Today’s local brewery scene is on fire, so much so that the options can be overwhelming when you’re trying to make a choice for Friday night drinks or Sunday’s growler refill. Join me in surveying those tap rooms that have opened fairly recently and offer a wide array of brews created in-house.
Lost Forty Brewing by Yellow Rocket Concepts – Pristinely packaged and ready to roll out, Lost Forty made its debut in December 2014. We’ve taken you inside the space before, but now we focus on their brews.
Their current mainstay includes: The Bare Bones Pilsner, The Lost Forty Pale Ale, The Rockhound Imperial IPA, and The Forest King American Stout. They have also added the beloved Love Honey Bock since opening their doors, among others.
The pilsner harbors a 5 percent alcohol count, and pairs well with most anything. This brew finds a nice line between light and heavy, sweet and mild, and makes for easy-sipping,
The Rockhound IPA comes in at 8.4 percent, and harbors more than a mouthful of flavor. This brew packs a punch with a hint of fruit, spice and hops. It’s the perfect IPA for an IPA lover, but be warned: drink slowly, or at your own risk.
The Forest King Stout, a personal favorite, is a must-try. Sipping on this takes you to a subtly smooth mixture of chocolate and coffee, with the slightest aftertaste of bitter hops. The combination of flavors makes for a lovely finish. This beer comes with an 8 percent alcohol tag.
Lost Forty is located at 501 Byrd Street in the warehouse district just east of I-30. Hours are from Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 9 pm.
Go here if: You’re looking for a fun, happening place to hang with friends on the weekend, or a place for a boisterous family gathering.
Bonus: Lost Forty doubles as a place to grab a bite and has a menu laden with ‘small beer snacks’ and ‘big beer snacks.’ Also, the old-school arcade games lining the walls are free to play.
Blue Canoe Brewing – This nano brewery located in the River Market district is run by three friendly beer lovers – Patrick and Ida Cowan and Laura BerryHall. The space is small, but decked from ceiling to floor with rustic touches, including three TVs and a foosball table – making the space feel cozy like a friend’s game room.
Blue Canoe does not plan on distributing, and wants to keep their operation small. They want to get to know you by name and it’s hard not to when you sidle up along the bar to order a drink. The tap heads are hand crafted by BerryHall who etches designs into wood with a dremel tool. If you stay long enough you’ll definitely make a friend or two.
The Razorback Rye IPA is incredibly smooth for a drink of its stature, and at 7.5 percent alcohol it makes the perfect drink for colder weather.
The American Wheat is a little heavier than most wheats in that it packs a fuller flavor. At 6 percent the drink is a blend of red and white wheat, making it a flexible beer.
My personal favorite is the Whittler, a Milk Stout. With 6.5 percent alcohol, the brew is sweet and great for someone who might not be a big beer drinker. It doesn’t finish with the bitterness most sweeter stouts have, and is treat for afternoon-sipping.
Be on the lookout as Blue Canoe will release their new Portage Baltic Porter this weekend. Located on 425 East 3rd St, Blue Canoe is open Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.
Go here if: You want to sit with a few friends in a place with a comfortable atmosphere and good brews. Blue Canoe makes an excellent place for sports fanatics to lounge and drink on the weekends.
Bonus: The folks at Blue Canoe make soap from their spent grain which is available for purchase at the bar. They also create dog treats from the leftovers from the brew process. Their goal is to be sustainable and as efficient as possible, and they are happy to detail these green processes to any interested patron.
Stone’s Throw Brewing: A pioneer in Little Rock’s beer scene, the brewery is a little over a year old and calls the MacArthur Historic District home. A collaboration between four home brewers who have separate day-jobs, their taps constantly rotate with fresh, funky brews you are not likely to see anywhere else. The tap room has become home to a pretty regular crowd. The space is small, and reminiscent of a minimalist European tavern.
The selections at Stone’s Throw rotate, and you can find them on tap in a number of favorite restaurants including Big Orange Midtown, Vino’s Brewpub, and Good Food by Ferneau, to name a few.
Currently they have a Chipotle Porter on tap which is worth investigating. If you like heavy flavor, and beer with a little spice, this is a great choice. The 6.5 percent drink can warm even the coldest of souls on a cold day.
The Bernoulli Belgian Pale Ale is a crowd favorite currently not on tap, but worth mentioning. The drink is easy-going as it pairs well with most anything, and comes in at a manageable 5 percent alcohol rate. The brew is sure to resurface soon.
Located on 402 East Ninth Street, Stone’s Throw is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 4 pm – 9 pm, Saturday’s Noon – 9 pm and Sundays 11 am – 8 pm
Go here if: You are feeling adventurous in beer choice, or want to learn some fun beer facts, as Saturdays are prone to impromptu beer tours.
Bonus: The tap room also features a variety of bar snacks for purchase, highlighting other local favorites including Kent Walker Artisanal Cheese, Natchez, and HAM.
Also Worth Mentioning
Moody Brews/Gypsy Brews: Moody Brews unfortunately does not come with a tap room but Josiah Moody’s go at gypsy brewing shouldn’t go unnoted. Many will remember Moody as the head brewer for local favorite Vino’s Brew Pub for nearly three years. He recently began his own venture using a space in an Oklahoma based brewery with plans to distribute in Central Arkansas.
So far he has released the Half-Seas Over to rave reviews. He recently debuted a Porter, Sixes and Sevens, as well as a collaboration with the Fayetteville-based Apple Blossom resulting in an Earl Grey Tea infused Extra Special Bitter.
Moody Brews can be found at various restaurants around town. The Faded Rose carries Sixes and Sevens, which pairs well with the steak options on the menu. Samantha’s Tap Room also Sixes and Sevens, and may soon carry Half Seas Over. The Pantry and Pantry Crest were the first to carry Half Seas Over, which pairs well with the charcuterie board or mussels Fritas. The Flying Saucer currently carries half Seas Over and will soon host a release party for Sixes and Sevens. There is also rotating tap at Big Orange Midtown.
Moody Brews can be found in Fayetteville at Smoke and Barrel, as well as Pressroom coffee.
You can find also find bottles at South on Main, and The Hive.
Diamond Bear Brewery / Arkansas Ale House: The state’s long standing king of craft brew, Diamond Bear, opened their expanded tap room in North Little Rock last June. Technically speaking Diamond Bear has maintained a tap room for a long time at their previous Cross Street location on the south side of the river, even if it only held 5-6 people.
The new Arkansas Ale House moves all brewing operations to NLR along with a drastically expanded tap room. Along with most all their in season beers on tap, there is a strong food menu offering. You can additionally find Diamond Bear beer on tap at a large number of restaurants and bars throughout the city.
Samantha’s Tap Room – Samantha’s has every opportunity to be a staple of downtown tap rooms. Samantha’s opens this Thursday, which is the reason for the exclusion. However you can check out our first look inside Samantha’s Tap Room.