Ozark Beer Company Purchases New Location in Downtown Rogers
New location is more than 50% larger than current space and reflects
rapid growth in the beer segment of AR’s economy.
|Photo Credit: Marty Shutter
After two and a half years of brewing beer at its 1700 S. 1st St. location, Ozark Beer Co. has purchased a new location. The current brewery has already reached the capacity owners Lacie Bray, Andy Coates and Jefferson Baldwin envisioned in year five of the young brewery. “We have quickly outgrown this space,” says Bray. “It was never going to be our permanent home though,” says Andy Coates. Year one saw Ozark canning its first beer, their American Pale Ale. Year two saw the the addition of an all-American canning line and a 200% increase in tank capacity from 3 to 9 tanks and canning two other beers; the Cream Stout and Belgian Golden.
“Most breweries start out like this,” says Coates, referring to an initial focus on getting beer into the market and then, “putting more into the retail space and tasting room.”
The purchase of the property reflects the rapid growth in the beer segment of Arkansas economy. On track to outpace last years estimated $324 million in economic impact, beer in Arkansas is big business and growing.
“We really want to be part of the growing downtown community,” owner Lacie Bray says.“The purchase of a property in downtown Rogers was a conscious decision to further integrate Ozark Beer Co. into the Northwest Arkansas community, specifically downtown Rogers,” says chief of Marketing and Parties, Marty Shutter. “This was our only shot at being downtown,” Coates says of the building that was not even for sale when Ozark approached the former owner. “We could have bought a larger, newer facility for 2/3rds of the price,” says Coates, “but it would have been on the edge of town.”
“We had a map and looked at every building of a certain size,” says Bray. “This building was made to be a brewery.”
“If this building was in the middle of nowhere it would still be perfect for a brewery,” says Coates.
By relocating the business to downtown Rogers, the young brewery that has already gained impressive national attention from outlets such as Beer Advocate, Men’s Journal, Martha Stewart Living, USA Today, Southern Living, Paste Magazine, Food & Wine and a host of others is assuming a direct role in the future of its community.
The larger facility also reflects larger demand, so the 10,000 sq./ft. warehouse space means more beer. Currently Ozark Beer Co.’s demand has meant limited distribution. The brewery’s beer is currently only available in Benton and Washington counties in NWA and Pulaski and Saline in central Arkansas. Higher ceilings allow for larger tanks which will in turn allow for larger batches and a greater distribution.
For now, the OBC team will continue to brew at 1700 S. 1st Street in Rogers pending City approval of their plans. Once approved and a modest buildout is complete, OBC plans to begin brewing in the new space as early as the end of Summer.
|Photo Credit: Marty Shutter
The new location, 109 N. Arkansas Street in Rogers was built around 1886 as a flour mill and was opened as Rogers Flour Milling. Newspaper clippings from the era point to a business that was built and paid for by some of the most influential Northwest Arkansans of the day.
The lumber that comprises the original structure, long-leaf pine, was milled at the former Van Winkle Mill on what is now Hobbs State Park. The mill and lumber was responsible for many of the early buildings of our era including The University of Arkansas’ Old Main and the Benton County Courthouse.
A fire on April, 30th of 1914 destroyed much of the building and it was subsequently rebuilt. Over the years the facility has only had a few owners. It has served as Rogers Transfer Co., a public scales facility and most recently a storage facility for eco-friendly building supplies.
A grand opening and public viewing is being planned for sometime in the coming months and the OBC team plans to be brewing in the new space by the end of Summer.