(1) THE BREWERY & OUR EXPERIENCE
After going to the Fayetteville Visitors Center to pick up our handy-dandy Ale Trail passport and then checking out a few bonus stop breweries on the Fayetteville Ale Trail, we found ourselves at Fossil Cove Brewing just as they were opening up for the day. Their founder and head brewer, Ben Mills, spent time with us spilling details about the dino-themed brewery before two Arkansas-based bloggers met up with us there for a drink; Woo Pig Brewey! and Fayette Brew. Fossil Cove offers one-off brews that are only available in the taproom and they were also the first brewery in the state of Arkansas to release a sour beer. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the brewery thanks to the unique environment, tasty beers, and great people, so do yourself a favor and check out all the information below then make a trip to Fayetteville to check them out!
(2) VITAL INFORMATION
Date of our visit: Thursday, 5/15/2014
Open since: June 2, 2012
Approx. Barrel (bbl) Output 2013: 700-1,000 bbl
Projected bbl Output 2014: 2,000 bbl
Brewhouse size: 4 bbl – 2 vessel
Founder(s): Ben Mills
Head Brewer: Ben Mills
Packaging: Draught only
Distribution: NW Arkansas and Little Rock
Other things we learned:
* A focus on “Quality Over Quantity”
* Fossil Cove is named after an area on Beaver Lake where Ben’s parents live. This is not an official name for that portion of the lake but he personally found fossils in the area with his dog, Barley. The name of the brewery and marketing of a T-rex holding a beer followed naturally from there. Afterall, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
* The mash tun is elevated to provide an additional boost with the help of gravity.
* 54 bbl in fermentation capacity – four 4 bbl and four 10 bbl. Quadrupled fermentation capacity since opening. Can push the system and yield 5 bbl batches or more like 3 bbl for high gravity brews. New 20 bbl fermenter set to be delivered.
* Celebrated the anniversary with a party / customer appreciation day including food trucks and live music.
* Offer a mug club with 50 members in it’s first year of operation. Members receive a t-shirt and a larger pour for the same price as well as invitation to two mug-club only events throughout the year.
* Local artists on display and artwork is rotated through every few months.
* Donate a lot of beer for charity events. May do a charity fundraiser to auction or raffle new mug club members.
* Events: Trivia on Wednesday, Friday nights are new beer releases or Randall infusions.
* Included as a stop on the Fayetteville Ale Trail.
* Kort is the assistant brewer as of July 2013. He was a regular at the brewery and a homebrewer and was hired on as Ben needed help on the brewing side – he did all of the brewing and bartending the taproom for the first 4 months of business.
* Ben studied Biology in college with intentions of being an environmentalist. He began homebrewing in college following an initial attempt and making wine and eventually decided to sign up for the brewer’s program at UC Davis. While waiting for the program to start, he spent time brewing at Silverton Brewery in Colorado, a nice fit since he is originally from CO. The initial goal was to be formally trained and then find a brewery to work for. While in Colorado, however, he heard about the 4 bbl equipment for sale in Washington and ended up flying out to purchase it with plans on opening up his own brewery.
(3) BEERS AVAILABLE DURING OUR VISIT
* Birch Avenue Blonde #
* Orange Cream Ale @
* T-Rex Tripel #
* La Brea Brown #
* Oatty Stout #
* Hoppy Wheat $
* Paleo Ale #
* Smash No. 3 @
* IPA No. 3 #
* Double IPA @
* Listing of beers
# = Year Round; * = Beer We Sampled
$ = Seasonal, @ = Specialty/Limited Release
What we learned about their beer during our visit:
* Most beers are brewed as approachable styles since they have a focus on educating the public but still brew many styles for the ‘beer nerds.’ Regardless, drinkability is the number one goal. Plan to ramp up those unique offerings over time as the demand allows.
* The six year round beers were established and have been available since about six months into operation. IPA #3 is, as one might guess, the third recipe created when trying to dial in what Ben wanted for the IPA.
* Seasonal beers include: Hoppy Wheat in Spring, Whizzle White IPA in Summer, Black IPA in Fall, and developing a spiced IPA for Winter.
* Will often do pilot batches for the taproom to get immediate customer feedback. Kort is the assistant brewer and the Cream Ale is his recipe that was scaled up from the pilot.
* Plans to develop 6-pack for the Paleo Ale but waiting to have supply to keep shelves stocked. Currently have a 4 head Maheen bottling line.
* Brewed a saison for their first anniversary and followed that up with a different saison for 2nd anniversary. 4 bbl batch brewed one time.
* One off brews are taproom only; i.e. Orange Cream Ale.
* Fossil Cove is the first brewery in the state to release a sour beer.
(4) EXPANSION PLANS
20 bbl bright tank and 20 bbl fermenter arrived in July. Within the next year they plan to upgrade to a 10 bbl brewhouse.
(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO
Name: Ben Mills
Title: Founder & Head Brewer
Been with company since: Inception
Previous Brewing Experience: Silverton Brewery and UC Davis brewing school
Previous Occupation(s): Environmentalist, Brewer
Favorite Superhero: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY
(7) You can find the rest of our photos here
Author: Michael Roberts & Brandon Wurtz