In 1889, Julius Esselborn became the owner of the Portsmouth Brewery, an important business in Portsmouth, Ohio during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.
Esselborn was born in Germany in 1836. Here, he was a brewer. Esselborn eventually immigrated to the United States of America, where he lived for a time in New York and then in Cincinnati, Ohio. In these two locations, Esselborn operated a millineries, another name for a woman's clothing store. By the late 1880s, Esselborn had relocated to Portsmouth, where he purchased the Portsmouth Brewery. It remains unclear on why Esselborn relocated to Portsmouth. The city, however, was home to many immigrants from Germany, and perhaps, this attracted Esselborn to the community.
Established in 1842, the Portsmouth Brewery struggled during its first five decades. In 1888, the company employed only eight people. In 1889, Esselborn purchased the company, and the firm grew quickly. Esselborn expanded the original plant and also ordered the construction of an ice house to the rear of the brewery. The Portsmouth Brewery was soon selling beer in cities all along the Ohio River and across the southern portion of Ohio and the northern part of Kentucky. By 1904, the Portsmouth Brewery was producing twenty thousand barrels of beer per year. In 1908, the firm employed forty people. Esselborn, who died on May 6, 1900, had made the Portsmouth Brewery a success.
Upon Esselborn's death, his son, Paul Esselborn, assumed control of the daily affairs of the Portsmouth Brewery. With the enactment of Prohibition in 1919, like many of Ohio's other breweries, the Portsmouth Brewery closed. The Scioto County sheriff sold the company's building and its possessions at an auction in 1930, due to the owners' failure to pay taxes.
- "Breweries Once Flourished in Portsmouth." Portsmouth Daily Times. 23 July 1995.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
- Ohio Writers' Project. The Ohio Guide. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1946.