Editor’s note: here’s a primer about why we’re exploring this topic.
With a combined “weighted rank” of 3.52 (out of 5) for it’s top-10 beers according to Beer Advocate users, Arkansas placed last out of 51 states and D.C. in my recent analysis of ratings from the website. To help prove that isn’t indicative of all that’s offered within The Natural State, I’ve enlisted the help of Jonas Schaffer and Josh Whitson, authors at Arkansas Beer Blog.
Before we get into a brief Q&A with Jonas and Josh, let’s recap some of the vitals of Arkansas as found through my Beer Advocate series:
Top 10 Beers (as of Nov 2014)
|Paradise Porter||Diamond Bear Brewing||Porter||6.24||3.76|
|Two Term||Diamond Bear Brewing||DIPA||8.5||3.51|
|IRISh Red||Diamond Bear Brewing||Red Ale||5.86||3.5|
|Pale Ale||Diamond Bear Brewing||Pale Ale||6.2||3.5|
|Presidential IPA||Diamond Bear Brewing||IPA||6.2||3.334|
|Southern Blonde||Diamond Bear Brewing||Pilsner||5.18||3.3|
|Rockroberfest||Diamond Bear Brewing||Oktoberfest||5.98||3.68|
|Flaming Stone||Boscos Restaurant||Blonde||4.8||3.44|
|Oatmeal Stout||Core Brewing||Stout||5.6||3.5|
According to results of the Beer Advocate research, the average ABV of all “best beers” was 8 percent, with states having an average of 5.5 beers at or below that threshold. Nine of Arkansas’ beers were below that threshold, which included one of the few blonde ales to get highlighted among 506 beers.
In terms of Beer Advocate user preferences, all this means not many people seem to care about Arkansas beer. Why should you? Let’s find out with Jonas and Josh.
How would you describe the beer and beer community of Arkansas?
Exploding! With a 400 percent increase in native beer licenses over the last five years, Arkansas is in a rocket ship destined for a very exciting and palpable future. This growth has awakened the palates of our craft beer community and, in turn, created a giant demand for quality Arkansas-brewed craft beer.
What are general misconceptions about beer or breweries from Arkansas?
Owing to the fact that many Arkansas breweries are removed from the national spotlight due to their small-batch methods, the general misconceptions stem from an “out of sight, out of mind” impression. While true that we all smoke corncob pipes and walk around barefoot, the level of quality and sophistication of craft beer currently being produced in Arkansas is superb.
What are the unique aspects about Arkansas beer you wish people would “get”?
Nearly all of our brewers are growing organically. We are not a state that has a giant population or many metro areas that can support a trendy gastropub. Our breweries are growing because they have passionate, hardworking, beer-loving brewers behind them. They have taken it upon themselves to bring outstanding craft beer into Arkansas, and Arkansas happily welcomes this growth. We are a small town-feel environment, which bodes well with the craft beer love-thy-neighbor movement. We are all in this for good beer – we are not trying to jump on the bandwagon.
What beers or breweries are often overlooked? Are there any taken for granted who produce great beer?
Due to moderate production and regulations that prohibit online sales, many Arkansas breweries remain a state-held secret. Passersby would be amazed by the creations of Josiah Moody (Moody Brews in Little Rock, AR). Josiah’s innate ability for clean technique mixed with an creative flare keep the Arkansas beer community on their toes and asking for more.
Another favorite son of Arkansas is brewer Andy Coates (Ozark Beer Company in Rogers, AR). With experiences gained from his work at Great Divide and Goose Island, Andy has mastered a pure, traditional approach to award-winning small-batch beers. Additionally, Ozark Beer Company takes great pride in sourcing all of their equipment, from floor grates to tanks, from fellow small American manufacturers.
Why do you think beer raters have given lower scores to beer from Arkansas?
Just as a book, beer is often judged by its cover. Hype drives demand for beer. When folks hear that a beer is from Arkansas, they probably don’t get as excited as they do when they hear it’s from a small farm in Vermont. What’s the difference between a small farm in Arkansas and a small farm in Vermont? Nothing. Besides the humidity, maybe.
What are beers you’d want them to try?
- Moody Brews – Half Seas Over Imperial IPA
- Apple Blossom – Armstrong APA
- Ozark Beer Co. – Onyx Coffee Stout
- Core – Imperial Red
- Fossil Cove – La Brea Brown
Why should people come to Arkansas to explore your beer community?
Arkansas is the Natural State – we have some of the most beautiful parks and scenery in the country. Pair that with wonderful hospitable southern charm, both well-known and hidden food/restaurant gems, and fantastic craft beer and you have the formula for an amazing beer community.
Feeling inspired? Learn more about Arkansas’ beer at Jonas and Josh’s website.
Learn more about under-appreciated beer from:
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac