Written by Arkansas Real Estate
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Starting a medium-scale brewing company in a competitive market may seem risky to some, but Business Manager Lacie Bray and Brewer Andy Coates of Ozark Beer Co. in Rogers are familiar with taking risks. Their story begins on a river in Colorado, where they started their journey together as rafting guides. Little did they know that same river would bring them to Arkansas, Bray's home state, where they'd be brewing their own craft beers.
Ozark Beer Co. is quickly growing in the Northwest Arkansas hospitality and restaurant industry, where patrons can't get enough of local flavor. Where virtually no local breweries existed just five years ago, Northwest Arkansas breweries bring in thousands of dollars in taxes, tourism and deliciously crafted beer to our region and state. As one of the newest breweries to hit the local scene, Ozark Beer Co. is making its mark on the region with a community-centered mentality, a variety of craft beer favorites, and a modern twist on traditional Ozark character.
Coates's brewing career started four years after their rafting ventures ended, when Coates and Bray found themselves in Denver. On the packaging line at Great Divide Brewing Co. for a modest wage and free beer, Coates learned the basics of beer distribution. It was then he realized he loved working in breweries. That, he thought, is where his future lied.
After a move to Chicago, Ill. and attending the American Brewers Guild in Vermont, he acquired an apprenticeship with Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Co. He was hired as a full-time brewer after his apprenticeship ended. It was within the walls of Goose Island that he learned the skills that prepared him to become a professional in the craft -- large scale production, cellar work, the finishing process, recipe development, barrel aging and sensory analysis.
When Coates and Bray finally decided they had acquired the skills necessary to create their own brews, they knew NWA was where they needed to be. Considering Arkansas' constantly growing industry and population, reasonable cost of living and resources available to start small-to-medium scale businesses, many brewers and entrepreneurs agree.
Their hard work on Ozark Beer Co. started in 2010 and today they distribute to bars, liquor stores and restaurants around the region, as well as sell growlers and to-go beer seven days a week from 1 - 5:30 p.m. at their Roger's location. On the weekends they open their tasting room, and on Sundays they offer music, BBQ and ice cream, bringing in beloved acts from the community and a few of their favorite local foods.
With how fast their reach has grown, the praise and overwhelming positive beer reviews they've received, OzarkBeer Co. feels confident in saying that "buying Ozark Beer is a deliberate choice to drink fresh, world class quality beer." Coates and Bray's customers are also proud to support a company that pays their employees a living wage and gives back to the community.
At their location in Rogers, in large warehouse style buildings, Ozark Beer co. brews original recipe beers, opens daily for beer purchases, and holds weekend open houses where patrons enjoy their beers, locally made ice cream, BBQ and the company of other beer lovers.
Breweries like Ozark Beer Co. also bring in revenue and a quality of life and community mindset that adds to the lively and independent spirit of the region. In 2011, $5,749 was collected in Washington and Benton counties from the $7.50 per-barrel tax. In 2014, breweries paid $50,478. In the first six months of 2015, eight breweries paid $33,238. Tourist attractions like the Fayetteville Ale Trail have brought in beer connoisseurs and a new generation of craft and now NWA lovers. The Ale Trail has handed out more than 30,000 trail passports since the program started just two years ago.
Ozark Beer Co. tasting room is open Friday, 1 - 6 p.m., Saturday, 1 - 7 p.m. and Sunday 2 - 6 p.m. For more information about Ozark Beer Co., visit their website at ozarkbeercompany.com, or visit their location at 1700 S. First St. in Rogers.
At Steve Fineberg & Associates, we are passionate about exploring, discovering and sharing the things that make Northwest Arkansas great. Join us during the month of October as we chat with people in our community who are passionate about the Northwest Arkansas craft beer culture.
Last modified onTuesday, 15 March 2016 13:25