Bike Rack Brewing has built a loyal base out of their small brewery on SW A Street in Bentonville. The humble little spot is frequently has the tap room spilling over and the beer production struggling to keep up with growing demand. Their move just down the road to the developing 8th Street Market looks to fill the increasing need for seats and suds.
We caught up with new head brewer Josiah Moody for the first official brew day in the new facility. Moody comes from Vino’s Brew Pub in Little Rock and is also responsible for Moody Brews, which is frequently rated as one of the top line of beers in Arkansas. Moody joined Bike Rack in January and has worked to convert the brewery to the new system since then.
“What we had before was basically a glorified home brew setup,” Moody explains. “It was great for getting started, but we are overdue for an upgrade. The new system should set us for long term growth and overall better beer.”
Under the new system they have a 320 barrel fermentation capacity, which is up a long ways from before. There is also some room to expand by upgrading a few smaller tanks down the road.
The added capacity will allow Bike Rack to begin canning and introduce a wider distribution. They will can in house thanks to a new canning line setup, something that was impossible before with the space limitations.
Another new toy for the brewery is their own grain mill. “I have always bought pre-milled grain, and so did Bike Rack previously. We are experimenting heavily with different milling options for the beers which is already producing a better product,” Moody says.
Moody is going through and making minor adjustments to each beer recipe as well as bringing in a few new recipes for existing products like their IPA. The changes will help produce a better beer and allow it to maintain consistency when brewed on a larger scale.
The taproom of the brewery also represents a considerable upgrade. Inside the tap room retains a lot of the industrial look and feel from the surrounding 8th Street Market, which was previously a Tyson Hatchery. To complement the look they brought in custom locally made tables. The seating capacity is considerably higher. They also have a much larger patio area that should pull a big crowd in the spring and fall.
The other thing that is increased is the amount of available taps. They expand to 24 total tap heads, up from 9 currently, which is more beers than they currently produce. The increased expansion should allow for some guest taps and special collaborations if Bike Rack decides to go that direction.
Overall the increase in everything allows for flexibility all around, especially with the culinary school and the surrounding market. Moody says they are already looking for areas of collaboration with each including using products from the culinary school and local makers into their future beers.
There is no word yet on what is to become of the A street tap room. The loyal following and easy walkability from the square seems to lend itself to leaving it as a tap room for a bit. If not the surrounding area is growing rapidly, so I am sure it would not be vacant for long.
Bike Rack has tentatively planned to hold a soft opening for the new tap room on April 27th and a grand opening on May 12th. Keep up with their Facebook page for any changes to that, or potential events surrounding the launch.