Eponymous Brewing Company on Main Street in Brookings was alive with activity, laughter, and friends. Patrons called to each other from opposite sides of the dark wood trimmed bar. It was Friday, March 9, and the grand opening was well underway.
Weber, along with Kyle McEhlany, discovered their shared passion through home brewing. They started laying the groundwork for Eponymous roughly a year ago.
The two find themselves in the midst of a renaissance of sorts. South Dakota breweries have nearly doubled in number since 2016. There are now 28 different breweries and tap-houses across the state. From east to west, South Dakota entrepreneurs are tapping-in, and hoping to stand out during the South Dakota brewery boom.
“Eponymous is the antonym of anonymous,” said Weber.
Eponymity is their signature: two beer lovers who go “off-script,” and push the envelope in terms of taste, using mainly locally sourced grain, hops, and fruits.
They lean toward hop-4 beers and Belgian styles.
“There’s not a lot of those around, especially not in Brookings,” said Weber.
Currently they have three of their own beers on tap, including the full-bodied and zesty Citronym IPA. They plan on having eight to 10 of their own beers in rotation, and McElhany is excited to introduce barrel-aged sours, something both think will be a defining product for their brand. The sours take time, though, roughly two years to age.
Each brings their own expertise to the franchise, while McElhany uses his talents as a microbiologist to create new flavors, Weber uses his skills as a project coordinator to keep everything on track.
In the next few months they plan to have a full menu, including four to five entrees and high-end hors d’oeuvres. They also hope to have frequent events, such as trivia nights, yoga nights, canvas and beer nights, as well as musical guests.
The two have their sights on the future of Eponymous, and want to spread across the state.
“We would like to take off at some point and move into a larger brewery where we could distribute,” said Weber.
With the recent passing of Senate Bill 173, he’s optimistic. The state bill allows breweries to bypass distributors and sell up to 1,5000 barrels directly to bars and stores. It also lets them produce 30,000 barrels annually, six times more than previously allowed.
While Eponymous is pushing the barriers in Brookings, Spearfish Brewing Company is investing in laggers, breathing their own life into the classic American brewery in downtown Spearfish.
“It comes down to what we want to drink,” said Jon Marek, general manager.
They don’t have a flagship IPA. Their award-winning brewmaster Nathan Venner’s vision is an honest American brewery, with classic American beers.
“It really comes down to the lagers,” said Marek.
A lager is a traditional German-American style beer that can take significantly longer to ferment, and Spearfish Brewing Company has the only specialized lagering tanks in South Dakota.
“Lager, to the layperson, may seem similar to an ale, but in truth it’s a significantly different beer, there’s a whole lot of work and technology that goes into it,” said Marek. “That’s kind of where we’ve staked our claim, to brew lager beers.”
They also make their own non-alcoholic sparkling drinks, which Marek said is unique for the area.
Right now, they have plans to join future beer festivals, but in terms of entertainment and other events, they aren’t really looking at anything at this point in time.
Going to Spearfish Brewing Company, you can expect to find tall ceilings, a window to watch every step of the brewing process, and in the summer they will open up their large garage doors. But don’t expect too many frills.
“It’s a casual experience,” said Marek. “It’s really just about the beer.”
porter with vanilla bean
5 % ABV | 30 IBU
Maris Otter, Chocolate, C-60, Biscuit, Flaked Oats
East Kent Goldings
6 % ABV | 60 IBU
2-row Pale, Munich
Columbus, Citra, Simcoe
A FEW SPEARFISH BREWING COMPANY YEAR-ROUND FAVORITES
Venner Beer Light
American light lager
Light golden color, sweet malty aroma, and subtle herbal notes. Crisp, clean, and complex.
Hazy pale gold with white head, sweet malt and bread flavors, medium body, soft mouthfeel.
Hills Have Ryes
Bright red color, notes of toasted rye and cocoa with a dry finish.