Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Arkansas craft beer business sure is booming. We’ve gone from having just a handful of local breweries to more than 20 in just a few years, with several more in various stages of planning. At the same time, local distributors are seeking out and bringing in great, established national breweries and some up-and-coming regional gems to our stores and bars. It’s almost too much to keep up with. But fortunately for you there’s an easy way to get up to speed with what’s happening in the Arkansas beer world, and that’s to attend the Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival Friday, Oct. 23, at the Argenta Farmers Market Plaza. Tickets are $40 at the door or $35 in advance online at arktimes.com/craftbeer15.
A ticket lets you sample however many of the 250 beers available you want, hear live music from Fayetteville bluegrass outfit Arkansauce and eat food from Arkansas Ale House, Cafe Bossa Nova, Doe’s Eat Place, Old Chicago Pizza, Raduno Pizza, Skinny J’s, Taziki’s Mediterranean Grill, Whole Hog Cafe North Little Rock and Zaffino Italian Restaurant. Sponsor Edward’s Food Giant will be grilling hundreds of bratwurst sausages.
Here are quick previews of the participating breweries:
Apple Blossom Brewing Co. Named after the Arkansas state flower, Fayetteville’s Apple Blossom Brewing Co. has been carving out a good reputation for itself with quality core beers and some tasty experimental brews. Its 8,500-square-foot, 250-seat brewpub is the largest in the state. Lucky for you Apple Blossom will be bringing its beer to us, serving Polka Party Oktoberfest and The Trouble With Tripels.
Blood Eagle Brewing After a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, Central Arkansas’s Blood Eagle Brewing is getting permits and looking for a future home to serve its Viking-themed beer lineup. Try its Two Ravens Black Rye IPA, Culling Cream Ale, Gozer Sour Ale, Flying Wheel West Coast IPA and a farmhouse white ale at the festival to get a taste of what this brewery-in-planning hopes to have in store in 2016.
Brick Oven Brewing Co. Relatively new to the Central Arkansas area, Brick Oven Brewing Co. has been in production for around two and a half years at Brick Oven Pizza in Paragould and has its beers served at several Brick Oven Pizza locations across the state as well as The Purple Onion in Cabot and Old Chicago in North Little Rock. Ryan Alan took over as head brewer back at the beginning of summer; the brewery has been looking to expand operations. You can meet Alan himself and try his Ein Bier Bitte Oktoberfest, Imperial IPA, Hazelnut Schwarz Ale and intense sounding El Diablo’s Inferno, a Mexican chocolate milk stout brewed with jalapeños and cocoa nib.
Bubba Brews Brewing Co. Located in Bonnerdale (Hot Spring County), BBBC has recently started getting its beers out to bars and restaurants in Little Rock and Hot Springs. You’ll know you’ve found it at the festival when you see the conspicuous Bubba’s Brew Wagon, with taps of tasty liquids right on the side.
Core Brewing Co. It’s been yet another huge year for Springdale’s Core Brewing. Earlier this year, the brewery did a total rebranding of its product and now has stand-alone brewpubs in Rogers, Springdale and Fort Smith. If that doesn’t sound like enough to keep busy, Core recently announced a deal to get in 64 Walmart stores in Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith, Little Rock and southwestern Missouri. You won’t have to fight the Walmart crowd to sample its Behemoth Pilsner, Leg Hound Lager, Easy Livin’ IPA, Barney’s Red 2xIPA, Arkansas Red, Oatmeal Stout, Hazelnut Brown and Waterfall Wheat.
Damgoode Brews When Damgoode Pies opened its River Market location earlier this year in what was the home of Boscos brewpub, it also got Josh Quattlebaum, formerly of Boscos, to head brewing operations. After updating some equipment he was already familiar with, Quattlebaum quickly started turning out solid brews. Damgoode will bring its Damgoode Pale, Arkansas Amber and Dark Cide cider.
Diamond Bear Arkansas’s oldest brewery, now in its 15th year of production, Diamond Bear tapped the fountain of youth when it moved to a shiny new brewery in North Little Rock just over a year ago. Complete with the Arkansas Ale House, a brewpub restaurant, it continues to make the core beers longtime customers favor as well as new tricks like firkins, hard root beer and a barrel-aging program, the Hibernation Series. At the festival, Diamond Bear will serve its Southern Blonde, Pale Ale, Dogtown Brown, Paradise Porter, Presidential IPA, Two-Term Double IPA and Oatmeal Stout.
Fossil Cove It was another good year for Fayetteville’s Fossil Cove as it added food at the taproom and began to can its beer and sell Paleo Ale and La Brea Brown in six packs from the tasting room. Owner Ben Mills also announced this summer that he’s working on expanding to a new space, just down the road from the current location.
Leap Of Faith Owner Joe Mains continues toward his dream of launching a brewery in Central Arkansas. He’s scouting locations. In the meantime, try his Righteous Indignation and Ridge’s Rye IPA.
Lost Forty Brewing Since last year’s festival, Lost Forty has exploded onto the Central Arkansas beer scene with wildly popular beers available at what seems like every restaurant, bar, liquor store and even Kroger around the area. It will share one of its staples, Love Honey Bock, as well as The Hunter Oktoberfest, Izard Chocolate Milk Stout and the wonderful three-barrel-aged (aged in bourbon, rye whiskey and Cabernet barrels), 9.8 percent ABV imperial stout Nighty Night.
Moody Brews Former Vino’s brewmaster Josiah Moody launched Moody Brews last year with an already proven recipe for success (see Evil Twin and Prairie Ales). He’s “gypsy brewing” — brewing and bottling his new beers at another brewery, Choc Brewing Co. in Krebs, Okla. He’s spent a lot of time this past year creating and crafting beer at the Damgoode Brews location, such as a wonderful beer he named for his daughter, Aria’s Bier, a petite saison with orange peel and hibiscus flowers. Try that one as well as a locally crafted Dunbar Garden Wild Ale with Pluots and Cuban Pull, aged in Rocktown Whiskey barrels.
Stone’s Throw Brewing It’s hard to believe that Little Rock’s Stone’s Throw opened in 2013 as something of a pioneer in Central Arkansas’s booming craft beer scene. This year Stone’s Throw expanded the brew house (again), added an outdoor seating area/beer garden and threw an anniversary block party for the ages. Stone’s Throw is bringing its Common Sense California Common and Shamus Stout to the festival.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery Since opening in 2013 on Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Superior Bathhouse Brewery only sold beer from other breweries until this past year when it became the country’s first brewery inside a national park. While that’s unique, it’s not even the best part: Superior makes its beer with thermal hot spring water that is pumped into the bathhouse at nearly 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Meet owner and co-brewer Rose Schweikhart and try some of her Scottish Ale, Pumpernickel Porter and clear (yes, clear) Golden Stout at her booth.
Vino’s Pizza Pub Brewery An Arkansas institution for over 20 years, Vino’s continues to make quality beer. Nobody else can lay claim to over two decades of beer making and selling in this state, and Vino’s is also one of only two breweries in the state with multiple Great American Beer Festival awards. Stop by its table and try the Barrel-Aged Weizenbock and ESB.
Abita Brewing Co. Located in Abita Springs, La., just 30 miles north of the Big Easy, Abita (est. 1986) brews 130,000 barrels (and 5,000 barrels of delicious root beer) per year. Abita is sold in 46 states and Puerto Rico and is the 15th largest craft brewery in the country. You can try the brewery’s flagship Amber, award-winning Oktoberfest, Purple Haze (a lager brewed with real raspberries), one of the Harvest series beers and Wrought Iron IPA at the festival.
Battered Boar Brewing Co. New to Arkansas this year, Battered Boar of Edmond, Okla., is another in the line of good breweries from the Sooner state to enter the Arkansas market. Brewmaster Mike Sandefur will be on hand to share and discuss his Coconut Cream Stout, Chuck’s Pumpkin Ale, Dante’s Porter and Lion’s Tooth Floret, an American Farmhouse Ale brewed with dandelions.
