In many ways, the opening of Portner Brewhouse this week was a century in
If You Go
Portner’s Brewhouse, 5770 Dow Ave.
Try this: The Modera Pale Ale. “We worked with the community and the property owners to design a beer that would act as a year-round seasonal,” co-owner Catherine Portner said. The ale’s hops will change with the seasons, but the base recipe will remain the same throughout.
the making. And in that historical light, it’s not an opening as much as a re-opening — with leadership from four generations away.
The original Robert Portner Brewing Company “was founded and run by Robert Portner, who was our great-great-grandfather, and it became the largest brewery in the southeastern United States, with distribution from Alexandria to Florida,” said brewery co-owner Catherine Portner.
Fast-forward a century or so “and you find my sister Margaret and I at the helm of Portner Brewhouse, which is a full-service restaurant, brewery, and craft beer test kitchen that celebrates this local history and the pursuit of the American dream,” she said.
Portner’s, which celebrates its grand opening this week in Alexandria’s West End, hews to its historical roots while also balancing some new directions. The brewhouse will sport three beer series — a Pre-Prohibition series, brewmaster seasonals, and, soon, offerings from its craft-beer test kitchen, which is a development program for home brewers who may one day wish to become brewmasters at their own production facility.
Robert Portner would likely be familiar with the offerings from the Pre-Prohibition line, Catherine Portner says. The collection touts beers “that we have actually reconstructed the original recipes from the Robert Portner company and are re-brewing today to provide folks with a literal taste of history,” she said.
And he’d be familiar with the food, as well, which harkens back to his German heritage. A blend of American and German cuisine, Portner’s offers a full menu, from weekday lunch and weekend brunch on through dinner.
“We do a combination of classic German and contemporary American cuisine,” Portner said. One of the can’t-miss favorites? Portner’s pretzel.
“You’d better get a pretzel, that’s for sure,” Portner laughed. The Bavarian pretzel sticks are served with beer cheese dipping sauce and sweet and spicy mustard to yield the quintessential brewery food.
Visitors to the brewhouse can expect an expansive space with the brewing operation in full view.
“Our space is about 5,500 square feet, and our brewery is located in a showcase position directly behind the bar,” Portner said. Some of the tanks are hooked directly to the bar’s taplines, Portner said, adding: “You cannot physically get much closer to the beer than that.”
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.