News broke last year that former Ozark Beer Co. and West Mountain Brewing Co. brewer Jesse Gagnon and his wife Ashlyn are opening a brewery in Goshen. Things went quiet for a while, but Orthodox Farmhouse Brewery recently popped up on social media.
“There’s a lot of construction and infrastructure that we’re still working through,” said Ashlyn Gagnon. “But we knew we needed to start telling our story now so that it’s not just ‘hey we’re here’ without acknowledging the three years it took to get to this point.”
The couple have been working hard to open the farmhouse brewery on the rural eastern edge of Washington County. There have been more challenges than what might be faced when opening a brewery inside city limits, where one can hook up to local water and sewer services.
For example, dealing with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on issues of water has been complex. Disposing of waste water in a rural setting requires rigorous planning and permitting.
“It has been a huge challenge to go from Planning Commission to where we are now,” said Gagnon. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get a business open, and specifically an alcohol-related business outside of city limits.”
The brewery is located on approximately three of the Gagnon’s five-acre property on Ball Road. The address says Elkins, but it’s definitely a part of the Goshen community.
“We drove down so many dirt roads in the three-county area looking for property,” said Jesse Gagnon. “This property just fits who we want to be.”
The intent is for Orthodox Farmhouse Brewery to blend harmoniously into the environment that surrounds it. The Gagnons hope to highlight the natural beauty of the Ozarks, along with the agrarian lifestyle still present in the valleys and creek bottoms of the area.
The couple has been doing much of the brewery buildout themselves while juggling domestic duties. Their second child turns 1 year old this month.
“We’ve been bootstrapping everything we can,” said Jesse Gagnon. “We were able to pick up the brewhouse second-hand from Bentonville Brewing. It’s their old 7-barrel direct fire system.”
10-barrel brite tanks were sourced from the old Hog Haus Brewing Co. building in Fayetteville, along with some other brewing equipment that no longer had a purpose there. Three new 7-barrel fermenters are the way.
Gagnon said Orthodox will lean into Belgian-influenced beers, with an emphasis on straightforward ingredients and brewing methods. He thinks an orthodox approach to brewing — and life in general — is much needed in this day and age.
“The Orthodox Farmhouse business model is about paying tribute to older ways of doing things,” he said. “We’re living in such unorthodox times, and I think our society is really starting to wear at the seams.”
The brewery will incorporate multiple outdoor seating options and will leverage the peaceful surroundings to create an environment where time slows down, if only briefly.
“It will be a place for people to gather and have a beer in the midst of the tension the world creates,” said Gagnon. “They can come here instated of sitting behind a computer keyboard, hammering out insults and innuendos.”
Gagnon will brew beers other than Belgian styles, but you can expect a Belgian white ale from the start.
“And you can always expect to find a saison at Orthodox,” said Ashlyn Gagnon of the quintessential farmhouse ale. “You really can’t get a better drinking beer than a saison.”
Progress is being made, but there is still plenty of work to do before an opening date is announced. The Gagnons hope to be ready to greet the public by the end of the calendar year.
“It has been a lesson in perseverance,” said Ashlyn Gagnon. “And we are really grateful for the people in the Goshen community coming alongside and supporting us.”