Big Rock Root Beer
Big Rock Root Beer is produced by Diamond Bear Brewing Company, located in Little Rock Arkansas. The name Diamond Bear comes from two unique attributes from Arkansas in that it is the only state where diamonds are found naturally, and the fact that Arkansas was known as the Bear State before changing its nickname to the Diamond State in 1905.
The brewery, founded by Russ and Sue Melton, opened its doors on September 21st, 2000—becoming the first commercial brewery in the state. The company developed its Big Rock Root Beer in 2002, but the root beer was only available on draft or in growlers until January of 2016 when it was first bottled. The water used in making Big Rock Root Beer comes from local Lake Winnetoka.
According to Melton, the name Big Rock in Big Rock Root Beer comes from the Arkansas River where Big Rock was used as a reference point by early navigators along the river, along with another navigational point, Little Rock, which the city’s capitol is named after.
When asked about developing a root beer, Melton said, “We wanted to make a product for kids, and for all our customers in the Bible Belt that did not drink alcohol. We wanted to produce a great product made with pure cane sugar that has that rich ‘old time’ flavor.”
In 2014 the company expanded to a 20,000-square-foot brewery up the road in North Little Rock. The new location includes a restaurant and private event rooms, and offers free tours every Saturday.
Sources: Wikipedia, arktimes.com (Sam Eifling), encyclopediaofarkansas.net, arkansasbusiness.com, arkansasonline.com, and a personal interview with Russ Melton