Sacred and secular breweries in Arkansas wine nation


Arkansas wine nation had managed to thrive even earlier than current classes of the Arkansas legislature began liberalizing among the state’s booze legal guidelines within the title of financial improvement. Now, contained in the state’s venerable vino nation is an outpost of one thing that hardly existed right here late final century: Arkansas beer nation. Two breweries, Nation Monks and Prestonrose, have opened their doorways on the gravel roads of Logan County; each are serving to change the flavour of the Arkansas River Valley, a area recognized for many years for its wine.

Brian Chilson
IN BREWING COUNTRY: Brother Richard Walz, a brewer at Subiaco Abbey, heads towards the unassuming constructing that homes Nation Monks Brewing.

With the world’s rolling hills and ample water, it’s simple to see why one may suppose Benedictine monks selected to settle on this picturesque portion of Western Arkansas within the late 1800s. However truly, the land was donated by a railroad firm for a monastery in an effort to get extra German Catholics to immigrate to the world. At this time, Subiaco Abbey stands as a regional beacon of close to equal to close by mounts Nebo and Journal. For a lot of non-Catholics, the abbey is finest recognized for promoting Monk Sauce, a habanero sizzling sauce made by the native monks. However in a nod to the centuries-long historical past of monks and brewing, Subiaco’s Nation Monks Brewing launched in late 2018. Brother Basil Taylor, a local of Fort Smith, is head brewer. (An apparent pot-stirrer, Bro. Basil can be liable for a brand new addition to the Monk Sauce lineup: a smoked pepper sizzling sauce.)

Brian Chilson
ABBEY AMBER: Nation Monks brews are bought in hearty 4 packs.

Taylor loved homebrewing for a number of years earlier than he joined the monastery in 2012. “A few monks brewed once I joined the monastery for the monks to drink when we now have neighborhood,” he stated. “After they discovered that I knew methods to brew, it was handed off to me.” True to its rustic moniker, Nation Monks Brewing is positioned in a nondescript metallic constructing within the rolling pastures and farmland adjoining the majestic abbey. 

Whereas the enterprise to promote beer to the general public is new, beer has a protracted historical past right here: “We joke that we now have been a monastery for 141 years, and have most likely been brewing beer for 140 of these, which might be fairly near the reality,” Taylor stated. “Our founding monks have been a mix of German and Swiss who lived near the German border.” As for the wine heritage of the world, he famous that the monks have traditionally grown grapes right here as properly, principally for Mass wine.

Brian Chilson
Brother Richard Walz of Subiaco Abbey is rising hops with an eye fixed to utilizing them sometime.

Brewing on the monastery shouldn’t be Taylor’s fundamental job, which for each monk at Subiaco is praying with the neighborhood 5 instances a day: “I’ve to separate my time up fairly a bit.” He works his brewing day in across the prayers, together with the a number of different jobs he’s tasked with. “Most instances, I’ll go down and add the barley to the new water — which is named mashing — in between 5:45 morning prayer and 6:30 a.m. Mass. Then [I] come down after Mass and proceed the brewing. Generally within the night, I’ll come down and may beer after 7:05 p.m. Vespers,” he stated. 


Down one other quiet gravel highway a couple of miles east of the abbey, is a extra secular, however simply as surprising, hub of exercise: Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. Liz and Mike Preston began their hilltop farm and brewery in 2016 with the concept the 2 ventures ought to complement one another. Fruit, peppers and, most notably, hops from the farm all find yourself within the brews; bounty from different crops finally ends up on the farmers market, or on patrons’ plates on the taproom.

Brian Chilson
FARM TO QUESO: Mike Preston tends the peppers that go in his cheese dip.

The Prestons deliver quite a lot of brainpower to the operation: Liz has a level in biology; her background is marine microbial ecology and environmental regulation. She has since skilled on the American Brewer’s Guild in Vermont and turn out to be licensed in Brewer’s Science & Engineering. Mike’s background is in nuclear chemistry.

With family-style seating, there’s family-style discuss in Prestonrose’s miniature beer corridor, truly a small Quonset hut-shaped moveable constructing softened by large home windows and many cedar. Simply minutes after opening time, it’s crammed up. “The place’s residence?” Mike asks new guests, and there are many these. However regulars additionally squeeze in, with close by Pope County/Russellville properly represented.

