Portsmouth Brewing & Ice Company

Industrial / Ohio

The Portsmouth Brewing and Ice Company was home to the circa 1842 Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth, Ohio’s first commercial brewery.

The Portsmouth Brewery was established in 1842 as Portsmouth, Ohio’s first brewery, but it struggled for decades as competition from an increasing number of German-style breweries in Cincinnati were driving away business from the English-style brews that it specialized in. 5 The Civil War dampened business further, and by 1888, the Portsmouth Brewery employed just eight people. In 1889, Julius Esselbom, a German brewer, purchased the business which quickly flourished.

Due to the cold temperatures that were required for the brewing of the lager, 1 2 4 the Portsmouth Brewery merged with a local ice company, becoming the Portsmouth Brewing & Ice Company. 5 By 1904, the company was producing 20,000 barrels of beer per year, and the ice plant was shipping 75 tons of ice per day.

The brewery was forced to cease the production of alcoholic beer after the national Prohibition act was passed in 1919. 5 After an attempt to produce “near beer” failed, the bottling facility was taken over by the Portsmouth Whistle Bottling Company, with the ice plant becoming the Portsmouth Ice & Fuel Company. Nonetheless, the buildings and equipment were sold at auction in 1930. 1 3 After Prohibition in 1933, a group of investors wanted to reopen the brewery as the Germania Brewing Company, but the venture did not materialize because of the Great Depression.


  1. “Breweries Once Flourished in Portsmouth.” Portsmouth Daily Times 23 July 1995. 12 Dec. 2008.
  2. Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
  3. Ohio Writers’ Project. “The Ohio Guide”. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1946.
  4. “Historic Boneyfiddle Region.” Scioto County Government 23 July 2007. 12 Dec. 2008 Listing.
  5. Miller, Carl H. “Breweries Once Flourished in Portsmouth.” Portsmouth Daily Times 23 July 1995. 12 Dec. 2008 Article.