One of the tougher choices to make in the Atlanta beer scene is beer joint versus brewery. If you go to a restaurant with a great beer list, you know that you’ll get to soak up the booze and your choices are legion.
I met my friend Josh at the Porter Beer Bar last night. This is one of the notorious beer locations in the city. I had an idea to start here and go to a brewery but that’s just punishing the liver and too much for an older bloke such as myself.
I arrived early and waited for a table at the bar. This has to be one of the most narrow restaurants in the city. I have an ample posterior so people were bumping into me pretty much constantly as I jockeyed for position and asked to get the menu.
I am a prepared beer consumer. The Porter beer list is available online so I had perused it. They’re smart and let you sort by brewery or style. The physical list, actually three lists, has the beers by style which makes sense. My initial instinct was to go to my current fave, the barrel-aged stout, but I realized that a slow start made more sense. I got Evil Twin’s Tough ‘Itch. This brewery is from Denmark but rents out brewery space in the States for their beers with the very colorful cans/bottles. This was a can. I didn’t get a great picture since it’s a bit of a dark room. I had the Athena Paradiso with Guava and Passion Fruit so figured this passionfruit berliner weisse style would be a good starter beer. It was. I asked for the glass and being the beer aficianado headquarters that they are, they had a branded one. This beer had a ton of white head which surprised me. The head was bitter but the beer was nice, tart, sweet, light, everything I wanted.
Josh showed up and we got a table. I moved onto beer two, a selection from their vintage menu. The oldest beer I saw on the list was from 2003, and this list does have some choices from last year or last week but they’re all fairly limited and the beer cellar must be fun to visit. I got a 2015 Palo Santo Marron. This is a Dogfish Head beer, yup, the brewery from Delaware that became one of the biggest in the country. It’s a “unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented” brown ale aged on Palo Santo wood. This is Paraguayan wood that means “holy tree” and gives a unique flavor to the beer. My problem with the previous versions I had was the booze. This is a 12% beer. I wondered if an aged version would be more relaxed with the alcohol. It was. This was a dark, tasty as hell beer and sometime in the near future I’m going to get a four-pack or two and put it in the beer closet. I have a couple of said closets.
I never go to the Porter for the food specifically. I’ve only had a couple of things on the menu. On this night the bacon burger with fries fit the bill perfectly. The fries are insane, cooked in a garlic oil that’s not ideal for a first date but pairs nicely with the Lyft ride you’re going to take home after finishing your tour of the draft, bottle, and vintage menus.
The name caught my eye for my final beer of the evening. Cherry Street Brewing Co-Op in nearby Cumming is one of the top breweries in the state. I love their coconut porter and the barrel-aged version is one of my favorite 2017 beers. When I saw their Red Rum, I knew I had to try it. This is not a beer I’ve seen on the shelves, and even the description online didn’t exactly cover it. This is a Belgian Dubbel style aged in rum barrels then added to a Belgian Quad aged in cabernet wine barrels. The cab is a bit of a heavy wine style for me but I like everything else in this beer. Blends can be difficult but you’re getting different flavors in every sip and that’s interesting. There’s the dark red wine flavor then you get the sweetness of the rum and the burned sugar of the quad and the yeasty nature of the dubbel. There are times when it’s important to escape your beer norms and I did that on Friday night. You could go to Porter every day for a year and have a different beer experience. I highly recommend it, and the Lyft ride hom.