Drink Insider covers the men and women behind Little Rock’s beverage scene. Whether it’s our brewers, bartenders or distillers, Central Arkansas has many talented people making the drinks you love. Today, we catch up with John Beachboard, owner and manager at Lost Forty Brewing.
Being from Little Rock, what’s it like to be making beer for friends here and around the state that you grew up in?
John: It’s awesome because I can go over to several of my neighbors or walk out into the taproom and say “What do you think about this?” and they can say straight up that it sucks. I get honesty. People whose opinions I respect, some I’ve known since I was 10 years old or earlier, can tell me what’s what. I’ve got friends around the state I’ve known my whole life and some will tell me point blank what’s legit or to keep doing something or not to do it.
I know you get tired of this question but it comes up a lot but you’re only planning on selling Lost Forty in the state of Arkansas, correct?
John: Yeah, we have the philosophy that we’ve always wanted to bring the things to Arkansas we see when we travel. Arkansas is a special state, it’s gorgeous here, and I don’t think we get nearly enough credit nationwide for all the great things we have here. If we can just provide one little specialty gem for some little subculture. Our beer is an Arkansas original and only available in this state. That makes me happy.
Lost Forty has been around for five years now. What does 2020 hold for the brewery?
John: We’ve got some new IPAs coming out, like Dirt Surfer coming out next month. We’re in this really amazing time for craft beer where IPAs and full-flavored beers are selling incredibly well; something 5 years ago I didn’t think was possible. We’re going to have a lot of interesting IPAs coming out, but also some really cool Belgians like a Brett bottle-conditioned Day Drinker, which may not set the world on fire in terms of sales but we as beer drinkers want. We’re focusing on the things we know craft beer drinkers want but also what has stood the test of time for quality and tradition for the past 400 some-odd years. Like how do we make the best bottle-conditioned Belgian?
We’re going to put a seltzer out, I think they’re here to stay for a while. We learned a lot from our test batches that we tried to make. It’s a challenge I’m intrigued by and have a new found respect for and it’s been rewarding just learning it. We want it to be a malt beverage that we ferment ourselves, not just add vodka and filtered water. If seltzers are what the market wants and that’s what the market is drinking, I do hope the seltzer drinker will adopt the local aspect like the beer drinker has.
Looking back on your five years, what are you the most proud of that this brewery has accomplished?
It’s not the growth numbers like RockHound IPA has been up 40% for the last two years in both draft and package. But that’s not it. The reason it tastes so much better is the people have put in so much time on taste panels and have tried different things and made recommendations. The reason the sales are up is because of the people that are involved. The people are what I’m most proud of company-wide. I’m proud of the benefits we’ve been able to offer as a company, the health insurance and the paid time off and things I wish someone would have provided for me growing up in the restaurant business. It’s by far the thing that’s most important to me, being able to have these people by my side in good times and in bad times. They’re a vested part of growing beer culture in Arkansas.