The State of American Craft Beer – South Dakota

 

With our headquarters in Washington DC and the bulk of our correspondents found near America’s top producing craft beer regions on the coasts, it only makes sense for us to start a new series giving all the states their due, featuring breweries large and small, plus the histories behind them.

In case you missed the last 40 states, we’re doing this thing alphabetically and after 2 years, we’ve made it to #41 on the list, The Mount Rushmore State, South Dakota. As you may have guessed, the state’s nickname comes from national monument of the same name. Located near the city of Keystone, the giant four-headed concrete sculpture was completed in 1941, at a cost of $989,992.32, and saw not one worker killed during the 14 years it took to complete.

South Dakota ranks 46th in total population (roughly 865 thousand residents) and also ranked 46th in population density and houses 15 craft breweries as of 2016 (an increase of 10 since 2011) who are represented by the South Dakota Craft Brewers Guild. The state ranks 45th in total breweries (including D.C.) and 21st in breweries per capita as of 2016, according to the Brewers Association.


History

As was the case with many of the plains states, the beginnings of brewing in here coincided with the arrival of newly emigrated Germans and other Europeans. In the case of South Dakota, it appears the earliest account of a production brewery in the state (in fact all of Dakota Territory) was in Yankton in 1866.

Charles Rossteuscher, who had arrived 6 years prior, initially set up shop as a butcher and then established the brewery. The brewing equipment itself arrived by steamboat via the Missouri River. He later went on to co nstruct a number of buildings in town and serve as mayor, among other local positions. And the brewery was well received, praised by a local paper as “a good institution because it will furnish a beverage that will take the place of such wicked and poisonous stuff as whiskey, turpentine and the extract of logwood. It will be a moral victory to displace the use of spirituous liquors with malt, and we therefore laud the new enterprise gladly.”

Between 1866 and 1942 there were roughly 55 breweries operating in the region, in total. Prohibition came early to the state in 1917 and left late after “the wets” pushed to pass a legislative measure ending state prohibition in 1935, two years after national Prohibition ceased. There were quite a few brewers that applied to reopen in 1933, yet the extended state prohibition put most of out of business, leaving local brewing all but dormant until the 90’s.

Located in downtown Rapid City, Firehouse Brewing was the state’s first craft brewery and brewpub, housed in a classic fire station circa 1915. The Firehouse came to be after a group of locals visited a brewpub in downtown Denver. Today the bulk of the state’s breweries are brewpubs serving their beers primarily on tap regionally, some with minimal distribution in cans and bottles.

 

3 South Dakota Breweries We Like and You Should Check Out

Crow Peak Brewing (Spearfish) – Located in the western part of the state, at the foot of the Northern Black Hills, Crow Peak has been delighting locals since 2007. Known for their 11th Hour IPA and Pile-O-Dirt Porter, they have consistently been one of the top rated brewers in the state having created roughly 70 brands, more than most others in the state.

Hydra Beer (Sioux Falls) – The youngest brewery on this list, Hydra came into being in 2015, near the banks of the Big Sioux River in suburban Sioux Falls. Known for their heavy metal aesthetic, not to mention their well-regarded Death Breath DIPA and Unholy Stout, you may notice that a number of the 27 styles they’ve brewed register as 6.66% ABV.

Wooden Legs Brewing (Brookings) – Named after Wilmot Wood Brookings, a New Englander who lost his legs due to frostbite (the city is also his namesake), Wooden Legs has been pouring great stories and pints since 2013. In those 4 years they’ve already created roughly 40 unique beers and are known for their Split Rock Creek Pale Ale and Three5Three Milk Stout.

Check out more breweries in the state via brewtrail.com

 

 

About Warren Wills

Warren is the former Assistant Editor & Portland Correspondent for American Craft Beer. Creator of "The State of American Craft Beer" series, he now maintains his own site at craftbeerscribe.com.
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