For the casual wanderer, The Porch appears to be just another historic home tucked off the corner of Caroline and Duval. Once the Porter Mansion, a rod iron fence is shaded by trees and an unassuming brick pathway leads up a broad set of steps. It’s … different than other bars on Duval,combining rural aristocracy and cool, hipster vibe — more a college town bar than something you might find in a Buffet song. But once inside, the ambiance and flavors coincide to create a beer lovers’ paradise.
First-timers at The Porch can be indecisive. The choice of 90 craft beers, 45 wines, along with numerous assortments of meads and ciders can be overwhelming for casual beer sippers and master brewers alike. That is where bartender Shaun Griffin comes in … he has had nearly every drink at the bar and can find a taste or two that suits your palate.
“A popular drink as of recently is Zombie Killer. It is a sweet cherry mead, which means it is made with honey to produce the alcohol,” said Griffin. “And Indian Pale Ales have been a popular kind of craft beer, most of them are darker and full of hops and Zingaro is a lighter beer with a strong flavor. We have whatever drink suits your taste buds.”
Small kegs of fine craft beer, cider and mead are changed regularly at The Porch. A local hotspot, the bar is open from 11 to 4 a.m. and both staff and customers can teach lessons to most libation aficionados about the world of meads and barley, and they enjoy doing so.
Sour beer is an up and coming beer category that has a pungent edge — a bite of a lime with the mild sweetness of a pinot noir. Natural yeast from the air blends with the beer to create the alcohol content according to bar manager and mixologist Travis Doll.
Doll sips a Homemade Apple Pie Cider, a drink that has been becoming evermore popular. Cider, or fermented apple juice, originated in England. The most mainstream of the ciders is the U.K.’s Strongbow.
“It literally tastes like apple pie. They added caramel to the mix to give it the full flavor and it smells like pie fresh out of the oven,” said Doll.
Another libation in the beer category is the shandy — these beers contain fruits and vegetables so patrons can get in their full food pyramid at the bar. Strawberry or lemonade is often added to turn the brew into a completely different drink.
“Stiegl Radler is often ordered. It has grapefruits in it and is a bright, sweet beer with little acidity. It is a low percent [alcohol] but it’s a drink that can stsand vodka to increase the octane a bit,” said Doll.
Dubhe Imperial Black is such a dark IPA it can be mistaken for a lager. Meads were created by the Vikings and have been around hundreds of years. The meads and ciders are mostly gluten free which also makes them a somewhat healthier alternative to beer. For more information check out the website, www.theporchkw.com and stop by the location at 429 Caroline St.