Chicken wings with house-made sauce and pickled carrots. Above: A cheese and pickle plate, selected from the rotating menu, also includes sourdough bread from Fox & Fork in Clarksville.
Paris' Hidden Treasure
Prestonrose Farm and Brewery
By Lacey Thacker
Prestonrose Farm and Brewery—or, as it’s called by those who know it, “The beer farm”—is easy enough to find. Take the Pottsville bypass off Interstate 40 coming from Little Rock and travel through Dardanelle before turning right onto Highway 22. After 25 miles or so, turn left on Saint Louis Valley Road. A few feet down, a sign directs visitors up the gravel drive. It quickly becomes apparent that it’s someone’s personal property on which you’ll be parking.
Once parked, follow the path toward the garden. From there, visitors find a small building where, if there’s room, they can sit in the heated and cooled space at family-style seating. Or, if the weather is pleasant—or the inside is full—there is a yard full of tables and chairs. Regulars are even known to stand around in the rain if it’s only a drizzle.
Art + Science = Beer
Liz and Mike Preston moved to Arkansas from California in 2013, after a one-year stint in New York, which Liz says simply, “Wasn’t our bag.” Liz, a microbial ecologist, formerly ran a research lab before doing environmental compliance testing.Preston, who works for Entergy, was able to transfer to Arkansas after the couple decided it would be perfect for their planned lifestyle. “We knew we wanted an organic farm, knew a brewery and possibly a restaurant were on the horizon, so we picked somewhere to work that would serve both work and future plans,” Liz explained.
Liz, whose brain, she says, is split pretty evenly between art and science, says, “Brewing is more or less designed for my personality type—it’s equal parts art and science.” The results of her passion? Microbrews to rival any larger brewery in the state.
An Organic Plan
The farm is located on ten acres certified organic with the United States Department of Agriculture, and it features two greenhouses and multiple garden spots. Liz, who has “had a garden every year of my life I can remember,” has used organic practices for years. When the couple was ready to certify organic with the USDA, Liz says it was pretty easy, given her lifelong experience.
While not all food served from the restaurant comes from the farm, what isn’t grown there is sourced locally. On the cold case inside the restaurant is a list of places from which Prestonrose gets their cheese, bread, meats and other as-needed ingredients. Natasha Reavis, a farmer whose jam and honey are sold at the beer farm, says, “Everything you see here, everyone, is because of Liz. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.”
While bread, cheese and other prepared snacks can be purchased on Thursdays and Fridays, it’s Saturdays and Sundays that guests can select a full meal from a rotating menu. Over the course of a year, everything from chicken wings and a cheese and pickle plate to a vegetarian faux chicken salad sandwich and peas and cornbread with herbed butter can be found on the menu.
On the day of this writer’s visit, the perfect weather and release of the CollabHERation saison mean a full house—and full yard. When Mike swings open the door to the indoor seating area open to collect another order, his purposeful stride leads a regular to ask how he’s dealing with the crowd. His response? “I’m having a blast.”
This year, the Prestons plan to expand their brewing system to supply more of the state with their microbrews. Liz is also looking for steady kitchen help to hopefully allow them to serve meals more than two days a week. From there, Prestonrose will work on developing the other half of their property to offer AirBnB stays, full-service weddings—including custom microbrews—and classes on cheese making, home brewing, canning and pickling. “We really want to build a place in our local community that not only serves our immediate surroundings but offers a one-of-a-kind experience where agriculture, education, recreation and environmental stewardship converge and form a space for people to come and be their best, most fulfilled selves and members of their professions, communities and families,” Liz finishes.