It’s October, and most craft brewers are putting out their fall Oktoberfest beers. Little Rock’s own Diamond Bear Brewing Company is no different, and we bought our first six-pack of their offering, Rocktoberfest, tonight. Russ Melton and crew and been brewing beer in Little Rock since 2000, but it’s really been since 2006 (the year they began bottling their beer in Little Rock) that they’ve become a good, quality craft brewery and one we’ve come to enjoy a great deal. Diamond Bear is Arkansas’ only non-restaurant brewer of note, and within the past couple of years they have begun expanding their market presence into Mississippi and other surrounding states. Although they’ve been profiled recently in the local press, we still find that too many Arkansans are unaware that there’s good craft beer being made right here in our capital city. We’ve tried almost every beer they make, and the Rocktoberfest is certainly a fine fall seasonal to pair with the lovely Arkansas autumn.
Diamond Bear’s Rocktoberfest pours a nice, dark amber color with a good creamy head. The smell is malty and biscuity, sweet but not too strong. Served very cold, the taste is thick and crisp with malt on the back end; served a tad warmer, a fuller flavor presents itself, with rich caramel and malt flavor with sweet hops coming through on the finish. There’s not an overwhelming flavor of alcohol present, but this is definitely a warming beer to drink, perfect for mid-fall grilling or other outdoor activities. It’s not a bad beer for just kicking back and drinking after work with supper, either. Like Diamond Bear’s Irish Red, the Rocktoberfest might be just a tad heavy on malt flavor; a bit more hop astringency on the finish might help cut some of the thickness of the malt flavor. For people who like beers like New Belgium’s Fat Tire, though, this is a perfect beer for your taste.
We’ve toured Diamond Bear a couple of times, and it’s a regular weekend destination for a six-pack or growler of fresh beer. There’s really nothing better than going right to the source and having someone pour you a growler of beer straight from the tap, and this is certainly the best way to enjoy Diamond Bear’s offerings. In addition, their taproom is the only place in Central Arkansas where it is legal to buy packaged beer (bottled 6- or 12-packs) on Sundays – and let me tell you, that’s a great selling point for the place. Many’s the Sunday afternoon we’ve driven all the way up to downtown Little Rock just to grab a few cold ones to enjoy.
Diamond Bear Brewing is located at 323 S. Cross St. in Little Rock. They have tours of the brewery (yes, that means free beer!) every Saturday and Sunday starting at 3pm, and their regular retail hours are Friday-Sunday 12-6. In addition to their great brews, they also make a mean root beer, so feel free to take the tour without imbibing anything alcoholic. Diamond Bear is mostly volunteer-run; volunteers lead the tours, bottle the beer, and do any number of other things around the brewery, so this really is beer brewed, supported, and loved by locals. Everyone is always friendly and happy to see a guest, so whether you’re a life-long local or just passing through, Diamond Bear Brewing is worth a visit in Little Rock.