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Northwest Food 0

Arkansas Craft Beer Week puts spotlight on growing industry

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Arkansas Craft Beer Week is taking place this week. It runs through March 12, culminating with a special pint day to benefit the Arkansas Brewers Guild. This is the third year that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed the week in an effort to spotlight the state’s growing craft beer industry.

Local brewers seem to have survived the worst of Covid-19 and are once again thriving. There are 18 breweries currently operating in Benton and Washington counties. Twenty if you count the two in Eureka Springs. Twenty-one if you want to factor for cider.

Add at least four more to the total when breweries-in-planning (that we know about) come online later this year.

The days when the brew pub on Dickson Street was the only place making beer in NWA seem like ancient history. Now, if you live in any of the four main cities along the I-49 corridor, you are generally within a five-minute drive of a brewery taproom.

The entire state is seeing the same surge. There are now 50 breweries making beer in Arkansas, with probably a dozen or more in various stages of planning.

On Saturday, most of the state’s breweries will be offering a commemorative Arkansas Craft Beer Week pint glass in their taprooms. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Arkansas Brewers Guild to help fund its promotional and legislative activities. The guild provides a collective voice for its members on issues that affect beermakers.

Social Project Brewing Co. / Photo by Brian Sorensen

Not directly related to craft beer week, but otherwise perfectly timed, several local brewers will participate in a panel discussion as a part of the Northwest Arkansas Community College’s Spring Arts & Culture Festival. They’ll talk about the relationship between breweries and surrounding communities at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 at Bentonville Brewing Co.

You should probably look for Bentonville Brewing’s Spring Wrecker White IPA while you listen to the brewers discuss their work. It was just released in limit quantities, so it won’t be around long.

Speaking of new releases, here are a few others from around NWA. You can seek them out as you celebrate Arkansas Craft Beer Week.

Black Apple Hard Cider has strawberry cider on tap in downtown Springdale. No, not officially a beer, but cider is a close (and deeply-loved) cousin. And this one screams spring.

Columbus House Brewery just released Zweihander IPL, a hopped-up lager made with German malt and hops. It might be the closest thing to the nouveau beer style known as “cold IPA” that we have in Fayetteville.

Over in Eureka Springs, Gotahold Brewing has been featuring other Arkansas breweries in its taproom. Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. from Paris recently joined with beer from the beer farm. And on Thursday of this week, Stone’s Throw Brewing from Little Rock will be on hand. Gotahold currently has a delicious Flanders red-style sour beer of its own called Eureka Rouge.

Crisis Brewing / Photo by Brian Sorensen

New Province Brewing Co. just turned six years old. There were several special beers on tap as a part of the anniversary festivities, including Feeling Fancy — a red wine barrel-aged Berliner Weiss that was refermented on cranberries. I have a feeling this would be a good week to stop by New Province.

Shagbark Brown is back at Ozark Beer Co. First brewed in 2017 as a part of its Ozark Highland Series, its aroma reminded me then of a walk in the Ozark forest. This year’s version was scaled back to 5% ABV but still holds on to the woodsy nostalgia.

Rendezvous Junction Brewing Co. put peanut butter in its porter and called it Tagalong Peanut Butter Cup Porter. It’s pouring in the taproom now.

Social Project Brewing Co. just released a triple hazy IPA it calls “Where you Ben.” The brewery says it’s ripe with strawberry and dank aromas.

All the other breweries in Northwest Arkansas — Apple Blossom, Bike Rack, Boston Mountain, Core, Crisis, Eureka Springs Brewery, Fossil Cove, Hawk Moth, Ivory Bill, JJ’s, Natural State, Saddlebock, and West Mountain—are making great beer, too.

Get out and support all of your local brewers while you enjoy Arkansas Craft Beer Week.

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