By Joni Williams
If Navarre is Florida’s best kept secret, then Ye Olde Brothers Brewery is Navarre’s. It shouldn’t be. This place serves up some of the best in-house beer we’ve ever sampled in Florida. No joke.
Tucked away in a standalone set of buildings off Highway 87, about 10 minutes north of the Navarre Beach sign and its infamous quote, this family-owned brewpub is a little off the beaten path. So when we walked in around two-ish on a recent Saturday—usually a slow time for pubs—we expected to see a lot of empty chairs. Instead, the bar was packed to capacity and the many dining tables, nearly so.
It didn’t take long to find out why. For starters, they have a cozy selection of interesting wine—DeLuna Pomegranate, anyone?—alongside some of the best names in craft and German beer, bottled and on tap. Prices start at around $4.50 unless you hit Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m., when you’ll save a buck a beer.
Even so, it’s the house brews, made onsite, that really steal the show. Soon to be rotated seasonals included a well-balanced Pumpkin ale along with one of our personal faves, a buzz worthy Double IPA. Hello, 10 percent ABV! And the brewer promises a just-as-tempting chocolate stout is coming soon.
We stuck to the basics with a flight of their staid, year round varieties—an IPA, wheat, stout and porter. And honestly, we expected to be at least a little disappointed with one or two. Navarre isn’ t exactly known for its fine beer. Beaches, yes. Beer, no.
But it is now. Or should be, as these beers were all excellent in flavor, carbonation and presentation, served up in customized glassware set on a traditional wood block. The Blackwater Stout was deliciously earthy and dark, almost coffee-ish, and like Guinness, nitro-carbonated. Only a million times tastier. But then, we’ve never met a stout we didn’t like.
What almost knocked us off our bar stool, though, was the Panhandle Porter. A lot of porters we try are just too syrupy or musky to strike our fancy. But as the ever-wise Goldilocks once said, the PP was just right. Perfect, even. Malty and naturally sweet, balanced and super smooth, it may be the best locally brewed porter we’ve ever tried. And we’ve tried a few.
Likewise, the dry hopped East Bay IPA was spot-on flavor wise, with hints of citrus and spice and a finish of oh-so-gentle bitters that nibble instead of bite the tongue. Regardless of its too-high-to-qualify seven percent ABV, this could break the rules and be a session IPA based on its smooth, excellent taste and drinkability.
With three winners under our getting-tighter-by-the-second belts, you’d think we’d have found at least one brew to nitpick. But no… The Black Bear Honey Wheat was also golden perfection—smooth, slightly sweet and subtly hoppy.
There was one negative to our visit. We went after lunch and before a planned dinner elsewhere. Big mistake. If you go, go hungry. The food, we hear, is as good as the brews, especially the smoked onsite meats and wood-fired pizzas cooked to perfection in high tech, monitored ovens.
Nothing here is pricey, either. A large pizza with the works costs $14.99 and a cheese pie $7.99. And good luck resisting their crack desserts. Bourbon soaked pecan pie, New York cheesecake and triple chocolate cake, where have you been all my life? Right here in Navarre, obviously. Who knew?
With a staff that’s beyond friendly, it’s easy to see why the locals flock to this place. And if you’re a carpetbagger, no worries. If you go, they’ll welcome you like one of their own. And you should go.