When Puritan Coffee & Beer opened as Puritan Brew Co. in late 2014, owner Kevin Frey said he didn’t intend to open a brewery, so the name was a bit of a misnomer. He eventually changed the name to prevent confusion. At the time his focus was on serving coffee and pouring beer made elsewhere.
But things have changed at the Dickson Street establishment.
“I swore up and down that we wouldn’t brew beer here, and now we are opening a brewery,” said Frey.
The new brewing space is tucked underneath the coffee shop’s upstairs loft. It’s outfitted with a 1-barrel brewhouse that sat gathering dust in the defunct Hog Haus Brewing Co. building on Dickson Street. Obtaining the system was a nostalgic move for Frey.
“Hog Haus was one of my first experiences in Northwest Arkansas,” said Frey, a native of Houston, Texas. “I was up here hanging out after a football game and I went there with my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife. I thought it was really awesome.”
The brewery includes a 1-barrel fermenter and a 2-barrel fermenter. It’s a small operation with limited capacity. All of the beer will be sold onsite.
Joe Kane is a close friend of Frey’s and serves as the head brewer. He is originally from New Jersey, but attended the University of Arkansas and now calls Fayetteville home. Kane is a software developer and has been home brewing for around 10 years.
“I was a guitar player in a band and was on the road all the time,” Kane said. “I needed something to take me out of that world when I got home, so I started making beer.”
Frey and Kane started working on the brewery in early 2019 and were hoping to launch in 2020. But then Covid-19 happened, and their plans were put on hold.
Things finally started to come together around the time Puritan expanded into the Fayettechill space next door and started making improvements to the outdoor deck.
“We had a soft launch in February without any publicity,” said Kane. “There were four beers on tap. We tried to keep up for the first couple of months, but we didn’t have everything we needed in place.”
The first batches were inspired by English-style beers Kane tasted while visiting London. The beers he brewed at Puritan were simple and straightforward ales with easy to interpret names—Pale 8, Pale 13, Dark 8, and Dark 13.
The numbers refer to the beers’ Plato (°P) values. The higher the number, the stronger the beer. 8°P is equivalent to about 3.2% alcohol-by-volume, and 12°P is about 4.8% ABV.
Customers can expect future Puritan beers to be low fuss and easy to drink.
“Hanging out with friends while drinking beer and not going home super drunk is the idea,” said Frey. “People want to enjoy beer and drink a fair amount of it. There are enough hazy IPAs and barrel-aged beers out there for everyone to geek out over. We’re going to do something different.”
The brewery was set up so other members of the Puritan staff can jump in and brew as well. Taylor McEntee is among the first, and was featured in a recent video posted to the brewery’s Instagram account.
“Taylor is a damn good homebrewer,” said Kane. “She is really creative and has a great palate.”
The latest batches of Puritan brews will make their debut on July 8. A release party at the brewery/taproom/coffeehouse will feature Pale 8 and Pale 13.
And for those who have grown accustomed to variety, Puritan will continue to offer local and national beers brewed elsewhere.