By Joni Williams
Like a lot of other hopheads, we’ve known for some time that PROPS Brewery’s beer tastes like a million bucks. And now they’ve put their money where our mouths are.
PROPS has undergone a million‑plus dollar expansion to keep up with ever‑increasing demand that we were told by a staffer has made them the area’s largest brewery between here and Birmingham, Alabama. Impressive, but just as exciting from a beer lover’s point of view, is the increasing variety of brews they continue to roll out.
Their beer list now runs the gamut from the spicy Blonde Sanchez to the freshly squeezed flavored Citrus Mistress and the traditional dark Dunkelweizen. We counted well over a dozen, including longtime staples like their renowned golden Blonde Bomber Ale and Flying Coffin IPA. The canned versions have been available in various markets for some time, with a porter and brown ale slated to hit shelves soon.
Making all this beer takes space. Lots of it. Way more than they could squeeze out of their original location just west of the Brooks Bridge in Fort Walton Beach. Though the original location carries on with full food and beer menus intact, PROPS recently opened a massive distribution center on Lovejoy Road, along with a nearby brewery and taproom where beer is made in the back and served up front. Talk about fresh brewed.
Though they don’t serve food at this new location, plans are in the works to host Food Truck Fridays, with mobile vendors offering a variety of noshings. Unlike so many places, the new taproom is also said to be cool with BYOE (Bring Your Own Eats). Got a sandwich in your satchel or pretzels in your pocket? No need to hide them here.
But we weren’t there for food, we were there for beer. Why else would you go to a place that’s like a piece of beer heaven right here in the F‑Dub? Already familiar with the Blonde Bomber Golden Ale, we shook things up and dug into a flight of four new‑to‑us brews.
Always lovers of classics, we first hit the PROPS Hefeweizen, a deep golden wheat ale that’s not as yeasty or banana‑ish as other Hefes. It’s hearty yet smooth, and goes down easy. Likewise, the Twin Props, a cleverly named double IPA, is rich with hops and a classic kick of bitters, but nothing is overdone. And with an 8.3 percent ABV, it’s almost too easy to drink.
We switched to darks with the Prop Oil Porter, soon to hit shelves in cans. Earthy and rich with flavor that isn’t too figgy, we’re now officially fans even though we’re super picky about porters. We also tipped back PROPS’ velvety 4 Kings—malty, slightly roasted and definitely hearty. It’s one of those meal‑in‑a‑glass brews that we so love.
What makes PROPS’ beers so enjoyable is, no matter how light and mild or earthy and robust, they’re each well‑balanced, smooth and fresh tasting. And what makes visiting PROPS so enjoyable—besides the yummy beers, that is—is its comfortable, casual, never‑met‑a‑stranger vibe.
The beertenders also know their stuff. Don’t know squat about beer? No worries. They’ll patiently help you find what appeals to your taste or, just as readily, sense of adventure. You may even get an impromptu tour of the back of the house for an up‑close view of the magnificent gleaming vats, finishing with a blast of Antarctic air from the gigantic cooler.
Despite their rocketing success in a mere half‑decade, PROPS remains a locally owned endeavor by four former military dudes—no corporate sell‑outs here. And props to them for keeping prices unbelievably reasonable and the service top‑notch and personal despite their recent million‑plus dollar investment.
Having mastered the recipe for success as well as great brews, it’s obvious that—just like its most famous ale—PROPS is golden and not to be missed.
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