Now, you all do know that picking the top micro-breweries in the ArkLaTex is impossible, right? So, these are the best of the 40 or so that we have visited. To make it more accurate, I decided to list only nano-breweries (and brew pubs – even smaller), tiny businesses that work in small batches, have little or no distribution, and have an attractive tasting room. Take my word for it, these little breweries are great.
Blue Canoe Brewing, Little Rock Arkansas.
My kind of beer! Tiny, limited hours, few amenities, and, when it comes to beer, I don’t much like aluminum cans. I DO LIKE their tastes. I also like a rustic ambiance. Blue Canoe may go just a bit too far into polishing their rustic theme with lots of new, shiny stuff, but they have not really ruined the relaxed feeling.
I DO LIKE their beer (have I said that already?). Ten bonus points for having a hand-drawn logo. Their website is remarkably uninformative. Give them a call and go taste their beer.
Is Beer Yoga a thing? I have images of how deeply meditative I would become if posed sitting cross-legged after 2 or 12 beers. You can sample beer and practice yoga Saturdays at Lazy Circles Brewing.
They had me at the front door. Tiny, owner-operated, quaint and eclectic, this is real and personal. And, they make good beer!
Doors opened in November, 2017, so they are certainly still in the shakedown period. I will return to see what they develop. It should be great. Their outdoor setting is imaginative. Quirky is the word that comes to mind. Bring the family dog and a picnic lunch sit outside and enjoy some really delicious beer.
Here it is, my favorite, Anvil Brewing in Pittsburg, Texas.
You might think I have lost my mind (until you visit and see what I mean). Anvil does not filter their beer. It has a distinctive, slightly cloudy look, but don’t let that deter you. Many of the best beers in the world are unfiltered. Proponents claim that unfiltered beer is better for you, much like pulpy orange juice is better than strained. The taste of all the Anvil beers is robust, smooth, and distinctly different between each type (the Scottish Ale is pretty amazing!). The only one with even the least bit of harshness was their SMaSH IPA. My husband says it is supposed to be that sharp, that it is perfect with food or for those who want their beer to announce its presence in their mouth.
So, why is this my favorite? SO MANY reasons!
- The restaurant – Great food, unique menu, three “headline” meals that you have to try, the steak special (huge and delicious), the Reuben sandwich (best you will ever have – and a full meal, all by itself), and their fry-basket combinations (try the cheeseburger fries first).
- The live music concerts – big names & virtual unknowns in the dance hall. Sawdust on the floor and most nights there is no cover charge.
- The old building – they call it historic, but all I see is old and amazing. It is actually an old Feed & Seed building, restored and rustic in the extreme, not a shiny new feature or fake period piece anywhere.
- The courtyard (not, as yet, landscaped) has porches, picnic tables, and a loading dock door to the dance hall and view of the stage.
- The owners and staff – They truly like people and lavish love on their customers.
- And, the beer. It is good and it is brewed right there, in sight, in small batches.
For some tastes, there may be better beers in the ArkLaTex, but these are really good. And, Anvil Brewing is new. They opened their doors July 4, 2017. Their beer recipes are still in the experimentation stage. I am sure they will be right there with the best in the nation in just a few months.
Despite the one-hour drive, I will revisit often. I hope you will, too.
Choosing Great Raft is completely out of character for me. Although small, it is not tiny as others on this list. They put their delicious beer into aluminum, and they actually have a healthy regional distribution. To tell you the truth, this is the type of beer I would hope to find in the cooler of a good store. I bet your average weekend beer drinker will like Great Raft’s beer more than my personal picks. Just ask my husband!
It is run by very nice people, but the size and process is a bit big for the down-home atmosphere I prefer and I worry that their expansion rate might dilute the genuinely friendly attitude that is now so prominent. They are currently advertising for an operations manager and expanding their facility. Already, the tour rules are detailed and very slightly limiting. GOOD BEER!