The Northwest Arkansas craft beer economy continued to grow last year as producers made 123,661 more pints of ales, lagers and other brews when compared to 2018.
The 15 craft beer producers in Benton and Washington counties made about 4.3 million pints in 2019, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. They industry has come a long way since 2016 when 11 companies in the two counties made about 2.8 million pints.
“The growth is leveling out as Arkansas’ pace of development matures to reflect the overall national market,” said Marty Shutter, marketing director for Ozark Beer Co., which opened in Rogers in 2013. “In the last few years, we’ve gone from zero to 100, so to speak, and so double-digit growth was expected, especially with a handful of producers driving over 60% of that growth.”
The state’s craft beer growth over the past three years has changed markedly. After 26% growth in 2017, the industry grew by 10% in 2018 and 7% in 2019.
Companies in Pulaski County make about 52% of all the state’s craft beer. Little Rock’s Lost Forty is the state’s largest producer.
The economic impact of craft beer in Northwest Arkansas continued to grow although not as rapidly as previous years. Fossil Cove and Apple Blossom in Fayetteville, Ivory Bill in Siloam Springs, Bike Rack in Bentonville and 11 other producers combined to make 17,509 barrels of beer in 2019, generating about $130,000 in the state native beer tax on the barrels. The tax is $7.50 per barrel.
Bentonville Brewing, which temporarily operated at a location in Rogers, will soon occupy its new 20,000-square-foot building in Bentonville.
“The brewery owners in Northwest Arkansas – from my conversations with them – are trying to grow slowly and more organically,” said Katie Boykin of Bentonville Brewing. “At a national level, we have seen consolidation of large craft brands and even some scaling back. It is our opinion that there is a lot more room for growth in the South and especially in Arkansas.”
Information kept by the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based national trade organization, shows the economic impact of the craft beer industry in Arkansas in 2018 was near $838 million annually. It was $405 million in 2016.
When the state’s small population is considered, the Arkansas craft beer industry on a per-capita basis in 2018 was larger than each of its neighboring states.
Pictured at the top: Kegs of beer produced at Ivory Bill Brewing Co. The company opened in Siloam Springs in 2018.