A Brew Biz Brewery Alert
Re: Grayton Beer Company
217 Serenoa Road
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Phone: (850) 231-4786
Thursdays: 4 – 7 p.m.
Fridays: 4 – 7 p.m.
Saturdays: Noon – 5 p.m.
Written by Ken Carman
Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.
It was Christmas time: 2014. Millie and I sat at the sampling bar in a huge room filled with brewing equipment and busy elves helping Santa Shank brew liquid presents for thirsty souls. But how did I end up at Grayton Beer Company a few weeks ago? Well, being a musical storyteller by trade, I at least have to give the short story version, so let’s go back a few years…
I started touring as a children’s entertainer and educational service provider in 1988. By 1989 my tour reached Florida. In 91, sitting a director’s office, just north of Tallahassee, the director said, “I hope this won’t take you away from us: we enjoy what you do. But I really feel you’d do well in Pensacola.” So by 92 I extended my tour from Tallahassee to Panama City, Pensacola and beyond.
Meanwhile, being a homebrewer since 79, and loving craft beer, I had made a habit of stopping by the few brew businesses around. There weren’t many. The Mill in Tallahassee, McGuires in Pensacola and Abita in Abita Springs were pretty much it. There are a handful of other brew ghosts left from those days that still live on only in my head: brief brewpubs in Panama City Beach, a far, far, far better than The Mill pub in Tallahassee, Fort Walton, Slidell, Louisiana, Ft. Walton Beach. But west of Panama City to Pensacola there still wasn’t much of anything, and I don’t mean just brew-wise. Even Destin and Ft. Walton were mostly just sleepy villages. Head north of the beach area and there was even less… a military base and, otherwise, infinitesimally small hamlets and woods, scrub, ponds, lakes.
Boy have things changed. Some changes not so hot: condos blocking my cherished view of jewel-like blue green waves crashing gently on snow white beaches. But some changes have been for the better, like Grayton Beer Company.
I had to ask where it was first at the McGuires in Destin. One of their brewers: Tom Anderson, gave me rough directions, while Tom’s fellow brewer, Gary Essex, chuckled. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All”