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Robert Portner (1837 – 1906) was a pioneer, inventor and founder of The Robert Portner Brewing Company (as known as the Tivoli Brewery).

Robert Portner (1837 - 1906)
Robert Portner (1837 – 1906)

Robert Portner emigrated from Westphalia, Germany and opened the brewery’s doors in Alexandria, Virginia in 1869. The Robert Portner Brewing Company grew to become the largest pre-Prohibition brewery in the Southeastern United States and city’s largest employer. The company distributed its flagship TIVOLI Hofbrau Pilsner from Washington D.C. to Florida. (TIVOLI is I LOV IT spelled backwards). He was elected the first President of the United States Brewers Association in 1879, the precursor to today’s Brewers Association. When the State of Virginia passed Prohibition in 1916, the brewery closed a few months later that year. Since then, the company and its story has laid dormant.

Exactly a century later, Catherine and Margaret Portner, two of Robert Portner’s great-great granddaughters, embark on their own journey to resurrect the history and celebrate it as a new concept in the same city as the original brewery. But this time, the sisters are adding a few innovations of their own.

Catherine (left) and Margaret (right) Photo credit: Jefferson Evans
Catherine (left) and Margaret (right)
Photo credit: Jefferson Evans

Portner Brewhouse is a restaurant brewery and Craft Beer Test Kitchen. The company celebrates and fosters the pursuit of the American Dream by showcasing the history and achievements of the Robert Portner Brewing Company and support aspiring brewers through its Craft Beer Test Kitchen.

Set against the backdrop of classic and contemporary German-American cuisine, comfortable atmosphere adorned with original Portner artifacts (i.e. beer bottles, steins, advertising posters) and opportunity to enjoy original reconstructed beer recipes, including the flagship Hofbrau pilsner, from the Robert Portner Brewing Company beers year round. Join us in celebrating and brewing local history!

Mug Club

Each Mug Club Member receives a limited edition Portner Brewhouse beer stein modeled after original Robert Portner Brewing Company steins. The 20 oz steins were handmade by a ceramic artist, individually numbered and limited to only 250 members.


Pre-opening Special Pricing $200.00 per Membership & Lot of Perks! 

Mug Club Membership

  • Always enjoy 25% more beer! (20 oz draft at 16 oz prices)
  • 10% discount off all food items, excludes happy hour
  • Invitations to special exclusive events only for Mug Club Members
  • Early access to Craft Beer Test Kitchen Launch Parties
  • Behind-the-scenes private tour of the brewpub
  • Take your stein home or leave it at the brewpub for safekeeping until you return
  • One (1) year membership begins on the date of Portner Brewhouse grand opening. Annual renewal $25.

Craft Beer Test Kitchen

Wondering if you should drop everything and start your own brewery? Ever wanted to just see one of your beers on tap at the local pub? Why wait? Soon you’ll be able to do just that.

The Craft Beer Test Kitchen program at Portner Brewhouse is the ultimate brewing development opportunity. Under the direction of our head brewer and tasting panel, submit your beer recipe and samples for evaluation then join our head brewer for your beer’s brew day on our 3.5 bbl system. Once your beer is ready, join your friends and family for its official launch party!

CBTK Beer GradesThe beer will be available for sale to the thirsty public and eligible for customer review. Sales data and customer feedback shall be incorporated into a Recipe Report Card on your unique beer recipe.

Do all this without owning a brewery, having a license or establishing a company of your own!

Interested in applying for the Craft Beer Test Kitchen program?

Add your name and email below and we will send you more information as soon as we begin accepting applications.



#ALXBrewTour: Alexandria Historic Breweries Walking Tour & Tasting 

Join Alexandria’s Historic Breweries author, Garrett Peck, and Portner Brewhouse Co-Founder, Cat Portner, on a guided walking tour around Old Town Alexandria exploring the foundations of local brewing. The tour includes highlights from the print brochure, beer sampling and culminates at one of Alexandria’s current Hop Stops.

Each tour will feature a local homebrewer interested in your feedback; a precursor to Portner Brewhouse’s Craft Beer Test Kitchen. Featured homebrewers and beer offerings will be updated as confirmed.

Walking Tour Pic 2

2017 Season Dates

Tickets available now! Select date below:

March 26th
June 18th
September 17th
December 3rd

all tour dates are on Sundays and begin promptly at 2 pm

Join Our Team

Join the Portner Brewhouse Team.

We are now hiring for all hourly positions including waitstaff, bartenders, host, prep cooks, line cooks, dishwashers, bussers & bar backs.

Apply Now 

We look forward to meeting you!


Catherine Portner, President & Co-Founder

Margaret Portner, General Manager & Co-Founder

Brian McElvaney, Head Brewer

Donnie Dennis, Head Chef