RICKS BOTTLE ROOM.COM

~ ALWAYS IN PURSUIT OF GREAT GLASS ~ © 2007 ~

THE ROBERT PORTNER BREWING CO. ~ ALEXANDRIA,VA.

PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE MY SITE IF USING ANY CONTENT, PICTURES & TEXT. THANK YOU

THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO THE LEGACY OF ROBERT PORTNER BREWING COMPANY,I WILL BE ADDING AND UPDATING THIS PAGE AS I GET MORE INFORMATION ~ ON THE LEFT IS MY PORTNER BREWING TIVOLI BEER
WHAT A GREAT COLOR BOTTLE, WHITTLED ALL OVER AND AN AMBER STRIATION THAT IS SEEN IN FRONT CENTER AND RUNS ALL AROUND THE BOTTLE. A VERY SCARCE BOTTLE. BELOW ARE LINKS TO ARTICLES ABOUT ROBERT PORTNER'S GREAT GREAT GRANDDAUGHTERS WORKING TO AND SUCEEDING IN REVIVING THE FAMILY BUSINESS...AWESOME, WISH THEM ALL THE LUCK.

AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IS A LINK TO THE "PORTNER BREWHOUSE" OPENED IN ALEXANDRIA VA., PLEASE VISIT THE SITE AND THE BREWHOUSE IF IN THE AREA.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CATHRINE PORTNER WAS KIND ENOUGH TO SEND ME THE BOOK ABOUT HER GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHERS LEGACY BY TIM DENEE AND I HAVE ADDED SOME OF THE GREAT INFORMATION TO THIS PAGE AND IS MARKED AS SUCH { From the Book by Tim Denee } I WILL BE ADDING MORE AND I AM IN THE PROCESS OF READING THE ENTIRE BOOK, ALL 400 PAGES. IT IS  A VERY WELL DONE BOOK AND SHINES LIGHT ON ALL ASPECTS OF THIS GREAT BREWERS LIFE AND BUSINESS. I CANNOT THANK THE PORTNERS ENOUGH FOR HELPING BUILD THIS PAGE AND WILL BE ADDING MORE AS I GET IT,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
IF YOU HAVE ANY GREAT PICTURES,ARTIFACTS ECT FROM ANY PORTNER BREWERY I WOULD LIKE TO GET PICTURES  AND WILL ATTRIBUTE IT TO YOU.

 

  

COMPANY NAMES & ADDRESSES

  Portner & Recker, 146 King c. St Asaph, Alexandria VA (1863-1864)   Portner & Co, King & Fayette Sts, Alexandria VA (1864)  Portner & Winteroll, 285 King St, Alexandria VA (1866-1867)
  Robert Portner Fayette corner King St, Alexandria VA (1866-1867)  Robert Portner St. Asaph corner Wythe St, Alexandria VA (1871-1916)

 Washington DC
  Robert Portner, 626 Va Ave SW Washington DC (1877-1884)  Robert Portner Brewing Co, 626 Va Ave SW Washington DC (1885-1890)


Robert Portner's Brewing, Alexandria.

The new dry law closed numerous distillers, six breweries, as well as several hundred saloons, in addition to taking away business from bottling companies and distributors. Breweries and distillers were allowed to stay in business so long as they sold their product out of state. Five of the six Virginia breweries stayed open until 1918. Only Robert Portner’s in Alexandria closed immediately. Because the Mapp Law prohibited the production all malt beverages for instate use, even near beer, several breweries turned to making soda pop and bottled water instead. For example, Richmond's Home Brewing Company became the Home Products Company and made soft drinks. The Virginia Brewing Company in Roanoke attempted to survive prohibition the same way.


 The Robert Portner Brewing Company operated in Alexandria for almost 50 years. It grew to become the largest brewery in the southern United States, and was Alexandria’s largest employer. The company thrived until 1915, when Prohibition came to Virginia, and the brewery went out of business

 Robert Portner was a millionaire brewer who lived in Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and often spent his summers in Manassas, Virginia. He owned several of the biggest breweries in the South at the time. Born March 20, 1837 in Rhaden, Prussia, he came to America in 1853 and started his legacy. He married Anna von Valaer in 1872 and they had 13 children. He began his career working in a grocery store in New York, and eventually became one of the foremost businessmen in the country. When he died in 1906, Portners estate was worth 1.9 million. Many innovations that Robert Portner helped create, include his invention of what is believed to be the first air-conditioning system in the U. S. His empire crumbled when Prohibition swept the country.  Roberts beloved summer home in Manassas, which he designed for himself and his family, was probably the first fully air-conditioned home in the country; its grounds included a dairy, deer park and a man-made lake, complete with swans.
 

   
 
From Robert Portners personal diary ~ "Our business had improved very much, and we had contemplated building a brewery in Washington. We had already bought the necessary grounds on Maryland and Thirteenth Street. At the same time another brewer by the name of Carry also wanted to build a brewery in Washington and had already bought a small one. As Carry was a very efficient brewer and businessman, it was my plan to merge our two enterprises, and I was successful. We came to an agreement in October 1890, merged our Washington business with that of Carry and founded the National Capital Brewing Company." - Robert Portner, personal diary, March 13, 1891
 
Washington Evening Star. July 25, 1891
 
A BIG BREWING ESTABLISHMENT  NATIONAL CAPITAL BREWERY   A Business Enterprise That Has Been Very Successful in Washington
 
 
     IT IS A HOME PRODUCT ENTIRELY ORGANIZED AND OFFICERED BY LOCAL MEN AND EVERY SHARE OF ITS STOCK OWNED HERE A TRIP THROUGH ITS EXTENSIVE BUILDINGS.

  The National Capital Brewery Company is a combination of the firms of Albert Carry, Robert Portner and the Robert Portner Brewing Company, the latter selling out the Washington branch of the business. The capital stock of the company is $500,000, all paid up. The company has been in operation since last November [1890], but has been supplying from its new brewery only since June. The officers of the company are as follows: Albert Carry, president; C. A. Strangmann, secretary and treasurer. Directors: Albert Carry, Robert Portner, John L. Vogt, John D. Bartlett, Charles Carry, C. A. Strangmann, Frank P.Madigan.

