I never was much of a beer drinker. In fact, I hated beer. It wasn’t until beer tourism and craft breweries started popping up that I truly became a beer lover. The cherry on top to all that new beer is that a lot of cities have beer trails and some of them even reward you for visiting all the breweries on a brew trail. One of my favorite beer trails in Arkansas is Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Trail. Their motto is “drink like a local” Here’s how.
Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Trail
Arkansas, an agriculture state, had the foresight and saw a lucrative opportunity in beer tourism. Way back in 1991, a politician – and a beer lover surely – introduced the legislation to change the alcohol laws in Arkansas. That change made brewpubs legal.
With five breweries, two wineries and one distillery, Little Rock introduced their Locally Labeled Passport Trail. Visitors can pick up a passport at any of the locations on the trail. All you have to do is visit a participating business and get it a passport sticker for each one.
After getting your stickers, you can choose from different gifts for completing the quest. It’s that easy. And a lot of fun. Below are a few of the businesses on the trail that I’ve visited.
Lost Forty Brewing
That tall tale and Lost Forty’s name is taken from a story about a “lost” parcel of forty acres that somehow escaped timber men and surveyors for years. Since they couldn’t find it, what was left was forty acres of pristine Arkansas forest. How? No one really knows but it’s a great name for the beer and a lot of fun to discuss over a brew.
“Lost Forty aims to craft beers as unwavering, wild, and uniquely Arkansas as the the land itself. The Lost Forty is part tall tale, a little bit of hearsay, a lot of history, a few facts, a big cast of characters and completely Arkansas.”
The brewery is in a warehouse type building. Styled after European beer garden, the brewery has a bunch of long tables perfect for large parties and socializing. Besides a variety of delicious beer, they also serve some tasty food. The pimento cheese was one of the best I’ve ever had.
For brews, Lost Forty typically has about twelve beers on draft. The list a good mix of different types of beer that’s easy for ordering a flight. Ales, IPAs, stouts and lagers all coexist nicely. My favorite was the Easy Tiger, a Mexican style lager. The Raspberry Lime Gose was a close second.
Lost Forty is open 7 days a week with free tours on Saturdays at 1 pm and 2 pm.
Flyway Brewing, in North Little Rock, just across the river from downtown Little Rock, takes its name from the largest bird migratory route in the Americas. They’ve incorporated this annual phenomenon into their building, their brand, and their beer.
Part of their business philosophy is to remain small and personal. You get a sense of that immediately upon walking in. The brewery has an intimate, welcoming – almost homey – feeling. They even have board games.
“To us, the Flyway experience is much more than brewing beer. It’s about using the land and resources we are given, and crafting something truly special. We try to pour the essence of Arkansas’ breathtaking natural habitat into everything we do”
Flyway food is pub food with a twist. Sliders, wings and some amazing appetizers are on the menu. They also serve nachos – that are anything but typical – with toppings like duck, alligator and crawfish.
The brewery is open every day and they have tours on Saturday and a Sunday Brunch.
Rock Town Distillery
Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Passport also includes a distillery. Rock Town Distillery was part of the Savor Arkansas Culinary tour that brought me to town the first time and is Arkansas’ first legal distillery since prohibition.
“Rock Town is a true grain-to-glass distillery, our spirits are carefully distilled from corn, wheat and rye that are grown within a 125 miles of the distillery. Our passion is our spirit and our dedication is to our craft”
Owner Phil Brandon wasn’t a whiskey maker by trade or at least he wasn’t until 2010, when after a series of job layoffs, he decided he wanted to try making whiskey. There’s lots more to the story but ultimately his decision and down right determination, led to the success of Rock Town.
Just three years after opening, he won double gold awards for his whiskey, double gold awards for his gin and his vodka scored very high in another competition. While Phil’s passion is whiskey and bourbons, Rock Town Vodka is the mainstay of the distillery. They sell other flavored vodkas and produce some limited editions and seasonals.
Rock Town offers tours six days a week, including Sundays. And you can buy bottles on Sunday too. Even if you aren’t doing the Locally Labeled trail, a stop at Rock Town is a definite must do when in Little Rock.
Other Participating Breweries on Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Trail
So what’s left? There are three breweries I need to visit to complete the beer portion of my passport. The breweries left on the Locally Labeled passport are:
The Wineries on the Trail
The wineries on the Little Rock Locally Labeled trail are:
Little Rock’s Locally Labeled
Thanks to the Little Rock Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for telling me about the Locally Labeled Passport. In full disclosure, I was hosted by them for a couple of the breweries and at the Rock Town Distillery. However, I like to stop by Little Rock anytime I can now. Hope you will visit soon too! Cheers!
See you on the road!