Most restaurants don’t make it to their second birthday, let alone their 20th, so the festivities at Porters’ Pub in Easton are truly worth the weeklong extended celebration. Started by brothers Larry, Ken and Jeff Porter (and invariably kept running and humming with contributions by much of the extended Porter clan, let’s be honest), Porters’ has helped spawn a totally legitimate beer culture in not only Easton but the entire Lehigh Valley. They’ve kept the food tasty and the dining experience laid-back, the music varied and local, the thoughtful artwork somehow artfully hung on its bumpy stone walls, and the Sunday afternoon brunch menu delicious. And then, of course there’s the larger picture–buying a blighted historic building and turning it into a neighborhood’s third place. In fact, you can see quite a few of those pictures, as Larry Porter plans to hang some photographs from the restoration project.
Don’t believe me? Three years later and seven blocks away, Pearly Baker’s Ale House opened, and with its 20 taps of interesting brews, it’s still one of the best places for a beer. Two years later, enter Easton’s own award-winning Weyerbacher, followed a few years later by the Brew Works and its exponential growth and, most recently, Tap and Table in Emmaus. I could go on. I’m not saying Porters’ singlehandedly made it possible, but with an extensive list (75+) of unique imports, seasonal and/or regional beers and a fine attention to changing that selection and keeping its nearly 3,000 mugholders happy (many of whom are vying to be the 3,000th this weekend), it must be doing something right. Oh, and of course, who could forget the merry band of beer drinkers taking its pub crawling trips across places such as Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Italy, Scotland and Ireland? (This fall’s Portugal trip is sold out at 48 crawlers.)
Sunday, May 16, marks the actual anniversary, but the fun starts earlier than that. If you stop by sometime between Wednesday, May 12 and Friday, May 14, you may just find yourself served by a favorite past bartender–Porters’ is reprising some of its favorites for a few hours here and there for a nice surprise. At the weekend, the Pub will roll back the prices to 1990 for draft beer and its four original sandwiches: The Porter, The Oddsen, The Lafayette, and The Highlander. Drafts are just $3; the sandwiches won’t set you back much more than that. On Saturday, at every hour on the hour, drawings will take place and a mess of random stuff will be given away–T-shirts, coolers, golf bags, etc. And then Sunday? Come have lunch or dinner, but don’t say we didn’t warn you: Mugholders are being treated to a free buffet from 4pm to 6pm.
I have a variety of fond memories about and strong connections to Porters. We have taken our parents there. Our friends. Ourselves. We brought our families there the day after our wedding and feasted on a beautiful, delicious brunch. We have not –yet– taken our boys there for dinner, but should do so, soon. My husband plays there about once a month with his trio Ojespa Jazz Project. He joined the mug club when he was in college, but it took him many years of moving in and out of Easton to acquire the first one. He’s on his fourth mug.
Sláinte, Porters. Happy 20th Birthday, and many happy returns.
Porters’ Pub, 700 Northampton St., Easton; 610-250-6561. Open every day, 11am-2am.
Carrie Havranek hopes she can make it through the inevitable sea of people this weekend to officially start drinking toward her very own mug. She doesn’t know what’s taken her so long.