    A brewery that turns out 100,000 barrels of first-class pure beer every year for local consumption solely is a big institution for any city, and yet Washington has recently had just such an addition made to its business enterprises in the National Capital Brewery. Organized by Washington men, officered by Washington men, and with every share of its stock owned here at home, it would seem to be a local enterprise first last and all the time.

    This business is the result of the combination of two of the oldest and most successful breweries in this part of the country, and that the new firm will be even more successful is a foregone conclusion. People who have had occasion recently to traverse D street southeast have noticed a splendid new building on the south side of the street between 13th and 14th streets. This is the new home of the National Capital Brewing Company, and it is by long odds one of the most substantial and imposing buildings of the sort to be found anywhere. Although it has been completed hardly more than a month, it has about it already that well-kept appearance and air of bustling activity that always denote prosperity following upon enterprise.

    This fine new building, standing as it does in a very desirable location for such a business, with almost an entire block of ground about it, is a five-story structure of brick with handsome stone trimmings and surrounded by a graceful cupola. It covers a plot of ground 94 by 136 feet, and owing to the unusual height of the several stories the building itself is quite as high as an ordinary seven or eight-story building. Attached to the main building are several roomy and substantial outbuildings, including an engine house, stable and cooperage shop, all pleasing in appearance and forming a handsome group.

    To make a good pure quality of beer for local use so that it can be drawn from wood and not adulterated with any chemical whatsoever in order to make of it a "beer that keeps well," this is the purpose of the National Capital Brewing Company. They do not make beer for shipment, and hence their beer is not treated with any salicylic acid or deleterious substances that are sometimes used with bottled beer to keep it clear and lively.
 
 
 
 Pure beer is generally considered a healthful drink. The president of the National Capital Brewing Company told a STAR reporter that any person with a proper interest in the matter might take the keys of the entire establishment at any time, go through it thoroughly, and if he found anything at all used in the making of their beer that was not pure and wholesome the company would give him $1,000.
 
 
   Beer drawn from the wood is almost certain to be a purer and better quality of beer than the bottled. The National Capital Brewing Company does not bottle. It serves its customers fresh every day with beer that has reached its prime in the immense cooling rooms of the brewery. F. H. Finley & Son, the bottlers, however, have a contract with the company for 20,000 barrels a year of their pale extra beer, and this they bottle and serve to customers in Washington. They get their beer early every morning, as needed, so that people who buy the bottled variety of the National Capital Company's beer are using beer that left the huge casks at the brewery that very day. J. F. Hermann & Son, Wm. H Brinkley and Jas. A Bailey also acts as agent for the company.

    A STAR reporter, accompanied by Mr. Albert Carry, president of the brewing company, recently made a complete inspection of the buildings of the brewery, spending several hours seeing how beer is manufactured from the time it comes in in the form of malt and the raw materials until it leaves the building a clear, cool, foaming beverage inclosed in stout kegs and casks. How much beer there is that leaves the building may be judged when the statement is made that the company uses 10,000 kegs and barrels of all sizes simply in supplying the Washington trade. Nine huge wagons and thirty big horses are used steadily in carrying beer from the brewery to the consumers.

     In truth this is no small business. But what strikes the visitor, be he a casual or an interested one, first and most forcibly of all is the absolute cleanliness and neatness that prevails everywhere. The walls and stairways, for the most part of stone and iron - for the building is fireproof throughout - and the floors are all of iron or concrete and immaculate. On all sides there is hot and cold running water, and indeed the wards of a hospital could scarcely be cleaner or more orderly than the various departments of this brewery. There are no secret chambers into which one may not go. Everything is open and above board, and the fact that the company has no objections to the beer consumer examining every branch of its manufacture is a pretty good sign that they know that everything is honest and fair.

    As a proof of this the company intends giving a public tour Tuesday, July 28, from 8 to 8 p.m., when everything will be in running order and everybody is invited to visit the brewery and inspect it thoroughly from cellar to roof. A handsome luncheon, consisting of all the delicacies of the season, will be spread. Everything will be free, and the National Capital Brewing Company intend to prove that they are as liberal in their hospitality as they are enterprising in their business. It is needless to say that beer will be plentiful and none need to go to bed thirsty Tuesday night.

    Connecting the main building with the engine house is a handsome arched gateway leading into the big court yard, where the wagons stand while they are being loaded. The entrance to the offices is through this gateway. The offices consist of a number of connecting rooms on the main floor in the northwest corner of the building. They are handsomely finished in oak, and are fitted with the most improved office furniture for the convenience of the officers of the company and the corps of bookkeepers and clerks required to transact such an immense volume of business. Opening from the main office and adjoining it is the ice machine room, containing an ice machine with a refrigerating capacity of fifty tons and an eighty-horse-power steam engine, used for grinding and mashing malt and for general hoisting purposes. The ice machine on that hot summer day was almost covered in with ice and snow, and in fact the temperature of the larger part of the brewery is kept down in the neighborhood of freezing point all the time. On the second floor is an immense refrigerating room, and separated from it by an iron door is a room for cleaning and automatically weighing malt, and arranged on the principle of a grain elevator is a store room for malt with a capacity of 20,000 tons.  On the third floor is a great copper kettle holding 300 barrels of new boiling beer. The fourth floor is used for hot and cold water tanks and above is a tank for fire purposes. After boiling in the kettle for seven hours the beer is pumped up, strained and left to cool in a big tank under the roof, where a cool current of air blows constantly. To the rear and on the fourth floor is a big store room and a patent cooler. The beer from the tanks above runs down over coils and is cooled to 40 degrees. This and the rooms below are all 76x94 feet and feel like a cold day in midwinter. On the floor below is the fermenting room, and here the beer stays for two weeks in sixty-five tubs, each holding seventy barrels.

    After the beer is through fermenting it is piped down below into huge vats, each of a 240-barrel capacity, and here it stays in the rest casks for three or four months, beer four months old being about the best. On the floor below a little new beer is added to give the necessary foam, and after being given about three weeks to clarify it is sent by air pressure into the filling room, where it is run into barrels and kegs ready to be loaded onto the wagons. In neighboring rooms a dozen men are busy all the time cleaning, washing and scouring the kegs so there is no chance for any impurities to mar the flavor of the Golden Eagle and the Capuciner beers.
 
