After a long and well-documented odyssey, Moody Brews, the new brewery helmed by longtime Little Rock brewer Josiah Moody, is opening tonight in downtown’s Pettaway neighborhood at 414 E. 21st St.

Joel DiPippa

Advertisement

Known for his time at Vino’s Brew Pub as well as partnerships with other breweries under the name Moody Brews, Moody has a reputation for making beers that are both technical and inventive. Situated in Pettaway Square alongside Pettaway Coffee, Paper Hearts bookstore, and the regular spot for the Smashed N’Stacked food truck, the Moody Brews taproom carries on the micro urban themes of the new small business commercial district spearheaded by local developer and Pettaway resident Michael Orndorff. There is a cozy bar area, a patio facing into the square, upstairs seating and an upstairs patio creating four separate spaces. The patios facing inward provide an escape from the usual design of a patio facing out to the street, creating a respite from the hustle and bustle of a busy, car-oriented culture.

Moody Brews showcases Moody’s touch with each beer having subtle notes of floral or citrus components that complement the traditional flavors and make each sip memorable. There are no flights, but pours of five ounces, 13 ounces, and 16 ounces are available. I got a first look over the weekend at a soft opening for local residents. The din of conversation and laughter carried through all of the taproom’s spaces with a laid back and upbeat vibe. This is a tap room built for the community and for locals, which comes through in each detail.

Advertisement
Joel DiPippa
Left to right: Aria’s Bier, Pettaway Pils, Earl Gray ESB

Aria’s Bier (4%)

This tart and slightly tangy session beer has a surprisingly robust flavor and a bright hue to match its taste. The hibiscus provides both the color and the tartness while Moody manages to coax a caramel undertone out of the beer. The addition of orange peel reinforces the bitterness of the hops to balance the brew and create an additional layer of flavor. Easy drinking and thirst quenching, Aria’s Bier makes the most of its saison style and should be in your regular beer rotation as the temperatures increase.

Advertisement

Pettaway Pils (5%)

As a style, pilsners are renowned for laying bare any technical flaws a brewer has, since its no-nonsense and straightforward flavor profiles leave little room to hide. This is a beer that tastes like what you conjure in your mind when you imagine a beer. It is a little bit bitter, a little bit sweet and a little bit malty. The real surprise comes if you manage not to drink it with rapid abandon. As it warms, the nose opens up and you start to find a hint of the softer floral notes that even the beeriest of beers has.

Advertisement

Earl Grey ESB (5.5)

This English style extra special bitter gets its unique flavor from the Earl Grey tea used in the brewing process. The distinct tannic qualities from the tea pair up with the hint of bergamot, the citrus that sets Earl Grey apart from a standard black tea, to set the Earl Grey ESB apart. This legacy brew of Moody’s showcases how early his creative muscles came through in the brewing process. Originally brewed in collaboration with Apple Blossom Brewing in Fayetteville, the malty, tannic, subtly sweet beer is a tour-de-force. It slowly unfolds for the patient drinker with more depth of flavor from the tea and hops giving the deliberate drinker something rewarding to savor.

Advertisement

Half Seas Over (8%)

Joel DiPippa

Advertisement

This double India pale ale is the first commercial beer Moody brewed and showcases his ability to home in on flavors. It has all the flavors of an IPA with its hint of citrusy hoppy notes and assertive bitterness, but balances them against each other so that you can enjoy sip after sip. The control over the flavors lets those brighter tastes come out just as the bitterness is cresting on your palate so that it never overwhelms the drinker and leaves a remnant of sweetness as it settles on the tongue.

Root Beer (0%) & Ginger Ale (0%)

Joel DiPippa
Moody Brews’ root beer (left) and ginger ale.

Moody Brews has house-made ginger ale and root beer. These receive the same attention to flavor and detail, so expect unique and delicious experiences when you order one. The root beer is lighter than most, showcasing more acidity than mass-produced versions. It brings a slight bitterness while avoiding overpowering saccharine flavors. Similarly, the ginger ale tastes distinctly of ginger instead of sugar. It is lighter in body and produces a definite tingling sensation.

It’s a small operation but provides some of the best beers in Arkansas thanks to Moody’s experienced hand. Moody Brews has more offerings like the Katchiri’s Bier, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale (7%) that may be his most personal creation (it’s named after his wife) and the Oatmeal Pale (0.5%) that isn’t quite non-alcoholic but can give you all the flavor of a pale ale without the punch. Visit Moody brews and see what a true passion project looks like in fruition.

Advertisement

Moody Brews is open from 4-9 p.m. Tue.-Thu.; 4-10 p.m. Fri.; noon-10 p.m. Sat.; noon-9 p.m. Sun.

Here’s a grand opening update from Moody Brews’ Facebook page: