Earlier this week, we talked to Patrick Cowan, the Little Rock attorney who, with wife Ida Cowan and brewer Laura Berryhill, forms a third of the founders of Blue Canoe Brewing Company, soon to open next to Andina’s at 425 E. Third Street near the River Market. Cowan said that while there’s still a lot of construction and paperwork to be done, they’re hoping for a Nov. 1 open.
Cowan said that he’s been home brewing since college, possibly before he could even legally drink, and has always been supported in his hobby by his wife, Ida (who he said isn’t, oddly enough, a big fan of beer). Cowan said the catalyst for opening Blue Canoe was when he met Laura Berryhill, who had started homebrewing with her father and grandfather. Soon, Cowan and Berryhill were brewing together.
“When you’re brewing beer, there’s a lot of downtime and you kinda talk and dream,” Cowan said. “As the two of us started making beer and tasting our beer, we thought we did a good job together. The idea popped up, and we kept discussing it until it became plans.”
Cowan said the new space will be an intimate taproom, with around 800 square feet and seating for 20, with room for 20 more if everybody stands. They’ve got a three-barrel system, Cowan said, which cranks out around 600 beers per batch. The plan at this point is to have eight Blue Canoe brews on tap, with three more local or regional beers, a white wine and a red wine. They’ll offer growlers to go, Cowan said, but the small output of their brewing equipment means they probably won’t offer their beers for sale anywhere other than the flagship… er, canoe.
Cowan said one of the defining features of Blue Canoe, other than their taproom size, will be their unique decor. Cowan said that Ida and Laura are handling the decoration of the space. “The two of them are very stylish, and they’re the ones doing the decor, design and aesthetic together,” he said. “I think a lot of breweries I’ve been to, you can tell the partners are male. It’s kind of mancaveish with the design. The two of them are going to be doing a lot of reclaimed doors and columns out of various houses that have been torn down.”
There will be a couple of hearty autumn beers on the menu starting out, Cowan said, including “The Whittler,” their dark milk stout, and a seasonal spiced pumpkin ale they’re calling the “Pumpkinetic,” an almost-Imperial brew which features cinnamon and nutmeg.
“It’s pretty strong,” Cowan said. “It’s right around 8-and-a-half to 9 percent alcohol, but it doesn’t taste like it. I think it’s going to be wonderful on those crisp fall days.”
One of their goals, Cowan said, it to be very consumer-centric. “A lot of the breweries I’ve been to, it’s almost like: if you don’t like something, it’s because there’s something wrong with you,” he said. “Our idea is that there’s nothing wrong with anyone. Among all the various styles of beer, there’s plenty that I don’t particularly care for, and even among the styles I like, there’s [versions] I don’t like.