Arkansas’s topography, people, and culture can change dramatically every few miles of Arkansas highway, but there’s one common denominator in the shared Arkansas experience. The summer heat is as intense in the Ozark Mountains as it is in the Delta.
Fortunately, there are nearly 50 breweries in the state making beer to bring relief from the stifling heat. Here are a few Arkansas beers to look for as we finish out the summer drinking season.
The following beers are widely available. You can find them in cans throughout much of the state.
Ozark Beer Co.
American Pale Ale
This was the first beer the Rogers brewery put in cans. The super dry, low-alcohol pale ale is the quintessential lawnmower beer (that is, a beer to quench the deepest of thirsts). It registers 4.3% alcohol by volume and leaves a soft, delicate feel on the tongue. It has a wonderful grapefruit rind character with notes of fresh cut grass. The elk-emblazoned can is one of the more iconic images in Arkansas beer.
Lost Forty Brewing Co.
Lil’ Wheezy IPA
Low-alcohol IPAs have flooded the market in recent years. Little Rock’s Lost Forty makes one of the best in Arkansas. Lil’ Wheezy weighs in at 4% ABV and 115 calories, making it a great option when longevity matters as much as flavor. It’s light, bright, and tropical in its composition. Make sure to have several nearby when sitting poolside.
Norfork Brewing Co.
Summers in Arkansas wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the lake. Up in Baxter County, Norfork Brewing Co. sits near the southern end of the lake of the same name. Many of its beers are now showing up in cans in other parts of the state. One of them is Woodsman Pilsner, which is brewed with yeast harvested from the native paw-paw fruit. It lends a rustic character to a traditionally smooth and easy drinking style of beer.
Diamond Bear Brewing Co.
Little Red Strawberry Lager
A much-needed rebranding of this popular beer took place in late 2020. Gone is the pinup poster girl from the beer’s original can art. In its place is a bear with a fishing pole that won’t make parents cringe when a child accidentally pulls a can from the cooler instead of a juice box. This crisp, strawberry-infused lager from Diamond Bear is light, effervescent, and highly crushable.
Black Apple Hard Cider
This tasty cider is an option when you’ve had enough malt and hops. Cherry Limeade is a tangy summertime treat that was released back in May but is still readily available throughout the state. Black Apple’s take on ciders is more dry than sweet, which is welcome news for those who find more mainstream ciders a bit too saccharine. Rumor has it Cherry Limeade slushies can be found from time-to-time in the Springdale taproom, putting a provocative spin on an already delightful drink.
These beers are harder to find. You might need to go to the source to try them.
Point Remove Brewing Co.
Black Jack Pirate Ale
Morrilton’s Point Remove is one of the newest breweries in Arkansas. It occupies a former Coca-Cola bottling plant that features 60,000 square feet of space. Black Jack Pirate Ale is a cream ale brewed with dark grain to give it the appearance of a heavier, more filling beer. Yet the optics don’t match the flavor, which is on the lighter end of the spectrum. It’s a summer option for those who drink stouts and porters in the cooler months.
Rendezvous Junction Brewing Co.
Raspberry and hibiscus punctuate this sour ale brewed to celebrate the one-year anniversary of co-owner Mike Peerson’s near-death accident. (He is now fully recovered). Its release coincided with the grand opening of Rendezvous Junction’s new 6,000-square-feet brewing facility in Rogers. Expect more sour offerings from the brewery’s original location, which will remain in operation and be known as “Side Tracked.”
Superior Bathhouse Brewery
Spicy Ride Jalapeno Ale
Some say spicy food is good to eat in the summer because it makes you sweat, and sweat is your body’s way of regulating heat to make you feel cooler. If true, this jalapeno beer from Hot Springs might be a good choice over the next few weeks. The pepper aroma is wonderful, and the heat marries with the sweetness of the malt to create an interesting yet pleasurable drinking experience. Eureka Springs Brewery and Flyway Brewing in North Little Rock also make pepper beers worth checking out.
Crisis Brewing Co.
It wouldn’t be a summer beer list without a hazy IPA. Fayzed is one of the most popular examples of the style in Northwest Arkansas. It exemplifies what makes hazy IPAs so popular — hoppy but not overly bitter, and loaded with citrus and tropical flavors. At 6.9% ABV it’s a bit bigger than other beers on the list, but the alcohol is well hidden and the beer can still be considered a thirst quencher. Crisis is a super small brewery south of Fayetteville’s downtown square, and nearly every drop of its beer is sold in the taproom.
Native Dog Brewing
Camden’s first brewery arrived in January of this year. Owners Bobby and Lauren Glaze are doing their part to bring craft beer to southern Arkansas. Their most recent release is a blend of the brewery’s wheat beer and lemon-lime soda. So-called radlers — or shandys — are a sweeter, bubblier version of beer that can cut through the thick humidity of the Arkansas lowlands.
New Province Brewing Co.
Dreaming in Tangerine
Fruit lovers rejoiced when New Province released its IPA brewed with tangerines. The brewery describes it as “… perfectly bitter and bursting with citrus flavor.” And it’s true. Intense tangerine flavor hits at the beginning, middle, and end of this beer. Dreaming in Tangerine was canned and is currently available in the northwest corner of the state.