Bayou Teche If you like Cajun food, then Bayou Teche just may be your new favorite brewery. The Arnaudville, La., brewery crafts beers that complement the cuisine and lifestyle of Cajuns and Creoles. It’s come a long way from its 2009 start in an old railway car. Stop by and try Acadie Biere de Garde, Bierre Pale APA, Bierre Noir Schwarzbier and Strawberry Alarm Hop.
Boulevard Brewing Co. Central Arkansas beer lovers are already very familiar with Boulevard Brewing Co. out of Kansas City, Mo., as it was one of our original craft breweries in the area when the craft beer movement took hold. The brewery has expanded many times over the years. Today, it’s the largest craft brewer in the Midwest, cranking out over 600,000 barrels a year. In 2013, Boulevard was acquired by Duvel Moortgat Brewery and while terms of the deal were not disclosed, industry analysts estimate the sale price exceeded $100 million. Boulevard will be pouring Tank 7, The Calling IPA, Unfiltered Wheat, Rye-On-Rye and Heavy Lifting IPA.
Charleville What started as a winery in Sainte Genevieve, Mo., has branched into a nice-sized brewery operation with a new brew house situated in the hills just south of St. Louis, along with the winery and a refurbished 1860s log cabin that serves as a two-room bed and breakfast. It’s a bit hard to find, but, trust me, it’s well worth a visit. You won’t get to enjoy the same beautiful country scenery, but the Charleville crew will bring a taste of it with them when they come to North Little Rock. They’ll have their Oktoberfest, Hoptimistic IPA, Tornado Alley Amber, Half-Wit Wheat, Late Night Karate Kicks Coffee Stout and one of my favorite seasonal beers, Witch’s Brew’mmm Pumpkin.
Krebs Brewing Co. A new brewing system has given Oklahoma’s Krebs Brewing a jump in capacity, which has allowed them to produce more of its own beer as well as more for Prairie Artisan Ales, which it brews on contract. Look for Choc Krebs Red, Choc Gose, Prairie Brett C and Prairie Bomb, an amazing imperial stout aged on Nordaggio’s espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chile peppers.
Coop Ale Works Oklahoma City has become a hotspot in the Midwest for craft beer in the last few years and Coop Ale Works, which opened in 2009, was one of the frontrunners in that movement. It’s been trying to get on Arkansas shelves for about a year but was selling so much beer in Oklahoma it’s only recently been able to make the jump and land in Arkansas. Look for the brewery’s popular F5 IPA, Elevator Wheat, Oktoberfest and Horny Toad Blonde.
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. Lazy Magnolia is Mississippi’s first package brewery since Prohibition. It’s been available in Arkansas for several years now and has a good footprint throughout the South with a nice lineup of what could be called “Southern style” beers. Sweet potatoes lend the Jefferson Stout an earthy, faintly sweet character, and Southern Pecan is a nut-brown ale made with whole roasted pecans. What’s more Southern than pecans and sweet potatoes? Look for the Southern Pecan, Lazy Saison, Southern Hop’spitality and Jefferson Stout at their booth.
Marshall Brewing Co. Marshall became Tulsa’s first production craft microbrewery since the 1940s when it began operations in spring 2008. Brewmaster/founder Eric Marshall is a fourth-generation Tulsan who apprenticed in multiple breweries throughout Germany and served as a brewer at the Victory Brewing Co. before starting his own brewery. Marshall will pour Sundown Wheat, Oktoberfest Lager, Atlas IPA and Old Pavillion Pilsner.
Mother’s Brewing Co. At last year’s festival, Mother’s out of Springfield, Mo., had just arrived in Central Arkansas. A year later I’ve become so familiar with its wonderful beers, it feels like an old friend. Stop by and meet owner Jeff Schrag and try his Towhead American Blonde, Oktoberfest, Chocolate Thunder porter and Spiffy Britches Belgian-Style IPA.
