Yellow Rocket Concepts, the team behind Big Orange, Local Lime and ZaZa, is expanding into the beer business. Partners John Beachboard, Scott McGehee and Russ McDonough have leased 19,000-square-feet in the former headquarters of Candy Bouquet in the warehouse district east of I-30 for a production brewery they’re calling Lost 40 Brewing Co.
They’ll start with a 30-barrel brewhouse, three 30-barrel fermenters and one 60-barrel fermenter, all of which will allow them to produce 3,000 barrels a year at a capacity, according to Beachboard. A barrel represents about two kegs of beer.
Beachboard estimated that the brewery will be online in six to eight months.
Omar Castrellon, who Beachboard said has 25 years of “professional grade” experience, will serve as master brewer. He’s held the same position at the Thr3e Wise Men Brewery in Indianapolis since 2010. Years ago, Castrellon was brewmaster at River Rock, a Little Rock brewpub in the space Boscos now occupies. John the Beer Snob, the dean of Little Rock beer culture, said on Facebook that Castrellon “cranked out some amazing beers there.”
Beachboard said Castrellon came highly recommended from Bill Riffle, longtime head brewer at Vino’s who opened a new brewery, Gravity BrewWorks, in Big Flat last November. After drinking an imperial stout Castrellon brought along with him to his interview in Little Rock, Beachboard said he just about hired him on the spot.
Within the first six months of operation, Beachboard said Lost 40 would likely purchase a bottling or canning line. Initially, it’ll brew largely for kegs and occasionally for limited release 22 oz. bottles.
Beachboard said he and his partners don’t have distribution aspirations beyond “playing a part in bringing really great craft beer to the community.”
The name Lost 40 comes from the Lost 40, a 40-acre forest in Calhoun County where virgin hardwood and pine trees still grow. Beachboard said his grandfather was a timberman with the Potlatch Corp. According to legend, Potlatch would send its men out to harvest trees in what became known as The Lost 40, but they’d drink beer instead, returning to say they couldn’t find the forest. In 1996, the Potlatch Corp. and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission entered into a 40-year cooperative management agreement to conserve the Lost 40.
Beachboard said his brewery hopes to work with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission to help protect the Lost 40 and on other efforts. He said talks with the commission were in early stages, but he envisioned hosting events and fundraisers.