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Beer Bedouins, Aura Art and the Great Ale Mystery

Posted by Nick Brothers |

Artbrew4As a lager drinker, my taste buds never understood the mass appeal of ales and IPAs.

Much less did I understand why most/all the breweries in Fayetteville make only ales, which is reason enough why I never ventured out to try them.

But light was shed last Thursday evening at an expo for local artist Rachel Tebbetts — whose paintings of real people highlighted a very colorful aura around them — taking place at Fossil Cove Brewing Company.

Tebbetts does like ales and Fossil Cove likes Tebbetts, who’s also a clay artist and owner of Ease Arts Supplies, which partners with the brewer to sell them mugs.

“The first time the owner came to our shop, he knows one of the guys in the paintings,” she said, adding that the guy in the painting got the wheels rolling to get the expo set up at the brewery.

She describes her art as colorful, energetic, “realist and psychedelic at the same time.”

Mostly friends of hers came to the exhibit, but there were a few new faces that showed up to enjoy an evening of art and ales.

The caravan of ale enthusiasts, dubbing themselves Brews Travelers 365, were there taking pictures of the set up inside Fossil Cove, which most likely used to be a mechanic’s garage, as suggested by the way it looks like a mechanic’s garage turned into a brewery.

Michael Roberts, a co-365er, explained their concept.

Photo by Jose Lopez Artist Rachel Tebbetts during her Aura Painting reception Thursday, May 15 at Fossil Cove.

Photo by Jose Lopez
Artist Rachel Tebbetts during her Aura Painting reception Thursday, May 15 at Fossil Cove.

“We have allotted 365 breweries to go to, so based on state size and number of breweries within it, we allotted a certain number that we can go to,” he said. “So Arkansas, we allotted three. We’ve been to five, though, so the extra two were what we call ‘bonus stops.’ which means we don’t interview them, but we still go in, check out the beer, hang out and stuff like that.”

Sounds like Generation Y’s dream.

Though, there may be issues with their plan.

“Technically, I’m homeless right now,” Roberts said, not really dissuading Gen Y’s dream. “But we’re from Dallas, Texas.

“Throughout the trip, we’re trying to just get in and figure out what makes each brewery unique: try to figure out their present, past, future state of their business, not really doing reviews, it’s more just like a profile on each brewery,” he said.

He and co-365er Brandon Wurtz share their findings through their website, BrewsTravelers365.com, and social media.

Courtesy Photos Aura paintings by local artist Rachel Tebbetts.

Courtesy Photos
Aura paintings by local artist Rachel Tebbetts.

The travelers have made 135 official stops and 34 unofficial stops, spanning 21 states starting in Texas, going out to Florida, zigzagging to Connecticut, coming back to Dallas, then Oklahoma, and now Arkansas.

The project started in January as the guys tried to “figure out how not to go back to work,” Roberts said.

They pretty much live out of their car, sometimes camping, sometimes using Couch Surfers for a place to sleep, and, very unlikely, they’ll even get a hotel, which they did when they made it to New York.

“It was just a matter of we didn’t want to take a car in the island and just kinda lugging around bedding and stuff,” Wurtz said. “It just seemed much simpler to have a super cheap hotel where we could park for free.”

This whole thing sounds great, but what do they do for a living?

They are former corporate ladder climbers who got tired of the rat race and are now living off their savings to try the finest craft ales in the United States.

OK, I understand now, but why only ales in Fayetteville?

Finally, Fossil Cove owner Ben Miller explained why ales never fail: one, it takes an ale only two weeks to brew, compared to four for the lagers, meaning they can sell twice as many ales to locals seeking to wet their whistles; and two, ales have much more versatility as to what flavors the brewers can add.

Mystery solved.

So I bought a brew for my beloved — she was quite tipsy after only half a glass, so I had to finish it.

With each sip, I learned to appreciate the craft and the mastery behind the ale.

Artbrew3Which means, it was still the same bitterness my taste buds cannot accept after 10+ years of legal drinkingness.

I’m sure it was really good, as the big amount of customers there seem to prove it.

If only there were lager craft breweries I could visit 365 days a year.

Roberts gave me hope: there is one in Lexington, Ky., called Blue Stallion.

I hear the football Hogs are visiting Kentucky in 2019, so yes, BrewsTravelers365.com, I am willing to write a follow up about said brewery for you if you’re still around in five years.

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