Nathan Traw leaving Apple Blossom for Core Brewing

Nathan Traw / Tapping the Ozarks

Apple Blossom Brewing Company on Friday announced that head brewer Nathan Traw will be leaving to “pursue other interests.” A timetable for his departure was not given, but it was hinted that Traw will be staying in the area.

Well, it’s true – he is staying in Northwest Arkansas. Traw confirmed yesterday that he was hired as the new Director of Brewing at Core Brewing & Distilling Company in Springdale.

This, of course, means that Apple Blossom is in the market for a new head brewer. The brewpub wasted no time in posting a help wanted ad on with all of the details.

Traw’s move comes during a relatively eventful period in Northwest Arkansas’ short brewing history.

Will Gallaspy recently left West Mountain Brewing Company for a job in New York, paving the way for new brewer Ryan Pickop. And Tanglewood Branch closed its doors for good after three years in south Fayetteville.

It’s somewhat surprising that Traw would leave Apple Blossom at this point in his career. He is getting some traction with his beers and recently attended the Great American Beer Festival in Denver with a contingent from A.B.B.C.

He is known for his experimental tendencies – such as the Ozark Smokehouse Porter (brewed with an actual hambone) and the Sturdy Hippy IPA (inoculated with a sourdough yeast from the bakery). He seems to relish the “break the rules” approach to brewing that is possible in a small brewpub environment.

Core is much more production-oriented than A.B.B.C., with distribution beyond Northwest Arkansas. Growth is a priority and there are shareholders to satisfy. But perhaps it’s Core’s status as the state’s largest brewery that caught Traw’s attention to begin with.

“It means I get to have a hand in making beer for more people…my creativity to be experienced by more [people],” Traw said in an e-mail. “In the end, isn’t that what every creative professional wants?”

It will be interesting to see what impact Traw has on Core’s beers once he gets comfortable in his new role, which will also involve the distilling side of the business.

One thing is for certain; he leaves behind a brewhouse that’s in good order. Whomever Apple Blossom hires as his replacement will have a solid foundation on which to build.

Brian Sorensen (@EBSorensen) is an admitted beer geek, occasional home brewer, and member of the Fayetteville Lovers of Pure Suds.