Diamond Bear is Little Rocks’ local commercial craft brewer. (Vinos Brewpub is another great local brewery nearby, but they do not sell their beer commercially) Diamond Bear began brewing in 2000 and has been growing in popularity since. Their name comes from Arkansas being the only state in the U.S. to produce diamonds and because we were once known as the bear state. They offer tours every Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm (7 bucks but you get a free glass and free samples), You can go here to check out their website
One of the neat things about Diamond Bear is that they rely on volunteers to help bottle their beer. They send out an email a few days before, calling for volunteers and the first five to reply back get to help bottle whatever beer they have been brewing recently. Nicole and I went Thursday night to help bottle their batch of Rocktoberfest and a little bit of Pale Ale. Their Pale Ale is probably their most popular beer but I went for the Rocktoberfest! It’s their fall seasonal beer, similar to Sam Adams Octoberfest, but better I think.
We arrived and had to wait for a while the brewers tinkered and primed the machine. It’s a massive device with hoses, buttons and valves everywhere. Just a huge confusing mess! But we were soon up and running and the beers began moving through the line.
The beer bottles arrive on pallets and lined up near the bottling machine. They are then raised up and loaded on a large conveyor belt which pushes them forward, narrowing as it does, until the bottles fall in line, one behind the other, as they begin moving through the line.
They are then flipped upside down where they are washed, drained, and dried to sanitize them.
They then continue around the line where they are filled from the bottom up,capped and finally pass through the labeler. They move down the line where the volunteers remove them from the line, box them and send them down a roller line to be boxed and stacked. I was picking up the bottles 4 at a time, trying to keep up. After a while those bottle caps start to hurt if your not wearing gloves. They kept dinging my fingers so I made a makeshift bandais from one of the sticky bottle lables. It worked retty well. At one point the machine was bottling 115 bottles per minute, though it can go much faster. But it was all we could do to keep up. Some of the bottles that go through the line are mis labled or miss a cap, so they have to be pulled off to the side and either relables or re capped by hand. And sometimes the machine will only fill the bottle half way and cap it. These short fills have to be pulled off of the line. Overall it’s a pretty fun expirence but definitely a lot of work.
So why would anyone give up their time to work on assembly line for hours in an unairconditioned brewery? Two words…