If the name Firehouse Brewing sounds like that of an old friend, it’s probably because the downtown brewery has been an icon of Rapid City’s Main Street for over 25 years.
In fact, it was South Dakota’s very first brewery, dating back to 1991.
At the time, downtown Rapid City was far from the bustling hub of shops and restaurants that it is today. With numerous vacant storefronts, much of the city’s traffic bypassed downtown in favor of the mall.
“Firehouse [Brewing Company] was the first innovative business to set the tone for what we have today,” said general manager, Michelle Pawelski.
And to this day, they continue to expand and enhance their line of quality brews and wines.
With feet firmly planted in the Black Hills’ beer and wine scene, the newest addition to the Firehouse family opened to the public on June 26—Firehouse Smokejumper Station.
Joining the growing lineup of breweries and wineries along Highway 385 leading into Hill City, Smokejumper is a tasting room, serving both Firehouse beer and wine, as well as a small food menu.
Tastings at Smokejumper Station allow guests to choose six different beers or wines to sample. General manager Michelle Pawelski and wine club manager and sommelier Kara Sweet offer their picks for a beer and wine tasting.
Note: Some of the following choices are available on a rotating basis only.
MICHELLE’S BEER SAMPLER
BLACK HILLS BROWN* (HER PERSONAL FAVORITE)
ROCK LICKER RED LAGER
KARA’S WINE SAMPLER
BFF SAUVIGNON BLANC
PINOT NOIR* (HER PERSONAL FAVORITE)
“Hill City already has a great kind of wine and beer trail going on 385 anyway, so we just added another part to that,” said Pawelski. “It can really be an adventure for anyone who’s looking for wine and beer, because there’s just so much on that small part of the road.”
“We’re really proud to be part of that neighborhood,” added Kara Sweet, Firehouse’s wine club manager and sommelier.
The idea for Smokejumper came about as an opportunity to share what Firehouse has to offer with the rest of the Black Hills.
For tourists and locals alike, it offers an outlet to try their brews and wines, outside of Rapid City.
“Though a lot of people travel throughout the Black Hills, sometimes they just don’t make it all the way to Rapid by the end of the day,” said Sweet.
Smokejumper actually has the advantage of serving both beer and wine under one roof. In downtown Rapid City, you have to visit the brewing company and wine cellars separately.
The menu at Smokejumper is also quite different from the pub-style fare at the brewing company.
“We’re really focusing on locally sourced food from farmers around the area, trying to get that perfect pairing with our wine and beer,” said Sweet. “It’s a small but mighty menu.”
With both the beer and wine industries in South Dakota showing no signs of slowing down, Pawelski and Sweet see Smokejumper as a natural fit for the Black Hills.
“In general, I think people are starting to appreciate wine more, whether they’re tourists or locals,” said Sweet.
Firehouse’s cellars produce a more traditional array of wines than other local wineries, which focus on sweeter, fruit-based wines.
A PEEK AT THE MENU
CHEESE & FRUIT
Merlot Asiago, goat cheese, apricots, raw honey, almonds, aged gouda cheese, served with gourmet crackers and seasonal fresh fruit.
CIABATTA BREAD SANDWICHES
Firehouse smoked pulled pork, Swiss cheese, housemade mustard sauce, and bread and butter pickles.
Roasted jalapeño cream cheese spread, applewood smoked bacon, and Monterey Jack Cheese.
SOUP OF THE DAY
TOMATO CABERNET OR GORGONZOLA ALE
Served with Firehouse beer bread.
DARK CHOCOLATE SALTED CARAMEL MOUSSE
“We’ve seen a huge increase in our area of those more traditional grape drinkers,” said Pawelski.
In fact, Firehouse’s wine club membership jumped from around 325 to upwards of 900 over the last year and a half.
And with about 15 wines on rotation and eight beers on tap (four standard and four rotating), there’s no shortage of options for the adventurous palate at Smokejumper Station.
Beyond the food and drink varietals, Smokejumper offers guests an open, airy space to relax while they sip. The building dates back to the 1940s and was rehabbed in “modern cabin” style. Think pine walls, metal accents, and Edison light bulbs.
Children are welcome in the tasting room, but they’ll likely prefer to be outside, weather-permitting. The yard backs up to Spring Creek, and in the warmer months is home to outdoor seating and plenty of yard games.
In the future, they hope to be a popular choice for events, including weddings and banquets.
“It’s really exciting to see how much we’ve grown and how many unique and different things we’ve added to the area, from opening as the state’s first brewery in ‘91, and now adding our third wine and beer location,” said Pawelski. “It’s gone from being a small-time brewery to developing a lot of different areas that people can come and visit, and it’s been fun to see that grow.”
For more information, visit firehousesmokejumper.com.