JJ’s Beer Garden and Brewing Company, commonly known as JBGB, offers a unique experience of good food, live music, fun games and good beer that will make you want to stick around all night long. Brewmaster and director of brewing operations, Jennifer Muckerman and her head brewer, Andrew Porter, specialize in sessionable beers, or beer that is low in alcohol content. With various light beers on the menu, the duo wants to make sure that visitors can comfortably try a few brews without feeling the side effects of a good time and can enjoy JJ’s playground, which includes sand volleyball, bocce ball and a wading pool.
Through hard work, Muckerman (also known as Muck) and Porter created the first craft version of an American light lager in the state. Once the duo mastered the light lager brewing process, they experimented with various flavors from raspberry wheat to jalapeño pepper infused beer. “We’re looking for crowd-pleasers and to just have fun,” Muck said.
Muck has been brewing since ’95 and decided to step up her game in 2010 by getting a formal beer education from Chicago’s Siebel Institute. Muck went on to brew in a lot of systems in a few different states and spent some time as the head brewer at Half Full Brewery in Connecticut, but as a Missouri native, decided that life in the Northeast wasn’t for her. Luckily, a job opening for a new brewery called JBGB caught her eye and she decided to check out Arkansas which took her by surprise. “When I got off the plane for the interview I knew I had to get this job,” Muck said. “I just love the area!”
Porter tagged along from Half Full and they now brew in a beautiful, industrial style brewhouse filled with 15 stainless steel tanks behind five giant street-side windows. They work with five 15-barrel and four 45-barrel fermenters, along with one 15-barrel and one 45-barrel bright tank. The two gladly encourage tours of the air-conditioned facility that’s connected to the 225-seat dining area of JBGB.
When they’re not drinking the brews they’ve created, Muck and Porter can both be found with a Bud Light. They’re true American light lager fans because of the light flavor that cleans the pallet and allows for easy drinkability.
As far as adjusting to life in Arkansas, Muck and her partner now proudly own a goat and a donkey. Her latest purchase is a kayak that she plans to use on adventures in the Ozarks with her dog in tow.