There’s a flavor and texture in the 1890 Founders Ale from Grayton Brewing that’s dredging up a memory from my childhood. It’s associated with a very small window of time in my life of which I’m not thoroughly proud. From ages 5-6, I was a candy klepto.
Now, I couldn’t even begin to fathom why I found it important, fun or even compulsive to do so. I was 5, people. Whatever the reason, I would pocket sugary sweets when nobody was looking. Now that I think about it, it was probably a habit instilled to me by my older sister. I seem to remember her taking the hat off of my head and hiding a handful of those orange slice candies – the jelly ones – between my dome and chapeau.
Well, if big sis says it’s okay… After that, I would sneak rolls of Life Savers, packs of Fruit Stripe Gum and York Peppermint Patties with impunity. What eventually broke me of my habit was scampering off into a store’s dressing room with a pilfered pack of chocolate Ex-Lax. Go ahead and laugh. I’m sure my mother is cringing in embarrassment as she reads this.
One of my former favorites to liberate from the shelves was the Brach’s Pick-n-Mix candies due to their small size. Easier to conceal a tiny candy or three than a Hershey’s Bar. To me, the tastiest of those treats was their Maple Log with the cream swirl.
Flash forward 35 years. I was recently re-acquainted with Grayton Brewing, a small operation just down the road in South Walton County. Literally right off of 98 in Santa Rosa Beach, these guys got their start in 2011 with a love of both beer and Florida Panhandle life. Their mission statement to create beer with Northwest Florida in mind is reflected in their easy-going yet not boring brew; laid back but not as simple as the suntan might imply.
Everything brought to me by Grayton to sample was all spot-on for the styles; their 30A Beach Blonde actually much more interesting than the average one. Then I tried their 1890 Founders Ale and found myself transported back to the days of Brach’s Maple Logs.
This amazing amber ale is light red-orange in color with a creamy, abundant cap that just doesn’t want to go away. Where 1890 really excels is in the 3-punch combo of its scents, flavors and textures. On the nose it’s possessive of a seductive crème brûlée quality with hits of caramel and very faint leafy hops. An incredibly creamy body delivers natural – not cloyingly sweet – maple, toffee, even more torched sugar and a trace of toasted walnut at the finish. There’s just enough hop presence to keep the sweetness in check but not interfere with the beer’s true appeal.
The only thing I’m going to have to steal now is some extra time to take that day trip over to Santa Rosa Beach and pay these guys a visit.