Arkansas,  craft beer

A pint at Rebel Kettle Brewing in Little Rock, Ark.

If you combine a rock ‘n’ roll attitude and craft beer you get Rebel Kettle Brewing Company.  Or at least that’s what I feel like you get with the Rebel Kettle logo.  The brewery is a slightly different story, but it is still a place that is amped-up.  You get the amped-up feeling just walking up to the brewery as its logo is prominently displayed when entering the building.

A customer entering the brewery’s main entrance.

I neglected to take a picture of the railing right as you enter the brewery, but it prominently features the company logo of a skeleton wearing a leather jacket with a flowing head of hair and hoisting a pint of beer.  There will be more on the logo later.

Onto the taproom…

The taproom includes much more than just the bar top.

In the distance of the previous photo you can see the bar and some tables.  The area where I sat with my wife had about a half-dozen tables, and had we been willing we could have sat outside on the beer garden.  However, the July day we visited was quite warm so we opted to sit indoors and enjoy the air conditioning.  Beyond the bar area you can see the brewery’s fermentation tanks and other equipment.  I’m used to seeing the equipment when I go to a brewery, but I never get tired of the view because it reminds me that the beer on draft does not have to get shipped to its sale location like macrobrews.

By far the most unique thing I saw at the brewery was a quote from the 14th Dalai Lama.  That’s not something I think most people would expect to find in a brewery, except maybe if you were in a country where Buddhism is the dominant religion.

A quote that applies to life, but also brewing beer.

The quote from the Dalai Lama is quite interesting.  I didn’t get the chance to talk with anybody at the brewery about its significance, but it seems pretty clear to me.  I read it and think about the history of beer brewing in the United States.  Generally it’s been a pretty standard, orderly process that follows a step-by-step guide established decades ago.  However, since the 1990s beer brewing has started to change with the growth and evolution of craft breweries.  So when I read the quote, I think about how craft beer brewers have been breaking the rules of American beer making that were once deeply entrenched.

So onto the beer…

My beers (Rob Gnarly on the left and Dirtbag on the right) along with a small tray of popcorn.

Every brewery is very different in what they offer when it comes to pouring beer.  The majority I have visited offer flights, but Rebel Kettle does not.  Instead of pouring a four- or six-ounce taster, Rebel Kettle pours a half-pint (eight ounces) if you do not want an entire pint of beer.  Normally this wouldn’t be an issue for me, but after visiting two breweries earlier in the day I really didn’t want to drink that much beer.  However, one of the benefits of traveling with my wife, who also enjoys craft beer, is that we could each get two different beers and then sample what the other one ordered.

We debated what to order because there were eleven beers on tap the day we visited, and if we were only ordering four beers total it would be difficult to try and cover the broad spectrum of the brewery’s offerings.  Our waitress suggested that we order from the seasonal and/or rotator lists because that would allow us to experience the most unique beers available.  Heeding the waitress’s advice, I ordered Rob Gnarly and Dirtbag while my wife Katie ordered Swimmin’ Hole and Black Reign.  I really enjoyed Rob Gnarly, which is a tart farmhouse ale.  I’ve had sour farmhouse ales before, and this one blended tartness with crispness quite well.  Dirtbag is actually one of the brewery’s four year-round beers, but I rarely see double brown ales and felt like the uniqueness of the beer merited ordering it.  Swimmin’ Hole is a saison while Black Reign is a bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout, which is described as a foundational beer that commemorates the brewery’s inception.

Speaking of beer, it’s important to see the bar area.

The bar top can seat about a dozen people.

Katie and I did not order any food at Rebel Kettle, although we received some popcorn with our beers, so I cannot comment on the food at the brewery.  However, there is an extensive food menu.  In a growing craft brewery scene in Little Rock, the food menu at Rebel Kettle distinguishes it from the rest of the breweries in town.  At Rebel Kettle, the majority of food items are Cajun influenced such as the muffaletta burger, the boudin sausage links, and a shrimp po’boy.  Not all of the menu has Cajun influences, so from the appetizers, burgers, po’boys, sandwiches, and salad selections you should be able to find something to satisfy your appetite.

If you take a large dining area, a beer garden, a Cajun-influenced food menu, and a consistently changing beer menu and throw in a some rock ‘n’ roll attitude you get Rebel Kettle.  If you want to turn things up to 11 on the Little Rock craft beer scene this is the place you need to visit.


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