A Publication of WTVP

Turner: Rural Business of the Year

by Nick Vlahos | Photos by Ron Johnson |

Adam Sommer’s Evergreen Farm can’t brew beer fast enough to meet the demand for it

Plants aren’t the only thing growing at Evergreen Farm Brewing.

By more than 20%, sales in 2022 exceeded projections at the almost-2-year-old craft brewery located between Metamora and Washington.

New construction on the Sommer family farm is underway or on tap. Entertainment options that complement the brewery experience are expected to expand.

Adam Sommer, owner of Evergreen Farm Brewing, gets a kiss from wife Melissa Sommer after an evening of serving beer.
Adam Sommer, owner of Evergreen Farm Brewing, gets a kiss from wife Melissa Sommer after an evening of serving beer.

All this and more helped Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship deem Evergreen Farm its Rural Business of the Year.

‘We might put a new beer on Friday and it’s gone Saturday’
— Adam Sommer

It’s heady stuff for owner Adam Sommer, a former electrician who in late 2021 brought the brewery to fruition on land his family had farmed since the 1850s. He said the initial success of his business was not entirely unanticipated, but its rate of growth might be.

“I can’t make beer as fast as we’ve been pouring it,” Sommer said recently. “During the summer, we might put a new beer on Friday and it’s gone Saturday.

“I definitely didn’t expect to take off this quick. I’m glad for it, though.”

Becoming a ‘destination brewery’

Sommer suggested he isn’t sure sometimes if the quickly drying taps are because he’s selling that much beer or because he isn’t brewing enough of it. Probably a little of both.

“Customers like it, because our tap list is constantly changing,” Sommer said.

The Evergreen Farm brewing rig occupies the basement of a cozy taproom that years ago was a wash house and later a beauty salon that Sommer’s late mother, Gresha, once operated. The taproom can accommodate only seven or eight customers. There’s another small building for indoor imbibing, but outdoor space is plentiful.

‘It’s cozy … but there’s also an elegance to it’
— Katie Chambers

Of Evergreen Farm’s nine taps, usually only three have been devoted this summer to Sommer-brewed beers. The rest have been from other craft breweries, in the Peoria area and beyond. Eventually, Sommer would like to expand Evergreen’s brewing capacity, from 15 gallons of beer at a time up to 210 gallons.

Expansion would facilitate more Evergreen Farm-based taps and allow Sommer to distribute his beer to restaurants, bars and retailers.

“Once we have more production, it would be necessary to move that much product,” Sommer said. “But the end goal that we want for the brewery is to become a destination brewery. We want people to come out to the brewery to enjoy the space and the history we have.”

Ambitious plans

To that end, Sommer has more pressing expansion plans.

Among them is an outdoor bar, expected to open sometime this year behind the taproom. Also anticipated is a wood-fire area that includes a copper kettle. Sommer intends to use that to brew farmhouse ales — small-batch beers that have a tart, funkier flavor.

This autumn, Sommer is to begin work on a greenhouse. Much of it is to be used to grow plants Sommer uses in brewing, like basil and sage. But the greenhouse also is to include customer seating, complete with heaters.

“During the winter, our customer base drops because we don’t have any room inside,” Sommer said.

Outside, on the 20 acres or so of Sommer-farm property, isn’t a bad place to be this time of year. So say Michael Quigg and his fiancée, Katie Chambers. The Washington couple is planning to be wed next October at Evergreen Farm.

“We drove by and I was like, ‘That’s exactly what I want,’” Chambers said. “It’s cozy and it’s very open and it’s just got this very homey feel, but there’s also an elegance to it.”

‘A hidden gem’

On a recent sunny Saturday, Chambers and Quigg were quaffing beers with his family. His mother, Washington resident Julie Nichols, was a first-time visitor.

“It’s amazing. It’s just a hidden gem,” Nichols said. “They’re so welcoming and accommodating. They don’t want to just give you whatever, they want to make it the best experience for you possible. That’s what it feels like.”

Music to Sommer’s ears, no doubt. Speaking of which, live music also is coming to the farm on a semi-regular basis.

The Mighty Pines, a St. Louis-area band, was scheduled to perform in late August. Mighty Pines singer-guitarist Neil Salsich was on the spring 2023 season of The Voice, the NBC reality-TV program.

For future Evergreen Farm shows, an outdoor stage might be in the works. The long-term plans and short-term results helped convince Sommer to change vocations and devote full-time attention to his brewery.

“It’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” he said. “You never know how things will go until you jump in and do it. Since we’ve taken off so quickly, it gives me more confidence in the future.

“My mindset is to have a lot planned out and just let it happen as time progresses and if it makes sense.”

Nick Vlahos

Nick Vlahos

is a longtime Peoria print journalist and a regular contributor to Peoria Magazine.