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Microbreweries, brewpubs, and tap rooms have been growing in popularity all over the United States. Arkansas, specifically Central Arkansas, was a little late to the party, but breweries have finally arrived in full force.
Just three years ago, Arkansas ranked 41st in the nation with only 10 craft breweries registered with the Brewers Association. Currently, there are 31 breweries listed across the state with more popping up on a regular basis.
Here in Central Arkansas, there are the longtime staples like Diamond Bear, newbies like Flyway Brewing and the not-even-open-yet Rebel Kettle Brewing Company. Each one offers a few standard brews with seasonal specialties mixed in. There has recently been a lot of excitement surrounding the local food scene in Central Arkansas, and many breweries are adding to that buzz. (Do you see what I did there?)
Friends and coworkers Ida and Laura began up-cycling furniture together. As their friendship grew, Ida’s husband, Patrick, and Laura discovered that they both had a love for beer and brewing. They worked together to craft The Whittler in an effort to get Ida interested in beer too. Excitement grew, and plans for the Blue Canoe Brewing Co. became a reality in December 2014.
Their year-round menu includes the Razorback Rye PA, the 4×4 Pale Ale, Lazy River Table Beer and, of course, the Whittler Milk Stout. Seasonal varieties vary but may include Irish Reds, Belgian Blondes and American Blondes. Their small menu contains locally made dips and blue corn tortilla chips.
Damgood Pies has been home to some of the best pizzas in Little Rock for years. They also have a selection of microbrews and recently opened their newest pizzeria and brewpub in the River Market. Their in-house beer menu includes a variety of brews that are light and smooth, fruity cider brewed with wild yeast and a full-bodied brew that is made with dark roasted coffee. They have a selection to fit the tastes of any palate.
If the weather is agreeable, the new River Market location has a small but lovely outdoor seating area. Nothing makes a day better than fresh air, delicious pizza and a refreshing local beer.
Diamond Bear Brewing was started with a Pale Ale in 2000 and has since grown throughout the region and is now available in several states. They offer six varieties year-round with an occasional seasonal beer thrown in for fun.
The Ale House offers a complete menu and is open six days a week. Brewery tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and include a tour of the production facility, samples and a souvenir glass.
Flyway Brewing is one of the newest breweries on the scene having just opened in December 2015. Their product has been around for a few years and has been on tap at several area restaurants.
Fans of Flyway can now hop in and enjoy a craft beer and pretzel pairing. Enjoy an Early Bird IPA with a Sriracha Salt Pretzel or the Free Range Brown Ale with a Bacon Salt Pretzel. They have five pretzels and dipping sauces ready to be paired up with their delicious selection of craft beers. The Flyway Feathers offer your choice of four 5-ounce pours of any of their 12 beers on tap.
Flyway Brewing Co. is located at 700 E. 9th St in Little Rock. You can find out more about their hours and offerings on their website or on Facebook.
Lost Forty is a microbrewery rooted deeply in Arkansas. The name Lost Forty comes from a bit of a tall tale about a 40-acre forest that stood on virgin soil in Calhoun County, and they aim to craft beer that is uniquely Arkansan.
Their taproom is a great place to grab a bite and grab a beer. Come in on Wednesday’s for great prices on Growler refills.
Lost Forty Brewing is located at 501 Byrd Street in Little Rock. You can find out more about their hours and offerings on Facebook.
Refined Ale has been in operation for six years and manufactures old world style ales which are unfiltered and open fermented. The brewery sells directly to the public only on Sundays.
Refined Ale Brewery is located at 2221 S. Cedar Street in Little Rock. You can find out more about their hours and offerings on Facebook.
Located in the MacArthur Park Historic District, Stone’s Throw Brewing is the genius of four guys who met at a local home brew club and poured their passion into creating a selection of beers available in their taproom and at several locations around the city.
The taproom serves eight beers and ciders on taps and offers products from Loblolly Creamery, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Kent Walker Cheeses and Wicked Mixes. They also have regularly scheduled food trucks stopping by to offer up delicious compliments to their brews.
Fortunately, for Central Arkansas beer lover’s the fun doesn’t stop at the end of this list. There are several more breweries scheduled to make their debuts in the coming months.
A leap of faith taken by two home brewers will lead to some exciting things in the future. Leap of Faith Brewing is currently looking to open a taproom in Argenta along with Bloodeagle Brewing.
Leap of Faith puts community first and foremost and plans to donate a portion of all future sales to Subiaco Abbey and another rotating charity.
Follow Leap of Faith on Facebook as they begin their Central Arkansas adventure. You will be able to find collaboration beers on tap at both Flyway Brewing and Stone’s Throw Brewing in the next few weeks.
Rebel Kettle isn’t open yet but when they do, you will want to check out this James-Dean-style rebellious taproom that surely won’t fit the mold of what you expect. Matt Morgan, the owner, tells me that Rebel Kettle expects to go against the grain and bring customers a lot of unexpected things. Rebel Kettle will be a “destination” rather than just a place to go drink beer.
The 6000 square foot space will have a large dining room where they will serve up gourmet burgers and Cajun/Mississippi Delta-inspired food cooked up by Pat Beard (formerly of Southern Gourmasian) that you won’t find anywhere else in Arkansas.
They will have 16 taps and offer up “odd stuff” like Mango Habanero IPA, Double Brown Ales, and even a brew called Salty Watermelon.
The piece Matt Morgan seems most excited about is their outdoor play area that will be fun for all ages. They have a large patio and a yard that will include Baggo Courts, Bocce Ball Courts and will regularly host Tether Ball tournaments. Patrons can enjoy a little slice of outdoors in downtown Little Rock.
Rebel Kettle is located at 822 E. 6th Street in Little Rock. Follow them on Facebook so you can join them when they open this spring.
If you are planning to explore the Central Arkansas Breweries you might be interested in checking out the Locally Labeled Passport so you can score a cool free T-shirt. Kat Robinson explains more about the program in her recent article Locally Labeled.
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