How time flies when you’re having fun. And sweating a lot. It’s been exactly 10 years this summer since the Doggie Dining bill was signed by recent U.S. presidential candidate and unintentional funnyman Governor Jeb Bush, unleashing a flurry of excitement among us Floridians who dreamed of taking our best friend out for a bite.
We call it the Doggie Drinking law, because many of our favorite local beer hot spots are now Fido-friendly, thanks to Mr. Bush. And we can’t think of a better way to spend the long hot dog days of summer than toasting the former governor with a fine beer like, say, Oskar Blues’ The Gubna perhaps.
Here are five of our fave Fido-friendly beer spots where you, too, can while away the dog days of the summer with your best friend.
FORT WALTON BEACH
This is the place that started it all, at least locally, beginning with owners Brian and Jenna Burger actively pushing for the dog-friendly legislation. Since the change went into effect, Tijuana Flats has welcomed leashed doggies on their open patio area. The four-leggers have their own happy hour, too—actually, Yappy Hour—every Thursday evening from 7 to 9. Humans are treated to special drink prices, prizes for the kids and live music.
Highlights include “2Fur” Tall Boys that fetch six bucks for both and Big Boy PBRs going for a mere two bucks each. Tijuana Flats’ impressive beer selection includes Landshark, Shock Top, Red Stripe, Blue Moon and Fort Walton Beach’s own hometown brewer, Props. Prices here are super reasonable, too, with a daily happy hour that kicks off at 4 p.m. featuring 2-for-1 brews. Fido gives it four paws up.
PROPS BREWERY & GRILL
FORT WALTON BEACH
You’ll find Props bordering the west side of Brooks Bridge, just before you hit Okaloosa Island. And you really should. Find it, that is. Though it is indeed a bona fide brewery where they make some of the finest suds in the South (sold onsite as well as distributed under the Props label), it’s also a sleek and roomy hangout with friendly staff. As an eatery, they offer an array of fare ranging from fresh salads to hearty burgers, sausages and wings to rib-stickin’ mac ’n cheese.
As is typical, patrons with pooches are relegated to patio seating. But don’t let the street front setting put you off. This place is right by the water and the breezes that blow through are not only refreshing and balmy, they’re super relaxing. It’s a vibe that pairs well with one of their hottest brews going — figuratively speaking — the Blond Bomber, a light, summery ale that has hoppy-malty substance, along with interesting flavor notes. Tasty and easy to drink, it’s no wonder at all that it’s been a smash hit locally.
Other flagship brews include the Flying Coffin IPA, the Prop Oil Porter, and our personal Props go-to brew, the 4 Kings brown ale. Hit up the daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and you’ll save a buck a beer, with prices starting at about four dollars.
WORLD OF BEER
Yes, there is a place for you and Rover to rest your weary paws in the middle of Destin Commons’ hustle, while enjoying a cold beer and maybe one of those stupendously big pretzels they’re famous for. True to its name, the beer offerings here are blissfully mind-boggling featuring tried-and-truly tasty brews from Lagunitas, Abita, Oskar Blues, Back 40, Grayton, Rogue, Cigar City and Goose Island along with hard-to-find imports such as Weihenstephaner and Occulto.
Though they just tapped the mighty tasty Bell’s Oberon, Southern Tier’s potent Salted Caramel and a bourbon-y “Bock Bock,” why not celebrate the dog days of summer and the anniversary of legal doggie dining with a brew from Dogfish, Sea Dog or even Abita’s Turbodog? We went to the dogs, and it was very tasty.
THE CRAFT BAR
GRAND BOULEVARD AT SANDESTIN
There’s a special reason the new Craft Bar over in Grand Boulevard is on our list. Together with the neighboring package store, they have scrumptious burgers and other bar food and—more importantly—one of the best craft beer selections in SoWal. Brews rotate regularly and frequently, but it’s not uncommon to find the best from dependably good brewers such as Left Hand, Stone, Lagunitas, Good People, Breckenbridge, Central 28, Cigar City and the like.
Still, it’s Grand Boulevard’s big stretch of green space that makes this Craft Bar location great, especially if you have a restless pup. Pooches that need private time or even a little jog can check out the border area of the rear parking area where you may even bump into some daily dog walkers.
Doggies may not be allowed on the beach in Navarre, but they can have the next best thing by hanging on the Sound at Helenback Again’s front deck. Helenback is Fido-friendly and budget-friendly, with domestics fetching a mere three bucks from 3 to 7 p.m. Beer selection here is limited to Corona, Yuengling, Miller-Coors products and their own house brew, the Helenback Special hOps, which is amazingly good.
Helenback might be best known, though, for their pizza. Maybe you read about it in Esquire? You can snag a top of the line supreme pie for $13 in Navarre, but only at lunchtime.
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