Beneath the marble grandeur of the Kennedy Center lives the spirit of Bacchus, the god associated with drinking and revelry. Nine years before the Kennedy Center opened, and for 83 years before that, the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. had its huge vats and containers of malt and yeast on that land. The maker of Senate Beer, Old Georgetown Beer and Heurich's Old Lager, Heurich's was the only one of six local breweries to survive Prohibition by more than two years.

But even after Prohibition was repealed, beer costs rose, taxes increased, national brands cut into the local market, profits dwindled, and Heurich's finally disappeared on Friday the 13th of January 1956.

The old Heurich mansion at 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW is now headquarters for the Columbia Historical Society. Heurich's grandsons, Chris, 28, and Gary, 24, still handle the family's investments in addition to having formed their own development company.

A stunning office building to be named for the late beer baron will open this spring at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW on land once owned by the Heurich family. Neither of the two grandchildren remembers much about the beer empire, but both have become active collectors of Heurich beer memorabilia.

About his beer ancestry, Chris, whose given name is Christian Heurich III, says, "Well, we don't produce beer. . . . I guess our only involvement with beer is consuming it."