Last week involved a business trip to Bentonville. I hadn’t been back to Northwest Arkansas in almost two years. A lot has changed, and for the better. The craft beer scene used to be nonexistent but the co-worker I was traveling with opened my eyes to a more positive outlook on the towns surrounding XNA airport.
After our meetings concluded, the first stop was at Foster’s Pint & Plate in Rogers. The food was delicious and they had a very serviceable craft beer menu. Our server was knowledgeable and helped me navigate the local options which were conveniently noted with a state of Arkansas silhouette. I started off with Fossil Cover Brewing’s La Brea Brown (Belgian brown ale) that paired perfectly with a wood fired mini waffles appetizer which featured savory pimento cheese and sweet maple pecan spreads. My entrée was a medium rare (not overcooked) flank steak with a dollop of herbed butter, side of mashed potatoes and a very tasty corn and lima bean succotash. For $5 I chose to sample the (4 out of 5) house brewed flight. Hoppy Wheat IPA was nice but claimed to be balanced. A Midwesterner would beg to differ. The Red Ale (American amber ale) was easy drinking, Peach Belgian (Belgian blonde ale) wasn’t my jam but the Java Porter was infused with their house roasted coffee which added a nice mix of complexity. But that was only our first stop.
A quick pop into the After 5 Grill & Bar (also in Rogers) was the next place on our itinerary. A small bar tucked in the back corner of a one stop shop gas station was filled with friendly faces and a gentleman singing/playing acoustic. Our bartender couldn’t have been nicer as she poured me a Mother’s Brewing Company Lil’ Helper (American IPA). This sud came from Springfield, MO and was one of my favorites of the evening bursting with juicy tropical hop flavors which gave way to subtle, balanced bitterness.
Next up was easily the coolest setting of the evening, at Bike Rack Brewing in Bentonville. The crowd was a bit younger but chill and acting respectful (maybe because it was a school night). You’ll notice by the header image that my beer flight exceeded the limit of 4 per paddle because at this point in the evening, I’d be a fool to come this far and not try them all. The Urban Trail Golden Ale and Rusty Tricycle (American amber ale) were straight forward, sessionable and fitting for all audiences. Fast (session IPA) was mediocre but you all know how I feel about this style so take it with a grain of salt. Angus Chute (American stout) felt like too many IBUs or perhaps I don’t care for American stouts as much as session IPAs. The specialty brew on tap was their Pumpkin Pale Ale which had the Fall spices we know and love but they were balanced as the light, crispness you’d find from an APA, settled in. Last up was the cleverly named Faster (DIPA). When reading the chalkboard I saw 8.5% ABV and 115 IBUs. You know how we prefer balanced brews in the Midwest. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised with this one and it ended up being my best in show for the evening. Finally, an honorable mention goes to Pedaler’s Pub next door. My co-worker already knew the owner who was quite cordial so even though I was on 4 hours of sleep we had to pop in for a nightcap. I enjoyed the bar and was envious of the massive wood fire oven they possessed for making pizzas. If I wasn’t already damn near falling asleep in my barstool and didn’t have to get up at 4:30am for my flights home, I would have most definitely ordered a pie to go.
Here’s to an unusually good time that I had (post meeings) in the ever growing craft brew scene in Northwest Arkansas. Cheers!