 
PETERSBURG BRANCH
BOTTLES & BOTTLING


PORTNER BOTTLES & BOTTLING

 

Considering variations in size, color, labeling, lip finishes, closures, and manufacturers, there were easily 100 types of Portner bottles. They can be dated relatively easily; those that read "R. PORTNER" or "ROB. PORTNER" predate the firm's 1883 incorporation, but are unlikely to be older than the establishment of the brewery’s first depots in 1875-1876. A bottle with the “TIVOLI” trademark postdates 1877. The company began using the bottle cap in 1894-1895 but may not have switched to it entirely until 1901-1903, by which time the brewery’s depots and bottling operations were modernized and there was a large enough supply of the new crown-finish bottles from Alexandria manufacturers. Most of the company’s extant bottles are crown finish and date to the twentieth century, as do dateable, extant “Portner” bottle openers. The "HYGEIA" mineral water bottles appear to date to the 1890s, suggesting that the company may have discontinued such sales shortly after the turn of the century.


AT LEFT IS A RARE "PORTNERS MALT EXTRACT" BOTTLE I PICKED UP FROM TOM LEVEILLE RECENTLY

 

The rarest of the Portner "blob top" bottles are those of green color; those which predate incorporation; and those embossed with the names of the other cities to which the brewery distributed its product. The scarcest of the crown finish bottles are those of a yellow color and a few with a manufacturing error, embossed with "ALEXANDRIA, PA." (In order to avoid confusion, the brewery may have sold these close to home.) Portner bottles of the 1880s and 1890s were manufactured by Dean Foster & Co. (Boston), Karl Hutter (New York), the D.O. Cunningham Glass Co. (Pittsburgh) and the Ihmsen Glass Company (Pittsburgh). Later ones were produced by “C.G. Co.” (a Midwestern or Southern firm), Edward H. Everett (Newark, Ohio), and, most important, the Virginia Glass Company and Old Dominion Glass Company of Alexandria. Glass bottles were still relatively expensive and hard to come by at the beginning of Portner‟s foray into other markets. In 1887, despite the tariff duties, the company ordered 36 tons of bottles from Dresden, Germany. Domestic ones were even purchased from medical glassware manufacturers. This scarcity and consequent cost forced American breweries to claim permanent ownership of their bottles. They were to be returned when empty, usually for a rebate to the consumer, but were instead frequently kept or discarded, to the detriment of the brewer‟s balance sheet. Many pre-Prohibition bottles are thus embossed with the message “THIS BOTTLE NOT TO BE SOLD” or some variation of the warning, making clear that they remained the property of the brewer. Under pressure from bottlers, some jurisdictions went so far as to punish the collection or reuse of others‟ bottles. In 1905 the Frederick County, Maryland sheriff arrested two men for hoarding a “car load” of bottles belonging to Portner, the Grasser-Brand Brewing Company of Toledo, and various Baltimore breweries for the purpose of packaging their own root beer.28 A similar case was lodged, but quickly dismissed, in Baltimore against Louis Franc, for the unauthorized refilling of 27 “Robt. Portner” bottles in 1878.29 It was a petty crime, but one that added up. The very cost of manufacture would have made bottling otherwise prohibitive for the light-fingered soda entrepreneurs. In this way and many others, a lot of Portner bottles never found their way back home. They have also been found in archaeological contexts from Pennsylvania to Australia. But Robert Portner Brewing Company bottles manufactured by other glass factories have been found at the sites of Alexandria‟s Virginia Glass Company and Old Dominion Glass Company, presumably intended to be recycled for the production of new glass. (The News July 1, 1905; Alexandria Gazette August 28, 1878; Critic-Record August 27, 1878 and August 4, 1887; Alexandria Archaeology collection) (From Book by Tim Denee)

THE LEGACY
PORTNER, ROBERT, capitalist, banker, corporation director, and man-of-affairs, is a notable example of the German-American citizen, who by industry, thrift and administrative ability has won an enviable position in business and financial circles. He was born at Rahden, in the province of Westphalia, Prussia, March 20, 1837, the son of Henry and Henrietta (Gelker) Portner. His father was a German barrister, a judge, and an officer in the German army, who served with distinction in the Russian campaign, and under Marshal Blucher at Waterloo. In the battle of Jena he especially distinguished himself, and in recognition of this service the King appointed his several sons to the military school at Annaburg.

The childhood and youth of Robert Portner were spent in his native country, where he remained until he was sixteen years of age. His education was acquired in the village schools of Prussia, and at the military school of Annaburg, Saxony. In 1853, he emigrated to America. After his arrival in this country, he was variously employed until 1861, when he located in Alexandria, Virginia, and, in partnership with an acquaintance, started a small grocery business. This was the first year of the War between the States, and the firm did quite an extensive business, selling supplies to the sutlers of both armies during their operations in the immediate vicinity. Soon a small brewing plant was constructed by the firm and met with success during the war period. At the close of the struggle, the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Portner retained the brewing business which in 1883 was incorporated under the name of the Robert Portner Brewing company, of which he became president; and later he became vice-president of the Nationl Capital Brewing company, of Washington. Mr. Portner also became interested in artificial refrigeration; and to his genius we are indebted for the first successful machine, with direct ammonia expansion, ever used for this purpose. This invention was made in 1878and has since been improved in many ways.


Mr. Portner has been prominently identified with many business enterprises. He organized three building and loan associations in Alexandria, of which he was president; he originated the Alexandria ship yards for the building and repair of vessels; he organized the German-American Banking Company, of which, also, he was made president, and which is now known as the German American bank. He was president of the Capital Construction company, president of the German Building association, and a director in the following corporations: The American Security and Trust company, of Washington; Riggs Fire Insurance company, of Washington; National Bank of Washington; Virginia Midland Railway company; Washington and Ohio Railway company; National Bank of Manassas, Virginia; Portner Brown Stone company; Louis Cotton Mills; and a number of other lesser enterprises.

In 1881, Mr. Portner took up his residence in Washington, District of Columbia, retaining his citizenship in Alexandria, of whose board of aldermen he was at one time a member, and where he had large property interests. He became one of the largest real estate investors in Washington, and he proved himself a citizen of marked public spirit and enterprise. His summer residence was at Manassas, Virginia, and was named "Annaburg," in honor of the military school at which he was educated. The tract contains 2500 acres. It includes most of the battle field of Bull Run; and on it are to be found traces of many fortifications of the Civil war period. "Annaburg" is one of the handsomest estates of the Old Dominion, and one of the most interesting historically.

