Fort Smith Brewery owner working hard to open microbrewery in Van Buren

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Quentin Willard, owner of Fort Smith Brewery, is working to open a small microbrewery in his hometown of Van Buren called Pointer Place.
The concept for Pointer Place microbrewery in Van Buren includes brewing equipment visible behind the serving area. Quentin Willard, a Van Buren native who started Fort Smith Brewing Company, hopes to have Pointer Place open in mid-May.

Quentin Willard, the owner of Fort Smith Brewing Company, is planning on opening a microbrewery in downtown Van Buren. The brewery will be named Pointer Place and Willard is hoping to open in mid-May.

Willard is a Van Buren native and graduated from Van Buren High School. Before his career in brewing, Willard attended the United States Military Academy and graduated as a 2nd Lt. Field Artillery Officer in 2007.

Willard is currently waiting on permits from the state before he can begin setting up the Van Buren brewery. Pointer Place will be the first of its kind in Van Buren and located at 621 Main St. in Van Buren.

"Being a dry county, it definitely makes it more difficult," said Willard. Since Crawford County is a dry county, Pointer Place will be a microbrewery.

Because of this, the beer will not be packaged but will stay contained within the premises on tap. 

The original name was supposed to be Pointer Brewery, but due to dry county laws, they are not allowed to have the word "brewery" in the name.

"Anything showing that we have alcohol we can't do," said Willard.

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, "a microbrewery is any establishment in which beer, malt, or hard cider are brewed and sold at retail in a restaurant setting under the same ownership in the same building or attached buildings."

Pointer Place will have five permanent beers and two rotating season flavors. Kolsch, amber, IPA, stout, and fruity beers will be available. The microbrewery is limited to a production of 20,000 barrels of products per year, with each barrel having a volume of 31 gallons.

There are 49 different liquor licenses in Arkansas and Willard says that since he is a small brewery license holder he isn't able to also hold a microbrewery license.

"I have to change my license in Fort Smith to a microbrewery license, and then I will be able to open a microbrewery in Van Buren," said Willard. 

Willard says that even though his license will change in Fort Smith, nothing will change the operations at Fort Smith Brewing Company, 7500 Fort Chaffee Blvd. in Chaffee Crossing.

After growing in his current career in brewing since opening Fort Smith Brewing Company in 2017, Willard wants to bring his passion to his hometown.

"A big part of the Van Buren brewery is to highlight the Pointer pride," said Willard. "We want to make sure that we focus on the beauty that is Van Buren."

Being a microbrewery means that food will be the main focus of Pointer Place. Willard says that since fermentation is a big part of the brewing process they will also incorporate fermentation in their foods.

"Stuff like kimchi and sauerkraut will be incorporated in our menu," said Willard.

According to the Brewers Association, microbreweries produce about 18% of the overall craft beer production volume. Arkansas has 47 breweries, eight of those being microbreweries, and produces 46,272 barrels of craft beer a year.