I have lived in Tallahassee since 1997 and I have never been to the Destin area; can you believe that?? I’ve been all around it, of course but never there. So this weekend, Ash and I went just as a little two day getaway. We had just a few goals: to hit the breweries in the surrounding area and to ride bicycles near the beach. (That was his idea.) So on Friday, I went to work as usual and when I got home I finished packing us up. My parents got into town to watch the kids around 11:45 and by noon we were on the road. On our way west we stopped into Campbellton to visit a brewery named Southern Fields, whose beer we had had in cans because it is locally distributed but we had not visited their location, which is very cool. Their downfall is that they are kind of out in the sticks. Between Tallahassee and Pensacola, if you don’t count the actual beach areas, is very rural. The general panhandle is mostly trees and southern folks. Anyway, Southern Fields is a wonderful little brewery who make amazing beer.
After there we veered towards the beach areas and ended up at the Grayton Beach Brew pub. Their beer is distributed widely around here and the brew pub was pretty nice. Not all of the beers we tried in our flights were amazing but their Bavarian pretzels were really good! I’d like to think we are experts because we order those everywhere we go and try to be as discerning as possible. After that we decided to head towards our hotel in Niceville, which is north of the Destin Island.
Our plan had been to spend Friday night at the Niceville breweries and then Saturday to get down to the island and spend our day there. We decided to walk the 1 mile trek to the first brewery, Third Planet brewing. I had also had their beer before in cans. This location is huge! They are definitely the Proof of Niceville – Proof being our gigantic brewery here. The funny part about this visit was that as soon as we walked in we were accosted by a slightly obnoxious woman and a guy who said that they were running a beard contest for a cause. He was a part of some moms in crisis group. They kind of made it sound like it was just a raffle and if you had a beard you got to participate. Of course, Ash shaved down his beard about a week and a half ago so it’s really not much of one!
So they reel him into doing this and about five minutes later before we could even drink our first taster from the flight, they had all the bearded guys stand up in front of the crowd, which consisted of a lot of military, since we were right by Eglin Air Force Base and they had to perform and show off their beards. It was a funny unexpected little thing that happened but of course, Ash wasn’t winning. In the end the beer was pretty good. I would like to have gone back and experienced this place not on a Friday night when it was packed to the gills.
After that we walked to the next brewery on our list, Strange Colt. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in this place; it kind of reminded me of an old pub: homey, kind of dark and you could tell that locals probably go here. The guy who poured our flight put some weird beer as the 4th one that was supposed to be a brown but the others were really good and I did enjoy the atmosphere.
After there we were hungry so we walked down the road a piece to a Mexican restaurant named Chapala, where we actually had to wait, which I thought was surprising. The food was quite good, especially the cheese dip so I am glad we decided on this one. We were debating taking an Uber to the last brewery because I honestly didn’t want to go to it because our friend from Brew club told us it wasn’t any good but Ash said we probably should just test it for ourselves. Sadly, it wasn’t good. We ordered a flight with four beers and only one of them was drinkable. Honestly, we make better homebrew than this guy made. But that’s okay; sometimes you have to make those mistakes. We did end up taking an Uber back as it was about 3 miles and a little cold out there.
The next morning we got up around 8ish to head down to the Destin area. Originally we were going to take an Uber down there just to make it easier but the rate that early in the morning was $30 and I wasn’t down to pay that, so we decided to drive. The long route not on the toll road was about a 30 minute drive that took you through Shalimar, Fort Walton Beach and then down across the bridge to Destin, so that was kind of a nice scenic drive on our way to breakfast, which we had decided to eat before since we never eat breakfast anymore. I was the one who scoped out a place but unfortunately I picked the one that is the most crowded. Crackings had a 45 minute wait so we ended up across the parking lot at a place called Destin Cafe and honestly, it was a really good breakfast! All I wanted were eggs benedict and theirs did not disappoint. (There was a whole table of Mennonites from Oregon there too so that was interesting; really don’t see a lot of those around here.)
After breakfast we went back across the street to rent bicycles from a place we had scoped before. This was certainly an adventure. The guy ran us through the deal with them and mentioned that if we had any problems we could always call them. Well, within the first mile the chain on Ash’s bike fell off. He messed with it for a while, as he does know how to fix these things since we have three children, but could not get it back on so we called the guy and he asked if we wanted to have him fix it or bring a replacement. I said bring a replacement and he showed up about 5 to 10 minutes later and ended up just fixing it even though he had brought a replacement. He swore it would not fall off again but before the day was through between our two bikes, chains fell off three total times. Luckily, we were able to get them back on the other two times. A little maintenance would go a long way on these bicycles as these chains were rusty as all get out. But overall the experience was really nice.
(Another thing happening at this time was that I was looking on resale ticket sites and Craiglist for tix to Ice Nine Kills. They had a show Saturday night at Club LA that’s been sold out for weeks but I figured someone couldn’t go, etc. We saw a crewmember by the beach but I decided not to accost him! In the end, I found someone selling 4 on Craigslist but he never got back to me. Sadness! I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.)
We biked along the main road and then turned off and rode along the beach road for a total of 8 miles towards the outlet malls. The only place I wanted to go into, Columbia, didn’t have any shorts that the boys like but I did find a long sleeve shirt for my son at a good price. After we hit those, we turned around to head towards the main shopping area to have some food. The Florida State game was going to be on later in the afternoon so we tried to get a spot in World of Beer but it was very crowded. While we waited, we crossed the street to The Craft Bar which we had been to in Panama City and we ended up staying there instead. We knew their burgers were good so it was worth it. They also have a very good beer selection. On that note, I think we counted that we tasted 43 different beers on this trip!
After eating, Ash texted his friend Bobby, who was in town due to a lacrosse tournament, to ask him where he was going to watch the game and they were actually waiting for a table at World of Beer, so we walked back over there and joined them for the first half of the game. World of Beer really made me angry because I ordered five different beers and none of them they had. Which made me angry simply because their menu was so outdated. That place does not actually represent a world of beer! But we did have fun there. As the sun was starting to set around 4ish central time, we decided to head back and return the bicycles just a little bit before 5:00. At this point we wanted to watch the rest of the FSU game but also hit places to drink more beer, because that had been our goal this trip. We went to the Destin brewery, which was not much of anything, then to a place called Props.
Their little bar and taproom (separate from their main brewery) was very cute. It’s the kind of low-key sportsbar I was looking for. What’s funny is that FSU was doing really well when we were with Bobby then they went to crap when we left. When we got to Props they started doing well again! We joked that we couldn’t move or we’d ruin the mojo and lo and behold, they ended up winning at the last minute!
One last stop was the Fort Walton brewery, which I’d consider the highlight of the trip. It was small, just an old home that had been remodeled and zoned commercial. We sat in the back corner and could scope their entire brewing area, a very small operation. The owner lady noticed us talking about her equipment and she engaged us, asking if we brewed. We spent the entire time talking to her! She’s technically a nano brewer because she only produces 4 barrels a year but it was very cool chatting with her; she even showed us some of her trade secrets and discussed how much profit she makes! I enjoyed learning about the business, since we’ve bandied about the idea of someday going larger with our operation.
By Sunday, mid-morning, we were home and back to our regular lives. My dad had to go to a funeral about an hour away so my mom hung around while we watched football and ate tacos and relaxed. I will say, it was hard to get back to the work mindset come Monday! Especially since Ash went to a conference so I’m solo parenting. But it was really nice to get away to the shore for just a few days!