Pay close attention, beer lovers. The party of the year is just around the corner. The Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival presented by the Arkansas Rice Council returns to downtown Argenta from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The festival, which benefits the Argenta Arts District, has sold out in the past, so you'd be wise to pause reading this and go to centralarkansastickets.com and buy your tickets in advance ($25, $35 at the door). Because the Argenta Plaza is under construction, the festival will be in a new spot this year: It'll be a block party on Fourth Street between Main and Maple streets.
This year we'll have music from DJ extraordinaire Mike Poe, who's bound to get the dance party started. Make sure you check out special tents from the Fayetteville Ale Trail and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is promoting its Locally Labeled Passport Program.
There will also be eats, for purchase, from the
The event runs rain or shine. Read on for a preview of the participating breweries and what they'll be pouring.
ARKANSAS BREWERIESBlue Canoe Brewing Co.
Last year, Blue Canoe expanded operations to a 20,000-square-foot warehouse on 37 E. 15th St. while still keeping things hopping at its River Market taproom. The new space is also available to rent for private events, and with indoor and outdoor games, two bars and a beer garden, Blue Canoe's brews can reach even more taste buds. It'll be pouring Oktoberfest ale at the festival, an amber, traditional beer with strong malt emphasis and hints of nutty
Core Public House
Established in Springdale by Jesse Core in 2010, Core Brewing Co. now has Core Public House locations in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Springdale, North Little Rock and on South Main in Little Rock. They'll be pouring Arkansas Red, an American red ale with a sweet base malt, a slight spice of rye and a hint of chocolate; Ouachita IPA, made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops, British ale malt and oats, and finished with a strong pine aroma; E-Stop Pale Ale, made with four hop varieties and dry hopped with Citra hops; Hazelnut Brown, their new seasonal Southern Brown Ale with hazelnut; and Warthog Helle, a Munich-style lager with German malts.
Diamond Bear Brewing Co.
Founded 18 years ago, Arkansas's first production brewery is named for two former nicknames for The Natural State: the "Bear State" and the "Diamond State." Its brewhouse in North Little Rock is also home to the delicious Ale House restaurant. This year they'll be pouring the English-style Pale Ale, which combines earthy malt with bright hops; Two Term Double IPA, a dry hopped IPA with "fruity esters" and intense malt character; Pig Trail Porter, a dark combination of chocolate, coffee and caramel; and Southern Blonde, a crisp, golden lager with restrained hops and a hint of caramel.
Flyway Brewing Company
In the heart of the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock, Flyway Brewing turns out year-round brews with titles that follow the brewery's namesake: the Mississippi Flyway, the large migration route that takes birds over Arkansas to and from Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. Year-rounders, such as the Bluewing Berry Wheat, Early Bird IPA and Free Range Brown Ale, will all be available at the festival, along with Honeybird Blonde Ale. Nine Killer Imperial IPA from the Imperial Series will also be present on the tasting table, along with Coffee Cake Stout, the fall seasonal from the Traditional Cake series.
Lost Forty Brewing
Arkansas's largest brewery by volume, Lost Forty has become a local household name, with its brews served and advertised in restaurants and retail stores everywhere. It recently released a 2018 batch of the three-barrel-aged Nighty Night Imperial Stout with only 50 cases available for purchase — it won't hit market shelves until mid-November — at the brewery's Festival of Darkness release party. While Nighty Night isn't slated to be at the festival, the Baltic Porter, Forest Queen, Month of Sundays and Pumpkin Spice Easy Tiger will be at the tasting table to help you wet your whistle.
New Province Brewing Company
Derek and Megan McEnroe founded New Province Brewing Company in
Ozark Beer Co.
Since moving in late 2016 to its new space in a historic building on the square in Rogers, Ozark has continued to expand the reach of its distribution, and four of its year-round canned beers can be found all over Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas. Marty Shutter, marketing director, said their motto "Hard Work, Honest Beer" translates in their efforts to keep prices accessible. "We keep our team small, our workload high and our prices low, hoping to dispel the notion that world-class beer can't come at working-class prices," he said. They'll be pouring Ozark Lager, their newest year-round offering, a beer that Shutter said is "the hardest beer to brew but the easiest beer to drink;" Ozark IPA, with notes of pineapple, mango and pine; and the "
Rebel Kettle Brewing Co.
Rebel Kettle's creative and experimental brews are sure to be in high demand at the festival this year. Its brewery and taproom in the East Village
Stone's Throw Brewing
Since Stone's Throw opened at the vanguard of Arkansas's craft brewery explosion in 2013, the
Superior Bathhouse Brewery
When Rose Schweikhart opened Superior Bathhouse Brewery in Hot Springs in 2013, she was still in the intensive federal permitting process for getting licensed to brew her own beer. So she served great food and beers from other brewers until she received the license in 2015, but since then she's been perhaps the only brewery in the world to use hot spring-fed water to make beer. Superior is without question the first brewery to open in a national park, and its location in downtown Hot Springs has proven to be a popular attraction for both tourists and natives. Schweikhart wasn't sure what beer they'd bring to the festival when we reached her.