Mr. Portner was a member of the Masonic order. As a further relief from business cares, he frequently threw himself into the life of the farm at Manassas, and indulged his love for horses and horseback riding. Personally, Mr. Portner was a man of engaging manners, and yet of shrewd business instincts. He had good executive ability and rare poise of judgment. These qualities, together with strict probity of character and great energy of mind, brought him well-deserved success.

On April 4, 1872, he married Miss Anna von Valer, daughter of Johann Jacob von Valer, a native of Switzerland. They had thirteen children, ten of whom are now (1908) living.

On May 28, 1906, Mr. Portner died at his country place, "Annaburg," surrounded by his family. A large circle of friends, business associates and acquaintances, cherish the memory of this active and enterprising citizen.
UNINTERRUPTED SUCCESS

Robert Portner, President of the Capital Construction Company, of Washington, D. C. a company was necessary to meet the growing demands of the business; and this was the beginning of the now celebrated Robert Portner Brewing Company.

In 1881 Mr. Portner moved to Washington City, where he is now living, having a Summer home at Manassas, Virginia, of over two thousand acres, on which arc located many of the old fortifications and breastworks erected during the Civil War. and used especially during the notable Rattles of Bull Run or Manassas, in 1861 and 1862. when the Confederate General Lee, at the second battle, advanced his forces
against General Pope, defeated the Union army, crossed the Potomac River, and threatened Philadelphia. But not long after this, McClellan took command, advanced to meet Lee, and at Antietam Creek was fought, on September 17, 1862, one of the bloodiest battles of the war, the result of which was the retreat of Lee across the Potomac. Mr.'Portner also owns the McLean farm, on Bull Run, where the first battle of the Civil War was fought on a scorching hot Sunday (July 21, 1861) ; and heavy reinforcements coming to the aid of the Confederates, they drove the Union forces from a hard-fought field and compelled them to fly back to Washington in great confusion.

Mr. Portner's business career has been one of uninterrupted success. The enormous growth of his business affords a striking illustration of what
can be done by industry and enterprise when those qualities are united to integrity and liberality. His capacity for the rapid transaction of business is marvelous. He seems intuitively to thoroughly understand everyone with whom he comes in contact. Mr. Portner is of vigorous frame. He wears the weight of his sixty-five years lightly, and does not appear to be more than fifty. Prosperity and success pervade the very atmosphere of his surroundings.

Beside being President of the United States Brewers' Association, Mr. Portner is Vice-President of the National Capital Brewing Company, of Washington, D. C. He is also President of the Capital Construction Company, Director of the National Bank of Washington, D. C, and Director, also, of the American Security and Trust Company, of the Riggs Fire Insurance Company of W ashington, D. C, and of the National Bank of Manassas. Virginia.

Mr. Portner was married, in 1872, to Miss Anna Vales. Thirteen children were born to them, of whom ten are now living—five boys and five girls, named Edward G., Alvin O., Paul V., Oscar C, Herman H.. Alma M., Etta V., Anna, Hilda and Elsa.
R. PORTNER BREWING CO. KEG


MANY THANKS TO FRANK BISHOP FOR PICTURES OF PORTNER KEG, I WOULD HAVE TO THINK THERE ARE VERY FEW OF THESE STILL AROUND...THANKS
FRANK
ROBERT PORTNER ADVERTISING CARD  ~ 1907
1907 ADVERTISMENT CARD FROM THE ROBERT PORTNER BREWING CO. IN ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA. IN BUSINESS FROM 1862 UNTIL 1916 WITH BRANCHES UP THE EAST COAST.
~  ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS ~

INTRODUCTION
In the Fall of 1998 and Winter of 1999-2000, Parsons Engineering Science (Parsons ES) conducted Phase I and II archaeological investigations at the Portner?s Brewery Site, located in the parking area at the rear of 600 North Washington Street in Alexandria, Virginia. The property was bounded by Wythe Street on the north, Pendleton Street on the south, St. Asaph Street on the east, and Washington Street on the west. The Portner?s Brewery Site existed on this property during the mid-nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries. This study was conducted in compliance with the City of Alexandria Archaeological Standards, May 1990, Guidelines for Preparing
Archaeological Resource Management Reports, and the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation. All work was carried out in consultation with and overseen by the staff of Alexandria Archaeology.
As part of the project, Timothy Dennée, a recognized local expert on brewing and breweries, conducted documentary research on both Portner?s Brewery and the brewing process in general. Mr. Dennée?s report comprises a separate document entitled Robert Portner and His Brewery. The interpretation of the features discovered at the Portner?s Brewery site was based upon the findings of Mr. Dennée?s research.

HISTORY
The Brewing Industry in Alexandria.
The origins of brewing in Alexandria date as early as the 1730s when area plantations produced beer for their own use. By 1771, Andrew Wales established a commercial brewery in a leased public warehouse on Point Lumley at the foot of Duke Street. The Wales brewery, despite undergoing several changes of ownership during the 1790s, continued to produce ?Strong and Small Beer,? perhaps as late as 1809. By that time, two other breweries also opened: the Potowmack Brewery at the foot of Oronoco Street, and the Union Brewery at the southwest corner of Union and Wolfe Streets. These companies closed in 1807 and 1821, respectively.
Success for early American brewers was difficult since they not only competed with British imports, but with a multitude of other fermented and distilled beverages available such as wine and cider. Hard spirits, especially rum and whiskey, remained more popular than beer until the mid-nineteenth century. Brewery proprietorships were often short-lived as turnovers and advertisements offering to rent or sell breweries were common occurrences during the Federal period.
For most of the 1820s, no beer was commercially produced in Alexandria. About 1831, however, brothers James and William Henry Irwin established an ale brewery on the waterfront at the foot of Wolfe Street, across from the former Union/Entwisle brewery. Their business grew quickly and, at an eventual 3,000 barrels annual production (one barrel equals 31 gallons) and a regional market area of about 1,000 square miles, it perhaps became the largest brewery in the South. The Irwin brewery also exported ale to the West Indies. Although there were already larger breweries in America, by the standards of the day this was indeed a large operation. Unfortunately, the Irwin plant was lost to fire in 1854.
Only a few years elapsed before new establishments took the place of the Irwin brewery. Henry S. Martin opened a small ale brewery at the corner of Commerce and Fayette Streets in 1856. And in 1858, two Germans, Alexander Strausz and John Klein, leased an old frame building on Duke Street in the ?suburb? of West End, and commenced the construction of a brick-vaulted beer cellar. The Shooter?s Hill Brewery (later known variously as Shuter?s Hill, Klein?s, Englehardt?s or the West End Brewery) was the first to introduce the brewing of lager beer to Alexandria and to the state of Virginia. Compared to the ales and porters popular until after the Civil War, lager beer required a different type of yeast and colder temperatures for fermentation and aging.

