Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Savor Little Rock's Craft Beverage Bounty with the Locally Labeled Passport.

Twenty years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find much craft beer here in Central Arkansas.  Ten years ago, you had a small smattering, from Diamond Bear to Vino's.  Today, an entire generation of crafted beverage makers are calling Little Rock home, and now you can enjoy all those diverse drinks.

Locally Labeled is a new initiative from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with the North Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The program takes something that's occurred here in our fair city and packaged it in a way that brings attention to all of our breweries, wineries and distiller while offering it as an activity for craft beverage drinkers.

Vino's Brewpub.
Okay, that term, craft beverage.  You've heard of craft beer, right?  We have a lot of that right now in Greater Little Rock - with new breweries that have come online recently such as Blue Canoe, Stone's Throw and Lost Forty and old favorites like Vino's.  These smaller breweries offer local beer, handcrafted at the site.  Hence, craft beer.

Phil Brandon shows how distilled spirits
are made at Rocktown Distillery.
Now look at our two wineries already on-line in the area -- An Enchanted Evening Winery (yes, also the gorgeous cabin-away-from-everything in west of Little Rock) and BoBrook Farms Winery. Here are two fledgling, small-run wineries that are crafting new product.  Add in Rocktown Distilleries and what the Brandons are doing with spirits, and you have a significant number of alcohol-related resources, right here in Central Arkansas.

So, Locally Labeled.  It's a passport you pick up at one of the participating craft beverage joints or at Shop The Rock in Ottenheimer Hall in the River Market.  You take it to each of these breweries,
Diamond Bear Brewery.
wineries and of course Rocktown... you fill up your card and you go back to Shop The Rock and get a premium prize.  Simple enough, right?

This is not a challenge.  No one expects you to enjoy the tours at each of these locations, sample all the beverages and return your passport in a day.  Your safety is
valued.  You fill this passport in your own time.

So, local folks, you may be scratching your head over that.  But have you ever gone to California and taken a wine country tour?  It's an educational experience, and any number or variety of California winemakers may be visited on said trip.  It's a major tourism element.

And look at the Fayetteville Ale Trail, which continues to grow.  People love the idea of being able to enjoy local products, especially when they're carefully crafted by folks from the place they're visiting.

Little Rock's Locally Labeled project is different from just about every other such program I've heard of, because it includes a variety of different alcohol varieties.  Sure, there are craft beer folks that may not care for wine and vice versa, but having the opportunity to enjoy a variety of different products over the course of a few days, visiting one place or another, has some major appeal.  It's also quite educational -- with tours offered at several of these location, you can learn about the differences in the processes.

The remaining information in this article is dated.  For more information on Locally Labeled, click here.

That brings me up to this -- there's an event this Thursday that combines all these diverse liquids into one celebration.  It's the Locally Labeled kickoff party at the Little Rock River Market.  Head downtown Thursday night between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and enjoy the fine beverages of most of our breweries, wineries and Rocktown Distillery... for free.  No joke, free beer y'all.  Pick up your passport, learn about the project and show your support for Greater Little Rock's craft beverage makers.  Do note that the event is only for those 21 and older.  Bring your ID.

Check out the event's Facebook page for more information. Party on, dudes.

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