Grayton Beer Company taps into fresh fall flavors
Brewery celebrates its 2017 harvest ale, CentenniALE
By Michelle Farnham
October 1, 2017
After a long, hot summer of sipping 30A Beach Permit Blonde Ale on sandy shores, Grayton Beer Company switched gears – and seasons – with the release of its 2017 fall harvest ale, CentenniALE. To celebrate the tapping, the local brewery hosted its Harvest Ale Release Party Sept. 28.
Due to the delicate nature of a hops flower, a harvest ale is likely the freshest ale you’ll ever taste. Brewers have just 24 hours after the hops are harvested before they’ll start to turn, so time is of the essence. Adding to the time crunch, most commercial hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast – not exactly down the street from the South Walton brewery.
The CentenniALE is named for the 1,000 pounds of Centennial hops it is made from, and according to GBC head brewer Tyler White, creating this year’s brew was a marathon effort.
“The crew at Hop Head Farms in Michigan started picking in the wee hours of the morning, they drove through the night, and we had these hops in the kettle in 19 hours,” White said, while sipping samples during the evening’s media reception. “We chose Centennial hops with a great bright, really citrus taste, herbal and some pine on the aroma and the finish.”
So what makes a good harvest ale?
“The weather’s cooling down, you think fuller mouthfeel beers, you think slightly higher alcohol, and that deep amber color to match the season. We’re really excited to release it,” White said.
Since fresh is the name of the game with this brew, GBC will only offer the 2017 CentenniALE on draft.
“Our challenge as a brewery was, we need to get it to the most people possible as fresh as possible, and the way to do that is as a draft,” White said. “We’re going to look into some options moving forward to go to a can or bottle, but this year draft made the most sense. You’ll see it around town.”
Other eclectic tastes
Media reps were also able to try some of GBC’s limited-release brews: the Franklin County Oyster Stout, Dubbel Barrel, and Rosé of the Gulf.
In addition to 500 whole Apalachicola oysters, the English-style oyster stout is flavored with the seemingly unlikely mix of poblano and chipotle peppers, and lemon peel.
“You get the brine of the salt water and a touch of heat from the peppers, but you also get the great malt quality from the dark malts and a pretty dry stout. We do this once a year, too, so it’s always exciting to bring it back,” White said.
The Dubbel Barrel is done in the style of a Belgian Dubbel, aged in bourbon casks and crafted in collaboration with Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery of Nashville. At 8 percent alcohol and 23 IBU, this extremely limited release is bottled in a 750ml champagne bottle.
Featuring flavor profiles that typically appeal to wine-drinkers, the Rosé of the Gulf combines dried hibiscus flowers and berries to give it that light, rosé color.
“You get the great floral and fruit notes, but it’s subtle and a little bit salty, a little bit tart. It’s low alcohol, so it makes perfect sense for when it’s 9,000 degrees here,” White joked.
Back in the taproom, the crowd listened to the musical stylings of The Graytones while munching on food from the new Back Beach Barbecue, located at 19714 Panama City Beach Parkway in Panama City Beach.