It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!Read More about this safari issue.
A new brewery opened in east Fayetteville last week. Very few people knew about it because there was no announcement beforehand. It was a sneaky move in an industry known to be more hyped than hushed.
“I’ve done this before,” said Brian O’Connell of Fayetteville Beer Works. “In my experience, a big grand opening doesn’t provide the best experience for first-time customers. Staff is figuring things out, so they’re nervous. Long lines at the bar make things more stressful for everyone. We wanted a slower pace to start.”
O’Connell and his wife Khara own and operate the brewery and taproom located at 2649 E. Mission Blvd. #1. The pair saw the east side of Fayetteville as underserved and ripe for business. There are several breweries in town, but most cluster in a central corridor near the Razorback Greenway. The further you go in either direction, the fewer options you see. With so many people living near the busy Mission and Crossover intersection, Fayetteville Beer Works’ location seems like a good bet.
Strategic location aside, the new brewery also represents a second chance for Brian O’Connell. “It’s an opportunity to fix some mistakes I made with our first brewery,” he said. “I know so much more now than I did before. Coming into this with intention and a clear vision, I’m excited about what we can do here.”
O’Connell and a few partners founded Renegade Brewing Co. in Denver in 2011. The brewery grew quickly, and by 2017 was producing around 6,000 barrels per year and distributing its beer in five states.
“It was a much larger operation than what we have here,” said O’Connell. “It was a boom period for craft beer in Colorado, and we were a part of that next generation of breweries. We grew quickly.”
According to O’Connell, Renegade was just the tenth brewery in Denver. Its predecessors were established names like Wynkoop and Great Divide. Today there are over 150 beermakers in Colorado’s capital city. O’Connell, who originally caught the homebrew bug thanks to a Mr. Beer beer-making kit gifted by his wife, brewed at Renegade in its early days. He shifted to back-office operations as the business grew, leaving brewing duties to full-time brewers.
“Every once in a while, I would venture out on the brewery floor to help,” said McConnell. “As we grew, our brewhouse evolved; and eventually, I was just getting in everyone’s way. I mostly focused on sales and marketing in the later days.”
In 2017, O’Connell sold a significant stake in Renegade to Silver Fox Partners, an investment firm run by former Xerox CEO Ann Mulcahy. “We had shifted to distribution as our primary source of income,” he said. “There were a lot more breweries, and seltzer was coming into the picture. Shelf space was getting tight. We were too big to act small, and too small to act big. We needed an infusion of cash in order to keep growing.”
O’Connell was retained after the sale and was put in charge of operations. After some time in that role, he and his wife decided it was time to come home to Arkansas – the couple has roots in the central part of the state – to raise their then-three-year-old twins. In 2020, O’Connell bought a business brokerage company, and the family moved to Fayetteville.
Sign up for our weekly e-news.
Get stories sent straight to your inbox!
We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.