Idyll Hounds Brewing Company's Instructions are Beach, Beer, Repeat
November 11, 2013 by Jill Tanner
When Frasier Hansen and Shawn Sherman met a few years ago, opening a craft brewery in South Walton was just a seed of a dream. A lot of planning, anxiety, sweat, and financing has passed since, and Idyll Hounds Brewing Company is about to blossom. The duo beam like proud poppas when speaking of the first batch of ale soon to be to be brewed in their brand-new facility in the South Walton Commerce Park, off Hwy 98 between Point Washington and Rosemary Beach.
Construction of the 7,500 square-foot brewery is nearing completion, and installation of high-tech brewing equipment is proceeding at a break-neck pace for the production of the first two beers - Man o’ Wheat (unfiltered wheat), and Divide & Conch’r (double IPA).
Frasier and Shawn (l,r in top photo) first met while working together as chefs at Summer Kitchen Cafe in Rosemary Beach in 2011. The two shared a passion for beer and food, and frequently talked about opening their own restaurant with a heavy emphasis on good beer. Frasier introduced Shawn to the world of home brewing and over the course of many toasts, tasty beers, and a lot of conversation - the pair formulated their plan for a full-fledged craft brewery in South Walton.
“Hops and grains won out over onions and celery,” Shawn says. "Our love of beer has grown together and the history and tradition of brewing is something we care about deeply. We're not in it for the money. We're in it for the craft."
As it turns out, opening a brewery was the direction Frasier had been heading for awhile, even if he didn't realize it. He began home brewing many years ago while working in a home brew shop in his home town of Salt Lake City. As people came in to buy supplies and equipment, Frasier learned more about brewing every day. Soon folks were asking him for advice, and soon after that they were enjoying his masterful home brew batches.
Frasier's passion for brewing spurred a yearning for more knowledge. He checked out American brewing education programs and found all of them had minimum two-year waiting lists for admittance. So he searched farther afield and found a great opportunity in England. The renowned Brewlab in Newcastle had recently outgrown its facility at the University of Sunderland, becoming independent and establishing its own facility, and was accepting aspiring brewmasters.
Frasier applied and was accepted to Brewlab, and three weeks later he hopped the pond to begin a fantastic journey in craftsmanship. A lot was learned about brewing in the time he spent there. He worked in multiple breweries and had one-on-one training with accomplished brewmasters. He returned to the States feeling confident about his brewing skills, and eager to put them to use.
Shawn is originally from Williamsurg, VA, and has been a chef since moving to South Walton in 1998. His skill for pairing flavor profiles relates directly to brewing unique beers. As his friendship with Frasier grew, so did their mutual passion and knowledge of brewing. As their relationship grew, their talks shifted from creating a restaurant to birthing a brewery.
Shawn and Frasier decided to start moderately and grow with the market, but they still needed a little help. That is when Frasier’s parents, Michael and Carolyn Hansen, offered to help fund the project. That's where the name of the company comes from. Michael’s nickname is “The Hound” and Carolyn, sometimes answers to “Mrs. Hound”. While playing around with different names using "hound", the guys came across "idyll", which means “a simple descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment.” They felt this embodied their beer and lifestyle, and also rolled off the tongue – Idyll Hounds became the company name.
Now that everything is coming together, Frasier and Shawn will be able to focus on the most important thing - brewing delicious beers to improve life on Earth. They have been methodically and thoughtfully perfecting their craft to create the perfect beer.
“We want to let the product speak for itself,” Frasier proudly states.
The company plans to produce around 2,000 barrels the first year - keeping initial distribution local and hoping that demand will grow naturally. All Idyll Hounds beer will be in cans or kegs - protecting the product from sunlight which can degrade freshness and flavor. Since glass is not allowed on South Walton beaches, Idyll Hounds beer will be an easy choice when beach lovers buy suds. And who can argue with a slogan like "beach, beer, repeat"?