This Saturday will see the opening of the southernmost brewery in Northwest Arkansas.
Mad Rooster Beer Co. is located at 1107 S. West Ave. at the corner of 11th Street in South Fayetteville and is a partnership between brothers Eric and Jeremy Hahn, Brian Miller, Rob Sheverbush, and Eric Wolfe.
Jeremy Hahn is the head brewer. He currently owns and operates Excalibur Brewing Co. in Spring, Texas and plans to commute back-and-forth to keep both taprooms full of beer.
Eric Hahn is a former Marine who was deployed to Iraq in 2004. That’s where he met Miller, who is currently finishing up an extended career with the Corps and is in the process of moving to Northwest Arkansas.
“Our experience in Iraq is why our ties are so tight,” said Hahn.
Sheverbush is an engineer based in Joplin. He will remain in Missouri and serve in a more hands-off capacity. Wolfe is a longtime logistics executive in Northwest Arkansas who is actively involved in day-to-day operations.
Perhaps it was Hahn’s and Miller’s shared experience in the military that inspired the name of the brewery. “Rooster” by Alice in Chains was written by lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell as an ode to his father, nicknamed Rooster. The senior Cantrell served in the Vietnam War and was deeply impacted by his experience there.
Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die
Then again, Hahn is the German word for rooster, and Hahn said he once had a laptop inscribed with the term. Regardless, Mad Rooster was the chosen moniker for the new brewery.
The structure that houses Mad Rooster is in a neighborhood flanked on one side by older single-family homes and on the other by a modern apartment complex filled with students. It’s not far from the Razorback Greenway, and is within a stone’s throw of the Fayetteville National Cemetery and The Farmer’s Table Café.
“We think we have a bifurcated demographic down here with forty- and fifty-year-olds that we want to cater to, as well as 700 college students right next door,” said Wolfe.
It took tremendous work to prepare the place for business. It was once home to an automotive repair operation, and was most recently used for small engine repair. The amount of grease left behind was a challenge to overcome.
“It has been a process,” said Eric Hahn. “This place was a bit of a dump when we got it. The guys spent hours sanding and grinding the floor to get all the grease up and make it look good again.”
Getting power to the seven-barrel direct-fire brewhouse purchased from a defunct brewery in Galena, Kansas also led to complications. The system called for three-phase power, which the building was not equipped for. The utility provider had to run a new line from the highway to Mad Rooster to make it work.
“That was an oversight when we bought the equipment,” said Hahn. “It cost us a lot of money and time getting power over here.”
Mad Rooster also utilizes a one-barrel pilot system from SS Brewtech.
As is the case with most new breweries, opening day is happening much later than originally planned.
“We were naïve in thinking we could open last year,” said Hahn. “It was a combination of permitting and buildout. It was us thinking we could get a quick approval from the city. We didn’t do our due diligence, and it cost us some time.”
Their hard work and patience is now paying off. The taproom is bright and modern with lots of natural light. There are a number of big screen televisions installed around the perimeter of the room. It’s a departure from a common theme in brewery taprooms – that is, an absence of televisions to create a more traditional pub-type environment where people talk more than watch screens.
“The TVs are just a backdrop, really,” said Hahn. “We don’t plan to run the volume all the time, but we want to make it a place where people can watch college football games and other sporting events.”
There’s a bay door on the building’s east side, which can be lifted to show off a small outdoor seating area. Another outdoor space is planned for the shaded area on the opposite side of the building. That will come later, once the business has been open a while.
As for the beer, look no further than Jeremy Hahn’s brewery in Texas for clues as to what he plans to brew at Mad Rooster.
“I plan to make a little of everything,” he said. “I’ve got 45 taps down there and I brew stouts, IPAs, and seltzers. We try to keep something on tap for everyone, including people who come in looking for a light beer. I make a blonde ale for them, and it’s our best seller.”
A quick scan of Excalibur’s website indicates barrel-aged beers might also be on the agenda for Mad Rooster. The Texas brewery currently has a dozen on tap, including several imperial stouts, a few Scotch ales, a barleywine, and a tequila barrel-aged wheat wine.
Mad Rooster won’t have as many taps as Hahn’s brewery to the south, but with 17 on the wall in Fayetteville, there should be something for almost everyone that walks through the door.
The taproom will be open seven days a week, with hours currently listed as 2-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12-9 p.m. on Sunday. The owners said the place will be kid-friendly and dogs are welcome on the patio. Service animals will of course be allowed inside the taproom as well.
As for opening weekend, food trucks will be onsite providing sustenance, including La Orta Tex-Mex, Takashimura Hibachi Express, and shaved ice from Jarabes Tapatios USA.
It’s been a long road for the partners behind Mad Rooster Beer Co. Hard work and sweat equity have led them to this final step in their journey – opening day. What do they want people to walk away saying about the place?
“We want people to say it was a great customer experience,” said Wolfe.
For Eric Hahn, the goal is much grander.
“We want them to say it is the best beer they’ve ever had.”
Come Saturday, July 1, you can judge Mad Rooster’s beer for yourself.