REGIONALBoulevard Brewing Company
Boulevard Brewing Co. has been brewing out of Kansas City, Mo., since 1989 and now boasts a 150-barrel brewery. This household name will bring its seasonal Nutcracker Ale, a hearty "winter warmer" brew with notes of molasses and spicy Chinook hops, as well as the grapefruit-forward Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, which packs a surprising, peppery punch. They'll also serve the Bourbon Barrel Quad, an 11.2
Crosstown Brewing Co.
Memphis's newest craft brewery, Crosstown Brewing Co., sits adjacent to the Crosstown Concourse, the behemoth former Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution
Independence Brewing Company
Independence has been slinging beers in south Austin, Texas, since 2004, and these smooth, flavorful beers are a testament to the indie spirit of the brewery. Austin Amber's toasted malt
Karbach Brewing Co.
Karbach Brewing Co. out of Houston uses German techniques to create beers and serve guests at its Biergarten and restaurant. Love Street, a Kolsch-style blonde, features delicate floral hops and a clean, refreshing malt profile. The Hopadillo IPA is a dry-hopped, bitter American IPA, according to the brewers. They'll also be serving Lemon and Ginger Radler, a golden beer whose profile on the brewery's site includes pairing recommendations of "hot afternoons" and "your next adventure." Yule Shoot Ya Eye Out is a seasonal, smooth caramel malt with a citrus twist.
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company
Mother's Brewing Company
Mother's, the Springfield, Mo., brewery behind such household names as the Lil' Helper IPA and Towhead Blonde, will be pouring three brews at the festival this year: Nudie Suit, a bold American porter with big malt
Oskar Blues Brewery
With locations in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas, Oskar Blues Brewery claims the title of "original craft brew in a can" with the initial canning of its linchpin, Dale's Pale Ale. The brewers say this was an effort to maintain the freshness of the beer, protect it from light, make it easier and safer to transport, and ensure its status as "infinitely recyclable." They'll be pouring Dale's Pale Ale, Death By Coconut — a semi-sweet Irish porter made with dark chocolate — and the Ten FIDY Imperial Stout, an "immensely viscous" stout with
Piney River Brewing Company
An 80-acre farm in Bucyrus, Mo., is home to the brewery and taproom "BARn" of Piney River. Started by Joleen and Brian Durham as homebrewers, the Ozark brewery now houses a 15-barrel brewhouse and an eight-head canning line. No word on what Piney River plans to pour at the festival yet
Prairie Artisan Ales
Innovation and creativity are at the heart of Prairie Artisan Ales in Krebs, Okla. Each bottle or can is wrapped in unique, intricate artwork, and the playful labels introduce eccentric brews. They'll be pouring Bomb!, an imperial stout of aged coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Brewing out of Fort Worth since 2004, the Rahr family behind Rahr & Sons comes from a long line of German brewers. Frederick William "Fritz" Rahr Jr. and his wife, Erin, opened Rahr & Sons 160 years after Fritz's grandfather founded Eagle Brewery, the first lager brewery in Wisconsin, according to the brewers. They'll be pouring Dadgum IPA, charged with Citra and Lemondrop hops and with notes of fresh cut pine; Paleta de Mango, a mango
An iconic name in Texas beer, Shiner has been brewing out of Shiner, Texas, since 1909. The classic Shiner Bock, an American dark-style lager, will be poured at the festival, along with Shiner Blonde, Shiner Cheer — a holiday
Shock Top Brewing Company
This St. Louis brewery produces tart beers packed with citrus
Atlanta's SweetWater Brewery started in 1997 as the brainchild of two college friends. After a 100,000-square-foot expansion in 2012, the brewery also broadened its distribution, and now also hosts 420 Fest, a beer and music festival in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. At the craft beer festival, they'll be pouring their most popular beer, the West Coast-style 420 Extra Pale Ale. The tasting table will also feature Blue, a light bodied wheat ale with subtle fresh blueberry
Tin Roof Brewing Company
Tin Roof claims to be Baton Rouge, La.'s largest craft brewery, and with a location between downtown Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University, its large footprint and
Against the Grain Brewery
Since 2011, Against The Grain has prided itself on producing
A 12-acre plot of land in Littleton, Co., formerly a carnation farm, is now home to Breckenridge Brewery. The brewery began operations in 1990 in Breckenridge, the mountain town of its namesake, before later moving to two locations in Denver and then outgrowing them, too. Their "farm-inspired" campus in Littleton features a 100-barrel brewhouse, a
Destihl Brewing Co.
