Nestled in a funky, somewhat grungy corner of Little Five Points in Atlanta, Ga., The Porter Beer Bar appears rather low brow form the exterior. When you step through the door the impression does not change much with its dark wood cabinets, grey concrete bar, and Mason jar light fixtures. But, you would be wrong in setting your expectations low for this pearl of the burgeoning Atlanta beer scene.
Upon entering, a tattooed and bearded man asked if we would like a table or to sit at the bar. Because I like to be able to see how the bar runs and chat with the bartenders, we opted to sit at the bar. The bar stools seemed mismatched and held together with copious amounts of duct tape, but perhaps that is part of the atmosphere and charm.
We were greeted cheerfully by the bar manager, Justin Wickline who handed us two clipboards; one with the beer list and the other the menu. The Porter boasts around 40 taps of brews that, in the crowded Atlanta beer market, may not sound like a lot when you consider the typical Taco Mac trumps that number with over 100. But, at The Porter, it is not the quantity but rather the quality of their tap choices that draw drinkers to the bar.
On tap the morning we visited was the likes of: Duck Rabbit Duck-Rabbator, Evil Twin Freudian Slip, Green Flash Le Freak, and Lost Abbey 10 Commandments. Along with the taps, imbibers have the option of two brews on beer engines. On our visit there was only one choice, but it was the excellent Allagash Curieux. In addition the bar has an extensive bottle collection ranging from obscure Belgian brews like Pico Alvine Gaspar to excellent American brews like Founders Red Rye Ale.
Wickline was a font of information and definitely knew his beer. As we sat and chatted he presented several beers for us to taste and gave a little information on each. We worked quickly and adeptly to fill orders, take orders, and discuss the finer points of Belgian IPAs. A better bartender would be difficult to find.
Beer, though, is not the only story at the Porter. The food at this quirky little slice of heaven is phenomenal, too. The menu contained such delights as Poutine – rosemary fries covered in parmesan cheese gravy, and cheese curds, Pork & Foie Gras Terrine served with drunken raisins, whole grain mustard, pecans, bacon jam, and bacon powder, and Brasstown Pork Belly served with arugula, cherry tomatoes, bacon vinaigrette, and roasted hatch pepper.
I chose the brunch special Hangover Hash, which was a potent combination of corned beef, potatoes, red peppers, and onions topped with Buffalo sauce and three fried eggs. My companion opted for the Porter’s Half-Pound Cheeseburger of house-made fresh Angus beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, homemade pickled red onions, and homemade pickles. The hash was delightfully spicy, but not so much so that the flavor of the corned beef and potatoes were masked. My companion’s cheeseburger was perfectly cooked and heaped with toppings; she could only manage to eat half of the monster.
All-in-all, The Porter, which was recommended to me by a brewer friend, was an excellent choice for a Saturday morning lunch before an afternoon of visiting breweries. The excellent beer choices primed us for later consumption and the food kept us nourished as well as very happy. On our next road trip to Atlanta, The Porter will definitely be on our must-visit list. It should be on yours, too.