We’re beginning to think of the Destin Harbor area as the beer belly of the Emerald Coast, and we mean that as the highest compliment. Here you’ll find all kinds of fab places to enjoy an equally fab assortment of brews—Jackacuda’s, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Dockside Ale House and the Red Door Saloon, to name just a few.
Besides a grand assortment of permanent establishments, every year HarborWalk Village transforms itself into our idea of a hoppy Neverland with its Blues, Brews and BBQ, set for Nov. 8. And did we mention all the cool Harbor shopping hot spots and that gorgeous water view that comes with it? Who could ask for more?
Since it’s a Saturday we’re talking about, we know some of you just might want to keep the party going past 4 p.m. when the fest ends. If you’re looking for something new and a little offbeat to boot, check out area newbie The Other End, open every day at 5 p.m.
Located about a mile east of HarborWalk’s Emerald Grande, the Other End is unique in that it’s an outdoor bar and grill operating out of a shiny, throwback airstream located smack dab on the water. Not only do they offer a positively stellar selection of brews—they do officially bill themselves as a “beer garden”—but sunsets here are positively divine.
One caveat is the parking—it is tight. If you drive anything bigger than a skinny-minny compact, don’t even try and park directly in front of the place. If you drive a chubby all-American vehicle like we do, save yourself a whole lot of wheel turning and reversing, and park next door or down the road apiece.
We figure it will still be well-worth the extra steps, as the Other End not only carries all-around crowd pleasers like Terrapin, Southern Tier, New Belgium and Sweetwater, but many of our own personal faves from Cigar City, Founders and Rogue. In fact, the selection was so good and so plentiful, we immediately regretted stopping by on our way to dinner as we quickly realized the Other End would be worth an entire evening in itself.
The selection of food here is almost as tantalizing as the beer list (by the way, they also serve some good-looking wine). We’re talking “locally sourced” burgers, duck confit rolls, fried pickles, and duck fat fries with beer cheese sauce. We’re definitely coming back hungry.
Despite the stellar selection of taps, choosing one beer was easy but that’s only because the Other End pours the hard-to-find yet oh-so-delicious Weihenstephaner. Though they don’t carry our beloved Dunkel, they do offer a pilsner along with our choice for the night, a perfectly crafted hefeweissbier.
For starters, the color is lovely, a golden-orange hue that matched the sun setting over the Gulf as we sipped. Secondly, the flavor is everything every other hefeweizen tries to be—fruity, almost crisp, with just enough citrus to quench even a beach-induced thirst. You can also taste the richness and depth of excellent brewing in its smooth malt and hops. We often wonder, given the extreme quality of the entire Weihenstephaner line-up, why more places don’t offer their biers.
At least we know we can find a couple of them over at the Other End. If you do decide to check this place following Blues, Brews & BBQ, be forewarned that you may not have much room left in your own belly to do a whole lot of eating and drinking after sampling the festival’s ample offerings.
Though we’re not sure which of their beers will be up for grabs, we know Sam Adams will be one of the brewers representing at the festival. We also know that the brewer has expanded its lineup in a major way and now even offers barrel-aged brews, a nod to one of the hottest up-and-coming trends in beer drinking.
Currently, our favorite Sam Adams beer is the Rebel IPA, which we also recommend as a gateway beer when trying to get up the courage to break from their traditional lager into a more adventurous world of newbie brews. True to its name, the flavor takes some risks with a variety of hops, plus a little pine, a little fruit and just the right touch of bitters. All in all, it makes for a very good brew and a nice break from the ordinary.
Abita, makers of the Andygator, and Grayton Beer of 30A Beach Blonde fame will also be representing, too, so we’re sure to get our fill of beer. And did we mention how we absolutely adore BBQ? We’ll probably be wandering through the day with a beer in each hand and at least a little sauce smeared on our faces. If you see us hanging out, be sure to say hello and, of course, Cheers!