Flyway Brewing Company finds a home in North Little Rock | Rock Candy

Friday, January 23, 2015

Flyway Brewing Company finds a home in North Little Rock

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 3:06 PM

click to enlarge THE FUTURE HOME OF FLYWAY: In downtown Argenta. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • THE FUTURE HOME OF FLYWAY: In downtown Argenta.

After nearly a year of searching for a location, Flyway Brewing Company has found a space to open Central Arkansas's first mid-sized brewery — significantly bigger than the likes of Stone's Throw and Vino's, but smaller than big dogs like Lost Forty and Diamond Bear. It's moving into 314 Maple Street in North Little Rock, a 5,000-square-foot building that, over the years, has housed a Safeway grocery store, a tire shop and, more recently, Arena Billiards Bar & Grill and Mac Daddy's. 

"It's a great spot," said Matt Foster, who founded the brewery in 2013 after homebrewing for nearly a dozen years. "We really think that because we had to wait and wait and wait and look and look and look, we really lucked out." 

It's on the trolley line and just off the Main Street strip of Argenta. Foster hopes to get crowds from nearby Dickey-Stephens and Verizon Arena. 

He said construction should begin in February, which would likely mean opening would be in late May or June. 

The time spent searching for a location wasn't wasted, Foster said. "Because we had delays and roadblocks, we continued to get more prepared." Foster's longtime friend Jess McMullen moved from North Carolina to Little Rock with his family last summer to become a partner in the brewery and head up operations (Foster teaches English at Central and isn't planning on quitting his job anytime soon). Together, with an assist from the Arkansas Capitol Corporation, McMullen and Foster finetuned their business plan. And they kept brewing beer, supplying enough for special events and to cover a tap or two at South on Main.

The new brewery will mean a significant scale up. It'll be equipped to brew 1,000 barrels (or 45,000 gallons) in the first year. McMullen said they need to supply to around 100 taps around the area to meet their sales and distribution taps. Flyway will have with four year-round beers: Early Bird IPA, Free Range Brown Ale, Migrate Pale Ale and Shadowhands Stout. And regularly mix in specials like a Lord God Triple Chocolate or Nine Killer IPA (named for the Loggerhead Shrike, also known as the Southern Nine Killer, a bird that impales its prey on barbed wire or thorns or whatever other pointy thing it can find; Nine Killer is currently on tap at South on Main). 

McMullen said Flyway will have a large tap room with outdoor seating and the ability to open sliding doors when the weather is nice. 

Foster's Arkansas Native Beer Project, an effort to grow all of the ingredients involved in beer making in Arkansas that you may've read about in the Times or our sister pub, Arkansas Food & Farm, is making strides, too, he said. Last year's test barley crop was mostly lost due to a long stretch of rain, but Foster has farmers who're trying again, and he's working with UALR engineering students to build a system for malting the barley. 

Meanwhile, Foster and McMullen already have their first employee (he's an investor, too): Tim Berkley, a student of Foster's years ago. "He's a talented brewer, builder, troubleshooter, critical thinker and jack of all trades," Foster said.   

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