SPARTA — It’s been a long time coming, but White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery in Sparta is ready to welcome the public.
At a grand opening event Saturday, White Rooster co-owners and Sparta natives Eric Ogilvie, Michael Deutschmann and Chris Van Horn will get to reveal years of hard work to thirsty customers.
Longtime friends, Deutschmann and Ogilvie started brewing beer together eight years ago. It grew into a passion for them, particularly as they ventured into the tangier corners of beer-making, focusing on farmhouse, sour and barrel-aged styles of beer.
Two or three years ago they decided, along with Van Horn, to take their operation to a bigger level. They wanted to open a brewery.
Originally hoping to locate their brewery and taproom on Ogilvie’s property in rural Randolph County, they started the process of getting all the right forms and permits filled out while developing a business plan. A year into the process, however, Ogilvie said they had to start over. The zoning board declined their request.
None-too-pleased with the news, the team pushed on and landed at their West Jackson Steet location in Sparta. Initially, Ogilvie said they weren’t too enthusiastic about the building’s lack of character. However, after looking above the existing ceiling they saw a lot of potential in the vaulted, wood trusses, it started to grow on them.
With all three owners being union tradesmen, Deutschman said they were able to do a lot of the renovation work themselves, crafting their clean, well-lit industrial taproom.
Ogilvie and Deutschmann said they're doing what feels right to them when it comes to the beer.
“(We’re) not doing what other people want,” Deutschmann said, adding that they planned to go with their gut and make the beers they want to drink. The brewery will focus primarily on the brewers’ favorite styles — big stouts and sours. It’s the complexity and pleasant unpredictability that draws them to sours in particular. Because of the introduction of certain food-safe bacteria and wild yeast cultures, the beers produce a flavor ranging from slightly tangy to full-on sour.
Ogilvie said there will be offerings on their nine taps for people who may need to ease into drinking more challenging styles.
“We plan on keeping a couple things on tap, you know the transitional beers, so to speak,” he said.
Alongside their draft beers, White Rooster will also sell bottled beers, which Deutschmann said will give beer enthusiasts the ability to explore the subtleties and differences in their wild cultured and sour beers. Deutschmann said this is really a place to showcase the differences batch to batch. He said beers fermented with fresh fruit are a good example. Season to season, fruit harvests change and will ultimately change the profile of a given beer. So regardless of a brew having the same name, batch-to-batch or year-to-year, the beers will be different. He said the beers are not unlike wine in this way.
Both Ogilvie and Deutschmann are enthusiastic about their new venture, and both are hoping it will lead them to be able to leave their day jobs.
March 18, they hosted a soft opening, which they estimated saw 200 people come through the bar. Ogilvie said this, with the added Facebook buzz, gives them hope Saturday will be a success.
“People seem to be pretty excited about it,” Ogilvie said.
At the grand opening event, which goes from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, the public is invited to meet the owners and tour the space, and drink the beer. The brewery will be open 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 12 to 7 p.m. Sundays. It is located at 113 W. Jackson St. in Sparta.