Arkansas,  craft beer

Exploring Central Arkansas’s Locally Labeled craft beer scene

As microbreweries continue to grow across the country, craft beer has blossomed in parts of the United States that people don’t usually associate with beer.  Central Arkansas is one of those places.  To help promote its growing craft beer scene, the Little Rock and North Little Rock CVBs partnered to create the Locally Labeled Passport.  So next time you’re in the Greater Little Rock area, you need to pick it up to help you explore the region’s craft breweries, brewpubs, wineries, and distillery.

Although the program focuses on breweries, there are two wineries and a distillery are also part of the program.  The inclusion of wineries and a distillery really sets the program apart from others that focus solely on breweries/brewpubs.  The passport has all the necessary information about each place and an excellent map that will help you identify spots that are close to each other to maximize your visits in the region.

Collecting stamps isn’t just a fun way to explore the area, but also to earn prizes.  At any point, people can submit a passport at three levels to collect rewards.  Seven stamps earns you a sandstone coaster, ten stamps earns you a Locally Labeled T-shirt, and completing the booklet with 14 stamps earns you the coaster and T-shirt.

A view of the Locally Labeled Passport with some stamps.

During my visit to metro Little Rock, my wife and I picked up passports and have set about visiting all 14 places in the program.  Over about two days, we collected eight stamps and got to experience a lot of the region while enjoying some great drinks and equally outstanding food.

Blue Canoe Brewing Co. (425 E. 3rd St., Little Rock 72201)
We stopped here for lunch when we came into town.  The burger I ate was a fantastic compliment to some very good beer.  The location makes it easy to access when exploring downtown Little Rock.  For example, it’s a half-mile walk from the brewery to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.

Diamond Bear Brewing Co. (600 N. Broadway, North Little Rock 72114)
One of the stops in North Little Rock, we stopped here for lunch on our return trip through the area.  It’s close to the interstate, which made it easy for us to enjoy a sandwich and flight before getting back on the road.  The decor of the Arkansas Ale House will remind you of a log cabin.

Flyway Brewing Co. (314 Maple St., North Little Rock 72114)
After attending an Arkansas Travelers game at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, we visited one of three spots across the river that are part of the program.  We didn’t get to sample the food, but the choices were unique with wild boar bratwurst.

Lost Forty Brewing (501 Byrd St., Little Rock 72202)
We received two very strong recommendations to have brunch here, so we delayed our departure on Sunday morning.  The beer was great, but it’s the pimento cheese and bacon omelet that made it the best brunch choice we could have made.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d come just for the beer, but the food puts this place over the top.

Rebel Kettle Brewing Co. (822 E. 6th St., Little Rock 72202)
In a crowded craft beer marketplace, it is difficult for breweries to stand out among the crowd.  Rebel Kettle infuses a bit of rock ‘n’ roll to create a unique place for itself.  The combination creates a fun, unique atmosphere with a wide selection of beers.

Stone’s Throw Brewing (402 E. 9th St., 72202)
On the edge of downtown Little Rock nestled next to MacArthur Park.  On the edge of downtown, the patio at Stone’s Throw opens up to a residential neighborhood and one of the city’s largest parks.  A partnership with an Asian-fusion restaurant means they have one of the most unique food menus in the area.

There’s still more for my wife and I to eat, drink, and experience with the Locally Labeled Passport.  I’m looking forward to completing the passport, and hope this wets your appetite to explore Greater Little Rock’s locally made libations.

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