Florida is the world’s most popular vacation destination and while most families think of Orlando or Miami when they plan a family trip to the Sunshine State, a growing proportion of Florida vacationers are turning to the northwest part of the state, an area known for its emerald waters, white sand beaches, pristine forests, and convivial residents. This area of the state is also home to a growing number of breweries and one deserving of your time and attention is Grayton Beer Company, a brewery located in Santa Rosa Beach, just east of Destin, Florida.
Beer in the Florida Panhandle
Here at Great Beer Now, we try to make beer a part of every vacation and a recent spring break excursion presented the perfect opportunity to sample Florida Panhandle beer and pay a visit to a brewery or two. At the top of my list was Grayton Beer Company due to its large and growing presence and its highly effective public relations and social media outreach. Even though Great Beer Now calls Texas home, I was still fully aware of Grayton Beer Company thanks to its excellent effort to spread the word far and wide. I had never tried Grayton beer before, but I had heard many positive words from fellow beer connoisseurs who I know and respect. All systems were go and I set out from my Destin resort, heading in a due east direction to visit this brewery known as Grayton, check out its facility, meet its employees, and sample some beer.
Visiting Grayton Beer
Grayton Beer Company utilizes a large facility located just off the main drag (state route 30/98) about 30 minutes east of Destin. It wasn’t too difficult to find, but I’m glad I had my GPS tuned and ready, as the street (Serenoa Road) on which Grayton is located was not marked with sign. But my GPS came through and in no time, I was pulling into the parking lot, ready to snap pictures and learn more about this Florida Brewery.
I spent some time touring the facility and conversing with Grayton Beer owner Jamey Price about his brewery, Florida beer laws, and other related topics. Jamey graciously showed me around the brewery, filled me in on the state of Florida brewing, and poured me several beers. Many craft beer fans are already aware of Florida’s craft beer business and its struggles with the absurd law against 64 oz. growlers, but this is only the beginning. Florida has many other legal hurdles placed in front of craft breweries and Jamey let me known about some of the challenges he faces each day as he tries to bring quality beer to the masses.
A Growing Footprint
Walking through the Grayton Beer facility, watching the brewing operation in full swing, and meeting some of the employees, one thing was abundantly clear: Jamey Price is serious about the business of beer. I don’t mean this purely from the perspective of running a successful company financially because every brewery wants to achieve success. What I mean is that Jamey is committed to his company and the community on multiple levels. He wants his company to brew quality beer and he wants to play a key role in sustaining the local economy. He wants Grayton Beer Company to serve as a cog in the wheel of economic development, providing additional jobs to keep locals employed during the low tourist season. He wants to change the way craft breweries are governed and help create a fairer, more sensible approach to regulation. He wants craft breweries like his to succeed and eliminate the unnecessary and often outrageous laws that stifle economic growth and discourage potential entrepreneurs from entering the fray.
At the moment, Grayton Beer is distributed in Florida and Alabama. The brewery is expanding its reach, slowly but surely, to more areas of Florida and eventually to other states. The Grayton beer footprint is growing ever larger and will likely continue to do so, especially once some of the state’s anti- craft beer laws are overturned.
Vacation Means Beer
Beer is an important part of any travel excursion. Each section of the United States has its own unique way of life, raw materials, legal obstacles, and other factors that contribute to the beer culture. This is why I make it a point to visit local breweries and sample local beer everywhere I go and I have met many great people- and sampled many outstanding beers- as a result.
Grayton Beer Company embodies the Florida panhandle lifestyle and with the brewery’s commitment to quality, investment in the community, and involvement of its committed employees, Grayton Beer is well on its way to becoming a household name. Forget that 99th visit to Disney World- visit the Florida panhandle instead and pay a visit to the brewery, if you get the chance. People, community, and quality are what Grayton Beer is all about and it shows every step of the way.