Thursday's gig was at Props Ale House in Niceville, Florida. Niceville is just north of Destin, and Props Brewing has three locations in the area, with the Ale House being the newest, just opening on July 4 of last year. The brewery itself has been around for about 3 years.
I had spent much of the day catching up on blogs and errands, and then had a little beach time prior to hitting Props. The beach time was interesting because this was my first exposure of the season, and I was walking that balance of trying to take advantage of the sun getting an early jump on my summer tan, and not wanting to burn (as I'm apt to do on that first exposure). A sunburn while touring in a van would not be fun. Suffice it to say, I did end up with a enough sun that I peeled a little bit on my nose and chest, and to be itching under my clothes for a few days... but nothing too bad.
Props Ale House - Niceville, FL
In addition to the three tap rooms, Props beers can be found in restaurants, drinking establishments, and retail shops throughout most of Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
The Props Ale House looks from it's floor plan like it might have once been a sports bar or possibly a pubgrub chain (like a TGIFridays or something like that), which might be as it was also located in a retail shopping center or strip. Inside, there are two tiers, the bottom tier near the main entrance has a big square bar in the middle of the room (like Cheers), and a big kitchen, and then there is an upper tier that is elevated by maybe 5 or 6 steps, with another smaller bar and the stage area. Both levels had plenty of tables, and the upper tier also had some arcade games, and the entrance to the patio area. The stage area is off to one side, kinda overlooking the lower tier (see pics below, which I took prior to the crowd arriving). The food must be good, as everyone was eating with their beers. BTW, I was just speaking to the layout... the decor is much nicer than any chain, done with brick, ceramic tiles, and wood.
The staff were all very friendly and helpful, especially Kayleigh (sorry, not sure which spelling!), who was working the bar and helped guide me through the beer selections. She had been there since before the location opened, so it's always great to find someone who knows the history and is knowledgeable of the operations, so she gave me the lay of the land.
My first beer of the night was the Four Kings Brown Ale (5.2%) which was a very nicely done brown, and a little different than what you might expect in a brown. Rather than heavy in toasty or malty flavors, it was a little lighter on the malt side, and complimented by light hints of citrus via citra hops. It also was rather dry on the back end, and crisp enough that it was almost “tingly” on the palate, which made it unusually refreshing for a brown, and left you wanting more. In a strange way it was almost like a sessionable brown... yet still somehow being satisfying in terms of it being a brown ale in the first place.
Another tasty Props brew is the Blood Orange Bomber Ale (5%). A medium-bodied blonde ale with blood orange, and if you've been following this blog you've probably learned that I love and can't pass up on a blood orange beer. The fruit wasn't initially quite as upfront or dominant in this one as some, in fact at the time I thought I might detect more of peel flavor than the juice itself... although as I made my way through the pint I sort of reversed on that position... there seemed to be a residual effect where the more you drank the more the blood orange came out in the ale, not unlike to how peppers seem to become hotter or more dominant the more you eat. Either way, the blonde ale itself was tasty, and the blood orange was a good addition without being too perfumed or forward.
Another memorable beer was the Props Dos Pilotos Cerveza (4.5%), which is a South American lager brewed with pale malts from Patagonia, Chili. This was unusual in that it was their attempt to brew a Corona -like beer, which I hadn't seen before. That said, I haven't toured the rest of Florida nor Texas yet, so I'd imagine the idea might be a bit more common in those areas, as few things are as refreshing in extreme heat and humidity than an icy Corona and lime. Props did a stellar job with theirs, as it was light and crisp and thirst quenching and of course a little citrusy with the lime.
The Props crowd was friendly and enthusiastic, and seemed family friendly (I recall seeing some families with teens, I don't recall any very young kids there, nor dogs.... I don't know if this was by policy or just coincidence). I'd put them on the list of breweries that I'd like to return to and next time try the food, as it looked good and everyone seemed to be enjoying it (I don't usually eat before gigs, as you dont really want to sing on a full stomach, which is why I didn't).
This was as far east as I made it on this trip, but I really enjoyed Pensacola and the Destin areas, and look forward to touring Florida some time soon (currently thinking that might be in November). From here I doubled back west along the Gulf coast, with the next gig being at Lazy Magnolia in Kiln, MS.
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