Thursday, January 9, 2014

Florida Panhandle: Props Brewery & Beach Liquors

This past month I was able to take a short trip to visit my dad, his girlfriend Kelly, my sister Kimmy, and brother TJ.  Sj went with me for this whistle stop three day stay to the Florida panhandle--a welcome escape from the arctic temps back in Minnesota.  Our condo was located in Rosemary beach, not far from Fort Walton Beach, where my research had pointed out a small brewpub called Props Brewery and Grill.  There was also a brewery located in our area called Grayton but they were not open to the public--I did get to try their pale ale at a restaurant  during my stay though.  As per my usual routine, I am driven to seek out new breweries and try them out wherever I travel.  Even if the results are not up to my standards, it hurts me in my beer-loving soul to let these places go unvisited.  Luckily my family was willing to play along and get dragged to lunch at this establishment. 

It is so unfair that liquor stores can't sell pints in Minnesota...

Kelly was coming in from a wedding and was to meet us at Props, so we got there a bit early and took a jaunt across the parking lot to the nearby Beach Liquors.  This is a pretty cool liquor store for Florida, and had an excellent beer selection, including a bunch of southern beers that can't be found back in Yankeeland.  I was also pleased to find that they had 14 taps of beer to serve you while you wander the store shopping.  I had a glass of a new favorite IPA, the Cigar City Jai Alai.  Sj and Kimmy both had a glass of B. Nektar Zombie Killer Melomel.  Seriously, what store or even bar has mead on tap???  We spent some time pestering the staff who were busy restocking shelves and puttering around the store.  I bought a bunch of beers to try during our stay in Florida: mostly Dogfish Head beers that I have never tried before, but also some Lazy Magnolia Pecan Brown for my dad, and a crazy good mango and pepper mead from B. Nektar called Necromangocon.  I do wish they had stocked more Cigar City beers, but was able to smuggle a couple cans of Jai Alai home with me.  Overall, a fun little trip and a good way to kill some time before lunch at Props.

The Fam!

On to the main course!  Props is located at the end of a strip mall (across the parking lot from Beach Liquors) and is pretty unassuming at first glance.  Upon entering, the place is somewhat dark and industrial looking with a small bar across from the entrance, complete with propeller tap handles.  The 7 barrel brewhouse is off the left and pretty open for observation.  Always on the lookout, I spotted our local Rahr malt from BSG stacked up in there amongst the fermenters.  They have added 15 barrel fermenters recently and this allows them to do a double batch for fermentation.  Airplane props are mounted on the walls and a huge propeller hangs from the ceiling as an overhead fan (not in use on this winter day unfortunately).  At least 6 large TV's are mounted from the ceiling or walls and were broadcasting all different football games.  For those who know me, sports are not my bag, so this dropped the ambiance a bit for me.  I'm sure other people would come visit just for a good place to watch "the game" though.  We were seated quickly and the service was very good.

That is a lot of TVs!

The food was pretty classic brewpub fare with salads, apps, burgers, mac & cheese, etc.  I had fish and chips that was pleasant and had a nice spice to the beer batter.  Everyone was fairly pleased with their orders, and the wait wasn't terrible.

I'd love to see that fan in action!

Kimmy and I shared 2 beer samplers so we could try all the offerings between the two of us.  The Flying Coffin IPA has a great name, but seemed a bit too sweet for me...maybe too much caramel malt.  The "Blonde" Bomber was a buttery diacetyl bomb.  I picked a bit of that up in a couple more of the beers, but not as extreme as the blonde.  I enjoyed the Jovie Ale spiced holiday ale quite a lot, having a subtle but present spice and higher alcohol content.  I have had worse beer at small brewpubs, but this was not good enough that I'd go out of my for it.

Overall, I enjoyed our lunch at the brewpub, and was pleased to find any craft beer in the fabled beer waste-land that is Florida.  If I lived or vacationed near here, I'd probably stop by again.  I'm pleased that the craft beer movement has even taken hold in this area, and wish the place luck in making a go of it.  I'd love to know more about the place, ie why is it called Props?  But not much information is present on their out of date website!

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