Catching a Ride on Little Rock’s Brew Bus

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

We’re standing outside Diamond Bear Brewery on an overcast Saturday afternoon in North Little Rock.

Just a few blocks south of us, the Arkansas River is threatening to explode beyond its banks thanks to torrential spring rains. But we aren’t worried.

Today only, our sorrows are going to be drowned.

Our plan is to hit the bulk of the breweries and microbreweries making up the metro area’s exploding craft beer scene, and we are mentally rubbing our hands over the number of hops and barley products we are about to try.

And the best part? (Or maybe it’s the second best part). We don’t have to drive.

My partner in foam “Brewmeister Jacobi” and I are catching a ride on the Little Rock Brew Bus, the brainchild of Donovan Dossett and two silent partners. The business, which basically consists of a large, white passenger van, offers sudsy but loving tours of the city conducted by people who appear to enjoy nothing more than showing it off.

Indulge me today. On a Brew Bus tour in Little Rock.

A photo posted by Todd Traub (@toddtraub) on


The idea grew out of a business called Unique Experiences, which was intended to be a tour of Little Rock’s interesting locations. It quickly became clear that often the locations in demand were the area’s craft breweries, and the idea evolved into the Brew Bus, which sports the slogan “Driving You to Drink.”

“It was just to see if it was something Little Rock was ready for,” says Dossett, the decidedly non-silent partner and public face of the Brew Bus. “So far it seems like they were ready for it.”

Indeed they are. Or, as one of the day’s 10 passengers says as he climbs aboard: “Let’s drink.”

“You could end up in Miami,” Dossett says in response.

Outgoing and affable, Dossett, seems to feel a signed Brew Bus waiver is a license to kid his customers.

“The way I look at it is I get to mess with people for seven hours,” says Dossett, who will later be heard bragging to customers he once had a priest, a monk and a leprechaun on his bus (though prodding reveals the leprechaun was really a short man claiming to be a leprechaun).

For $20, Brew Bus passengers can enjoy the “Roam for Foam” tour, a self-guided circuit that winds through North Little Rock’s Argenta district and Little Rock’s River Market sector and nearby areas. The tours begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and stops include places that offer or brew beers indigenous to the city and state, though passengers are encouraged to branch off and check out nearby shops restaurants — it’s all about showing off the city after all.

For $30, Brew Bus riders can experience the “Full Pour,” an expanded version of the tour that includes a few more dining destinations, like Creegen’s Pub in North Little Rock or Vino’s, the pizza joint that stands as Little Rock’s first brew pub.

The Brew Bus rotates its starting point — our trailhead is Diamond Bear today but the jumping off point is scheduled to shift to Lost Forty in Little Rock — and includes a featured location that is not necessarily a brewery, though brew is definitely involved.

A photo posted by Todd Traub (@toddtraub) on


And so we begin at Kent Walker’s Artisan Cheese Shop, the old Diamond Bear location where Cheesemaker Randy gives us a quick tour, showing off the 500-gallon, stainless tub where the cheesemaking process begins, before he leaves for — what else? — a craft beer festival in Hot Springs.

Brewmeister Jacobi and I linger to enjoy the shop’s cheese sampler, of which the habanero cheddar stands out, and a “Shameless Stout” from Stone’s Throw — one of our stops today — that sports a roasted barley flavor with hints of chocolate and coffee and a nice, oak finish.

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

Later in the tour, the descriptions will become less refined. “You burp and it’s delicious,” says Brewmeister Jacobi, downing an IPA sample at Lost Forty.

At different stops Dossett tells us he will be back in 15 minutes, which proves to be a very flexible measure of time throughout the afternoon, but it gives us a chance to savor our flight of beers at DamGoode Pies, to explore the spacious brew works and interesting decor (and another flight) at Lost Forty, the corner pub vibe and new patio at Stone’s Throw and the intimate feel of Blue Canoe — whose tin and wood decor are reminiscent of a bar one might find nailed together on the end of a dock in Guatemala.

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

The brewing operations range from larger batch setups like Diamond Bear and Lost Forty — who market and sell their beers elsewhere — to smaller scale, intimate setups like Stone’s Throw and Blue Canoe, who really keep it local.

“We’re the principals, the workers, the janitors, the brewers,” says Ida Cowan, who co-owns Blue Canoe with two other partners and is a doctor in her day job.

Future Brew Bus plans — some firmer than others — include a second bus, expansion of service to Conway and Little Rock Air Force Base, a home base at a new craft brewery planned for North Little Rock, a promotional night (with the approval of Mothers Against Drunk Driving) at Dickey-Stephens Park and a customer powered “Brew Bike” which is basically a bar on wheels.

That last one might take some doing with local city councils, Dossett says.

Dossett and his partners engage with and keep a close eye on customers to make sure those who have overindulged aren’t driving home, which is the essence of the Brew Bus enterprise — leaving the driving to others.

Credit: Aaron Jacobi

“The breweries love us because we’re bringing people in,” Dossett says. “The people love us because we’re taking them to the breweries and the police love us because no one is driving.”

For information or to make a Brew Bus reservation, visit

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