Growlers: Big Red Ball Homebrew Contest, Flyway Old Decoy, Lost Forty Sweet Sweet Panda

One of the coolest annual events in Little Rock’s beer scene comes Saturday with the Big Red Ball Homebrew Contest at Next Level Events. This is the fifth year for the contest, which is held in conjunction with the Little Rock Kickball Association. The winning beer is declared the “official beer of kickball” and will be brewed at Stone’s Throw. The event is open to the public. The $25 admission price gets you appetizers and samples from all the entries, as well as plenty of beer from Stone’s Throw. For $35, you get a free taster glass, heavy hors d’oeuvres and early admission. Proceeds for the event go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. The event kicks off at 7 p.m.; VIP admission is at 6:30 p.m.
Before you go to the homebrew contest, make sure to stop by Stone’s Throw for a double release on #NewBrewFriday. The taproom will have Anton Baltic Porter and Magnum Trip Tripel. The porter is a classic stout with plenty of notes of toasted malt. Magnum Trip is a big 10 percent ABV Belgian Tripel that trends to the sweet side with plenty of yeast and fruit flavors. Magnum Trip hides its high alcohol content well, so be careful not to let it sneak up on you. Both go on tap at 4 p.m. Friday.
Flyway Brewing has a seasonal favorite coming back on tap Wednesday. Old Decoy Oaked Ale is a 6.8 percent ABV brew with just a hint of aging on the finish. It’s really a clean, easy-drinking ale that pairs very well with Flyway’s food menu. It goes on when Flyway opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. Also, Flyway has game night on Tuesday with Game Goblins and its regular Thursday night trivia (which is a blast, by the way), so you have plenty of chances for an entertaining evening this week.
First there was Trash Panda. Then, recently, Little Panda. Now Lost Forty Brewing is taking things a step further with Sweet Sweet Panda, and it’s one that is tailored for hopheads. It takes the already-hoppy Trash Panda IPA and dry hops it again with Mosaic hops for a triple dry-hopped brew. This one has eight pounds of hops per barrel, so it should easily be able to handle its 7.2 percent ABV. This one is an extremely limited batch; it’s only available by the glass at the taproom starting at 4 p.m. today.
It’s always cool to see local restaurants and bars embrace Little Rock’s craft beer scene. Case in point: South on Main right now has a cocktail on the menu that uses beer from Blue Canoe Brewing Company. It’s called Winter in Oaxaca, and it mixes Koch Mezcal, Giffard elderflower liqueur and Blue Canoe’s Cranberry Gose for a tart, smoky drink. Look for it next time you’re at South on Main. And next time you’re at Blue Canoe, make sure you try the new Willow Wizenbock, which went on tap this weekend. It’s a good winter beer with plenty of notes of banana, vanilla and wheat.
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