On the Ale Trail: Dixie Grill & Brewery

December 2, 2019

In this series, we’ll be chatting with local brewmasters on the Ale Trail of The Palm Beaches about their beers, the local craft brewing scene and what every visitor should do while they’re here.

Situated just a few blocks from Antique Row in West Palm Beach, Dixie Grill & Brewery is a locals’ hideaway on the Ale Trail of The Palm Beaches. Antiques play a big role here, on a ceiling overflowing with guitars, sneakers, kitschy lunch boxes and other vintage curiosities. Even retired taps keep a home behind the bar. 

Of the 30 or so live taps, a dozen are occupied by the creations of co-owner (with his wife, Rachel) and head brewer Jason Matta – from Hakuna Wheatata Wheat Ale to Don’t Copy That Hoppy Imperial IPA and others you won’t find anywhere but here. Jason began brewing after falling in love with New Belgium Fat Tire on a trip to Colorado in the early 2000s; because New Belgium was not yet available in Florida, he set out to find a good substitute – and ended up brewing what he calls his “Florida Fat Tire.” That beer became Dixie’s Ambrocious Amber Ale, named after the couple’s first dog.
Jason Matta
Jason Matta, Photo by Cristyle Egitto

When Jason took over front of house at Dixie in 2008, it was a dive bar with limited beers on tap, all macro-brewery bottles and the usual bar food. Slowly, he began making improvements to the draft list, swapping in craft selections and eventually adding his own brews to the rotation. Nowadays, the brewpub has a fervent local following for the food as well as the beer list, which also features other local breweries and special releases from around the country.

We chatted with Jason about Dixie, the local craft beer scene and some of his favorite spots in The Palm Beaches:

1. Describe Dixie Grill & Brewery in five words. 

1. Compact
2. Efficient 
3. Fun
4. Experimental 
5. Hot

2. What sets your brewery apart from others on the Ale Trail of The Palm Beaches? 

We are proud to be one of the few brewpubs in South Florida. We love being a destination not only for craft beer drinkers, but having options for everyone – a scratch food kitchen with new flavors and ideas daily, full liquor bar for crafted cocktails, and even wine. Our décor is unique, with original pieces of art and memorabilia from travels all over the country. 

Memorabilia hanging at Dixie Grill
Photo by Cristyle Egitto

3. Tell us about your signature beer (or beers). 

We started this adventure with Ambrocious Amber Ale, which is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. It’s a tropical-style amber ale that is light enough to drink anytime here in Florida.

Photo of beer can from Dixie Grill
Photo by Cristyle Egitto

Another beer we enjoy brewing is Trust No Blonde, which is a play on the senses. This ale is brewed as a blonde with additions of Kopi Luwak coffee straight from Cambodia and Vietnam. This addition allows the beer to have that roasted, coffee flavor typically found in stouts or porters, while remaining light-looking and lighter in ABV. 

The other beer well known to our locals is PR Knife Fight. We start with our Fatta Matta Imperial Stout and then add toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, Madagascar vanilla and fresh habañeros. The beer is a nod to my heritage. 

4. What types of styles or flavors do you like to experiment with? Any unusual ingredients you’ve used?

A perk of being as small as we are is the ability to use all real ingredients when treating our beers. The Kopi Luwak is a little different than your usual coffee blend since it’s made with the help of civets (if you don’t know the process, you may not want to look it up). For kettle sours and other fruited treatments, we have used passion fruit, peaches, cherries, strawberries, lemons, ginger and lime, just to name a few. 

5. What should people know about the craft beer scene in The Palm Beaches?

The craft beer industry here is constantly growing. We all work together to make this a destination in craft beer and spirits, too. The West Palm Beach Brewers Alliance is made up of all the local [breweries] in the city of West Palm Beach, and we meet each month to go over new opportunities and ideas to involve locals and tourists alike. 

6. What is the perfect beer to drink on a sunny day?

The one in your hand. I’m a believer that there is a beer out there for everyone, so just because I suggest a light lager or sour doesn’t mean you wouldn’t enjoy a shandy or brown ale. We even host our Dark Days of Summer release at the end of each summer with big, boozy imperial stouts, porters, etc. In the air conditioning, nothing is off limits. 

7. Say you need a break from beer; where do you go for a drink, and what do you get?

I’m a Moscow Mule fan. I joke that I have a copper cup just my size, which holds about a gallon of liquid. Ideally I would be drinking at any location by the water; there is just something about fresh ginger beer, vodka and a squeeze of lime that is perfectly refreshing.

8. Where was the last great local meal you had (and what was it)?

Obviously I’m partial to our restaurant and just about anything we cook here. But in an effort to be fair, I do love Asian-inspired dishes, and there are a few places in town I would travel to get delicious, spicy beef or pork. 

9. Describe your perfect day in The Palm Beaches. 

A perfect day would start with an early rise for golfing, fishing or brewing, followed by an afternoon near the water. 

10. What are the three things you’d tell a first-time visitor to do while they’re here?

There are so many things to do here it would depend on their vacation style. The beaches, the Palm Beach Zoo, a brew tour with Damn Good Beer Bus, there are so many options!

Ready to visit?

Image of chicken sandwich and fries from Dixie Grill.
Photo by Cristyle Egitto

Dixie Grill & Brewery is open daily for lunch and dinner starting at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, and serves up burgers, wraps, salads and hearty bar fare. The weekday lunch crowd is full of usual suspects, with another set of  regulars coming in for the weekend shift. Weekly events include Think and Drink Trivia on Tuesdays and Fridays, alongside special events like Paint and Pint nights. The setup is family-friendly, with great food options for kids.  Crowlers are also available to take home.

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Image of woman Cristlye Egitto
Cristyle Egitto
Cristyle Egitto is a South Florida native, born in Miami, raised in Palm Beach and educated at the University of Florida. She founded the food blog EatPalmBeach in 2013 as a way to discover restaurants and culinary talents in the area while supporting local businesses. Her writing has appeared in various publications, and she has been featured on local TV and in multiple magazines.