Apple Blossom Brewing Company coming soon to north Fayetteville

From left, Sammie Stephenson, Al Schaffer, Joe Utsch, and Daniel Smith show off plans for their new venture, the Apple Blossom Brewing Company

Staff photo

Is beer-splosion a word? Beer-aissance? Beer-topia? We ask, because we’re going to need a new term for all the micro brewing action that’s been happening in Fayetteville recently.

Several local brewing establishments have opened in the last few years, and that trend, it appears, will continue with the news that a new brew pub called Apple Blossom Brewing Company will open in Fayetteville this summer.

The new restaurant and brewery is the brainchild of Smoke & Barrel Tavern founders Evan McDonald, Sammie Stephenson, Joe Utsch, Al Schaffer, along with brewery partners Ching Mong and Daniel Smith.

The group has leased an 8,500-square-foot space at 1550 E. Zion Road, and plans to open a 200 to 250-seat restaurant for lunch and dinner, including a 10-barrel brewing system to provide a new option for fans of local beer.

“We are going to start out focusing on getting 3 to 4 of our own beers on tap at our place, and making sure we keep up with demand there,” Stephenson said. “Then, we’ll be looking to do as much distribution as we can.”

Future home of Apple Blossom Brewing Company, coming soon to Zion Road in Fayetteville

Staff photo

Stephenson said the brewery will focus primarily on ales. “We are looking at some beers on nitrogen, and some new and developing styles that we’re checking out,” he said. “We’ll also be brewing some staples, ESBs, pale ales, IPAs, a stout, a lighter beer, a kolsch, or a Berliner Weisse.”

The partners are currently interviewing experienced brewmasters to help manage the brewing side of the business. Aside from their own creations, the group plans to carry locally-brewed beers from other brewers.

The food will be left to Utsch, who has extensive experience as chef and owner of former Fayetteville restaurant, Joe’s Bistro.

“The food’s going to be mainly in-house prepared,” Utsch said. “We’re going to have homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, probably focaccia pizzas, with rotating specials for entrees.”

McDonald said the overarching idea of the Apple Blossom Brewing Company has been to keep things local.

Plans for the new brew pub

Staff photo

In addition to naming the brewery for the Arkansas state flower, McDonald said the plan is to use in-state ingredients whenever possible.

“We love this state. We know people from here love things from this state”, he said. “We’re excited to add to that local element.”

Proximity to Veterans Park, lots of drive-by traffic, a good concentration of commercial and residential activity nearby, and the ability to be able to distribute beer to Dickson Street businesses without “stepping on anyone’s toes” all led to the decision to locate the pub in north Fayetteville.

“We expect Zion to continue to grow into a big east-west artery,” Stephenson said. “Traffic out on Zion is actually really good, too.”

A long-term goal for the group would be to expand into another facility, and start canning some of their locally-brewed beer to distribute around the country. For now, however, the partners are just excited to be adding to the local beer culture that continues to grow here in Fayetteville.

Construction of the new establishment will begin later this month, with a goal to open early summer 2013.