It’s a given that when we travel, I’ve got my eyes peeled for breweries. I love visiting new places and trying local beer, as well as adding to my Untappd beer count! Our recent trip to western South Dakota was no different.
We did start the journey with lunch in Sioux Falls where I had a beer from Remedy, a local brewery, although not at the brewery itself. It was tasty and hit the spot with a great flatbread for lunch.
Once we were across the State, I hit the liquor aisle at the grocery store in Rapid City to stock up on some cans for the cabin, as well as to bring home. I picked up Lion’s Paw Lager from Fernson Brewing (out of Sioux Falls), which was a nice standard lager, nice and crisp on a hot afternoon. I also grabbed the Bomber Mountain from Black Tooth Brewery which is technically in Sheridan, WY, but it’s still in the same general vicinity. Bomber Mountain was a solid amber ale with a good malt backbone and earthy hop character. Finally I got some Canyon Cream Ale from Crow Peak in Spearfish SD, just up the road from our cabin. Nice easy drinking ale.
Beer in can’s isn’t what you came here for though, so let’s talk about brewery tourism and visits to some local watering holes that make their own.
Sturgis Brewing Company
Our cabin was 12 miles from Sturgis and according to Google there were two breweries in town. Given our desire to avoid crowds of people, and the completion of the big motorcycle event a few weeks early, we opt’d for a brewery that was more on the edge of town, instead of The Knuckle Brewing Company (right on Lazelle street). Sturgis Brewing company appeared to be a new brewery that just opened in a large warehouse space, and that made us feel more comfortable checking it out. When we arrived we were only the second people in the place, and the space was quite large. This made it easy to spread out and feel more comfortable.
I grabbed a flight that spread the range between light and dark and dug in. Although none of the beers were “bad”, I was mostly underwhelmed. The only one that I enjoyed was the 2nd Street Wheat, as it felt the most mature of all the beers. I assumed that since this was a new brewery that the beer might still be going through growing pains, but then I come to discover that Sturgis Brewing Company is just another off-shoot of The Knuckle. Maybe they’re just not used to the new equipment in the new building, but for a brewer that is established, I was a little let down.
I think if they can get things dialed in a bit more it’s worth checking out in the future. The space is beautiful and there’s an outside seating area that’s pleasant as well.
The next day we were passing through Deadwood, SD and decided to hit Sick-n-Twisted. This ended up being the most uncomfortable stop of the entire trip. Deadwood was very crowded, and the brewery was just a small space in the back of a building with mediocre pizza served out front. We came to discover that this was simply their satellite location and the actual brewery is down in Hill City. In retrospect I would have much rather checked that out than the tiny backroom feel.
The beer was mostly adequate, however the Rico Suave lager was disappointing. We were also disappointed with how dirty the glassware was, and at one point noticed left over lipstick on one of the glasses I was served. All in all a disappointing experience. I didn’t even take a photo of the flight.
Firehouse Brewing – Smokejumper Station
Our final day was spent in the Hill City area which had a couple breweries I wanted to check out. One of them was the second location of Firehouse Brewing called Smokejumper Station. The crowds in Hill City were much more sedate, and we had a nice outdoor seating area where we could enjoy the flight as well as some food.
Although the Munich Dunkel was a little disappointing, it was made up for by the Irish Red which was really delightful. Great earthy character and malt backbone. All of the rest of the beers were enjoyable, which after a couple of missteps at the previous breweries was a welcome change. Besides the Irish Red I also can recommend the light lager and the stout.
Miner Brewing Company
Our final stop of the trip was Miner Brewing Company, also near Hill City. By far, this was the standout brewery of the trip. They had a large menu of standard beers as well as forays into creative ideas such as mixing a Rose wine with beer. Some of them were really good, such as the Gruit Ale, while others were tasty, but probably missed the mark, such as the Watermelon Wheat. I had high expectations for the Watermelon Wheat, and though it tasted like a solid wheat beer, I was expecting more essence of watermelon. What I ended up with was a great beer, just not quite what was marketed.
The Rose fusion was really fun and though I probably wouldn’t drink a lot of it, I loved the creativity. The Irish Red, black ale, and farmhouse ale were all solid and on point, and I even brought home a crowler of the black ale to share with friends.
The brewery is next door to a winery that the same company owns, and so the outdoor space is large and welcoming. Granted you’re right next to a highway, but it felt wonderful to sit out on their patio and enjoy an afternoon before heading back to pack up.
I enjoyed getting to sample so many new beers on this trip, although I wasn’t blown away by many of them. There were a few gems in the batch, and we discovered that Hill City is really where we want to spend more of our time in future trips.
How about you? Have you been to any of these breweries? Did I miss a brewery that I shouldn’t have? Let me know where else I should hit next if I’m in the area again.