portico for clean, crisp pours inspired by the art of design. Brewers Alex Zielke and Alex Rabe named Portico for the architectural structure and focus on strong foundational suds. Here, director of events Ben Engle talks about the brewery’s mission and their latest addition to the seasonal line up.

Where did the idea for Portico come from?
Portico Brewing Company was founded in 2012 in Cambridge, MA, by two brewers with a passion for design. Our namesake and logo: Portico, is a gateway, one of the most quintessential and timeless architectural features in the world, and one that inspired us to make approachable, carefully designed beers.

How does the design element manifest in the beer portfolio?
Portico approaches brewing every beer like an architect or designer would approach a building project – each beer is developed with discipline and every ingredient is added with purpose. We experiment with different hop combinations, yeasts and brewing processes to develop a variety of aromas and flavors until the beers take shape.

Sum up the brewery in three to four words. How is that reflected in the actual beers?
Beer designed with purpose. No ingredient is added that does not belong. Our aim is not to shock and awe consumers by overloading alcohol content or bizarre ingredients, but rather to create delicate and refreshing beers that can be enjoyed every day.

Is there a particular style the brewers lean towards?
Portico’s focus is to rethink traditional styles and create beers with classic ingredients and techniques.  Like the company’s design elements, we believe in simplicity without sacrificing taste or the element of surprise. Portico’s beers are clean but bright and unique.

Which beer is the flagship? Which is your favorite?
Portico’s flagship beer is Fuzzy Logic, our Belgian-style Kolsch. We brew Fuzzy Logic with the best North American malted barley and wheat, combined with a touch of German hops. This beer has a citrusy and sweet, malty character with only a hint of bitterness. Our Belgian yeast imparts a signature fruit and floral aroma, making it a refreshing beer for any occasion. My personal favorite right now is Two Point Pils.  It is a simple beer, yet delivers on the traditional German Pilsner flavors we were going for. The addition of Wakatu hops makes it unique, their subtle lime notes pair exceptionally well with the dry finish that Pilsners are known for. On paper, Two Point Pils is a seasonal offering, but I think I might fight the bosses to keep it year round.

Where do the ideas for the seasonals come from?
We’ve only released five seasonals in our five years as a company, I think that speaks to our dedication to our year-round styles and desire to create fantastic beer up to our high standards.  We’re a company of passionate beer enthusiasts, our ideas for seasonals are typically styles we really appreciate, want to drink, and what we think our fans want to drink.  We’re small and very collaborative, we all have the opportunity to come up with names and discuss why we think they’re a good fit. For inspiration, we typically focus on aspects of design, art, and architecture.

How does the Pils fit into the portfolio? What makes it a good beer for this time of year?
Two Point Pils is a German-style pilsner brewed with just two malts – Pilsner and Carapils – and two hops – Hallertauer Mittelfrüh and Wakatu. The aroma is floral with hints of lime zest and citrus fruit. The flavor is slightly dry but with medium hop bitterness and the barest hint of sweetness. This dryness combined with the crisp level of carbonation and a lighter body makes for a very refreshing beverage. Pilsners are crisp, light and thirst-quenching – great for this time of year.  They got a bad rap for years but are making a comeback as a sort of foil for the IPA craze. We made Two Point to be enjoyed during the spring and summer seasons – it’s cooling on a warm, sunny day and the citrus notes add a little something extra.

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