Written by Tom Becham for Professor Goodales
Those of us who live in or near large urban centers are used to being able to purchase a fairly wide variety of craft beer.
Sure, regional or international choices can be subject to some limitations, depending upon your locale. But when you can find things like corked 750 milliliter bottles of Chimay in your local supermarket, you know that craft beer has “arrived.”
This point was greatly evident in a recent trip I made to see family in Arkansas.
Now, Little Rock is a large, fairly cosmopolitan city, and as such has a decent selection of craft beer, if you know where to look. But Hot Springs Village – where my mother and step-father live – is not such a center for beery goodness. Even the nearby city of Hot Springs isn’t much better in that respect.
Or such was the case as recently as three years ago.
Little Rock, Arkansas (picture above)
At that time, you could only find the industrial macros at markets and liquor stores, with a small number of regionals like Shiner, or nationally-known craft brewers like Sam Adams thrown into the mix. Even specialty stores only carried a narrow range of German imports and a pathetically small number of American micros.
All that has changed. This fall the local specialty shops were full of Belgian and German imports, and craft brew from New Belgium, Breckenridge, Boulevard, Goose Island and Abita, just to name a few. Even the markets in the Village had a wide range of regionals on offer.
I don’t know if this is due to more widespread marketing by craft brewers, or better distribution. But whatever the reason, it’s good for the Beer Geek.
In addition, Little Rock craft brewer, Diamond Bear has stepped up its game since last I checked out the Arkansas beer scene. Diamond Bear has not only improved the quality of its beer (I particularly like their Presidential IPA; a nice English-style IPA with a hop presence that is more earthy and fruity than it is outright bitter), but they now bottle their product and sell it within Arkansas stores.
Yes, craft beer is going everywhere. Even Central Arkansas.