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Fort Smith Brewing Co.

Fort Smith Brewing Co.

2020 // Category I (1-30 Employees)

Fort Smith

Brewing great craft beer was only one of the objectives of Fort Smith Brewing Co. The microbrewery, which opened its doors in September 2017 at Chaffee Crossing, also sought “to create community in Fort Smith” and promote local economic development.

Quentin Willard, owner and brewer, says that “we aim to prove that Fort Smith can make quality products that are regionally and nationally recognized.”

The company is doing something right because in two years it has expanded from a 1.5-barrel brewing system and six taps to a seven-barrel system and 62 taps. By the end of last year, the beer was distributed in eight locations and the microbrewery had opened its second taproom, in downtown Fort Smith. “The people’s support has been phenomenal,” Willard says.

“We’ve won multiple awards, been featured in a number of publications across the United States, and our merchandise has been spotted by strangers all over the world,” Willard says. These successes all go toward helping Fort Smith develop a unique identity.

The microbrewery has overcome a number of challenges, one of which was persuading the city to allow breweries to operate in commercially zoned areas instead of only industrial areas.

But its biggest challenge, Willard says, lies in “local stereotypes and normal shopping habits.” Fort Smith Brewing wants to lead the way in encouraging area residents to buy local. “We promote our community and other businesses heavily to sway people to reinvest in the community,” he says.

Fort Smith Brewing also hopes to lead the way in developing breweries in the region, including next door in Crawford County. As the rest of the state flourishes, “we don’t want to see Fort Smith get left in the dust,” Willard says.

He credits the company’s success to “everything we’ve been taught in the Arkansas education system. Hard and honest work will create a sustainable work environment that will overcome any fads or get-rich-quick schemes.”

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