📷: @myheartsbeat on Instagram
If you ask around for a good craft brewery in Northwest Arkansas, it will not be long before you'll find yourself typing "Ozark Beer Company" into the GPS. Since 2013, OBC has lived by the motto of "Hard Work, Honest Beer", a recipe that has landed them atop many-a-national craft beer list e.g. The Best Craft Brewery in Every State by Thrillist and The 50 Best Craft Beers in the United States by Men's Journal.
At their core, OBC is all heart and their commitment to hard work and the national recognition they receive as a byproduct of that work may only matter insofar as it allows them to live out their love for community. This love for community is having a big impact on those in Northwest Arkansas and beyond. Below, we've collected a few recent examples of what this impact looks like in "batches."
Mr. Brig's Pale Ale // Scholarship Fund
In December, many throughout Northwest Arkansas were hit hard by the loss of local community leader, Brig Caldwell. Brig worked within the Rogers Public School System as the Student Relations and Community Liaison for Rogers Heritage High School. As OBC noted on Facebook, "Brig Caldwell donated an outsized portion of his time, love and heart to Rogers, especially its youth which includes his two daughters." In his honor, OBC committed to brewing a batch of beer each year and donating 100% of the proceeds to a scholarship that will be awarded annually to a Rogers Heritage student. The scholarship will begin in 2020 with the money raised this year going directly to his family for their immediate needs.
This year's brew is called Mr. Brig's Pale Ale as a nod to what some of his first students called him when he began his career as a Special Education Teacher's Aide. "Mr. Brigs," would be heard as Brig walked through the halls of the school or would run into a student out in town.
Open Avenues // Capable People, Meaningful Work
Open Avenues is a local organization that empowers adults with disabilities. They offer their clients real world experience in networking, walk-in visits to employers, job shadowing, and job searches and strive to find employment that matches each person's unique interests and abilities. Over the holiday, OBC dedicated $2 from every growler sale to their friends at Open Avenues. By the end of the fundraiser, they had raised enough money to cover three months of daily transportation to and from work for one of their clients.
Resilience // California Fire Victims
Lastly, did you know OBC joined Sierra Nevada and 1,000 other breweries around the nation (13 in Arkansas) to brew the Resilience "Butte County Proud" IPA? The call to action was organized by Sierra Nevada to help raise money to support communities in California affected by the deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century. 100% of the proceeds from this beer are going to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund, which will distribute it to partner organizations that are dedicated to rebuilding and supporting the communities that have been affected. The IPA is available at the taproom in Rogers.
This is the Ozark Beer Company beyond the pint, a living and breathing story of hard work and community. And as with all good stories, the end was always there in the beginning. In the beginning, there was Lacie Bray and Andy Coates out in some tents along the Arkansas River in Colorado:
"It was an idyllic summer; rafting the river during the day and living in tents along the river at night. It was during their time in Colorado at the rafting company that Andy and Lacie learned to value two very important things: camaraderie in a community, and a hard-work-can-do attitude. When you are living out of a tent for the summer, there is no TV, no electricity, no distractions, and most free time is spent enjoying the company of others. Loyalty and respect grows when you truly get to know people, and the community as a whole benefits. Lacie and Andy had never experienced the true connections formed out of a seemingly random group of people, and the sense of belonging to a community and a deep appreciation for places with strong communities were born." (Read the complete founder's story HERE)