Arkansas

Hops in Heaven: Diamond Bear Brewing in North Little Rock, Ark.

For people driving through Central Arkansas searching out craft beer and food, there are about a half dozen breweries/brewpubs that are open for lunch during the week.  Perhaps the easiest to reach is Diamond Bear Brewing Company.  Diamond Bear is located in North Little Rock about two miles from the intersection of I-40 and I-30, so it’s easily accessible for people driving through.  The brewery is also located just under half a mile from Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers.  So it’s easy accessible to local residents, too.  My visit this summer was instigated by the desire to stop for lunch and some beer.

So pulling into the parking lot, I was greeted by this view.

Main entrance to the brewery.

Approaching the front door, visitors see…

Front door of the brewery.

The brewery’s name is one of the best examples of neolocalism I’ve ever seen connected to microbreweries.  One of Arkansas’s original nicknames was the “Bear State” because of the state’s large population of black bears (read more here).  The state is also the only territory in the United States to produce diamonds.  Diamonds were discovered in 1906 (read more here), which helped lead to the state’s current moniker at the “Natural State.”

After entering the brewery, we walked directly into the gift store.  However, it’s not the traditional gift store because in addition to stickers, T-shirts, and the usual brewery paraphernalia visitors can also purchase six packs and cases of beer to take home.

Gift store.

To the left of the gift store are a few tables and ultimately the entrance to the Arkansas Ale House, which is the brewery’s restaurant and dining space.

Entrance to the Arkansas Ale House.

After sitting down at the bar top, my wife and I decided to each order a flight.

Bar with draft taps.

After perusing the beer menu, we split up the draft choices and built two separate flights.

Flight of beers.

Diamond Bear offers six year-round beers plus a rotating list of seasonal offering (see full list here).  I ordered Southern Blonde, Strawberry Blonde, Honey Weiss, and Dogtown Brown.  The Strawberry Blonde and Honey Weiss are both seasonal choices, and quite unique.  Honey Weiss uses locally-sourced honey while the Strawberry Blonde is a one-off of the Southern Blonde.  Katie opted for Two Term Double IPA, Pale Ale, Pig Trail Porter, and Irish Red.  So regardless of what styles of beer you enjoy, you can find something here.

In addition to beer, the brewery has an extensive food menu as well.  I opted for the Fresno Club while Katie ordered the El Cubano.  Both sandwiches were on spot and quite delicious.  The charcuterie and cheese plate looked quite tempting, but we stopped just around one o’clock and felt like we’d be best off ordering an actual meal instead of just having appetizers.

In addition to the bar top, Diamond Bear has a large dining area as part of what they label the Arkansas Ale House.

Dining area of the brewery.

In addition to the interior space, you can see in the previous photo that there is a patio area, too.  However, it can be quite warm during the summertime, so we opted to eat and drink inside at the bar.  With the bar top, the dining area, and the patio it’s clear that the brewery was plenty of space.

There’s lots of reasons to visit a brewery, and it’s nearly impossible for me to pick one for Diamond Bear.  Whether you are excited about the localized name, the unique seasonal beers, the food menu, or even the convenient location off the interstate you will enjoy your time at this laid-back brewery.

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