Hot weather, like mosquitoes or bacon-tomato sandwiches, is just a part of life in Arkansas. But no matter if you're the sort of person who hides indoors during the season of heat soaking up the air conditioning or if you're a sun-worshipping summer lover, you might find yourself in need for something to aid you against the blast furnace of an Arkansas summer. Fear not - our local brewers are here to help. Little Rock's local beer scene might not be as highly developed as other places, but there's good beer being made and poured here, and no better time to have a pint to soothe the savage summer.
Vino's Pizzeria and Brew Pub has long been one of my favorite places to lift a glass, although it's true that the quality of the brew has been up and down over the years. Right now, under the direction of brewmaster Josiah Moody, the beer at Vino's is better than it's ever been, so if it's been awhile since you've had a slice and a glass, you can definitely find some summertime refreshment worth your time. The Rainbow Wheat is a classic heffeweisse with a citrusy, sweet flavor that will hit your hot spots better than lemonade. It's a clean-tasting beer with a spicy finish that's deceptively smooth and easy to drink. Fans of a less sweet brew will find their summer companion in the foamy, golden Six Bridges Cream Ale. This is the beer you buy for the friend who likes cold Budweiser and doesn't quite trust something made in a pizza joint - he'll thank you for showing him a beer that looks like a typical mainstream beer but has a nice grainy flavor with just enough soft malt to round it out. Both of these beers are winners, and available to take home in a growler in case you were needing something to revive you after a long day of lawn-mowing.
Just a few blocks away, at Diamond Bear Brewing, the Melton family has come up with their own weapons against the impending Arkansas blast furnace: a pair of blonde twins that are both worthy of our affection. Introduced last year, the Southern Blonde is a crisp and highly carbonated beer that doesn't lack for flavor. This was a beer developed for the average light-beer drinker, but don't let that fool you into taking this blonde lightly, because she's as full-bodied and golden as her name implies she should be. New for this year is a Strawberry Blonde, which while sharing many similarities with the classic is also possessed of just the slightest flavor of tart strawberry. I'm not normally a fan of fruit beers, but the flavor of strawberry here is so subtle that it doesn't overpower the other flavors that are working. Neither of these are my favorite beer from Diamond Bear, but either one alone would make for the perfect summer seasonal, and both together are a fine pair to bring to a cookout or pool party. The Southern Blonde is available in bottles at most of our local liquor stores, and both it and the Strawberry Blonde can be purchased in growler form at the brewery. Of further interest is the fact that Diamond Bear is the only place in Little Rock where a thirsty soul can buy packaged beer on Sundays - and they offer a fun and informative tour at 3:00pm every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Summer is here, and if the thought of another three or more months of three digit temperatures, ninety-five percent humidity, and cringe-worthy electric bills has got you needing a drink, you could do a lot worse than drowning your sorrows locally - you're bound to find a sympathetic soul to clink a glass with and help you hide from the heat.