Those of us who live in Little Rock but have spent time traveling outside the state have almost certainly drawn the same conclusion: as cities go, Little Rock is, true to its name, rather tiny in comparison. That’s not to say our city lacks charm, personality, or modern and historical significance, but compared to semi-nearby cities like Dallas, St. Louis, or even Memphis, it can feel like a quaint hamlet in comparison.
But as a beer enthusiast, one thing that excites me about Little Rock is that the area has recently been a growing presence in the craft beer world. Diamond Bear is a long-standing central Arkansas institution, and there are a few other local breweries that have become major players in the last few years.
If you’re a local craft beer fan, chances are you’re already familiar with Lost Forty (their Love Honey has become a staple of virtually every local eatery). Established in 2014 at 501 Byrd Street, their taproom has a cozy industrial-rustic aesthetic and a food menu that will put a smile on any carnivore’s face (the salads are also fantastic, if meat isn’t your thing) and their desserts have never failed me. The waitstaff is reliably great and with sports on TV and free arcade games to play, it’s a perfectly welcoming place to bring the little ones. If you’re one of the over 26,000 people following Lost Forty on Facebook and still haven’t been for a visit, you’re depriving yourself of an enjoyable afternoon.
Another local brewery that I am crazy about is Flyway. Their Bluewing has picked up steam in the local market, but I feel they’re still slept on by locals. Conveniently located at 314 Maple St in the Argenta district within walking distance of Verizon Arena and Dickey Stephens Park, I can’t imagine many better places to meet before a concert or post-game to celebrate a Travelers victory. There’s nothing on the menu that doesn’t make my mouth water but you should absolutely try the Pretzel Tree. And at the risk of breaking impartiality, the Magdalene Tripel is, without qualifiers, one of the best beers I have put in my mouth in the last several years.
Full disclosure: I have not yet visited Rebel Kettle at 822 E 6th St, but I plan to correct that in the very near future. However, I’m willing to make a recommendation in good faith based on the strength of their reputation and the quality of the Rebel Kettle beer I’ve tried. Plus I’m a sucker for a crawfish po’boy, and their beer menu is large, varied, and robust.
Next time you’re in the mood for a cold beer and a good meal, supporting any of our local breweries is a good way to assure that Little Rock’s footprint in the national beer scene continues to grow. We may never be a metropolis full of towering skyscrapers or professional sports teams, but I think light traffic and a reputation as a birthplace for great breweries is an excellent tradeoff.