South Dakota craft brewing industry continues to grow
By JIM HOLLAND
Feb. 17, 2018
SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — Spearfish Brewing Company general manager Jon Marek said Spearfish's newest craft beer brewery was off to a good start, even before it was even officially open.
Marek and brewmaster Nathan Venner have already hosted a charity event at the brewery, located in a fresh new building at the corner of Main Street and Jackson Boulevard, and then decided — spur of the moment — to open their doors on Jan. 29 to allow anyone wandering in to try out their selection of craft beer.
"We didn't really tell anybody, we just put a tiny sign on the door, and we had 30-40 people in here," Marek said.
"It's getting off to a great start," he said. "The community has been very supportive."
The company officially drew its first glasses of craft lagers, ambers and ales on Feb. 2 at their location, the Rapid City Journal reported .
State officials touted the new brewery as another piece of a burgeoning industry in South Dakota.
"The craft beer industry has seen substantial growth in South Dakota, especially in recent years," said Scott Stern, commissioner with the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "Taprooms like the one Spearfish Brewing is opening are a lucrative business where tourists and locals alike can enjoy craft beer in a unique environment."
At the heart of the gleaming new brewery, said Venner in a news release, is a stainless steel 341-gallon, two-vessel brewhouse built by American Beer Equipment from Lincoln, Nebraska, boasting a brewing capacity of 3,600 barrels per year.
Venner is originally from Pierre, with 11 years of experience as a commercial brewmaster — 13 years total in the brewing industry.
He brings his knowledge from working in breweries in Laramie and Lander, Wyoming.
According to a release, he plans about a dozen classic American and international styles of lagers, clear ambers and India Pale Ales (IPAs), and also wants to recreate some of his favorite and most acclaimed beers from his years of brewing, including a classic American wheat beer that has earned him two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival, along with an award-winning rye beer, and a seasonal chili beer which "won medals at the North American Beer Awards for seven consecutive years," he said.
The process begins with a state-of-the-art water filtration system that allows a brewmaster to highlight the flavors in each style of beer.
Marek said the brewery is taking further advantage of the filtration system to produce in-house sparkling waters, giving patrons a unique non-alcoholic alternative.
Some of their first sparkling water creations include cucumber-lime and orange peel and pear flavors.
"We wanted to put in a system that could make really great light lagers," Marek said. "Once we got that water filtration system in, we decided to double-down and actually produce some craft sparkling waters. They've actually been a huge hit," Marek said.
The brewery also offers an upscale small-plate menu from chef Kyle Smith from RedWater Kitchen, a separately-owned eatery in the same building.
"He's got expansive beer knowledge and he's a really great chef," Marek said of Smith.
Marek said a rotating food menu at the brewery will also include seafood dishes from Dakota Seafood Co. of Rapid City, which also plans a new retail space under the same roof.
According to the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, Spearfish Brewing received support from state and local economic development organizations.
"Spearfish Brewing Company will be an excellent addition to our ever-growing business community," said Kory Menken, Spearfish Economic Development Corporation executive director, in a news release. "SEDC is pleased we were able to help play a part in bringing this exciting project to fruition."
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com