We are an interesting crew at Nature’s Beer. Not one of us ever thought we’d be here, doing what we are doing, but ever so glad we are. Let’s give you the basics on our crew so when you take a swig of our tasty beer, you’ll know how it got to you.
Jason Aamodt, the owner and founder, aka the Squirrel in Chief, is an attorney who specializes in Native American Indian and energy law. A dedicated beer drinker with undergrad degrees in both Chemistry and Biology, he started tinkering with beer brewing in his garage in Tulsa. He started making some impressive beer and folks started to encourage him to open a brewery. Jason had been hunting and fishing in Norfork for years and had always felt at home and happiest when he was here, knee deep in the Norfork River or exploring natural wonders in the Ozarks. Jason would tell you that Norfork is the Shire, a thought that evokes the magic of the Tolkein. So, it seemed like the right place to launch a little brewery was in Norfork in an old building that once housed both the grocery store and post office. He transformed the building into an inviting taproom and brewery and installed a 1 barrel brewing system, purchased in New Hampshire and driven to Norfork by his nephew, Ben Folta, in a UHaul truck.
Ben is a classically trained chef, a graduate of Monmouth County Culinary Education Center High School and New England Culinary Institute, and worked in some of the terrific restaurants on the New Jersey shore. Jason brought Ben to Norfork a few times for fishing and hunting trips and Ben shared Jason’s deep appreciation of the area, its people and its resources. Ben loved beer, was looking to get out of the busy and stressful restaurant industry, so when Jason talked about a possible brewery, Ben was all in. Working closely with Jason, Ben first worked on the construction of the building and then quickly learned the brewing process and worked with Jason to develop some really tasty beers. What started as a plan for a 1 barrel system, brewing for a community taproom, changed rather quickly when their beers were selling out and a 15 barrel system came available from another brewery. Jason bought that system and it was shipped to us and installed in the brewery and turned on in February, just before the pandemic hit. Jason also purchased a canning line that became our lifeline during these hard months.
Kristy Huff came to us in 2019 in sales and distribution, walking in to just about every liquor store in Arkansas and a bunch of restaurants to get them to carry our beer. She discovered that once someone tasted the beer, it was a sale. Since we’ve been distributed by Central and Moon in Arkansas and Quality Beverage in Oklahoma, Kristy has taken over marketing duties and has done every single job in the brewery and taproom. She’s canned beer, helped Ben brew, climbed into tanks to clean them, scheduled servers, bought supplies and even cleaned the place. And you know what? She’s loving it and really doesn’t miss her former career in the health services field. Maybe when she’s in the tanks cleaning, she might miss that former life, but she can’t imagine life without the brewery and her chosen family here.
Mitch Krauss, Jason’s best friend from his college days, came out here in late 2019 to take over the general manager duties. He comes to us with degrees in Chemistry and Environmental Science, something invaluable in a brewery, and a background in manufacturing. Mitch moved to this incredible place, lock, stock and barrel— including his lovely wife and two wolf dogs late last year, and in spite of the ups and downs associated with any brewery growing so quickly, he is happily here. Mitch was the sustainability director for Burton Snowboards, and during that time served as the Chairman of the Sustainability Committee of the National Outdoor Apparel Manufacturer’s Association. Before that, Mitch worked for IBM Microelectronics Division in various roles of facility, environmental, chemical, and product stewardship management.
Joe Dobson, a long time Norfork resident, joined us in 2020 and we are happy to have his analytical mind running the canning line and working with Ben. Joe is an electrician by training who has an attention to detail and skills that really compliment the team.
Luke, thanks to his faithful servant and amazing photographer, Curt Lewis, has become our official Scurvy Dog since the sad passing of the original mascot. Luke loves to come to the taproom most everyday to meet new friends, both four legged and two legged. He was a bit skeptical when someone rode a horse up to buy a beer, but he did get over it. Luke really does enjoy the fame he is experiencing and is thinking of multiplying his fee, which we would point out is pointless as zero multiplied by anything is still zero.
Susan Folta, Ben’s mom and Jason’s sister, is our social media person and all around brewery mom. If she finds out that one of our folks is under the weather, she’s sure to show up with a pot of her grandmother’s better than penicillin soup. Susan recently retired to Norfork from New Jersey where she worked in economic development and marketing. And yes, she, her husband and four cats love it here and have spent as much time as possible exploring this beautiful area.
We hope you enjoy the beer as much as we enjoy getting it to you.