O’Fallon The motto of this small craft brewery northwest of St. Louis is, “We love beer.” I like that. It’s straightforward and right to the point, which goes right along with many of its beers. A change in local distributors had it out of the area for a short bit, but it’s recently reappeared, so you might need to make up for lost time. Try the 5 Day IPA, Zeke’s Pale Ale, Pumpkin Vanilla Porter, Hemp Hop Rye and Wheach, a delicious wheat/peach brew, at the festival.
Piney River Brewing Co. You know what I like about Piney River? Just about everything. I like that Joleen and Brian Durham founded Piney River Brewing Co. on their farm in south-central Missouri in 2010, after making beer on the kitchen stove and fermenting it in the basement of their 100-year-old farmhouse. I like that they revived a 70-year-old barn hewn from oak trees harvested off the farm and use it for their brewery and taproom. I like that when you visit there, you leave feeling like family. Oh, and I also like that their beers are fantastic and have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup in the last couple of years. They’ll pour Black Walnut Wheat, Old Tom Porter, Bronzeback Pale Ale and Sweet Potato Ale.
Public House Public House Brewery of Rolla, Mo., is another new addition to Arkansas, having only arrived last month. If you haven’t had its beers yet, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to taste what it’s about as it will be pouring its Stout, Hefe, IPA and Red’s Cream Ale.
The Saint Louis Brewery The Saint Louis Brewery was incorporated in 1989 by Dan Kopman and Tom Schlafly with a goal to create quality local microbrew beer. Their brand, Schlafly Beer, has grown into a monster in the St. Louis area and surrounding states and is now St. Louis’ largest locally owned independent brewery and puts out about 50 unique styles of beer. It’s been in our state for a bit and has more quality beers in its portfolio than the St. Louis Cardinals have World Series rings (that’s a lot). Look for Pale Ale, Kolsch, Dry Hopped APA, Tasmanian IPA, Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale, which is one of the best pumpkin beers going at the festival.
Spoetzl Brewery Located in Shiner, Texas, Spoetzl was founded way back in 1909, and is the oldest independent brewery in Texas and the fifth-largest craft brewery in America, based on 2014 beer sales volume. It produces the popular line of Shiner Beers, including the flagship five-time Great American Beer Festival medal-winning Shiner Bock, a beer that many people claim as their “gateway beer” into craft beer (including me). Spoetzl will pour that classic beer plus its White Wing Belgian White, Octoberfest and either Ruby Redbird or possibly the new Wicked Ram IPA, Spoetzl’s first-ever IPA.
Southern Prohibition The only brewery in Hattiesburg, Miss., is aiming to get its beer on our shelves soon. In spring, it celebrated its second anniversary and only recently opened a new taproom just down the road from the University of Southern Mississippi’s campus. Get some samples of Suzy B Dirty Blonde Ale, Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red Ale, Lazarus Abbey Quad and Jack The Sipper ESB.
Southern Star Brewing Co. Southern Star was founded in July 2007 in Conroe, Texas, and was the first craft brewery in Texas to provide canned craft beers to consumers. Southern Star is moving into a new, larger brewery soon that founder Dave Fougeron, former head brewer of Houston-based Saint Arnold Brewing Co., hopes will not only expand capacity but also attract more visitors for tours, special events and, perhaps at some future date, overnight stays in an adjacent bed-and-breakfast. Southern Star will be pouring Buried Hatchet Stout, Bombshell Blonde, Pine Belt Pale Ale and Walloon Grissette, a farmhouse-style ale
Anchor Brewing Co. Today’s craft beer craze owes a lot to San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co., one of the original craft breweries. Founded in 1896, Anchor Steam derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast under primitive conditions and without ice. Today, Anchor Steam has trademarked “steam” as the singular process and taste of its flagship brand. The brewery will serve its namesake Steam along with Anchor IPA, Whinter Wheat, California Lager and Anchor Christmas.
Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) America’s largest craft brewery, based on 2014 sales volume, is better known as Sam Adams. Co-founder Jim Koch raided his savings, took out a second mortgage, and borrowed from friends and family to start the operation in 1984, brewing the first batch in his kitchen. In the 40 years since, the brewery has grown to now sell over 2.5 million barrels of more than 50 different beers per a year. It’ll be pouring the granddaddy of craft beers, Boston Lager, plus Rebel Rouser double IPA, White Christmas and Downtime Pils.
Brick by Brick This brewery is so brand-spanking-new to our state I just don’t know a whole lot about it yet, other than it’s based in Lithuania and the beers have interesting names. But what better time to learn about a brewery than sampling their beers at a festival? Look for their Bosun’s Mustache, Eel Legs, Running Dune, Shark’s Coffee Pot and Unknown Shore at their table.
Carson’s New to Arkansas this year, Carson’s Brewery of Evansville, Ind., opened its 20-barrel brew house in 2013 and has already added some hardware to its trophy case. In 2014 it brought home a gold medal from the GABF for American-style wheat beer with its Red Dawn. Try this beer, plus Eville Wheat, Harlot Honey Blonde and Brown Cow Brown Ale while you chat with founder Jason Carson.
Clown Shoes Making its Arkansas debut at the festival will be Clown Shoes Beer, whose mission is “to produce beer without pretension while being free and a little crazy.” Based in Ipswich, Mass., its beer is brewed in the same city as Mercury Brewing Co. (Ipswich Ale Brewery). If the names and labels are any indication of what we can expect, this brewery is going to be a lot of fun to have around. It’s pouring samples of Clementine witbier, Galactica IPA, Hoppy Feet, Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA, Muffin Top hoppy Belgian-style tripel, Brown Angel double brown ale, Space Cake double IPA and Chocolate Sombrero, a Mexican-style chocolate stout.
Craft Brewing Alliance Inc. The fifth-largest craft brewing company in the U.S. was originally formed in 2008 with the merger of two pioneering Pacific Northwest craft brewers — Redhook Brewery, established in Seattle in 1981, and Widmer Brothers Brewing, established in Portland, Ore., in 1984. Kona Brewing Co., Hawaii’s oldest and largest craft brewery established in 1994, was the third legacy brewer to join the Alliance in 2008. It has also developed Omission Beer, established in 2012 and already the No. 1 beer in the gluten-free beer category. The Alliance is pouring Kona Longboard Lager, Kona Big Wave Golden Ale, KCCO Gold Lager and gluten-free Omission Pale Ale at the festival.
Crazy Mountain This brewery hails from ski resort heaven Vail Valley in beer-rich Colorado where it claims to be “basically loving life in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.” Sounds like a tough gig. It’ll be bringing some of that mountain love with it, so look for Horseshoes & Hand Grenades ESB and intense 10 percent ABV, 80 IBU barley wine Lawyers, Guns & Money.
Dude’s Brew With a motto like, “Happy Dudes make great brews, and great brews make people happy,” I think it’s safe to expect this new entry to the state to bring its laid-back California vibe with it in liquid form. It won’t be quite like hanging out on the beach while you’re drinking it, but stop by to try Blood Orange Amber, California IPA, Grandma’s Pecan English-style Brown, Surfrider Pale Ale, South Bay Session and a special draft tap of Pig Sooie Pilsner.
Finch’s Chicago-based Finch’s is another brewery leading the canned beer revolution with a whole line of pint cans available on local shelves. With an expanded facility established in 2013 and plans for a new brewery and tasting room by 2016, Finch’s is on pace to be one of the largest microbreweries in the Midwest. At the festival you’ll get to check out some of Finch’s best: the robust Secret Stache Stout, Chimera IPA and super hoppy Hardcore Chimera double IPA, which clocks in at 9 percent ABV.
