'45 minutes from nowhere': Couple opens up craft brewery in small town Arkansas
PARIS, Ark. (KTHV) – A rural town is not necessarily a place people would think to place a brewery, but one couple transplanted to Arkansas to do just that.
Liz and Micheal Preston opened up Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. in February 2016. The couple thought they would have to travel the state just to sell their beers, but what they did not expect was for business to take off right in their own front yard.
"I think that more and more people as they discover this place would say that it is the craft brew, crown jewel of the river valley,” said Susan Edens. "I would say it's one of those cheers places, kind of a 'come to' place."
Locals in the small town of Paris consider the unique brewery a hidden gem. The brewery is a certified organic farm and Liz uses the crops in her beers.
"I've met people from Tulsa who found out about them online and made the drive, just to come here. They're looking for good craft beer, and Liz Preston brews the best I've ever had,” Edens said.
Liz had been a home brewer for about ten years. She previously lived in California and New York before moving to Arkansas.
"I spent a lot of years in research and environmental regulations and things like that, so I kind of wanted to be practicing the things I had researched,” Liz said.
Liz and Micheal tried opening up a brewery in New York, but it did not goes as planned.
“First time, didn’t work out so well in the Hudson Valley, up around Woodstock in New York," Micheal admitted. "We were there a year or so, and decided that wasn’t part of the country for us so we moved down south here.”
But when they moved to the river valley near Paris, she turned her dream into a reality and opened a brewery up in her own front yard.
"Our neighbors thought we were pretty crazy, when we said we were opening a brewery on St. Louis valley road,” Liz said.
Yet business quickly took off.
"We thought we were going to have to put beer in our pick up and drive it all over the state just to kind of make ends meet and sell the beer, but we ended up selling almost every drop we make right here in our front yard,” Liz said.
The first year the brewery opened, the Preston’s sold thousands of beers just out of a shed. The brewery did not even have chair or tables for people to sit in.
“We just sold samples and growlers to go for the first twelve months,” Micheal said. “She made a hundred different beers that first year. That’s three-thousand gallons worth of beer. We sell it in half gallon growlers, so that’s 6 thousand growlers of beer we sold in our front yard that first year.”
Micheal said he sometimes can't believe how well business has been for being open only four days a week.
"We're 45 minutes from nowhere," he said. "Our business model was we were going to deliver beer, and then we opened and we're wiped out with people. I mean, we have expanded three times in 18 months.”
Liz brews all of the beers during the week. Each batch takes about five to six hours to brew.
“We had one couple that got married and we brewed a special beer just for their wedding, and now every year they want it just for their anniversary,” Liz said.
While Liz keeps adding more beer on tap, business at Prestonrose continues to brew.
"I wake up in the morning and I look out in my front yard and there's still a brewery there and I'm like ‘Yup, it’s not a dream!' A lot of guys would be pretty happy when there wife begs them to put a brewery in their front yard,” Micheal said.
Prestonrose is open Thursday to Sunday. The Preston’s hope to expand their farm into a full service event venue.
For more information on Prestonrose Brewing and Co. visit their Facebook page.