South Walton Home to Growing Craft Beer Scene
Known for its sugar-white beaches and turquoise waters, South Walton is also gaining attention for beautiful golden and amber hues, along with rich, darker tones brewed up at two local craft beer breweries. These selections are served up at an impressive selection of bars and restaurants that enthusiastically support the craft beer movement.
From ales and lagers to stouts and IPAs, there are almost as many opportunities to find your perfect brew in South Walton as there are unique beach neighborhoods to explore. If you want to live like a local, don’t overlook the budding craft beer scene.
Grayton Beer Company, South Walton’s first craft brewery, was the dream of Jamey Price, a self-proclaimed beer lover, who fell in love with the craftsmanship of beer when he discovered the more complex brews of the Sierra Nevada beer company. The dream of bringing a craft beer to Walton County became a reality for Price in 2011 when he opened Grayton Beer Company.
With the motto “Slow Down, You’re Here,” it’s easy to see why Grayton Beer Company quickly became part of the fabric of South Walton. Arriving at the bar in the tap room, aficionados can take a deep breath and leave the troubles of the day behind.
Grayton Beer Company’s core lineup of brews include the 30A Beach Blonde Ale, 1890 Founder’s Ale, White Dunes, the Fish Whistle IPA, and the Salt of The Gulf. Head brew master Tyler White and his team also showcase their creativity with a constant rotation of seasonal beers and a barrel-aged series. The brewery’s tap room offers a laid back vibe, is pet friendly and hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
Just a quick trip down the road from Grayton Beer Company is Idyll Hounds Brewing Company, which opened in 2013. Chefs Fraiser Hansen and Shawn Sherman are the familiar faces behind Idyll Hounds Brewing Company. Hansen and Sherman deeply value the history and tradition of brewing and have been fine-tuning their skills to create the perfect craft beer. They focus on both eco- and beach-friendly products, using 100 percent recyclable materials to can their beer.
Idyll Hounds’ signature brews, inspired by “the white sand beaches, forever blue skies and warm waters of Florida,” are the Divide and Conch’r, Man O’ Wheat and their Boosh. With minds that never rest, the brewers at Idyll Hounds continually create new beers, such as their Green Thizz and a barrel-aged imperial stout.
From live music to food trucks, the events calendar at Idyll Hounds stays busy. Visitors are welcome to stop by the brewery for tours or just to grab a cold beer.
The beer scene in South Walton stretched well beyond the breweries. Located in Santa Rosa Beach near Gulf Place and the Ed Walline Regional Beach Access is the Growler Garage, a beer-lovers paradise. With more than 40 taps, you’re surely going to find the brew that’s right for you, whether it’s hoppy, sweet or somewhere in between. Whether you decide to sip on your brew while soaking up some live music or fill a growler to go, there’s plenty of ice cold brews to choose from.
If you fancy variety, Beach & Brew on 30A is the new kid on the block. Located in Seacrest, Beach & Brew on 30A actually grew from the idea of variety, which is why they offer beers from every style, whether it's stouts, pilsners or IPAs. Not sure what you like, that's OK, too. With plenty of choices, you'll never leave disappointed.
The word “craft” in its name lets you know The Craft Bar offers awesome brews and righteous cocktails. With locations in Miramar Beach and Grayton Beach, the Craft Bar is known as a Gastropub, which means it’s a bar and restaurant that pours high-end beer and cocktails with chef-inspired food. From supporting local breweries like Grayton Beer Company and Idyll Hounds to featuring regional “Tap Takeovers” with Cigar City and Oyster City, the Craft Bar has become a popular destination amongst foodies and craft beer lovers.
On the east end of 30A in Alys Beach, the NEAT Bottle Shop and Tasting Room opened in 2016 and showcases a shop stocked with artisan beverages and bar tools. For those wanting to take a deeper dive, the Tasting Room hosts regular events featuring a variety of wineries, breweries and distilleries, as well as occasional artisanal mixers they may not experience locally.
South Walton is also home to the Baytowne Beer Festival. Held in October, this annual festival has been going strong for a decade and features a diverse mix of breweries and more than 200 international and domestic brews. Be sure to check out the Visit South Walton website for up-to-date information on the area’s beer-themed festivities.
So the next time you visit South Walton, be sure to drink like a local and explore the hand-crafted brews from Grayton Beer Company and Idyll Hounds. Don’t forget to indulge in a handmade burger at the Craft Bar or to take home a growler full of local beer from the Growler Garage.