I never was much of a beer drinker. In fact, I hated beer. It wasn’t until craft breweries, beer tourism and things like Little Rock’s Locally Labeled started popping up that I truly became a beer lover.
Obviously, I’m not the only beer lover either. The way breweries and craft beer have taken off in the last ten years is incredible. Mid-summer of 2019, there were a 1000 more craft breweries operating in the US than the previous year. And there are another 2500 to 3000 in the planning stages.
There are sought after “best beer” medals and beer festivals can be found in even the smallest towns. Cities have created entire beer and brewery trails to attract visitors and be the next city on a beercation list.
Drink Like a Local
Enter Little Rock, where you can “drink like a local” on their Locally Labeled Passport Trail. In addition to the six breweries on the list, Little Rock’s trail is unique because it includes two wineries and a distillery.
Arkansas, an agriculture state, had the foresight to see an opportunity in beer tourism. Way back in 1991, a politician and a beer lover surely, introduced legislation to change the laws in Arkansas, making brewpubs legal. Even now in 2020, it’s a struggle to get brewpubs up and running in some cities.
By comparison, it wasn’t until 2017 that Atlanta lawmakers finally passed the Booze Bill that allowed local breweries to sell directly to the public instead of a tour and tasting kind of thing.
Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Passport
Never one to back down from a challenge, when I found out that they actually give you a real passport to get stamped as you drink your way through Little Rock’s Locally Labeled list, I was in!
While I haven’t even come close to getting all my stamps, yet, it’s been fun stopping in now and again and trying. Here’s where I’ve been so far on Little Rock’s Locally Labeled passport.
“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.”
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 it over a brew.
The brewery is in a warehouse type building with lots of long European style beer garden tables. This is great for bigger parties and socializing. Besides beer, they also serve up really good food. The pimento cheese was one of the best I’ve had
Lost Forty typically has about twelve beers on draft. It’s a good mix of and easy ordering for 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 and offers free tours on Saturdays at 1 pm and 2 pm.
rebel kettle is now east sixth brewing company. check back for more info soon
“In a world full of boring beers, Rebel Kettle is leading the rebellion. On a mission to move beyond the mundane, we have the key ingredients at our fingertips – the passion for the craft, the willingness to experiment, and the respect for quality ingredients”
That quote says it all. Rebel Kettle is anything but boring. With a line up of intriguing beers, you can experiment with new tastes but still find something standard if that’s your thing.
Not surprisingly, Rebel Kettle is housed in a cool, rocker kind of space. They have indoor seating and a beer garden, where they schedule various events, yoga and live music. You can play games and be a little more active outside or just hang out.
While they are a brewery and beer is the focus, let’s just talk about the food for a minute. Rebel Kettle has a Cajun inspired menu and it’s some of the best food I’ve had at a brewery. They even serve brunch, which I’ve rarely seen at a brewpub.
Last time I was there I had boudin balls or what Rebel Kettle calls Bou(damn) balls. Boudin is sausage which in Rebel Kettle’s case, has been beer battered and fried into little balls and served with creole mustard and saltines. Yummee!
“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 Brewing is located in North Little Rock, just across the river from downtown Little Rock. The brewery takes it’s name from the largest bird migratory route in the Americas. They have incorporated this natural phenomenon into their building, their brand, and their beer.
Part of their business philosophy is to remain small and personal and you feel that immediately when you walk. The brewery has an intimate, welcoming almost homey feeling. You can even play board games just like at home.
Flyway serves pub food with a twist. Sliders, wings and some amazing apps. Nachos that are anything but typical with toppings such as duck, gator and crawfish.
The brewery is open every day and they have tours on Saturday and a Sunday Brunch.
“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”
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.
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.
Rock Town Products
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.
The Other Breweries on Little Rock’s Locally Labeled Passport
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 Little Rock Locally Labeled trail are:
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 have visited on my own too and I’ll go back anytime I can. Hope you will visit soon too! Cheers!