River Rock

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Beautifully situated in a renovated five-story brick building in Little Rock's sleepy downtown area, River Rock is poised to act as the anchor for future downtown development that could pull patrons back to this area for night-time activities. The large, open room features seating for 200 in front of and along side the large L-shaped bar with easy views of the 7 barrel DME copper brewhouse and its three stainless steel unitank fermenters. From the 15 foot black ceiling hang ducting and plumbing that go well with the tan brick interior walls. I'm not sure about the red and green Christmas tree lights strung around the room though. The north and west walls offer lots of windows and associated light but it's the patio that commands the best view. Ten long picnic tables on the second-story concrete patio offer a spectacular view of the Arkansas River and the recently renovated Little Rock River Market area.

Inside, entertainment includes "cyber golf" and a "swinging pendulum" game that takes great attention and finesse, both are located back behind the kitchen area near stacks of grain bags and the "mall exit" which leads to other offices and shops in the multi-use, multi-story building. Although cigars are sold at the bar an excellent ventilation system keeps the air very breathable even on busy weekend nights. The bar itself features two sets of 10 taps along stainless steel "soccer goal post-style" structures. 26 Single Malt Scotches are available and are displayed at the bar in a Lazy Susan-style shelf but with a lockable wire frame enclosure. Empty bottles of micros and imports hang by their caps above the glass walls of the brewhouse behind the bar. Silent TV's dot the room and on Friday nights a magician roams the room performing card tricks.

Five-ounce "taster glasses" run $1 each whereas pints are $2.75, pitchers $9, and growlers $13/$9/$4. The PMS IPA is a clear gold color with a medium body, light malty character, hoppy flavor balance, and crisp finish. The Crossroads Cream is similarly colored but topped by a fine white head and offers a smooth mouthfeel, even sweet/hoppy flavor, and nice dry finish. The Pig Trail Ale is a dark amber color with an even malty flavor, compared to the Redneck Red and its creamy head and lace, and pronounced, dry malty flavor. The Bulldog Brown is a clear dark brown with no head but a rich, malty/chocolately flavor and clean finish. The Flathead Stout has a weak CO2 head with a dry chocolately flavor complemented by light hops. The Alter Ego is a clear dark amber color with light esters in the aroma, a medium body, dry malty flavor, Munich?, and a clean finish.

The food menu includes some tasty light selections such as 9 inch pizzas ($6-$9), beef dishes ($14-$19), Sandwiches ($5-$6), and assorted Favorites ($8-$16). There's even an artichoke dip made from New Mexico Hatch Green Chili (Chile). Souvenir T-shirts offer some nice graphic designs and cost just $14. As downtown Little Rock builds its momentum toward becoming a night-time draw be sure to start your visit at River Rock for some of the best beers and friendliest service around.Photo



River Rock Brewery Restaurant
500 E. Markham
Little Rock, Arkansas
(501)376-1337

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - April, 1998

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