Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery in Hot Springs took another important step toward Spa City Beervana on Friday when it received its Arkansas Native Brewer’s permit from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The permit allows Superior to brew and sell beer made on premises. After extensive renovations, Superior opened as a bar and grill last July, with the goal of brewing their own suds from the hot spring water that was once used for the baths.
Rose Cranson, Superior’s owner and “distillatrix,” said the brewery is waiting on final approval from officials with Hot Springs National Park on several construction projects in the works, including plumbing and sprinkler installation, and getting the brewery’s steam boiler online. This week, Cranson said, workers are installing a series of steel I-beams underneath the brewery floor to support the weight of the tanks.
“Basically we have 97-year-old concrete,” she said. “Obviously, it’s structurally sound, but it wasn’t built to stand 3,000-pound objects sitting on it. That’s the project of the week.”
Cranson said she couldn’t say when brewing would begin since she’s at the mercy of contractors and permitting. “Every time I answer that, I’m off by about three months. I don’t think my margin of error is that big anymore, but hopefully in the next few months we’ll be testing. I’m not going to release beer I’m not happy with, so with our system and everything, I want to be really picky.”
The good news for beer lovers is that the issuance of the Native Brewer’s Permit means that Superior can start selling growlers — half-gallon jugs, filled on site — of any Arkansas-brewed beers. Cranson said they plan to soon. “My staff isn’t quite trained to do that yet,” Cranson said, “but Memorial Day weekend is coming up and I’ve got a whole pallet full of growlers coming. We’ll be filling those as soon as we can implement the equipment and the staff training we need.”
Cranson said Superior Brewery will be participating in the Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, May 31 (go to hscraftbeerfest.com for more info), and will have “small home batches” of its forthcoming recipes available for sampling, including an IPA and a Kolsch. “We’ve got about 20 gallons of beer to bring to the festival,” she said. “We’re excited to let people try some of our beer, even if it’s small-scale stuff.”