We shall continue this week with Chris Butler’s account of beer exploration! In case you missed last week, click here and delight in joy of a beer blogger’s tour…..or sit there and steam with jealousy. Either one calls for a beer!
Next up, set apart from the others for many reasons, but most of all distance, we hit Saddlebock Brewing Company. While it’s not a long way off, just 15 minutes off of Highway 71 Business, it still seems you are in a different world while you enjoy views of the White River. The vision of Steve Rehbock (Chicago transplant, Brewmaster and owner) is one of green and sustainable. He gave us the tour of his gravity fed process, starting on the top of three floors in his barn-designed brewery. The largest in scope with 20 beers being produced, he distributes pressure-capped growlers and 22 ounce bombers throughout Arkansas. He is very engaging and driven; you can feel his passion when he talks about the brews. He talks about hard work and the future of his business, which include plans for a bed and breakfast across the street. Stay tuned for big ideas from Saddlebock
*PROTIP: The scenery and location are unparalleled by the region’s breweries. Go with the refreshing Helles Lager
Onward we traveled, towards Core Brewing Company. Located in Springdale, Core has the edge so far in distribution and in operation. Unfortunately, Brewmaster Jesse Core had a previous engagement on this day. Luckily there was plenty of beer to comfort us, so we each grabbed a pint and began the tour of the impressive facility. Starting with a system that Jesse wrote the code for himself, to the on-site chemistry lab, to the fledgling distillery, and a canning line which is helping with distribution production, you can tell this is a well-conceived operation. There is a visible charm around the brewery and tasting room, which adds to the experience of drinking with a local rising brewery star. They’ll soon be expanding to other states, Mexico, and will be opening a brewpub in Rogers in the coming weeks.
*PROTIP: Strong vision, distribution edge, and plenty of money backing. These guys will be big. Go with Black Lightning Black IPA
Second to last, we hit the newest and northern-most kid on the block, Ozark Beer Company. Brewmaster Andy Coates wasn’t in, but Lacie Bray gave us the lowdown on their concept and the background. Andy has previously worked at Great Divide and Goose Island, pre-ABInBev (think Biff Light), so the chops are there and the beer proves it. Having previously worked at West Mountain, Andy and Lacie came back due to Arkansas passing new liquor and beer laws that are favorable to brewers. They are a great example of a fertile beer-friendly Arkansas brining in serious beer talent. It feels nice to know such great people have chosen your state to make their home. They’ve just begun canning, much to the delight of all in the Northwest Arkansas region. They only make five beers, but they are all SPOT ON. Most are low ABV session beers which certainly showcase living the “Hard Work, Honest Beer” motto they advertise.
*PROTIP: Choose anything: you seriously cannot go wrong
And finally, our motley crew found our way to Fossil Cove Brewing Co, thanks to our driver, obviously. Greeted immediately by dinosaur bike racks, dogs and a food truck before we even see a menu, this place screams “local.” With Wednesday quiz nights and Friday “Randall Nights” brew master Ben Mills is capitalizing on proximity to the university, the highway, and the Northern Fayetteville shopping traffic. The small brewery, which is maxed out in capacity already, is looking for expansion alternatives as demand continues to grow. Excellent food trucks such as Tyler’s House BBQ service the customer’s needs for food, games, outdoor seating, and TVs for entertainment.
*PROTIP: Try the small-batch SMASH beers
And thus ends the adventures of our merry band of beer bloggers. At least all that is fit to print. Massive thanks again to the Fayettevile Visitors Bureau, Jessica Leonard (our intrepid leader from the Bureau), all of the breweries, the brewers, their staff and of course all the other participants.
You can read Chris’s blog here: http://astonesthrowandacenturyago.blogspot.com/