Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Little Rock Booze Tour Part Deux

After the great tour at Rock Town Distillery, the six of us headed over to Vino's Brewpub. They make really good pizza and calzones - you can even get an individual slice made to order. They do make their own beer, but I don't think any of us had it; Taine, George and I shared a pitcher of root beer that was their's, I think.

From Vino's, it was on to Diamond Bear Brewing, which is located in downtown Little Rock, only a few blocks from the capitol building (Governor Mike Beebe was feature prominently in a couple of pictures).

They have a little pub set up, and everyone who comes for a tour gets three wooden nickles to exchange for samples of beer. This was a big hit with the group. I don't actually like beer very much, so after a couple of sips of one sample, I gave the rest to Benjamin and switched to root beer. Their root beer is fantastic. They only sell it on-site in growlers or in kegs, which is a pity, because I would totally keep it in the fridge if I could get it in small bottles. As it is, I shall have to get a growler sometime for a root beer float party or something.

The tour guide pointed out that the company tries to be as environmentally friendly as it can, and to that end, many of the kegs and other equipment is recycled from other breweries.  The grain silo in the yard came from an Arkansas farmer who reportedly exchanged it for beer or something.  These kegs and some of the other equipment came from Seattle.

The white tube in the left of the picture is carrying ground up grain or hops from the grinder to the other room, where it is mixed with water and set to turn into beer. (At least, I think that's the story. I know the tube carries grain from the silo into this room then on to the next stage...).  You can see that the tour guide has a glass of beer in hand - he insisted it was bad luck to go on a brewery tour with an empty glass.

The big silver tanks are where the various beer varieties are made. They all have names: Nicole and Paris, Laverne and Shirley, Ginger and Mary Anne, and Bertha. There is a good chance the copper still at the distillery had a name too, but we didn't know to ask, and Phil didn't tell us. Ah well, next time we take the tour.

This bottling machine is from the 1950s, and was quite the contraption. It washed all the bottles, filled them with beer, then capped them. From there, workers take the bottles and put them in six packs and cartons. We didn't actually get to see it in action (I am sure there are health and safety rules against that), but it was fairly impressive anyway.

A glass of porter. Benjamin got to finish this one too.

And there you have it. The booze tour was a great success, and I would recommend both tours and Vino's to anyone who wants something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon (Diamond Bear can also sell beer in six-packs on Sundays - a great rarity in Arkansas).

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