Destihl Brewery, which vows to "support
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
With roots in Delaware since 1995, the Dogfish Head empire now includes a brewery, distillery, restaurant and the Dogfish Inn, located in historic downtown Lewes in coastal Delaware. The Dogfish philosophy is all about bringing "
Elysian Brewing Company
Elysian Brewing is a Seattle powerhouse that operates four restaurants and a full-production brewery. The three-time Large Brewpub of the Year winner at the Great American Beer Festival has been brewing since 1996, and Elysian is "seasonally notorious" for its pumpkin beers. Elysian will be pouring the Space Dust IPA at the festival, a brew featuring what brewers call "pure
Evil Twin Brewing
Founded by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø in 2011, Evil Twin Brewing uses a unique distribution model: Its beers are prepared in 10 different breweries around the world. Their "delicate, funky, extreme and by all means rare"
Founders Brewing Company
Founders Brewing prides itself on brewing beer not for the masses, but for people who enjoy big, bold
Golden Road Brewing
Meg Gill and Tony Yanow are the beer enthusiasts behind Golden Road Brewing, which opened in Los Angeles in 2011. They've since partnered with Anheuser-Busch and expanded from their original pub and brewery in Atwater Village to locations in downtown LA, Anaheim and Sacramento. Golden Road focuses on sustainably providing fresh beer to its local market, and it'll be pouring Wolf Pup Session IPA at the festival, a core beer from its year-round offerings with
Goose Island Beer Company
Chicago staple Goose Island Beer has garnered respect among craft beer drinkers since its inception in 1988. In 2011, it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch, and, according to the brewers, this has allowed Goose Island to distribute its craft brews nationally and internationally. They're bringing 312 Urban Wheat and Goose IPA, and they'll also be pouring vintage ales
Harpoon Brewery (Clown Shoes Beer)
Clown Shoes Beer strives to create craft beer "without pretension" while maintaining the "free and a little crazy" spirit behind its recipes. In 2017, Clown Shoes was acquired by Harpoon, a Boston-based employee-owned brewery, and it continues to produce unique and creative brews. They'll be pouring Bubble Factory and Chocolate Sombrero — a Mexican-style chocolate stout — as well as Undead Party Crasher, an American Imperial Stout.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
With multiple hubs, in California, Washington and Illinois, Lagunitas is sharing its brews with the "beer-loving
Nebraska Brewing Company
Homebrewer Paul Kavulak and his wife, Kim, founded Nebraska Brewing Company in 2001 using a brewing system purchased out of Sasebo, Japan, and in 2014 they completed construction of their second facility, a packaging brewery and taproom just miles from the original brewpub. They distribute in several states and China, Japan and Germany. They'll be pouring Brunette Nut Brown Ale, a blend of six different malts with notes of coffee, toffee and caramel; Little Betty Stout; Cardinal Pale Ale, a golden,
Now the fourth-largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium began operations in 1991 out of a tiny Fort Collins, Colo., basement. Inspired by founder Jeff Lebesch's trip to Belgium, these Belgian-inspired brews feature several year-round beers as well as seasonal brews released throughout the year. Their tasting table will feature the beer they're best known for, Fat Tire amber ale. They're also bringing the Voodoo Ranger IPA, a golden IPA with tropical aromas and fruit
Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Co.)
Samuel Adams beer began in 1984 with Jim Koch's first batch of Boston Lager brewed in his home's kitchen. That recipe dated back to the 1870s, when his great-great-grandfather had a St. Louis brewery. A mere six weeks after Koch first served his Samuel Adams Boston Lager to the public, it won the "Best Beer in America" award at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Since then, Sam Adams has grown exponentially: It's now the second-largest craft brewery in the U.S. They'll be pouring Sam '76, a lager and ale hybrid with Citra and Mosaic hops, and their New England IPA, a "hazy and juicy" IPA with pineapple and grapefruit hop character.
Sierra Nevada Brewing
While Sierra Nevada is now the third-largest craft brewery in the U.S., it started out on a much smaller scale. According to the brewer, founder Ken Grossman began homebrewing in the '70s and would go on to help shape the future of craft beer-making in America.
Squatters Craft Beers
Squatters founding partners Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis opened the first brewpub in Salt Lake City in 1989. Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers make up the Utah Brewers Cooperative, and they'll be coming back to the fest with Hop Rising Double IPA, a fruit-forward IPA with notes of mango and citrus from exotic hops.
Brian Strumke founded Stillwater Artisanal in 2010 after a career as an electronica DJ and producer. His homebrewing experiments in the backyard of his Baltimore home eventually led to a distribution deal with Twelve Percent Imports, but to this day, neither Strumke nor Stillwater has its own facility. Strumke instead uses excess capacity at existing breweries and travels to each of them to produce his batches. The method must work because Stillwater has ranked on RateBeer.com's Top 100 Brewers In The World list every year since its inception. It'll be pouring Action Bronson's 7000 Wild Ale, a
Stone Brewing began as a small San Diego microbrewery in 1996, and it's now been named "All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth" by Beer Advocate not once, but twice. Stone Brewing has several locations in California, as well as "outposts" in Richmond, Va., Berlin and Shanghai. They're bringing three brews to the festival: Fear.Movie.Lions., an unfiltered double IPA with tropical and citrus notes; Stone IPA, a crisp, extra hoppy brew with "tropical, citrusy, piney hop