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Brewery Showcase | Portner Brewhouse

Brewery Showcase | Portner Brewhouse
Stacey Goers

Featured imaged photo credit: Portner Brewhouse’s facebook page.

Portner Brewhouse is trying to do many, many things: resurrect pre-Prohibition family recipes, encourage local experimentation among homebrewers, serve delicious German food and of course, brew and serve beer.

And prost! They are actually doing it all — and doing it well.

Based in Alexandria, Virginia, Portner Brewhouse opened in early March but the owners, Catherine and Margaret Portner, have worked to develop a network of followers over the past few years. reported about the brewhouse plans in 2015 and since, the brewhouse has held walking tours of the beer history in Alexandria, promoted their Mug Club (special stein, discounts, etc.) and funneled a stream of updates to their followers via newsletters.

Mug Club wall at Portner. Photo credit: Stacey Goers

Robert Portner (1837-1906) was a German immigrant and the founder of Robert Portner Brewing Company which was the largest pre-Prohibition brewery in the southeastern U.S., and the city of Alexandria’s largest employer. He also owned a large home in Manassas, this writer’s new home, creating a dairy operation there.

PorchDrinking visited the new brewhouse and was thrilled to see a decent crowd late on a Sunday afternoon well after brunch time and before dinner. The brewhouse isn’t in the tourist-heavy Old Town Alexandria area, but rather in the West End, nearby new development and a large apartment complex (FWIW, it was much easier to park here than anywhere in Old Town, despite the area’s charm). The crowd at the bar and in the dining area was a diverse mix of ages and ethnicities, something they appreciate, Catherine Portner told PorchDrinking.

“We learned early on that our concept attracted a wider age range than what we originally projected from pre-opening events we held, largely due to the historic appeal,” she said. “Additionally, we have a broad menu and beverage program including wine, spirits and cider in addition to our house-crafted beer. Finally, the West End of Alexandria is a diverse neighborhood and borders both Springfield and Fairfax count(ies).”

For our visit, the pre-Prohibition flight was a no-brainer; it features the Hofbrau pilsner, the Vienna cabinet lager, Portner porter and the Tivoli cream ale.

A classic flight at Portner. Photo credit: Stacey Goers

The cream ale is a fun standout among the flight: The toffee flavors give it depth but it remains crisp and light. It carries the name of the original brewery, the Tivoli Brewery, which is also “I LOV IT” spelled backwards. The Hofbrau pilsner is a beauty as well, as it definitely carries a signature bitterness and is one of the flagship beers of the original brewery.

The Modera pale ale had mild citrus flavors and carries a 5.1 % ABV. (The residential area near the brewhouse are the Modera Tempo apartments.) We also tried the Belgian-style dubbel, leaving the chocolate stout for another day.

We tasted the pretzels, which boasted a lovely cheese dipping sauce and the fried artichoke, which while delicious, definitely were a bit smaller than expected. The Reuben and fish and chips were true to form and the apple crisp was a lovely dish to conclude the tastings (with vanilla ice cream, it also wisely balanced the bitterness of beer).

The craft beer test kitchen, which will allow homebrewers to brew on a large scale and establish their recipes, will be a solid complement to the history the Portners have sought to maintain in what they do.

Portner announced that they’ll be kicking off their craft beer test kitchen Friday, April 7 with a launch party.


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