Until the 1820’s, cider and rum were primarily consumed over beer. This all changed with the influx of the German immigrants beginning in the 1830’s and 1840’s and they brought with them their love of a bottom-fermented beer known as “lager.” One of these immigrants was Anton Wilhelm Robert Poertner, later known as “Robert Portner.” Portner was born March 20, 1837, in Minden-Lübbecker Landkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Prussia, (modern day Germany). In 1862, he formed the partnership of Portner & Recker, Abner, and a beer brewer, Goetley Kaercher in Alexandria, Virginia. “Portner and Company” was born and would become one of the most popular beers in Virginia through the late nineteenth century. Beer was sold for $0.25 and the beer proof was higher than 10%.
1861: First alcohol probation was in Richmond, Virginia
Civil War: Sutlers followed the troops providing beer. This was especially true of the Northern soldiers that were often German immigrants. Another official source of beer were the military hospitals. Chimarazo, located in Richmond, had a 400 keg brewery.
1869: Robert Portner brewery begins in Alexandria
1870: Portner chosed the brewery name “Tivoli” [“I lov(e) it” backwards]
1879: Portner was elected the first President of the United States Brewers Association in 1879, the precursor to today’s Brewers Association. Portner was known as the “Pioneer Brewer of the South.”
1880: July 6, 1880, Patent #229,750 was granted to Robert Portner and P. Edward J. Eils, application filed 8 Apr 1880, process of and apparatus for cooling air.
1906: Portner died in Manassas and his brewery closed in 1916. This fall, it will reopen 100 years later by his great, great-granddaughters, Catherine Portner and Margaret Portner.