The Civil War was a time of rapid, but temporary, expansion in the local brewing industry. The presence of Union troops created an unprecedented demand for alcoholic beverages of all types, despite the prohibition of the sale of liquor and beer within the city limits. The two existing breweries increased production and capacity accordingly. A third brewery, Portner & Company, was established in 1862 by a partnership of four men who had arrived during the Union occupation hoping to prosper from wartime demand for provisions. In fact, between September 1862 and October 1865, these three breweries produced and sold nearly 9,000 barrels of lager beer and ale.


Robert Scott found this match safe metal detecting in the Chesapeake Bay >


The collapse in demand following the war ruined or threatened all of the brewing firms. By the mid-1870s, several breweries were no longer in operation and others were in substantial debt. The former Shooter?s Hill Brewery, now under the proprietorship of Henry Englehardt, a former employee of John Klein, continued its operations, though at considerably decreased levels. Portner & Company dissolved, and Robert Portner, now sole owner, purchased a new site on North St. Asaph Street and constructed a large modern
brewery and cellars.
The Robert Portner Brewery. Robert Portner purchased the north half of the 600 block of between Washington Street and St. Asaph Streets and between Pendleton and Wythe Streets in 1865. He constructed lager cellars containing 36 large fermenting casks. In 1868, Portner began construction on a new brewery along St. Asaph Street.
The roughly 60-foot by 160-foot brewery was built along the west side of what is now the 600 block of North St. Asaph Street. It was constructed of load-bearing brick arches and walls reaching thicknesses of two-and-a-half feet. It was clearly of the Victorian era, designed in the Gothic Italianate style, popular among brewers of the period. Near the center, however, rose a tower more than 56 feet high capped by a Second Empire mansard roof and apparently constructed for aesthetic reasons. The plant was divided into six sections, three- to five stories tall, running north and south along the northern half of the block. Brewing was conducted in the southernmost section, a four-story structure surmounted by a cupola and louvered window openings for cooling and ventilation. The third story contained hoppers or storage bins for barley malt. The malt was elevated there by mechanical hoists, readied to drop through chutes into the mash tuns on the floor below. The second floor, the center of brewing activity, contained probably two copper brew kettles and at least one mash tun. The first floor housed the wash room. Immediately behind the brewhouse was an attached structure containing an eight-horsepower steam engine and boiler, ventilated by a smokestack. The next section to the north held the coolers used to reduce the temperature of the freshly brewed wort. Because the coolers were located on the third floor, the wort had to be pumped upward from the brew kettles. The rest of the floor area was devoted to malt storage. The next section, surmounted by the central tower, also contained hops and malt storage on at least the third floor. The brewery clearly possessed room for expansion, and probably housed some of the functions, like cooperage or bottling, which were later spun off into subsidiary buildings.
One of the first enlargements to the Portner Brewery facilities was the construction of an ice house, partly complete in the spring of 1871. By the late 1870s, in addition to the main brewery buildings and the ice house, Portner had constructed at least one stable and as many as four other accessory structures, likely including a cooper?s shop. In 1885, new additions at the rear of the brewhouse
reflected technological advancement and the increase in production. Two one-story structures contained a 150-horsepower steam engine and its boilers. The ?engines,? or compressors, that cooled the wort after brewing, kept the vaults cold and possibly manufactured ice. A large smokestack vented coal smoke from the boilers? fireboxes. In 1886,
3
electric lighting was beginning to replace the gas jets, oil lamps, and candles which illuminated the work space and beer vaults.
In 1891, the plant showed still more changes including a new pump house and wells, relocation of the cooper shop; new bottle and keg storage sheds; and a new, 50-foot smokestack. The steam power had been increased to a total of 225 horsepower contained in a larger addition.
In the spring of 1893, a new three story brewhouse, measuring 40 by 60 feet was constructed adjoining the old brewhouse on the south. The new brewhouse was 54 feet high from the street level to the top of main cornice, and a total height to apex of ventilator over lantern of main roof of 80 feet. The new brewhouse was built of brick, stone, steel and iron, with lumber only being used for windows, doors, the purlins and top layers of roofs. The entire interior framing for floors, platforms, galleries and other supports, as well as the main roof were constructed of steel. The floors were filled between beams with concrete arches. The roof was covered with slate and all guttering was copper. The floors were accessed by iron staircases as well as an elevator.
By 1907, extensive additions to the brewery occurred west and south of the earlier configuration, including a condenser, ice machines and air conditioners. The air conditioners were located in a large concrete floored structure. The boiler room was extended westward with a brick floor. Additional structures, including a pump room, office, storage, and pipe shop, were constructed behind the brewery. A large 120,000 gallon water tank and associated water tower occur north of the pipe shop. A 50 foot square structure identified as a Brew House was situated to the south, along N. St. Asaph, in addition to several small ancillary buildings including a meal room and grain dryer.
Portner?s Brewery curtailed operations in 1916 because of Prohibition but entered new fields; the company was rechartered as The Robert Portner Corporation. The main brewery buildings were likely used for storage for the Portner?s Virginia Feed and Milling Corporation, given that they still contained huge grain bins. The brewery buildings were vacant by 1921. The buildings behind the brewery structure were razed in 1932 by order of the fire chief. In 1935, the management of the Corporation decided to demolish the main brewery buildings. Two years later, the Robert Portner Corporation was dissolved.
ARCHAEOLOGY
The first controlled excavation of any part of the Robert Portner Brewery site occurred in 1994. City archaeologists monitored the demolition of the rear of the 1901 ice plant and the excavation behind it along Pitt Street in preparation for a mixed-use office/residential development. Little was discovered except for brick rubble, a few bottle sherds, and clumps of purple-stained refuse and clay, presumably from the 1907 ink factory across Wythe Street. Similarly, backhoe excavation of the rear (east side) of the 1912 bottling house during the winter of 1997-1998, prior to the construction of ?Portner?s Landing,? produced no evidence of the brewery?s large, ca. 1898 stable.
Parsons ES conducted Phase I archaeological investigations in October
4
were identified and recorded in areas representing the 1868 brewhouse, the 1894 brewhouse and the north beer vault.
and November 1998. The purpose of these studies was to determine if archaeological resources remained intact beneath the parking lots. After the analysis of historic maps of the project area, 11 trenches were excavated using a backhoe monitored by an archaeologist. These trenches were placed on the property where they could best intercept potential archaeological resources. Archaeological testing revealed the presence of 15 architectural features related to the use of the property as a brewery, including: the beer vault, where lager beer was produced; walls from several associated structures; and two deep features (wells or privies) that would have provided and stored water for use in the beer making process.
Features. The structural features encountered were divided into six categories: bearing wall foundations; partition or platform footings; column bases or footings; equipment mounts; flooring; and water source or storage features. Sixteen brick wall/ foundations or wall fragments were identified during these investigations and represent both exterior and interior walls from various construction episodes at the Robert Portner Brewery. Exterior walls associated with the beer vaults (Feature 14), the Ice/Engine room (Feature 13), and the 1868 brewhouse (Feature 45), and interior walls separating the beer vaults and brewhouse (Features 6, 9, 49, 50 and 51) represent the 1885 brewery configuration.
A Phase II archaeological study on the property in December 1999 and January 2000 utilized a backhoe to remove the asphalt parking surface and overburden from above intact archaeological resources. Forty-one additional features

