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The Porter's Molly Gunn discusses beer trends, pinball, and her favorite hangover cure.
Orpheus Brewing is easily one of Atlanta’s most anticipated new breweries, set to open next their taproom overlooking Piedmont Park next weekend. The founders credit The Porter Beer Bar for helping bring their idea to life, so it’s no surprise that the latest member of the Orpheus family is Rebecca Royster, a familiar face to anyone who frequented The Porter over the past five-and-a-half years.
This might come as news to novice beer drinkers, but it’s true. Beer, like wine, has the ability to age gracefully, developing deep flavor notes and complex aromas far beyond what’s initially bottled. I spoke with Molly Gunn, co-owner of The Porter Beer Bar and purveyor of their extensive vintage beer list housed in a custom-made cellar, about starting up a personal collection.
Start easy with a sherry cobbler—the subtly sweet, low-octane cocktail of the moment—at H. Harper Station, housed in a former train depot in Reynoldstown. Head over to Poncey-Highland to eavesdrop on the journalists and politicos at Manuel’s Tavern and sip a SweetWater 420.
Atlanta’s ultimate hair-of-the-dog destination, located (where else?) in Little Five Points. On early weekend afternoons, the customers usually fall into two categories: the bedraggled, often leaning on the long bar solo or in brooding pairs, and the perky, who tend to congregate in the pub’s cavernous back room, growing noisier as they imbibe.
For many people, myself included, beer is an acquired taste. Compared with wine, whose familiar fruitiness caresses the palate, beer brings bitterness to the forefront. As a child in Paris, I was occasionally given beer diluted with carbonated lemonade while the adults around me drank thin Alsatian drafts I thought were just awful. Known in England as shandy, in Spain as clara, and in Germany as radler, beer cut with citrus-flavored soda is something I still love. Snakebite is a strong variation made of hard cider and beer in equal proportions that most respectable bars (including Manuel’s Tavern in Poncey-Highland) will pour into a tall pint glass for me.
There are more than ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall behind the bar at The Porter (I counted). There are tap handles by the dozen. The bar could overwhelm even the most dedicated beer drinker with the depth and breadth of its inventory. But instead of just playing a numbers game, the young owners display a curatorial finesse. Better yet, without gloating about running a “gastropub,” they serve pretty remarkable casual food to go along with the lagers, pilsners, Belgian whites, and, of course, their favorite porters.