Meet the Portners

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 Pislner 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.

Now, almost 100 years 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. The new company, Portner Brewhouse, includes a full-service restaurant and Craft Beer Test Kitchen program in addition to an on-site brewery.

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

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

Portner Brewhouse will celebrate and foster 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. This unique program offers craft beer brewers at all stages the opportunity to gain experience on a commercial brewing system and receive direct customer feedback using their own original recipe – brewed and served at the Alexandria, VA brewpub. All information collected is compiled for the brewer into a comprehensive market report.

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!

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