Founders Local beer lovers rejoiced back in the spring of 2014 when this Grand Rapids, Mich., brewery finally arrived in Arkansas, and it’s certainly done nothing to disappoint since with a string of consistently great releases plus a standard lineup that always pleases. It’s the 17th-largest craft brewery in America by sales volume as of 2014 and has been ranked among the top breweries in the world by ratebeer.com for several years running. Founders will be pouring All Day IPA, Dirty Bastard, Centennial IPA, Porter, Black IPA and Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
Goose Island When Anheuser-Busch InBev swallowed up Chicago’s Goose Island for $38.8 million in 2011, diehard fans worried that the quality of beer would drop off. Things couldn’t be farther from the truth in the three years since, in my experience. It seems deep pockets have given Goose Island brewers space to grow the brewery’s more experimental lines of beer, while the quality of its staples hasn’t suffered in the least. The brewery will be pouring an impressive lineup, including Honker’s Ale, 312 Urban Wheat, 312 Urban Pale Ale, Autumn Ale, Goose Island IPA and the incredible Bourbon County Stout.
Green Flash Headquartered in the Mira Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, Green Flash was founded in 2002, and its beers have garnered 11 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, including a gold this year for Le Freak. Green Flash’s focus is on very hop-forward beers, which the West Coast is known for delivering. You’ll get to try some of Green Flash’s hop-forward beers, including the hop monster Green Bullet triple IPA, Soul Style IPA and Citra Session IPA.
Lagunitas Another new arrival to Arkansas this year, Lagunitas is the fifth-highest-selling craft brewery in the U.S., as of 2014, and has breweries in two cities, Petaluma, Calif., and Chicago. It is on pace to produce more than 800,000 barrels of beer in 2015. In September, it announced that Heineken International would acquire a 50 percent stake in the company to help it expand its operations globally. Stop by its table and try its fantastic IPA, A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, Pils, Daytime Fractional IPA and Brown Shugga’ American strong ale.
New Belgium Brewing Co. New Belgium was opened in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1991 and is now the fourth-largest craft brewery in the country based on volume of beer sales. Now with a second production facility in the works in Asheville, N.C., scheduled to open in November, New Belgium will soon become even bigger with a much easier coast-to-coast reach. Along the way it’s won 28 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and its flagship Fat Tire has become one of the most recognizable craft beers in the country. At the festival it’ll be pouring Slow Ride, Accumulation white IPA, Abbey, 1554 black lager and some beers from its Folly Pack.
North Coast Another pioneer in the craft beer movement, North Coast Brewing Co. opened in 1988 as a local brewpub in the historic town of Fort Bragg, located on California’s Mendocino coast. Under the leadership of brewmaster Mark Ruedrich, North Coast has developed a strong reputation for quality, having won more than 70 awards in national and international competitions. Look for Le Merle Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Prankster, Scrimshaw Pilsner, Stellar IPA and Puck Saison.
Ommegang Brewery Ommegang, located on a 136-acre farmstead in Cooperstown, N.Y., is regarded by many as the most beautiful brewery in America. The company opened in 1997 to brew fine Belgian-style craft beers, now distributed in 45 states. Look for Game of Thrones Take The Black Stout, Game Of Thrones Iron Throne, Grains of Truth Belgian Pale Ale, Cooperstown Ale and its new Rosetta Ale, which is matured on cherries.
Oskar Blues Another brewery new to the state, the Lyons, Colo., brewery is one of the pioneers of craft beer in cans. In 2012, it expanded and established another brewery in Brevard, N.C., and is now the 24th-largest craft brewery in the United States. Stop by and try Dale’s Pale Ale, IPA, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Pinner IPA and Old Chub.
Rogue Ales Another early pioneer for American craft beer, Rogue Ales was founded in Oregon in 1988 by three Nike executives. All it’s done since then is win 29 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and rank as the 32nd-largest craft brewery in the country. It’s known for a large and unique variety of beers. It’ll be pouring its classic Rogue Dead Guy, Chocolate Stout, Rogue Farms Pumpkin Savior, Mocha Porter and Allegro Coffee Porter.
