Event Recap: Alexandria’s First Family of Beer – Then & Now

We’d like to thank everyone that came to last week’s event at the Morrison House! We’d especially like to thank those that made an attempt to come, but found us at capacity.

This Robert Portner Brewery Handout was provided to all in attendance, showing images of the brewery, a picture of the family and partial map of Robert Portner Brewing Company beer distribution.

Here’s a quick rundown on the hottest topics discussed!

Why didn’t the Robert Portner Brewing Company re-open after Prohibition? 

Prohibition in Virginia lasted from 1916 until 1933. Ten years prior to its onset, Robert Portner passed away leaving brewery operations to a couple of his sons. By 1933 when the 21st Amendment was passed, all of Robert Portner’s sons had also passed away leaving no one to restart the company. Though a few daughters were still living, it was not considered a profession for women at that time in American history.

Why not open a production brewery again just like the Robert Portner Brewing Company?

The mission and vision of Portner Brewhouse is to celebrate the history of the Robert Portner Brewing Company and launch the next generation of aspiring craft brewers into the marketplace by creating a historic experience with modern convenience. Simply put – this wouldn’t fit on a beer bottle label. This history needed a home and that’s what Portner Brewhouse will be.

Why is the Portner Porter beer darker than the others?

Guests sampled three beers, all of which were recreations of Robert Portner Brewing Company beers: Hofbrau Pilsner (classic lager), Vienna Cabinet Lager (Vienna lager) and Portner Porter (porter).  The Portner Porter was brewed with brown malt, which imparts a darker color to the beer as well as the roasted coffee flavor. Malted barley is sold in a variety of colors/roasts created by roasting at varying temperatures and lengths of time. Roasting at higher temperatures for longer lengths of time creates darker malts and when brewed, darker beers.

When and where will Portner Brewhouse open?

Portner Brewhouse will open as soon as possible! In the real world, that translates to a late spring/early summer opening in Old Town, Alexandria next year (2014). While the exact location of the brewpub is not yet confirmed – we continue to pursue options and will make an announcement as soon as a lease is signed.

What kind of food will Portner Brewhouse serve? 

The culinary side of Portner Brewhouse is no less important than the beer side and will feature classic German cuisine as well as contemporary American fare in a casual setting – brats, burgers and beers will always be available, made with the freshest, local ingredients we can find. All of which will pair perfectly with a beer menu showcasing recreations of the Robert Portner Brewing Company beers, seasonal selections from our head brewer and Craft Beer Test Kitchen participants. The best of Old and New beer and food offerings!

Will Portner Brewhouse sell growlers (what is a growler)? 

a growler
a growler

A growler is a container used for the sole purpose of transporting fresh, draft beer directly from a brewery or pub to the customer’s home in a sealed container. It is very popular with brewpubs that do not bottle or can their beers. Typically, the container is made of brown glass to protect the contents from light and holds 64 oz. The container is reusable and most breweries will refill the container multiple times. Yes, Portner Brewhouse has every intention of selling growlers.

Is Portner Brewhouse related to Portner’s Restaurant in Old Town (currently Columbia Firehouse)? 

No, Portner Brewhouse and Portner’s Restaurant are not related businesses but are related to the same family and local Alexandria history. The Robert Portner Brewing Company was located on St. Asaph Street in Alexandria (presently Trader Joe’s) and when the owners of Portner’s Restaurant were opening they found a few Robert Portner beer bottles at the site, did some digging into the history and decided that “Portner’s” would be a good name for the restaurant. Portner’s Restaurant closed in 2007. There were no Portner family members involved with this business as opposed to Portner Brewhouse which is being launched by two direct descendants of Robert Portner.

What is the Portner Brewhouse Taste Test Team?

The Taste Test Team is your opportunity to get involved now with Portner Brewhouse. Members are invited to private tasting events held about every other month and receive email updates about our progress. It’s free and easy – join now.

Have another burning question or feedback about the event? Post below in the comments and we’ll respond to each one!

4 thoughts on “Event Recap: Alexandria’s First Family of Beer – Then & Now

  1. Great summary of the event! I am glad to see the confirmation about growlers. Another topic that came up during the event was the idea of regional home brew competitions. Would you care to expand on that idea? The concept is appealing because hosting a regional home brew competition brings the local community together in choosing beers for scaled up production in the craft brew test kitchen. I think the friendly competition also drives home the theme of locally sourced, organically and sustainably sourced ingredients, and entrepreneurial, community-based production. In other words, the community gets to reward these desired qualities as they participate in the decision of which beers to brew. What a fun party that would be, and what a fun way to attract the best home brewers of our region!

    1. Thanks for the comment and suggestions. Hosting events and experiences for the local community, including an annual homebrew competition, is tied directly to our mission and vision. We agree completely that this is a great way to have the region involved in local, sustainable beer production and development.

  2. Catherine,

    Great post. Glad to hear your Morrison House event went so well. Congrats and continued success on your project.

    Best Regards,


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