Now this is cool.
In the summer of 2010, when I was looking for historical markers, I came across one for the Robert Portner Brewhouse on the 600 block of North St. Asaph Street, across from Trader Joe’s. As the marker notes, the building, now upscale apartments, was built in 1912 as a bottling plant by the Robert Portner Brewing Company.
Portner emigrated from Rhaden, Prussia in 1853, and found his way to Alexandria. Around 1861, he and some partners established a grocery store (“Portner and Recker”) at the southeast corner of King and St. Asaph.
He also sold beer there, brought in from other sources. After the Civil War was over, Portner began to dabble further into the beer and beer-making business. He put in some underground cellars on Washington Street between Pendleton and Wythe, and eventually built his brewery there. The plant spread across both sides of N. St. Asaph and became the largest brewery in the South. At one point, production was 60,000 barrels a year (Tivoli Passage is named after the brand name that Portner gave to his beer).
Anyway, I’m excited once again, and I know beer lovers in these parts will be too, to learn that Catherine and Margaret Portner, great-great granddaughters of Portner, will open up “Portner Brewhouse,” a new brewery in Old Town.
Northern Virginia magazine and American Food Roots have articles. Plans include a restaurant, Craft Beer Test Kitchen, and eight beers on tap which will replicate those of Portner.
2014 is the target. One source said the location is “mere blocks” from the original site.
“The Shortest Dynasty, 1837-1947, The Story of Robert Portner.” By Michael Gaines