North Tunnel Brewing & Supply recently moved inside the taproom at Boston Mountain Brewing. The newly-combined business opened to the public for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 3. It is located at 121 W. Township Street, just a short distance from the shop’s former home.
North Tunnel has a long and storied history in Fayetteville. It opened in Colt Square as The Home Brewery in 1995. Founder Andy Sparks later moved the shop to 455 E. Township Street, where it operated for many years.
In 2016, Sparks sold the business to friend and fellow home brewer Steve Wilkes, who promptly renamed it Steve’s Brew Shop. Current owners Daniel and Paige Stubblefield acquired the shop from Wilkes and changed the name to North Tunnel in September 2021.
Boston Mountain opened in July 2019, and the small midtown brewery has maintained a quiet but steady presence in the Fayetteville brew scene ever since. Co-owner and brewmaster Matt Thompson believes combining the supply shop with the brewery makes a lot of sense right now.
“It has been a rewarding struggle since we opened Boston Mountain three-and-a-half years ago,” said Thompson. “The pandemic came just six months later, and it pretty much shut us down for an entire year. Coming back from that has definitely been a challenge.”
As cash flows plummeted during that first year of covid, bills started to pile up for Boston Mountain. Thompson sees taking on another partner as a way to strengthen the brewery’s financial situation and stage it for growth. His original partner – Sam Grinceri – remains in the fold and will be a part of the expanded ownership team.
“Sam and I are really excited to get Daniel and Paige in here,” he said. “It helps on the financial side of things. And I believe it makes us the only brewery in Arkansas at the moment that also sells brewing supplies.”
The newly-combined business will be renamed Boston Mountain Brewing & Supply once the legal dust settles.
Prior to acquiring North Tunnel, Daniel Stubblefield brewed commercially at Ox Bend Brewing in Ozark, Arkansas. He said he first met Thompson on a side excursion to Fayetteville.
“My wife and I started coming in here to have beer in the early days of the brewery,” he said. “We are adamant about trying new breweries when they open up in the area. And we really got along with Matt, so we kept coming back.”
Both men will brew beer at Boston Mountain. According to Thompson, they complement each other in more ways than one.
“Daniel is more specialized in hazy and milkshake IPA and stuff like that,” he said. “I brew a lot of traditional styles. He can only brew on the weekends, whereas I can brew any day of the week. Beyond that, we have similar ideas about what direction to take the brewery.”
The plan is to ramp up brewing output in order to supply more local accounts. Right now, the vast majority of Boston Mountain beer is sold in the taproom. Most of it is draft, but some is hand-bottled and available for takeaway. Getting more beer into the community via bars and restaurants is a priority for the new ownership team.
As for home brew supplies, the shop will see its footprint shrink from around 1,000-square-feet to 120-square-feet as a result of the move. Despite the reduced footprint, there is one major feature that did not exist at the old location. And so far, customer response has been good.
“We had a really good week this week,” said Stubblefield. “It has been a good turnout for the shop, and home brewers seem to enjoy grabbing a pint of Coconut Porter, or one of our other beers, while they do their shopping.”
The soon-to-be Boston Mountain Brewing & Supply is open Tuesday-Thursday from 4-9 p.m., and Friday-Saturday from 3-10 p.m.