Brian Chilson
MINI BEER HALL: Prestonrose Brewing Co. serves meals and brews from its taproom.

Mike doesn’t thoughts holding courtroom, telling one group how they bought 1,000 12-ounce beers in six hours at a current occasion, and regaling the entire taproom with a narrative about getting a shirt for his brother’s current marriage ceremony. There’s additionally quite a lot of discuss beer. And it’s not all from workers, however they do clarify in nice element to patrons about Prestonrose’s London-style porter fermented with Fort Smith espresso beans, its French farmhouse saison brewed with wild sumac berries, and even its (normally) nonalcoholic Laughing Inventory Ginger Ale, constructed from contemporary Arkansas-grown ginger root. We have been the primary patrons to pattern Weld County, a Hefeweizen named for the Colorado county the place its wheat was grown.

Prestonrose’s beer has generated quite a lot of curiosity from those that haven’t made the virtually two-hour drive west from Little Rock to the farm. (It’s out there on faucet in Little Rock solely at Dos Rocas Beer and Tacos.) However not sufficient is alleged in regards to the kitchen. The menu featured tacos as an entree, with smoked pork, braised pork stomach, smoked rooster, roast beef and “fats prime” mushrooms as choices. Humble smoked rooster emerged because the star for us, as did a mushroom mole acorn squash bisque, made with Arkansas mushrooms, in fact. The vegetarian Hatch queso is a thick tackle Little Rock cheese dip, made with peppers and tomatoes from the farm and served with native tortilla chips. Sadly, left untried amidst the savory delights have been cantaloupe ice cream and watermelon horchata.

Brian Chilson
TAP TO TABLE: Mike Preston fills a growler along with his artisan beer.

“We’re just about at capability,” Liz stated, including that Prestonrose is increasing each its taproom house and manufacturing space.

Just like the monks, the Prestons have been referred to as to the world — they selected Logan County for its proximity to Mike’s job at Arkansas Nuclear One. And so they selected this property “as a result of it was love at first sight,” Liz stated.


Be forewarned — each breweries preserve restricted hours, however there are different sights to see. State Freeway 22 is the principle thoroughfare by the world, and it’s extremely really useful over the interstate. This spring, a portion of twenty-two from Dardanelle to Fort Smith was designated because the “True Grit Path” in honor of El Dorado native and Little Rock resident Charles Portis’ West Arkansas-centric novel. With Mount Nebo within the distance, Lake Dardanelle wouldn’t have been created but when “True Grit” heroine Mattie Ross set out from Yell County in 1873 on her journey — however the space is a gorgeously auspicious entree to the path.

On one go to, we drove a couple of miles west of the breweries to absorb close by Paris’ charming sq., which (finally!) comes full with the city’s personal Eiffel Tower, sized proportionately with its inhabitants. Paris’ tower was erected in 2014, in accordance with Paris Metropolis Director Tonya Baumgartner. “It received quite a lot of consideration,” she stated of the tower, which is eighteen toes tall — 25 when you depend the fountain on which it’s mounted. Lovers come to the “love lock” fence by the tower to declare their amour through padlock. They then cinch the lock on the fence, throw away the important thing within the tower’s two-tier fountain, and assuredly reside fortunately ever after.

On Paris’ Elm Road is the town’s coal miners museum, paying homage to a much less celebrated Arkansas product than wine. Coal was the principle business round right here for many years, and the situation additionally serves as a memorial to those that gave their lives doing this soiled and harmful job. The museum just lately acquired a 125-year-old practice engine, laboriously relocated from a Paris metropolis park, the place it sat rusting behind a fence. The practice engine is being moved to a extra seen spot on the museum’s grounds — alongside the previous railroad tracks the place this very engine used to run. The city’s fortieth annual Frontier Day Oct. 5 can pay homage to the practice. It’s the biggest occasion within the metropolis of Paris. There’s reside music, a parade, a automotive present, a pumpkin patch — all of the trimmings. It attracts about 3,000 individuals — “in a city of three,500, that’s large,” Baumgartner stated. 

