Core Brewing Eyes Distillery, Trade School In Downtown Fort Smith

To further embed their footprint in the Fort Smith market, Core Brewing & Distilling Co. is looking to set up a distillery and trade school downtown.

Fort Smith senior planner Brenda Andrews said the Springdale-based company is in the process of purchasing the former Times Record press facility at 1000 Rogers Ave. in downtown Fort Smith, and has submitted an application to the city to put in a distillery at the 36,050-square-foot location. It will also look to establish a trade school for interested brewers to learn about brewing, distilling and cooperage, she said.

Core Brewing & Distilling Co. director Marvin Wilson said Wednesday while details of the sale are being finalized, the company is eager to start the process.

“The plan is to get everything up and functional and when we are all operational and smooth, then we would want to fold in the classes,” he said.

Wilson mentioned the company is considering a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, which he said would make the university one of, if not the only, institution in the nation that will offer a bachelor’s degree in brewing, distilling and cooperage.

“This will be a real big draw for the city,” he said. “We expect to have people from all over the country come for this class.”

According to spokesman John Post, the university is contemplating adding the degree to its curriculum.

“The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is currently exploring the possibility of developing an applied program in brewing. Adding an academic program is a lengthy process that involves approval both internally and externally,” Post said in an email on Wednesday. “While we are excited about the possibility of adding this unique degree, we have not yet begun the process of evaluating the program.”

A public hearing on the implementation of the school and distillery is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the facility, where Core Brewing officials will be on hand to answer questions, Marvin said.

The company Friday opened its new taproom, Core Public House, at 701 Rogers Ave., in downtown Fort Smith.

The new pub in the 100-plus-year-old building is open seven days a week, serving the 12 different beers, with free popcorn for patrons and hot dogs available for purchase, according to a Times Record report.

Jesse Core, founder and CEO of Core Brewing & Distilling Co., is a Fort Smith native and 1991 graduate of Northside High School. He started his production brewery at 2470 Lowell Road in Springdale in 2010.

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