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Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) revived beer brewing in the state of Arkansas. Its name is derived from two previous monikers used by Arkansas: the “Diamond State” and the “Bear State.”
Russ Melton, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bear, served in the military in Germany for four years, where he acquired a taste for fine beers. He and his wife, Sue Melton, came up with the concept of a local brewery in 1999 and, along with seven other owners, started production in the fall of 2000 at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) facility. The mission statement of the company is: “To provide the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region with their own local brewery, which produces great premium all natural beer products, which reflect favorably on Arkansas and the surrounding region.”
All of Diamond Bear’s draft beers have been brewed on-site from the beginning, and as of the fall of 2006, their bottled beers are also brewed locally. The bottled beer was previously brewed and bottled in Minnesota, but after purchasing a bottling line from a company in Wisconsin, the brewery is able to produce all of its products on-site. This allows the brewery more flexibility in the varieties it can offer. The water used in the beer production comes from Lake Winnetoka outside of Hot Springs (Garland County). Less than a half dozen people are employed at the brewery full-time, but the brewery has many volunteers who assist in keeping the operations running smoothly.
The brewery specializes in craft beers, which are beers that contain no adjuncts, chemicals, or additives. Most beers are also brewed in accordance with the German Beer Purity Law of 1516, which means they contain only barley, hops, water, and yeast. Among Diamond Bear's beers are Southern Blonde, Honey Weiss, Pale Ale, Irish Red, Presidential IPA, Two Term Double IPA, Paradise Porter, Rocktoberfest, Strawberry Blonde, and Dogtown Brown. The brewery also has a premium soft drink called Big Rock Root Beer.
Diamond Bear Brewery has won seven national or international awards for its Pale Ale and Irish Red. Diamond Bear Pale Ale was ranked the best “Classic English-Style Pale Ale” in the world for the second time in a row by international judges at the 2006 World Beer Cup. This competition had over 2,000 entries from 540 different breweries located in over fifty countries.
Diamond Bear began distributing its beer in 2000, and it can be found in liquor stores and grocery stores in most good-sized towns in the state of Arkansas, as well as western Tennessee and northern Louisiana. Several pubs and restaurants serve Diamond Bear, and the company is currently trying to expand its lines to include other parts of Tennessee and Louisiana, as well as Mississippi. On April 18, 2011, Diamond Bear announced plans to build a 20,000-square-foot brewery in North Little Rock. The official grand opening of the new complex was celebrated on April 21, 2014. The complex includes a restaurant.
For additional information:Diamond Bear Brewery. http://www.diamondbear.com (accessed April 23, 2014).
Eifling, Sam. “Crafting Suds.” Arkansas Times. July 22, 2010, pp. 10–13. Online at http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/crafting-suds/Content?oid=1239399 (accessed April 23, 2014).
Klump, Edward. “Craft Beer Breweries Expanding: LR Company Cooking up More Flavors for Arkansas.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. October 3, 2003, pp. 1D, 6D.
Van Zandt, Emily. “Russell Scott Melton.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 6, 2014, pp. 1D, 8D.
Nicole ChenaultChenault & Gray Publishing
Last Updated 3/23/2015
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