Growlers: Little Rocktoberfest Saturday, Zoo Brew, Lost Forty S’morest Queen

My favorite beer festival of the year is this weekend. Little Rocktoberfest is back at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock Saturday from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. This is the biggest Little Rocktoberfest yet, with most Arkansas breweries represented and plenty of craft beer to choose from. But the thing that makes Little Rocktoberfest special is the homebrew. The festival is put on by homebrew club Central Arkansas Fermenters, and this year the group is bringing more than 100 beers to the party. There will also be homemade ciders, mead and hard seltzers to enjoy. This is beer you can’t get anywhere else at any other time, so you will definitely want to make plans to attend. Tickets to Little Rocktoberfest are $45; for $75 you get VIP access, which gets you in at 5 p.m. and lets you try some special beers set aside for the first people who get in the door. Proceeds from Little Rocktoberfest go to benefit STOP – Students that Officially Patrol, a group that works to build a positive and encouraging atmosphere for children in Arkansas.

As if that wasn’t enough beer for one week, there’s another major beer festival happening Thursday. Zoo Brew at the Little Rock Zoo will be held from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Zoo Brew will have several local brewers, including Flyway, Lost Forty, Black Apple Crossing and Rebel Kettle, as well as some regional and national offerings. Zoo Brew will also have plenty of grub on hand from the likes of Katmandu Momo, Hot Rod Wieners and Bragg’s Big Bites. You do have to buy food separately, however. Tickets to Zoo Brew are $30 each and are on sale now. Proceeds from Zoo Brew go to benefit the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, which supports the Little Rock Zoo.

To get you ready for this week’s festivals, Little Rock breweries have several new offerings out. It starts today at Lost Forty Brewing, where the taproom is again releasing S’morest Queen Stout. This one takes Lost Forty’s popular Forest Queen and ages it on chocolate, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows. S’morest Queen is rich and sweet, and at 5.3% ABV it’s a sipper that’s easy to enjoy. This one is a small-batch version, so there’s no distribution. However, you can expect a wider release of S’morest Queen coming up later this fall which should reach all corners of the state. Lost Forty’s Freshcut Monday release kicks off today at 4 p.m.

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Then on Wednesday, Flyway Brewing has a brand new one that will appeal to beer enthusiasts. The taproom is releasing Tropical DIPA, an imperial IPA that is packed with flavor. El Dorado, Amarillo and Simcoe hops give this double big notes of papaya, orange and melon. At 8.1% ABV, Tropical DIPA is one you’ll want to enjoy slowly. Flyway developed this brew with “second summer” in mind, and given how hot it’s been it looks like they timed it perfectly. It goes on tap Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The very next day, you’ll want to head to Rebel Kettle Brewing Company for its new 4:30 Thursday release. It’s called John Matejka’s 6th Level of Helles. This German-style Helles Bock was created in conjunction with Central Arkansas Fermenters for a pro-am competition. Matejka’s recipe was selected as the winner in this year’s contest, and Rebel Kettle was really excited to get to brew this one. 6th Level of Helles is a true example of the style, with subtle hops and big malty notes defining this pale lager. Expect a medium body and a dry finish that will make you want to get seconds. John Matejka’s 6th Level of Helles goes on tap this Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

And as if that wasn’t enough beer, Stone’s Throw Brewing caps off the week’s offerings with its #NewBrewFriday release at the MacPark location. Stone’s Throw is bringing back Dirty Yankee Grapefruit Ginger IPA, a brew created to recognize an employee who moved to the South. Dirty Yankee’s grapefruit notes are apparent off the top, and the ginger becomes bigger and more obvious on the finish for a clean, spicy sip. This is a perfect brew for the summer, and you should get to Stone’s Throw at 4 p.m. on Friday to try it for yourself.

Do you have any beer news to share with us? Email steveshuler@gmail.com.

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Growlers: Little Rocktoberfest Saturday, Zoo Brew, Lost Forty S’morest Queen