Photo: Brian Sorensen
On a blustery day in downtown Bentonville a brewery announced its homecoming.
Members of Bentonville Brewing Co. — along with a few dozen onlookers — gathered atop a red clay building pad to celebrate the beer maker’s move from Rogers back to its namesake town.
“Our identity is Bentonville Brewing Co.,” co-owner Katie Boykin said to the crowd. “We were conceived in Bentonville, we started in Bentonville, we named our stinking place after the town. And then we left.”
It is true the brewery up and left its hometown. But not without good reason, and not without a plan to return one day.
Bentonville Brewing Co. opened in June 2015 in a small warehouse space just south of the city’s downtown square. Boykin said the brewery grew extraordinarily fast. It produced 650 barrels of beer in its first full year in operation, and added fermentation capacity almost immediately.
A bigger brewing facility was needed much sooner than expected. Unfortunately, warehouse space in Bentonville was difficult to obtain at a reasonable price.
It just so happened that Ozark Beer Co. vacated its space in Rogers. It was the perfect short-term solution given the building was already retrofitted for a brewing operation. Bentonville Brewing Co. has called that location home for a little more than a year now.
Photo: Brian Sorensen
And now the maker of Homewrecker IPA and Salted Cherry Sour is ready to make its return.
“We’re excited to get back here to Bentonville,” said partner Lee Robinson. “We’re going to have a new brewhouse, a much larger system that will allow us to get creative with some of the beers that we’re making.”
Plans call for at least a 20,000-square-foot building with 6,000 square feet of outdoor space that will include a dog park, a children’s playground, and picnic tables.
The brewery is a part of a larger project that will include a climbing gym. The site is adjacent to the Bentonville Municipal Airport and is located in the heart of a rapidly-developing area of town.
According to partner and head brewer Beau Boykin, the brewery has its eye on a new 20-barrel brewhouse from Alpha Brewing Operations in Lincoln, Nebraska. Boykin has been brewing on the original 7-barrel direct fire system since the brewery opened. The move to a much larger steam-jacketed rig will make a big difference in output and efficiency.
“We’re constantly struggling to keep up with demand,” he said. “Alleviating that is going to be huge.”
To celebrate the occasion the brewery handed out samples of Deliverance Imperial Stout — a big, boozy winter warmer that was appreciated by the wind-chilled crowd.
A Woodford Reserve barrel containing a fresh batch of Deliverance was also on display. Those in attendance were invited to sign the cask and return to the brewery when it opens next fall to enjoy the contents.
According to the brewery’s owners, the goal is to produce between 8,000 and 10,000 barrels of beer per year once the move is complete. Bentonville Brewing Co. made 761 barrels of beer last year, good for 10th-largest brewery in the state.
“We’re so excited to be back,” said Katie Boykin as she raised her glass to toast the occasion. “To friends, to family, to delicious beer, to coming home.”