Ale Aboard!

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WORDS: Laurie Marshall
IMAGES Laurie Marshall and Jessica Leonard

Your passport to craft brew
in Northwest Arkansas

Last August, Fayetteville Visitors Bureau launched Arkansas’ first craft beer tasting experience to capitalize on the boom of microbreweries in the area. Of the eighteen craft breweries operating in the state, eight are located in Benton and Washington counties.

Jessica Leonard, the Communications Manager for the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau, describes the idea behind the program: “We noticed more and more visitors asking about craft beer, so it was a natural fit for our next tourism initiative.” In the first eight months of the program, Leonard reports that 10,000 passports have been distributed. “We’ve had visitors come from all over the country, and it has become a popular activity for groups planning events like bachelor parties and family reunions.”

The self-guided tour encourages participants to experience the growing brewery scene in Northwest Arkansas and engage directly with the individual brewmasters crafting the brew. Participants can pick up “passports” for the tour at the Visitors Center in Fayetteville, or at any of the participating breweries. Each brewery will add their own stamp when presented with a passport, and once completed, they can then be returned to the Visitors Center for a free ‘I completed the Fayetteville Ale Trail’ decal. For more information about the Fayetteville Ale Trail, visit ExperienceFayettevillestore.com.

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APPLE BLOSSOM BREWING COMPANY

Address: 1550 East Zion Road, Fayetteville
Website: www.appleblossombrewing.com
Phone: 479-287-4344
Owner: Ching Mong
Brewmaster: Nathan Traw
Food Available (Y/N): Y
Brewery Hours: Daily 11am – 10pm *subject to change, please call ahead

Fate seemed to have a hand in the naming of Apple Blossom Brewing Company. Although the name was chosen to honor the official flower of the state of Arkansas, once the bar was constructed, it was discovered that the etched mirror behind it featured an apple blossom design. The bar and hostess station, as well as other décor elements in the restaurant, were pieced together from a collection of components made in Ireland and salvaged from a pub in Cincinnati, Ohio almost a decade ago.

The ambiance the woodwork creates in the bar and restaurant harkens back to a European pub, but industrial touches are present in the high ceiling with exposed ductwork. A wall of windows allows patrons to see where the magic happens in the brewery.

Patron Brenda Bohannan first spotted Apple Blossom driving home down Zion Road. She and her husband, Mike, have become regulars, visiting for a drink or dinner at least once a week. Apple Blossom is one of the only breweries on the Ale Trail that serves a full lunch and dinner menu. When asked why they prefer it over other breweries, Mike explains, “It’s laid back and has a good mix of people. I feel at home here.”

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OZARK BEER COMPANY

Owners: Andy Coates and Lacie Bray
Brewmaster: Andy Coates
Address: 1700 S. First Street, Rogers
Website: www.ozarkbeercompany.com
Phone: 479-636-2337
Food Available (Y/N): N
Brewery Hours: Monday-Friday: 10 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 1 pm — 7 pm, Sunday: 2 pm – 6 pm

When Andy Coates and Lacie Bray met as river guides on the banks of the Arkansas River in Colorado, they never imagined they would end up living in Lacie’s home state and running a brewery. After four years on the river, the couple relocated to Denver where Andy answered an ad for a job with Great Divide Brewing Company. He was paid in low wages and free beer, but he also discovered the passion for creating a product that made people happy. He knew he had found his calling. “No one is disappointed by coming to a brewery.”

Ozark Beer Company is the newest brewery in Northwest Arkansas, opening in 2013. Growler* fills and tastings are available seven days a week, making them the only business in Benton County to offer take-home beer on Sunday. It’s a kid-friendly place where you’re welcome to bring a picnic and stay a while. Production is set to begin on cans this month, with each of their four brews to be represented by artwork depicting different native Arkansas wildlife.

Andy is especially proud of their commitment to buy American, saying, “It’s hard for us to ask customers to support us and pay a bit more for this beer if we’re not willing to put our money where our mouth is and do the same. That’s a big part of what we’re doing and why we’re here.”

A growler is a half-gallon jug or bottle typically used to hold beer that is poured straight from a tap in a pub or craft brewery.

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SADDLEBOCK BREWERY

Owner: Steve Rehbock
Brewmaster: Steve Rehbock
Address: 18244 Habberton Road, Springdale
Website: www.saddlebock.com
Phone: 479-422-1797
Food Available (Y/N): N
Brewery Hours: Monday-Friday: 3 pm – 9 pm
Saturday: 12 pm – 9 pm, Sunday: 1 pm – 8 pm

When Steve Rehbock moved to Northwest Arkansas from Chicago eight years ago, he had never brewed beer before. After taking up a home-brew hobby and entering contests for a few years, he decided to open Northwest Arkansas’ first production brewery in 2012. The first taps poured only three brews, but they have grown quickly, now serving eighteen.

Saddlebock is located on the shores of the White River, and Steve has taken full advantage of the country views his property offers by building decks on the sides of the red barn-shaped building. With a third deck being planned, it is a perfect spot to take in a peaceful Ozark sunset.

Owing in part to their unique location, Saddlebock was named one of five “Coolest Craft Beer Tours in America” by Yahoo Travel in 2013. Steve says that that notoriety has helped bring people into the brewery who are on road-trip vacations. “They don’t just visit us, they visit all the breweries. It brings people to Northwest Arkansas.” An additional sixteen acres have been purchased across the road from the brewery, and Steve has plans for bed and breakfast facilities and live music to bring even more goodness to what has already been a successful venture.

Core Brewing & Distillery

Address: 2470 Lowell Rd, A3 Springdale
Website: www.corebeer.com
Phone: 479-879-2469
Owner: Jesse Core
Brewmaster: Jesse Core
Food Available (Y/N): N
Brewery Hours: Daily 3pm – 9pm

Fossil Cove Brewing Company

Address: 1946 N. Birch Avenue, Fayetteville
Website: www.facebook.com/fossilcovebrewing
Phone: 479-445-6050
Owner: Benjamin Mills
Brewmaster: Benjamin Mills
Food Available (Y/N): Nomad’s Natural Plate on Wednesday, occasionally other days.
Brewery Hours: Mon – Thur: 4pm – 10pm, Fri: 4pm – 11pm
Sat: 2pm – 11pm, Sun: 2pm – 10pm

Hog Haus Brewing Company

Address: 430 W. Dickson Street, Fayetteville
Website: www.hoghaus.com
Phone: 479-521-BREW
Owners: Julie Sill and Kari Larson
Brewmaster: Steve Rehbock
Food Available (Y/N): Y
Brewery Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday Brunch 11am-2pm

Tanglewood Branch

Address: 1431 South School Avenue, Fayetteville
Website: www.tanglewoodbranch.com
Phone: 479-856-6500
Owners: J.T. Wampler
Brewmaster: J.T. Wampler
Food Available (Y/N): Y
Brewery Hours: Open Mon-Sat at 11am, Sunday at 5pm

West Mountain Brewery

Address: 21 West Mountain Street, Fayetteville
Website: www.facebook.com/tinytimspizza
Phone: 479-442-9090
Owner: John Schmuecker
Brewmaster: John Schmuecker
Food Available (Y/N): Y
Brewery Hours: Mon – Sat: 10am – 12am, Sun: 10am – 10pm

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