Usher in the summer with a walkable journey for beers and bites in one of Little Rock’s newest hot spots
by Kevin Shalin | Photography by Jamison Mosley
Located just south of the Arkansas River and east of I-30 sits East Village, the vision of companies Cromwell Architects Engineers and Moses Tucker Real Estate. Created in 2015, this area is home to several diverse businesses, along with a vibrant food and drink scene. In fact, three places—Rebel Kettle Brewing, Lost Forty Brewing and The Rail Yard—are all within a quarter-mile of one another, making it perfect for hitting all three in one day or night. This all begs the question. Are you up for a crawl?
1. Start at…Rebel Kettle Brewing
Begin your adventure at Rebel Kettle Brewing, a fun yet relaxed setting with tasty food and unique beer options. Several brews are on tap, including a variety of year-round, rotating and seasonal offerings.
“Sour beers and saisons are two great warm weather beer options. Both are typically light and refreshing, and many of the sour beers that we brew are fermented with fruit. This summer we will be releasing our Purple Dinosour, Boysenberry Sour Saison, Summer Jam, Raspberry Sour Saison, Keyed Up!, and Key Lime Pie Sour Ale. Swimmin’ Hole, a summer saison, will also be returning soon and offers a fruity finish and a gentle spice in a light, easy drinking package,” says co-owner and head brewer John Lee.
Once you’ve decided on a beverage, chill inside at the bar or head to the outdoor covered deck that opens up to a 3000-square foot beer garden lined with synthetic turf. If you’re hungry, the brewery’s diverse menu is filled with burger, sandwich, salad, and shareable options. Staff members are quick to recommend beer and bite pairings like the Easy Roller with a Cajun Burger, the Working Glass Hero with hot wings and the Dirtbag with Turkey Reuben.
Rebel Kettle has a popular brunch that runs on Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and features dishes like grits Creole (cheese grits in an andouille tomato gravy), as well as breakfast sliders, brunch burger and Better Than Waffles- a French toast concoction served with beer-battered chicken strips and spicy maple syrup.
If your crawl is on a Thursday night, keep an ear out for the live music and a watchful eye on the clock. That’s because the night is still young and the second leg of the East Village Crawl is up next.
2. Continue to…Lost Forty Brewing
Take the five-minute stroll down 6th Street to Lost Forty Brewing, a giant in the Arkansas beer scene and home to a tap room that is ideal for small and larger groups alike. There is no outdoor seating here, which, given the possible sizzling summer temperatures, might be a good thing. The interior has an industrial yet comfortable feel with several rows of communal tables in the majority of the space. Look for seats with views of Lost Forty’s brewing area. Take a gander at the impressive collection of tanks and thousands of the company’s art-inspired cans just waiting to be shipped out.
If the tap room is crowded, find a seat at the bar and scan over a plentiful selection of beers, like the popular Love Honey Bock, Day Drinker, Rockhound IPA and Easy Tiger, a Mexican style, award-winning lager.
With Lost Forty falling under the Yellow Rocket Concepts’ umbrella, it should come as no surprise that food is every bit as important as the beer. If your crawl takes place on a Thursday or Friday, keep an eye out for the pork ribs. Fifty racks are smoked and made available after 4 p.m., on Thursday and all day Friday, or until they sell out. The regular menu features a “Big Beer Snacks” section which includes sandwiches like BBQ pulled pork, smoked brisket and smoked turkey Reuben. Lost Forty also offers a brunch service with wildly popular items like the Buttermilk Brewhouse Hotcakes and the Skillet Cinnamon Roll.
While all of these options sound great, remember this is a crawl. Moderation is essential, especially when you have one more spot to hit up.
3. Finish at…The Rail Yard
From Lost Forty, you are once again looking at a five-minute walk down 6th Street to the neighborhood’s newest addition, The Rail Yard. Owned by the sister-in-law duo of Linda and Murry Newbern, along with Murry’s aunt, Virginia Young, The Rail Yard offers an eclectic, indoor and outdoor space that is truly an ideal fit for the East Village.
“We had a vibe in our head that we wanted for The Rail Yard. When we went to the East Village, we knew this was the industrial, exciting new area that we wanted to be a part of,” Linda Newbern says.
As she describes it, The Rail Yard is a backyard party, making it a perfect location to finish off any food and drink crawl. The large outside area is particularly impressive with picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and umbrellas throughout, along with a beautiful new deck that sits alongside the smokehouse. Take in some live music on Sunday evenings from 4-7 p.m, and even bring the pup. Leashed dogs are welcome outside.
And I hope you are still hungry because there is no shortage of eats at The Rail Yard. Typically, one from a variety of local food trucks is stationed outside, and if you have a hankering for barbeque, the Rail Yard is also home to permanent resident Count Porkula. The cool, interior quarters of the restaurant provide a nice alternative to the potential summer heat. Once you are settled in, choose from menu items like house-smoked ribs, sandwiches, or the Almost Famous Nachos, just to name a few, and wash it all down with a local beer on tap while taking in a game on the television from behind the bar. It’s now time to sit back and enjoy what you just accomplished.
Cheers to the East Village Crawl.