Forty Under 40: Benjamin Mills

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,547 views 

Class of 2023 Forty Under 40 Benjamin Mills Owner & President Fossil Cove Brewing Co., Fayetteville

Ben Mills balances risk and sustained growth running a craft brewery, focusing on atmosphere and ensuring customers feel comfortable and have fun.

Fossil Cove Brewing was an early player in the state’s craft beer industry, and revenue has grown 1,600% since Mills opened inside a leased warehouse in midtown Fayetteville in June 2012.

Next year, Mills hopes to break ground on owned land nearby, merging retail and production and providing space for neighbor Wicked Wood Fired Pizza.

A Gravette native, Mills began brewing craft beer as a hobby while studying biology on a full scholarship at Arkansas Tech University. After graduation, he scored a coveted spot in a Master Brewers program at the University of California, Davis. The waitlist was 18 months, so Mills worked at a small brewery in Silverton, Colo., to learn the industry — brewing, taking beer to retail accounts and pouring at festivals. One week he flew to Washington, bought a four-barrel brewing system in foreclosure and moved it to a storage unit in Arkansas.

After finishing the brewing program, Mills renovated a warehouse and opened Fossil Cove.

“It seemed risky because we weren’t sure if Arkansas would get behind the movement and get out of the mainstream lager trend,” he recalled. “But I came into it wanting to be a neighborhood brewery and to focus on the community, and we were successful right out of the gate.”

In 2019, Mills bought a 20-barrel system and moved brewing to another leased warehouse nearby. He now has 98% ownership and more than 20 employees.

Mills is an avid supporter of the Fayetteville Disc Association. This August, he aims to finish climbing all 58 of Colorado’s fourteeners — mountains that exceed 14,000 feet of elevation.