Additional brick foundations associated with the construction of the new brewhouse in 1894 consisted of exterior walls (Feature 1) and new interior walls (Feature 44) which were slightly skewed from the original wall (Feature 45). A later construction period (pre-1907) is represented by the east wall of the Grain Dryer building (Feature 3).
Artifacts. Individual artifacts related to brewing or associated with the Robert Portner Brewing Company were absent. Only a few possibly brewery-related metal objects were observed, including a large iron strap hinge, a wall or beam anchor, some steel and copper pipe, some type of reciprocating machine part, and a wooden box conduit containing seven insulated wires associated with the plant?s electrical system.
SUMMARY
The Brewhouses. The massive foundations of the two (1868 and 1894) brewhouses were found approximately 4 feet below the current grade, confirming the size and location of the structures as depicted on Sanborn insurance maps. Constructed of load-bearing brick masonry, the foundations were as much as 4.5 feet wide. Possible footings or pads for structural support or equipment platforms were located in both brewhouse footprints.
The new brewhouse (1894) contained two dressed granite slabs (a non-native stone), generally about 18 inches tall and usually at least 4 feet square, that served as pedestals or mounts for equipment or steel posts. The documentary evidence provides the basis for reasonable guesses as to the function of the stone blocks in the new brewhouse. The granite may have supported the cast iron framework that held up the interior platforms and stairs; or the hop jack, which added hops to the wort for flavoring, then strained them out; or the receiving tank for the brew on its way to the coolers. But perhaps the most likely alternative, however, was that the stones served as the base for the brewhouse freight elevator, depicted on the 1902, 1907, and 1912 Sanborn maps as being in roughly the same location.
1907 Sanborn Map with Features
The other notable features of the southern end of the brewery were water source or water storage structures. Two brick shafts were discovered within the old brewhouse (1868), not far from the south wall. The larger measured approximately 11 feet in diameter and only 7 feet deep from the elevation at which it was discovered (Feature 46).

6
The other shaft was approximately 70 inches in diameter, although its upper section was distorted and irregular in shape (Feature 5). On its interior were remnants of parging, a coating of mortar used as a water barrier, in this case, to keep water in. The shallowness of the wider shaft also suggests that these were cisterns for water storage rather than wells for drawing ground water. Feature 5 matched the approximate location of a circle labeled ?pump over 2 driven wells? in the washroom on the 1885 Sanborn map.
At the rear of the 1894 brewhouse, interrupting its rear wall, was a third brick shaft, 10 feet in diameter, at least 20 feet deep, and showing no evidence of parging (Feature 41). Its location attests to the fact that it was excavated prior to construction of the 1894 brewhouse, although possibly just before. It actually corresponds to the location of the brewery?s ca. 1885 pump house, which was torn down before 1891 and contained ?four driven wells?. Since the builders of the 1894 brewhouse did not run the walls around this shaft or fill it in, this strongly suggests it was being used at the time.
In 1869, Portner probably drew his water from surface wells and possibly, the city water supply. By the mid-1880s, however, deep wells were being driven far below the water table. Some of the earlier water features may have remained
either filled in or re-used for other purposes. By 1912, the brewery had at least 10 dug or driven wells, plus a number of other unidentified subterranean receptacles (not to mention large above-ground and rooftop tanks).
The Beer Vault. Two brick foundation features (Features 11 and 12) were identified in the beer vault area which do not correspond to any interior beer vault walls as indicated on the Sanborn Insurance maps. Both features were substantial brick walls with concrete surfaces; Feature 11 occurred within the second beer vault and Feature 12 was located adjacent to the interior wall inside the third beer vault. Two distinct construction episodes were recorded for the west wall of the north beer vault (Feature 14) with the exterior portion representing the original construction and an inner wall characterizing a later stage of construction. These features indicate structural changes to the beer vault configuration. It is possible that Features 11 and 12 could be associated with the original beer vault configuration constructed by Portner in 1865-1867 and the original west wall (Feature 14) of the north beer vault also represents that time frame.
The perfectly preserved floor of the beer cellar (Feature 33) was uncovered at the southwest corner of St. Asaph and Wythe Streets. The northernmost section of the plant, which measured nearly 40 by 50 feet, would have been the location for the fermentation and aging of much of the beer produced by the brewery, especially prior to 1880. The concrete floor was bisected by a gutter (Feature 20) running west to east and dropping about a foot over its course. The gutter obviously served to drain off ice melt, wash water, and spilled beer.
The most remarkable aspect of the cellar was the marks left in the floor. Apparently, substantial weights on the not entirely cured concrete surface left a
7
permanent series of shallow, rectangular depressions in regular rows. Each was perhaps 4.5 feet long by 12 inches wide and at 4 to 5-foot intervals from other similar and parallel depressions. Oriented east-west, these depressions appear to have been left by the timber stillions or stands that once supported large aging casks. Given the arrangement of the depressions that were actually exposed, it appears that there were once four parallel rows of casks in the cellar, each row containing 6 or 7 casks, for a total of 24 to 28 casks. Portner?s mid-1860s deeds of trust state that he then had 36 large casks in his cellar.

