By Kara Sweet

Spring break.

A time every March when people – usually the younger generation – go wild and crazy. They visit unusual destinations and act in a rebellious manner. There is mayhem. There is craziness.  

This year, I decided I needed to revert back to some absolutely wild and crazy behavior. I needed to go nuts. To be a rebel.

So this wine lover did it; I acted in an utter unruly fashion.

I drank beer.  

The Black Hills actually started the craft beer movement in South Dakota 25 years ago when Firehouse Brewing was opened as the state’s only microbrewery.  

My how things have changed. Today there are quality craft beer producers in all corners of the Black Hills; from Sturgis to Custer, every community has a brewer, and more are popping up all the time.  

These taprooms are worth a stop…and a stay. The craft beer culture is one of relaxation, camaraderie, and fun. Add a little funk to this equation, and sampling interesting new brews is an enjoyable way to spend a spring afternoon with friends in the beautiful Black Hills.


Firehouse Brewing Co. (Rapid City)

Firehouse 3

The pioneer of the movement, Bob Fuchs and his crew, bought the old firehouse on Main Street Rapid when it was a former restaurant needing a little tender loving care. Inspired by the beer culture that was just beginning to boom in Denver, Bob got a team together and opened Firehouse Brewing. His current brewer, Mike Kilroy, loves to play in the brewery trying different recipes.  

Many of these experiments are just for fun, like the recent sahti – a style of beer brewed hundreds of years ago in Europe. Yet, Mike loves to continue producing some of the customers’ favorites, as well, such as the traditional lager or the heavier Honey Badger. Make sure to sample all nine that are usually on tap for tasting.   

Firehouse 2

Worthy of Spring Break Sipping

Sahti: Medium in body with the most unique smell and flavor of an Almond Joy. Just sweet enough to add interest but not to go overboard. This is a one-of-a-kind beer to try.

Honey Badger: A Firehouse favorite, it is light enough to enjoy in summer, yet heavy enough to drink in the winter months, too. Just a slight hint of coffee adds even more interest. It’s a favorite for a reason.

Lager: For beginner beer drinkers that aren’t yet ready for the different types and styles of craft brews, this is the beer for you. Bud Light drinkers, this is your gateway beer.


Crow Peak Brewing Co. (Spearfish)

Crow Peak (1)

The next full-scale brewery to call the Black Hills home, Crow Peak in Spearfish, started small. However, this small start was just the beginning of what would become several large expansions, as locals and tourists alike began to be drawn into the beer lifestyle. Jeff Drumm, owner, made Crow Peak’s beautiful tap room a quintessential Black Hills location with its stone and wood work.

Drumm moved from California after being a home brewer. His first beer was the Spearbeer Pale Ale. Since then, he and two assistant brewers produce and can several styles they make all year; in addition, other seasonal beers can be found only by stopping at the brewery during the right time of the year. No matter what month, however, there is good beer to be found.

Crow Peak (2)

Worthy of Spring Break Sipping

Grady’s Coffee Stout: A winter seasonal beer, this is the stout for stout lovers. It is deep, dark, and heavy; plus, it’s made with coffee from Grady’s, a local Spearfish roaster.

Spiced Brown Ale: Also a winter seasonal, this ale is perfectly balanced in all ways. It is not too light, and not too heavy. It is slightly sweet with a little bit of spice. 

Canyon Cream Ale: This is Crow Peak’s lighter beer, and one of the styles produced all year; it is even found in cans throughout the region. This is Crow Peak’s gateway beer for beginners.


Miner Brewing Co. (Hill City)

Miner Brewing 3

Prairie Berry’s winemaker Sandi Vojta may have started with wine, but she, too, got rebellious and moved on to beer…producing beer, that is. Vojta opened up Miner Brewing right next door to the winery. All brews are produced there in the wonderfully-remodeled building.   

A scientist by trade—and at heart—Sandi also loves to experiment with her recipes. Her next bit of research has already begun in the form of the “sour house” also on the Prairie Berry property. A sour beer is a traditional beer made from wild yeasts. What this means is that these must be produced in a totally separate facility, or the wild yeasts will inoculate all products, starting fermentation everywhere in everything. The sours Sandi will make in the future will be truly unique, not only for this area, but for the industry in general.  

Miner Brewing

Worthy of Spring Break Sipping

Mutt: This was Sandi’s very first brew, and because of this, she didn’t go with one specific style; instead, she used a mix of different malts and grains to create a very drinkable beer. She continues with the same style today.  

Mango Cream Ale: One of the most popular beers, the Mango Cream Ale is light, citrusy, and fruity. However, it is a summer seasonal selection, so make sure to plan a visit during its production.

Gose: Miner Brewing’s answer to Bud Light is lighter in body and bitterness than some of the other beers, but it still has full flavor and substance. Beginning craft beer drinkers should start here.


Sick-N-Twisted Brewing Company (Hill City)

Sick Twisted (3)

Rob and Kim Livingston also started their beer journey with wine when they opened their Naked Winery Tasting Room featuring Oregon-based wines. The plan was always to expand to beer, and this goal was achieved when Sick-N-Twisted Brewing opened. Rob acts as brewer, and he continually has a good time with his craft.

The names of the beers echo the fun of the Naked Wines served there. The aim has always been to take the “pecksniffery” out of the scary worlds of wine and beer, and names like Naughty Redhead and Sexy Senorita definitely meet that goal. However, don’t let the names fool you; these are serious beers for serious beer drinkers – that just want to have some fun now and then.  

Sick Twisted (2)

Worthy of Spring Break Sipping

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Yes, that’s right, everyone’s favorite sandwich is now a favorite beer. The earthy-nuttiness mixes with just enough sweetness to make this a crowd favorite.

4th Anniversary Hop on Top: This is Rob’s favorite beer, shown by the fact that it is his fourth generation of production. With over one hundred IBUs (International Bitterness Unit), its extreme “hoppiness” makes it an IPA lover’s dream.

Easy Amber: Every good brewery has an answer for those who demand Bud Light, and Sick-N-Twisted has that in its Easy Amber, an easy-drinking brew with light alcohol and little bitterness.


Spring break…by definition it is a wild and crazy time in a wild and crazy place. This wine lover took a spring break…from wine. I went to completely crazy locations (like microbreweries) and I had an absolute blast.  

This was rebellion in its truest form. I enjoyed every bit of my exploration into the world of beer. And I have the pictures to prove it—wink!  



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