If you walked into a 6,500 square feet space that was rehabbed by a sheet metal worker, an ironworker, and a pipefitter, what would you expect? Maybe a corny joke but certainly not a phenomenal beer spot. Surprisingly, White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery is a tradition-breaker and, in fact, is just that – a place where you can sip some fantastic ales and spend quality time in multiple ways, depending on what your mood is.
A Chapter in History
White Rooster is located in Sparta, Illinois, a city that has a population of barely 5,000 people. If you visit the establishment’s website, you’ll be welcomed with large photos of smiling, happy people and some sleek bottles of beer. The site is simple and to the point, much like the people running the business.
The founders of the brewery are Eric Ogilvie, Michael Deutschmann, and Chris Van Horn. These are also the three guys who will happily serve you a howler filled with a brew of your choice.
The present-day cozy brewery was born out of need – a need the three friends shared of some quality beer with distinctive flavors. They had a penchant for experimenting with hops, wheat, grain, and fruit flavors as much as they seem to have for various types of hats, including beanies. Featured on their website and interviews, the founders have always appeared with their favorite headgear and lots of enthusiasm for their passion.
The trio started off by winning some local homebrew competitions. Seeds of their dream were planted when they realized their taste palette wasn’t just impressive enough for them, but for others too. Their initial plan was to set up an alehouse on a property owned by Ogilvie’s parents, but they had to charter a different course when their neighbors didn’t support their idea.
So they found their current spot, which one can get to after they travel through picturesque and rustic corn farms and winding roads. The three hard workers pooled in their resources and efforts and rehabbed almost 80 percent of the place themselves. Even today, the bar area bears witness to their roots and original craftsmanship. It’s a vast, airy spot warmed by wooden chairs and tables with a large metal sheet in the background.
The three quirky workers named their baby beer place with humor and nostalgia on their minds. During his childhood, Oglvie had a pet rooster named Joe, who, in his words, was white and quite a tame fellow. In their early days, the friends only wished to create brews that tickled their taste buds without a hint of arrogance. So their fancy name, the White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery, seemed like a funny, ironic touch to their simple business.
The founder created the brewery with the idea that it would be an ideal spot to not only experiment with beer-making ingredients and create some delightful drinks, but also as a place where friends can meet and spend some quality time together.
There is a patio on one side of the bar that can be accessed through a door that adds a charming touch to the brewery. Some people prefer sitting out on the patio when the weather is pleasant to sip on the drinks recommended by one of the co-owners themselves.
White Rooster special beers are heavily influenced by the Belgian techniques of making the drink. The owners prefer borrowing from their time-tested methods to create their drinks that specialize in being young and fun. Their brews are just right among the young and fun without being too sweet to develop cavities or too tangy and make your eyes pop out of their sockets.
At their fermentation shed, the owners used both wine and beer barrels to create their signature farmhouse style ales and sours. Some of the drinks that they offer on tap, as listed on their website, are:
- Villa de Roma – Session stout containing rye and chocolate
- Coffee Bellman – House porter carrying hints of tea and coffee
- The Palomino – White and light corn ale
- Original Sin: Hard Apple Cider – Gluten-free cider drink
- Kairos with Passion Fruit and Guava – Kettle sour containing passion fruit and guava
- Vienna Pale Ale – Pale ale made of centennial hops
- Open Air – Made of wild house cultures, a mild sour including farmhouse ale
- Moose Mug Ale – Containing spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, this brew has been created by them in collaboration with the Southern Illinois Brew Trail. It also contains vanilla and is aged in bourbon barrel chips
- All Ur Bretts – A house saison with brettanomyces
- Merica – American Lager containing white, red, and blue corns and a collaborative drink with the Sparta Fire Department
Most of their tap drinks fall between the 5-7% ABV category, with just two of them falling in the 3.5% category.
A glance at their list of ales, however, has a much more exotic collection, with some of the drinks named Au Revoir, Collective Conscious, Laps de Temps, Elliptic, and Casting Shadows. The website includes a short description of each ale that tells the reader what their main ingredients are and in what kind of fermentation or mixing process do they undergo.
Most people have found White Rooster to be a delightful place where the drinks are good, the hosts friendly and helping, and the atmosphere shiny, clean, and welcoming. Their tasting room is welcome to both pets and humans, and you can enjoy your brew in spots placed outside too.
Kettle sours, saisons, and foerder aged beers seem to be the most popular choices of their clients. What appears to be most lucrative to their customers is that they never expected such an out-of-the place establishment to have drinks with a whole range of flavors, all brewed to perfection. They also enjoy the mix of ingredients such as fruits, tea, and coffee – not many brewers can pull this off so successfully. Their IPAs also are a big hit in general.