ROBERT PORTNER BOTTLING  CHRONOLOGY
Robert Portner Brewing Company bottling chronology 1875 The lightning stopper is patented. Such closures and their porcelain variant, the Hutter stopper, are used by the Portner brewery throughout the 1880s and 1890s.
1875-1883 The first Portner brewery depots open, and the first identifiable bottles associated with the brewery date to this period. The earliest bottles are probably corked. The brewery‟s first bottling house is constructed after 1877 and before 1885, but bottles are in use by 1876-1877. This is also the period during which Portner acquires his first pasteurizing equipment.
1877 The Tivoli diamond trademark is first used (and registered in 1878).
1879 The Hutchinson stopper is patented. Portner uses bottles with Hutchinson closures for beer and mineral water during the 1880s and early 1890s.
1883 The Robert Portner Brewing Company is incorporated, and the new firm name soon begins appearing on bottles.
1885-1891 An addition to the bottling house is constructed sometime during this period.
1892 The crown closure (bottle cap) is patented. A new bottling house is constructed.
1893 The Hutter porcelain stopper patented. The Portner brewery purchases bottles from Karl Hutter during the 1880s and 1890s and begins using Hutter-type closures soon after this date. The Virginia Glass Company is established in Alexandria.
1894 The brewery begins using crown closures for bottling its “Tivoli-Hofbrau,” coinciding with its first use of paper labels. Lightning and Hutter porcelain stoppers remain in use as well for several years.
1896 The Robert Portner Brewing Company purchases $20,000 worth of bottles from the Virginia Glass Company of Alexandria.

1901 The Old Dominion Glass Company is founded in Alexandria. The company produces mainly beer and whisky bottles until Virginia‟s Prohibition.
1903-1904 The Mount Vernon Cotton Factory is retrofitted as a brewery bottling house for up to 20,000,000 bottles a year. All brewery bottles in Alexandria would now have crown closures. 1908 Most of the brewery‟s remote depots had been closed by this date, but the Hagerstown, Maryland branch is established. Most bottling operations are consolidated at the Alexandria plant. 1912-1913 A new Alexandria bottling house is constructed. This may have been the point at which the brewery or one or more of its depots commences bottling for other beverage makers in addition to its own beer. 1913-1914 The brewery purchases $123,125.62 worth of bottles in one year. 
From the Book by Tim Denee
Portner Brewing branches ~ Agents/Distributors ~ Officers & Board members

Known Robert Portner Brewing Company-owned branches in the South
Sources: Sanborn insurance maps, city directories, newspaper advertisements, the Portner memoirs, and American Breweries II. This list is not necessarily exhaustive.
City
Approximate dates
of operation
Approximate number of breweries in each city at the time of the company’s entry


Washington, D.C.
1875 to 1890
14
Norfolk, Virginia
1876 to 1916
0
Lynchburg, Virginia*
1879 to 1900
1
Charlotte, North Carolina*†
1879 to 1905
0
Wilmington, North Carolina
1879 to 1909
0
Danville, Virginia

1881 to 1916
0
Augusta, Georgia

1881 to 1907
0
Goldsboro, North Carolina
1882 to 1903
0
Roanoke, Virginia

1885 to 1916
0
Richmond, Virginia

1886 to 1916
1
Phoebus, Virginia

pre-1888 to 1916
0
Charleston, South Carolina‡
1891 to 1893
1
Newport News, Virginia
1892 to 1916

0
Petersburg, Virginia
pre-1897 to 1916
0
Frederick, Maryland
1897-1916
1
Raleigh, North Carolina
1899 to 1905
0
Greensboro, North Carolina
1900 to 1906
0
Staunton, Virginia
1901 to 1916
0
Salisbury, North Carolina
1902 to 1907
0
Charlottesville, Virginia
1904 to 1907
0
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
1904 to 1908?
0
Fredericksburg, Virginia
1904 to 1907?
0
Winchester, Virginia
1905 to 1908?
0
Hagerstown, Maryland
1907 to 1916
2

 The sources may have missed some small breweries. Naturally, many of these cities had several depots and agents for out-of-town breweries.
*During the earlier part of this period, the beer may have been bottled and/or distributed through a private agent or bottler. It is known that prior to establishing a depot in Richmond in 1886, for instance, Portner’s beer was distributed there by Christian & White, bottlers.
†About 1905, the Charlotte bottling depot was taken over by Robert Portner’s brother-in-law, Christian Valaer, who commenced bottling soda and water, too. Portner undoubtedly helped set up Valaer in the business.
‡The Charleston depot did not include a bottling plant; its beer, in bottles and kegs, was shipped from Charlotte, North Carolina.


From the Book by Tim Denee

 Company officers and board members, 1883-1916
Approximate Tenure

Robert Portner, president and chairman
1883-1906
Edward G. Portner, president and chairman
1906-1909
Alvin O. Portner, president and chairman
1909-1916
Paul Muhlhauser, vice president and director
1883-1890
John M. Leicht, vice president and director
1891-1896
Edward G. Portner, vice president and director
1897-1906
Alvin O. Portner, vice president and director
1906-1909
Paul V. Portner, vice president and director
1909-1916
Carl A. Strangmann, secretary-treasurer and director
1883-1895
Percy McKnight Baldwin, secretary-treasurer and director
1895-1915
George H. Beuchert, secretary-treasurer
1915-1916
John T. Johnson, assistant secretary-treasurer
1900-1910
George H. Beuchert, assistant secretary-treasurer
1910-1915
Bette Edward Julius Eils, director
1883-1886
Charles Gustave Herbort, director
1883-1888
Frank P. Madigan, general manager and director
1890-1895
Christian Valaer, director
1889-1905
Charles J. Bell, director
1906-
Brewmasters, 1862-1916
Approximate Tenure
Andrew? Kaercher
1862-1865
Carl Wolters
1866-1867
Jacob Biehle
1867-1870?
Peter Wolters
1870-1871
Edward Fielmeyer
1871-1871
Paul Mühlhauser
1871-1878
John Kohout
1878-1882
Paul Mühlhauser
1883-1890
Joseph Schneider
1890-1891
John M. Leicht
1891-1896
Peter W. von de Westelaken
1896-1915
Unknown
1915-1916
Depot managers, 1875-1916
Approximate Tenure
Otto Portner, Washington, DC
1875-1880
Henry Steiwer, Washington, DC
1880-1883
Rudolph Gebner, Washington, DC
1883-1886
Frank P. Madigan, Washington, DC
1886-1890

