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Brew Review

We’ve Got the Rainy Day Brews

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By Joni Williams


Sometimes we wonder how Florida pulls off the whole Sunshine State thing when it’s actually ranked as one of the top three rainiest states. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—just ask the good folks in California.


Drought prevention aside, rainy days can be a good time to catch up on shopping, and not just at the local malls. That’s how we found ourselves moseying over to Beach Liquors for the first time this summer, and wound up with a bad case of the rainy day brews. Or, more accurately, a six-pack.


Here’s how it happened. We were looking to try one of our hometown brewer’s newbies, and next thing you know, we had our hands and arms full of interesting brews. So much for willpower. We blame this on our local brewers, who have obviously been busy whipping up concoctions to tempt us. It worked.


It also helps that besides selling singles, Beach Liquors is the originator of the mix-and-match six-pack, so you can try a lot of different labels with little commitment. And they’re reasonably priced.


One of the most interesting we found was Grayton Beer’s Salt of the Gulf, featuring salt—no surprise there—as well as lactobacillus. Wait, what? Lactobacillus? Does this mean we can drink beer instead of routinely slurping yogurt and popping probiotics? Probably not, but it might be this combo that contributes to a flavor aptly described as “tart.” 30A Beach Blonde it definitely is not. That is to say, this beer isn’t for everyone.


But it is for us. At first sip, it delivers a big tongue-puckering hit of hoppy goodness with just the right touch of coriander and salt. An almost-faded golden color with a cream-colored head, it’s nearly clear translucence may help explain why it delivers a cleanish taste that belies its pucker power. Love it or hate it, at least it avoids a chemical or fake taste. We found it went well with food, particularly anything crunchy and—crazily enough—salty. Not sure why, but this salt-on-salt pairing seemed to take the edge off its distinct tartness. It’s a weird beer for sure, and we liked it like that.


Although sours like the Salt of the Gulf may be one of the hottest trends in beer right now, we know there are still plenty of hardcore IPA fans bellying up to the bar. For you, Grayton Beer has come up with the Fish Whistle, a deep amber IPA that’s distinctly malty and sufficiently hoppy with a tease of citrus and bitter finish. And it smells oh-so-lovely.


Despite a long string of successes, Grayton Beer is probably still best known for their inaugural brew, the much beloved 30A Beach Blonde. And now Grayton brings us yet another blonde, the Walton County Permit, in a bikini-less, red-white-and-blue can. But here’s the kicker—they’re the same beer. For departing out-of-towners, though, the new canned version is not only easy to tote home, its unmissable “Walton County Beach” marking makes for a perfect grownup souvenir. Beach beer is to grownups what mouse ears are to kiddies. Nothing says “I spent my summer vacay in Florida” quite like either of them.


They’re not the only blondes in town, though. Props Brewery of Fort Walton Beach now offers their Blonde Bomber Ale in cans, and it’s every bit as tasty as what you get in-house. Even McGuire’s, which may be the area’s original brewer, has gotten into the retail game with bottles of their red ale.


Likewise, one of the area’s youngest brewers, Idyll Hounds, is giving us their best with Man O’ Wheat and Divide and Conch’r double IPA, both in cans. And interesting cans at that, particularly the Man O’ Wheat, which sports some huge jellyfish.


There’s more to be had from our local brewers, not to mention others that are almost local. But we’ll save those for another time. As it was, we wound up with more beers than we intended. But don’t think we’re sorry about it. The weather may have been bad, but those rainy day brews made it all good.

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