Anyone who is paying attention knows that the craft beer scene in Northwest Arkansas has exploded over the past five years or so. But fans of local restaurants and entertainment venues will tell you there’s always room for more, especially when the new place is different from all the others.
Enter, Black Apple Crossing*.
Leo Orpin, John Handley, and Trey Holt were home brewers who wanted to take their hobby to the next level. They were serving their brews at local corporate and special events and found themselves fielding questions from folks who wanted to know when they were going to start producing enough to sell.
“When we first started talking about it, Hog Haus was the only brewery in Northwest Arkansas,” laughed Orpin, “We were going to start a brewery, and we were going to be one of the first! Then [craft breweries] blew up and we thought ‘well, that’s not a very good niche anymore’.”
Lucky for them (and for us) they were already brewing ciders along with their English-style beers, so they turned their attention to opening a cidery instead.
Orpin handles the marketing and business aspects of the partnership, leaving the science and manufacturing to his partners. He gave me a tour of the space and explained their reasoning for choosing Springdale for their location; a decision he admits makes a few people look at him funny.
“’Why Springdale?’ That is the number one question I get. We looked everywhere, and we came down here because we were intrigued by the revitalization that is going on. You’ve got the Razorback Greenway, Tyson, the Waltons [have purchased property]… and when we met some of the other local business owners, we found they are all our age or younger. It’s a big movement that’s going on right now, and it’s real.”
They are renovating a building built in 1935 to house the first hatchery for poultry giant, George’s. The 8,000 square feet they will occupy will keep them from feeling cramped for a good while. Orpin says George’s has agreed to supply some vintage memorabilia and photos to decorate in the tap room to highlight the history of the building.
The entrance to the cidery will be in the back of the building, where a new patio was recently poured. It will eventually be decked out with seating, a new privacy fence, and a space for local bands to play.
The future tap room is currently full of construction equipment and piles of sheet rock that used to cover the brick walls, but the wood paneling along two walls of the room hint at what will be when the renovation is complete.
“We want to make it kind of a bar scene, because they don’t have anything like that [in downtown Springdale].” says Orpin, “We’ll put in a dart board, and we’ve talked about air hockey or foosball… we want to be an attraction. Every night around 5:30 or 6:00 while we’re working in the building we see a ton of traffic driving down the street – they’re all leaving. We want to turn that around.”
At first, Black Apple Crossing will offer three ciders in the tap room; a semi-sweet, a dry variety, and a small-batch on rotation. The base of all three will be apple, but the small-batch will allow them to incorporate different fruits as well.
Orpin estimates that the new Tyson offices that will be located nearby will accommodate around 7,500 people. Ever since the Razorback Greenway was completed, it has been introducing people to Springdale who rarely drive through the town on purpose. To the partners, these are positive indications of their future success.
“We think [the increased traffic] will be good for us and for the restaurants here. Most [downtown restaurants] don’t have dinner service, they stop serving after lunch. Hopefully, that will start changing.”
The current plan is for Noble Crossing Cider House to welcome the public to a grand opening in June, but they will be set up at the Fayetteville Foam Fest on May 9. They also plan a couple of other soft openings in May, so keep your eyes open for that if you’re interested in a preview. It’s shaping up to be a great summer in Springdale.
*According to their Facebook page, Noble Crossing Cider House changed their name to Black Apple Crossing as of May 1st. Sorry for the confusion!