What’s better than one quality brew? Two quality brews.
That’s the kind of thinking that will keep our local beer scene propelling forward – good, quality beer, and an ample amount of people willing to try it. Luckily for local beer lovers, there are quite a few people in and around Central Arkansas also willing to make it.
And while we’re blessed with quality breweries, it’s worth noting that our homebrewing scene continues to step up to the plate. That’s not to say that it wasn’t worth noting before now, rather – those involved are stepping up their game so much so that the general public is starting to take notice.
In fact, if you keep up with beer news, you’ve likely heard of Void Cellars. They recently worked with Lost Forty Brewing on a collaborative brew – Wild Barrels Project No. 5 – and have worked with Rebel Kettle Brewing in the past.
The collaborative duo consists of Mark Sniff and Aaron Wessel, who originally met through mutual friends in the homebrewing circuit. The two have been brewing together for over three years, and have discovered a mutual love for different types of mixed fermentation saisons.
Sniff says that his initial entrance into craft beer was a direct result of traveling for a former job. “When I hit a new town I wanted to know what breweries they had,” he says. He would sample beers and remember favorites, only to be discouraged he couldn’t get the same style at home. “That was my gateway into homebrewing,” he laughs, “I would try to brew a beer at home to see if it would come out the same as the one I tried.”
Wessel, on the other hand, specifically remembers a tour at Diamond Bear’s old Rock Street location as his introduction to craft beer. “I thought it was pretty cool even though I wasn’t into beer at the time,” he says.
Since getting together and brewing on Wessel’s system the two have found a groove and are slowly carving out their niche for saisons, sours, and wild fermentation beers.
“I was into Jester King’s beers and they do a lot of this style. Their whole vibe is awesome, and we took inspiration from there,” says Wessel.
The two choose ingredients and flavors from Arkansas as often as they can.
“The idea that Saisons were historically a part of wherever they were brewed – that’s a really cool thing to us […] we’re working really hard to put Arkansas in the bottle,” explains Sniff. Anything from strawberries to honeysuckle and beyond is fair game.
As far as sharing their beer with others, the team has encountered a cautious audience any time they’re at an event, as people aren’t heavily well-versed in the type of beer Void puts out.
“We want people to try something new and refreshing. Most of the time people tell us that they don’t like sour beers, and that’s because most of the ones you can buy off the shelf taste like balsamic vinegar,” says Sniff.
Currently, Void has been frequenting the beer festival circuit, and recently made their second appearance at Little Rocktoberfest. While the two would love to one day make a move to something beyond homebrewing, they know they’ve still got a long way to go.
“There’s still a lot to learn and it’s a very niche type of beer that we’re brewing,” says Sniff. “Some of them are a little harder to get on a large scale but that’s kind of the fun right now is that we can use like really high quality ingredients inside the beer.”
In the meantime, the two are excited to have friends in the industry.
“It’s been great to work with John Lee and Josh Davis at Rebel Kettle as well as the John Beachboard and the team at Lost Forty,” says Sniff. “I like to see a lot of the breweries working together and everything. That’s really cool. You don’t get to see that in a lot of places.”
Wessel adds, “It’s not really us versus this brewery or that guy, it’s a collective us versus big beer.”
These days Sniff works at Fermentables in North Little Rock, and is even able to brew some of Void’s offerings when working. Wessel calls Rebel Kettle his home, and continues to learn as much as he can about the brewing process.
Keep Void on your radar as they’re definitely not one to discount. Keep up with their beers and projects here.