The realm exterior city has quite a lot of trails and biking, and all of it ties in with the brand new breweries. From Paris, you possibly can take the beautiful, winding method over to Cove Lake within the Ozark Nationwide Forest. In the course of the season, there’s swimming, climbing, tenting and fishing, and you’ll even purchase hamburgers out of the CCC-era stone fundamental constructing. Simply to finish Cove Lake’s idyllic Norman Rockwell scene, a youth group was in the midst of a scavenger hunt once we visited — heads down, scouring the premises with nice depth for a sure 2017 penny.

Only a bit additional south of Cove Lake is Mount Journal, the best peak within the state. Some 400,000 guests come to the mountain yearly to hike, bike, climb rocks, experience horseback, watch birds and even grasp glide. There’s additionally a state park with cabins and a lodge overlooking the valley and lake under. The park’s Skycrest Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and beer — however not native beer. (The Skycrest title pays homage to a historic resort as soon as discovered on the mountain.) Butterflies are large on Mount Journal; the uncommon Diana fritillary may be discovered right here, together with examples from the vast majority of the whole state’s butterfly species. In June, there’s a global butterfly pageant. 

On one other go to, we drove up into northern Logan County towards Prairie View to Cave Creek Recreation Space. This silent and overgrown nature park with an asphalt loop abuts a river-sized creek, in addition to one thing referred to as the McKennon Bottoms Waterfowl Impoundment. (Cover yo geese, conceal yo geese!) It sports activities painted-over signage on the entrance and ivy-encased bogs that appear to point this can be a U.S. Corps of Engineers joint gone to seed, or a “Life After Individuals” tableau. It’s as desolate and lonesome as Cove Lake is verdant and welcoming, however not with out its personal creepy and remoted attraction. 

“Individuals will name from all around the state” to ask in regards to the breweries, Baumgartner stated. “[Prestonrose] can’t make sufficient. The monks are promoting out fairly typically as properly,” she stated. “The beginning of wine nation” is in Paris, she stated, however she thinks beer and wine can be an important complement to one another. 

Vintner Bob Cowie agrees. Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards is a vineyard simply west of Paris that he’s run for a half-century. “I’m virtually 80 years outdated,” he says, “and I’m an fascinating outdated goat.” Like the person, his compound is fairly fascinating, too. It accommodates a museum of Arkansas wine historical past — though Cowie is his personal strolling depository of data. He can title off the highest of his head the Little Rock streets the place wineries have been as soon as positioned.

Brian Chilson
THE CASKS OF COWIE WINE CELLAR: Cowie’s late spouse embellished the vineyard’s barrels.

There’s a Catholic chapel on web site, the place his spouse, Bette Kay, is buried. “She died on our fiftieth anniversary,” he provides. This little chapel accommodates an ear-ringing 30 bells, however that’s only a fraction of Cowie’s huge bell assortment. He alleges his assemblage of bells is the biggest of its type within the nation, and I’ve no competing data to counter this declare.

Brian Chilson
TO THE CHAPEL: Cowie’s assortment of bells is housed in a Catholic chapel on the wine cellar’s grounds.

Cowie additionally operates a B&B right here, which he clarifies stands for mattress and bathtub, not mattress and breakfast, since his spouse, who used to prepare dinner, handed on. It consists of two suites and a guesthouse throughout the road. He plans to show on the guesthouse his deep autograph assortment, which incorporates presidents and, he notes, all the boys who walked on the moon. Oh, and do you know? There’s additionally wine. Having the breweries within the space “fits me simply wonderful,” Cowie stated. He will get it, he says. “It’s only a lovely a part of Arkansas.”  

Prestonrose Farm & Brewing Co.
201 St. Louis Valley Highway, Paris
Open 4-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

Nation Monks Brewing
405 N. Subiaco Ave., Subiaco
Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Cowie Wine Cellars
101 N. Carbon Metropolis Highway, Paris
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Been to Franklin?

Extra Arkansas beer, and particularly wine, is on faucet in adjoining Franklin County, a county named for famous booze aficionado Ben Franklin. Twenty minutes up state Freeway 23 is Ox Bend Brewing Co. in Ozark. The historic Arkansas wine nation round Altus (pop. 758) and Wiederkehr Village (pop. 38) consists of Mount Bethel Vineyard, Publish Vineyard, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars and Chateau Aux Arc Vineyard. 

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