Shock Top Another brewery under the Anheuser-Busch InBev umbrella, Shock Top is focused on making sessionable, spicy wheat-style beers. Shock Top’s original beer, a traditional Belgian-style wheat ale, started collecting medals back in 2006, and quite a few offshoots with different fruit twists have come along since then. You’ll get a chance to try Belgian White, Raspberry Wheat, Honeycrisp Apple Wheat, Pretzel Wheat and Pumpkin Wheat.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Since its humble beginnings in Chico, Calif., back in 1979, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered one of the earliest and most influential breweries. It helped spawn the craft beer movement in the country and has established its Pale Ale as one of the most iconic craft beers in American history. The nation’s third-largest craft brewery, it cranks out about 800,000 barrels a year from its two locations in California and North Carolina. It will be pouring its Pale Ale plus Hop Hunter IPA and Nooner Pilsner.
Sixpoint Brewery Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery arrived in Arkansas earlier this year with the motto “Beer is Culture” and a portfolio of unique beers, often blurring the style guidelines followed by many breweries. With slim cans that look more like energy drinks, the company makes sure it stands out on the shelf as much as its flavors stand out on your palate. Try Bengali IPA, The Crisp Pilsner, Resin IPA and Sweet Action at the festival.
Summit Brewing Co. Summit, of Saint Paul, Minn., was founded in 1986 in an old auto parts warehouse and now ranks 28th on the list of biggest American craft breweries. It’s been in Arkansas for over a year now and many of its beers are mainstays at local establishments with a lineup of regular beers that are true to style. In addition, creativity in the form of seasonals and its Unchained Series also keeps fresh ideas flowing from the brewery to the area. It’s pouring its Saga IPA, Pilsner, Oktoberfest, Hopvale Organic Ale and Unchained Release No. 20 Sticke Ale, a limited release sticke alt Dusseldorf-style ale.
Tallgrass Brewing Co. Tallgrass is based in Manhattan, Kan., a town nestled in the Flint Hills and surrounded by the Tallgrass Prairie. In 2010 it began packaging its beers exclusively in cans instead of bottles. The beers brewed by Tallgrass are now sold in cans and on tap in 14 states, mostly in the Midwest, and the brewery just moved into a new, larger facility across town. At the festival, you can try the Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout, Zombie Monkie Porter, Ethos IPA, 16-Bit Double Pale Ale, Velvet Rooster, 8-Bit Pale Ale and Big RICC, a 10.5 percent ABV Russian imperial stout with coffee.
Tommyknocker Brewery What’s about two-feet tall, grizzled, lives underground, wears miners garb, commits random mischief and knocks on mine walls to warn of cave-ins? Tommyknockers, of course, according to Welsh folklore. So it only makes sense that Tommyknocker Brewery is nestled in the beautiful mining town of Idaho Springs, Colo., 30 miles west of Denver. The brewery has won 17 medals at the Great American Beer Festival alone through the years. Tommyknocker will pour Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale, IPA and A Half, Maple Nut Brown and Jack Whacker Wheat.
Traveler Beer Co. The Traveler Beer Co. began with a phone call between Alan Newman, founder of Magic Hat Brewing, and Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co. That conversation begat the Alchemy and Science project, which then produced the Traveler Beer Co. Launched within the last year, it’s now already available in all 50 states with a focus on lighter, flavorful craft shandies in this world of big beers. Look for the Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy and Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Shandy at the festival.
Victory Brewing Founded in 1996 in Downingtown, Pa., Victory Brewing’s 2014 annual production was slightly over 125,000 barrels, landing it at No. 29 among American craft breweries in sales volume. It’s now in 34 states and has a rapidly growing international distribution as well. It was welcomed to our state earlier this year and will be serving up its HopDevil IPA, Dirtwolf Double IPA, Golden Monkey Belgian-Style Tripel and Prima Pils.