 

 

 

 Depot managers, continued
Approximate Tenure

Emil Kuhblank, Wilmington, North Carolina
1888-1891
C. Otto Banck, Wilmington, North Carolina
1895-1905
John T. Newman, Wilmington, North Carolina
1906-1909
Christian Valaer, Charlotte, North Carolina
1889-1905
William H. Shelton, Phoebus, Virginia
1890-1894
Alexander M. Hanger, Phoebus, Virginia
1896-1916
C. Otto Banck, Charleston, South Carolina
1891-1893
C.F. Joyce, Greensboro, North Carolina
circa 1892
Daniel Huffines, Greensboro, North Carolina
1900-1906
George P. Carr, Roanoke, Virginia
1893-1900
Charles Sidney Johnson, Roanoke, Virginia
1900-1916
William Koenig, Petersburg, Virginia
1896-1916
James R. Warfield, Frederick, Maryland
1897
Robert C. Strangmann, Frederick, Maryland
1898-1905
Thomas R. Jones, Raleigh, North Carolina
1899-1901
Tuckerman John Fuqua, Raleigh, North Carolina
1902-1905
Tuckerman John Fuqua, Newport News, Virginia
1899-1901
George F. Payne, Newport News, Virginia
1901-1916
Charles H. van Valkenberg, Staunton, Virginia
1902-1911
Andrew Bell, Staunton, Virginia
1912-1916
W.W. Manly, Salisbury, North Carolina
1902-1906
Robert R. Taylor, Salisbury, North Carolina
1906-1907
William W. Payne, Charlottesville, Virginia
1904-1905
Dennis G. Cowhig, Charlottesville, Virginia
1906-1907
L. Albert Wooding, Fredericksburg, Virginia
1904-1907
George F. Keegan, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
1904-1908?

ANNABURG ~ TODAY

In 1881, Mr. Portner took up his residence in Washington, District of Columbia, retaining his citizenship in Alexandria, of whose board of aldermen he was at one time a member, and where he had large property interests. He became one of the largest real estate investors in Washington, and he proved himself a citizen of marked public spirit and enterprise. His summer residence was at Manassas, Virginia, and was named "Annaburg," in honor of the military school at which he was educated. The tract contains 2500 acres. It includes most of the battle field of Bull Run; and on it are to be found traces of many fortifications of the Civil war period. "Annaburg" is one of the handsomest estates of the Old Dominion, and one of the most interesting historically.

Thomas Jones
At left is a picture of Thomas R. Jones, Raleigh Depot Manager for the Portner Brewing 1899-1901 with family taken in 1899.  Thomas is in middle with beard, my Great-Grandfather.
at right  Some of my Jones Bottles
 
 
JonesTruck
 
 
 
 
 
Above is a picture of 1917-18 Corbitt truck made in Henderson, NC.  It was a delivery truck for the Jones Bottling Works with one of my great uncles driving.  When prohibition came to North Carolina
in the early 1900?s Jones switched to soda drinks.  If you look close you can see the stacks of bottles in the back of the truck.  After working for Portner, Thomas R. Jones opened his own beer distributorship in Raleigh under the name ?T R Jones Brewery?.  Thomas died in 1907 one year after Robert Portner died.  My father drove this truck at the early age of 13 delivering to the local stores.
The soft drink company closed in 1928-9.
Bill Jones
1908 RECIEPT
 
Bottles were a huge part of the expense of doing business not much different  today with packaging costs,as you can see in this document they gave credit for returning them. There was fines imposed if caught using or selling empty embossed bottles and even jail time handed out.
Photo credit-Chosi.Org
ROBERT PORTNER BREWING ~ WILMINGTON, N.C.
Robert Portner Brewing   Wilmington, North Carolina
Robert Portner Brewing Company maintained bottling plants and outlets throughout the Southeast with the Wilmington, NC facility likely among the most prominent. Although several plants were large enough to justify embossed bottles, many were not. Wilmington, Charlotte and Raleigh were most likely the largest in North Carolina as evidenced by their custom bottles. Smaller plants such as Washington, NC have no known embossed bottles.
The prominence of the Wilmington plant is supported by the storage capacity of up to 300 barrels (originally 36 US gallons per barrel, with variations). This facility located at Eighth and Brunswick was very successful and featured products such as Hofbrau, Vienna Cabinet and Tivoli. All of these were well known Portner brews that captured a large following. Portner, having pioneered the refrigeration and transportation of beer was able to ship the products in barrels for later transfer to bottles.
PROHIBITION ITEMS
ROANOKE VA. BRANCH BILL HEAD & G.P. CARR, ROANOKE AGENT
 
 RECEIPT FOR THE ROBERT PORTNER ROANKE BRANCH SENT TO ME BY TRAVIS LAYMAN. NOTE THE GEO. P. CARR, AGENT AND SEE BELOW.
 
 
 
 
 
AS NOTED IN THE ON THE BILL HEAD ABOVE THE GPC MONOGRAM ON THIS STOPPER AND THE G.P. CARR ROANOKE BOTTLE (PICTURES OF BOTH GIVEN TO ME BY TRAVIS LAYMAN) TIE THIS ALL TOGETHER.
PORTNER BREWHOUSE ~ ALEXANDRIA, VA.
CLICK ON THE LOGO TO LEFT TO GET THE LATEST NEWS ON THE RE=ESTABLISHED PORTNER BREWING NAME AND CHECK OUT THE SOON AVAILABLE BEER MUG MODELED AFTER AN ORIGINAL.

 

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