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Little Yeoman Brewery

Submitted by on June 3, 2009 – 7:15 AMOne Comment
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Sign outside Little Yeoman's Brewery.

Tucked away in the beautiful Ozarks is one of the best-kept secrets in the micro brew industry: Little Yeoman Brewery. Little Yeoman is located 80 miles south of Springfield on the Fredrick Farm. Although Little Yeoman is not exactly on the beaten path, that hasn’t stopped beer enthusiasts from driving across the globe to enjoy the spectacular view and taste Little Yeoman’s phenomenal beer.

If you want to sample any of Little Yeoman’s mouth-watering five main varieties, or its two specialty brews, you have to go straight to the source. Frederick does not distribute his beer to any retail outlets, adding to the charm and mystique of Little Yeoman Brewery. “I had a couple fly in from Germany just for Little Yeoman beer,” Chad Frederick, owner, operator, and master brewer, said. “They had a friend who had been here, so when it came time for them to pick a spot for vacation; they chose this area just because of Little Yeoman beer.”

Inside the brewing room at Little Yeoman's Brewery.

Inside the brewing room at Little Yeoman's Brewery.

Little Yeoman’s selection of fine, handcrafted brews consist of Porter (The brewery’s best seller. It’s a medium bodied brew); Pale Ale (This is second to Porter is terms of sales. It’s a copper-colored brew with a malty finish – slightly hoppy); Cream Ale (The lightest of the five. A sweet back finish with a touch of wheat); India Pale Ale (A big, hoppy flavor. Bold and semi-crusty); and Stout (Thick flavor, bold and very dark). Frederick also crafts a couple of specialty brews: a Double IPA dubbed Crazy Juice (High, but un-noticeable alcohol content, perfect for the adventurous soul) and a Winter Warmer (close to a barley wine; just right for the chill of an autumn afternoon).

Frederick has been at the helm of Little Yeoman Brewery for a half-decade now, after working for the brewery’s original owner, Stephen Markley, for four years. At age 30, Frederick purchased the business in 2004 when Markley, who is a life-long friend of the Frederick family, retired.

The original facility was located at the foot of Little Yeoman Mountain, just outside Willow Springs, Missouri, thus inspiring the name of the then-fledgling brewery. After buying Little Yeoman lock, stock and keg barrels, Frederick moved the operation to the family farm in Cabool, less than a 15-minute trip from the brewery’s original location. “I started home-brewing when I was 11 years old,” Frederick said. “So when I started [working at Little Yeoman] I was pre-trained.”

Little Yeoman brew master Chad Frederick holds up a glass of his Little Yeoman Pale Ale.

Little Yeoman brew master Chad Frederick holds up a glass of his Little Yeoman Pale Ale.

Fredrick says it usually takes about a year to brew what he calls “a batch of [good] beer, but it took him less than two weeks. “I had been doing it for so many years on a small scale. The large scale was actually easier.”

It didn’t take long for Little Yeoman to pop up on the radar screens of true beer lovers everywhere and Frederick regularly sells almost as much Little Yeoman products as he produces on a weekly basis. “I try to produce about 165 to 170 gallons per week,” Frederick said. “I produce the beer in 80-gallon batches and it takes nine days from start to finish.”

Little Yeoman is available by the bottle, six-pack, 12-pack or case, but Frederick encourages the purchase of kegs. “It’s like buying your beer at half price that way,” he said. “It also cuts down on trash and you don’t have to recycle, either. Just bring it back to me and I fill it up again.”

While you certainly can’t taste its presence in the finished product, one of the most important ingredients in Little Yeoman’s brew is located right underneath the surface of the Frederick farm. Water. “Water is incredibly important. That’s the number one ingredient,” Frederick said.

Fedrick says that the water is very close to what’s in the Czech Republic. It is high in calcium and magnesium, which helps soft-sweet flavor to beer. “We’re very lucky. We’re rich in dolomite here. The Burlington dolomite layer is next to the limestone layer here. It extends all through the Ozarks.”

Although he’s basically a one-man brewing gang, there are certain rules and techniques that Frederick says apply to all good breweries, big or small. “They say cleanliness is next to Godliness, but in a brewery, cleanliness is Godliness,” he said. “You’re [the brewer] the giver of life and death. You make yeast grow and you make bacteria die.”

While the nation’s economy has been near rock-bottom for the past couple of years, one thing has remained constant – people still want to enjoy a couple of cold brews after a hard day of trying to make ends meet. “In times of sadness or gladness, people still drink alcohol,” said Frederick. “From weddings to funerals – people drink. So at least I’ve got a fairly recession proof business.”

That doesn’t, however, mean that Little Yeoman has not had to deal with the un-friendly business climate that seems to be ever-present these days. “The cost of my materials has risen about an average of 25 percent in the last year,” Frederick said. “But I haven’t been able to raise the cost of my product to match that 25 percent, because no one has any money to buy anything. Everybody’s in the same boat.”

A satisfied customer outside Little Yeoman Brewery.

A satisfied customer outside Little Yeoman Brewery.

But the one thing that first caught the attention of beer lovers way back in 1994 remains rock solid – the quality of Little Yeoman beer. And Frederick has no plans to ever let that change. “The quality of my product is my biggest advertisement. I am not ashamed,” Frederick said. “I am proud of my beer. It’s great – it’s world-class.”

Little Yeoman’s even has a couple of special events every year to celebrate its great customer base. The first is October Fest, held the last week in October each year. “We usually cook a pig in the ground for that, or make brats, and we have a live bluegrass band,” Frederick said. “We encourage camping. Bring a tent, bring a lawn chair and come on over. And we also do a St. Patty’s Festival, which is always the weekend after St. Patty’s Day.”

Little Yeoman Brewery is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Located at 12581 Dallas Lane in Cabool, Missouri. Call 417.926.9185 for more info.

Written by Terry Mullins