Portsmouth Brewing & Ice Company

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. Still, it struggled for decades as competition from an increasing number of German-style breweries in Cincinnati drove away business from the English-style brews it specialized in. 5 The Civil War dampened business. 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 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 produced 20,000 barrels of beer per year, and the ice plant was shipping 75 tons of ice daily.

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 Portsmouth Whistle Bottling Company took over the bottling facility, 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.


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I believe some of my relatives, including Wilhelm Lorey and his son William Lorey, worked at your company. Wilhelm operated a brewery in Germany and then in Portsmouth but I noticed his occupation on the census evolved from “chemist” to “brewer” to “cooper” so he probably moved into cask making. My father said another Lorey relative delivered ice for a living but dont’ think it would have been Wilhelm. Do you have any records of photos of employees with the last name Lorey? I apologize you will see a similar inquiry on your web site as I just found this afterwords. This would have been around the 1850-1900 period. I believe Wilhelm died in the 1890s; I’m not sure about his son William. There were several other sons who may also have worked there. His wife was named Kunigunda Lorey and she died in 1877. Sincerely, Fred Lorey. Pleasant Hill CA

Julius Esselborn is one of my ancestors. This web site is neat. Thanks for posting photos of the building. Amy Esselborn of Indianapolis Indiana. Do you have any photos of Julius?

The Portsmouth Brewing Company is now Ohio's oldest operating brewery. Taken over by Steven H. Mault in 1995, the company is operating under the original name in the original historic building. Mr. Mault has revived a classic recipe from the 1840's in Red Bird Ale, a version of the local steam ale. Also kept alive are the fundamental German style lagers in Portsmouth Pilsner and Crystal Gold Lager.

The Portsmouth Brewing Company is now a Brewery and Brewpub with the Brewery operating in the original building and the restaurant in the Ice Company building. There is also a dining room on the bricks where what was once a brick paved street is now enclosed in an annex between the buildings known as the Brewery Arcade. Unfortunately, the ice house (pictured in the photograph) on the opposite side of the floodwall blew down in a wind storm last year. The pile of rubble is all that is left. However, the passages from the Ice Company to the Ice House underneath the flood wall are still evident as bricked-up doorways in the basement of restaurant.

In celebration of another historic Portsmouth production, the Portsmouth Brewing Company, in Portsmouth, Ohio, is proud to announce their new line of handmade, craftbrewed Bottled Beer, with the debut of the famous Portsmouth Pilsner.

Whether you are tasting it for the first time, or falling in love all over again, Portsmouth Pilsner satisfies with the crisp and refreshing flavor of the Noble Hop, Czech Saaz, perfectly balanced with the pleasant aftertaste of domestic 2-row malt.

The PBC brews with only the finest all natural ingredients: filtered water, grain, hops and yeast, with no added chemicals or preservatives.

The Portsmouth Brewing Company is hometown proud and owned and operated by Americans.

Bottled Portsmouth Pilsner can be found at fine local restaurants and bars, and will soon be distributed in 6-packs. Cases, 6-packs and single bottles are now available at the PBC, so take one home today!

The PBC hopes to expand their bottling line to include the classic Red Bird Ale, the light-bodied brew, Crystal Gold Lager, and the mythic Vulcan Dark Lager along with seasonal brews. So, if you love Red Bird Ale, drink your bottled Portsmouth Pilsner because all of your support will go into the next offering of bottled beer.

Now on tap at the PBC is Portsmouth Pilsner, Red Bird Ale, Crystal Gold Lager, Vulcan Dark Lager and Belgian Orange Tripel. (As of 10 Nov. 2011)

Support Your Local Brewers!!!

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