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Something's Brewing In Brookings

October 23, 2012, 10:07 PM by Austin Hoffman

Something's Brewing In Brookings

It may be known as one of South Dakota's college towns but an education isn't the only thing brewing in Brookings.

"He was taking some entrepreneurial classes and did a business plan and he was really excited about. We just took this plan that he made in class, took it into real life and started doing the company," Heist Brewery owner Thomas Strubel said.

Last year, Strubel started up Heist Brewing along with Luke Rensink. But when Rensink got married, Strubel became the sole owner.

"From ordering the product to brewing, to kegging, to talking with the distributor and bars, it's pretty much what I'm doing. I have help from the brew club, kind of word-of-mouth spreading stuff," Strubel said.

Strubel went to school for German and civil engineering. While this may not be the expected career path for either of those two fields, it's not completely foreign either.

"Every once and a while I run across a German word, there's math in brewing too though so that works out," Strubel said.

These boilers are where grains, sugar, and yeast start their process that ends in one of the world's most enjoyed beverages.

"You definitely have to do some experiments. Right now I'm producing 31-barrel batches so of course you don't want to experiment on that.  So you kinda do that home brew scale, the five-gallon batches. And yeah it takes a few batches to get it where you want it," Strubel said.

Strubel currently has a stout and an IPA that are selling well. He's also working on a line of seasonal beers. It's something beer fanatic and local home brewer Rose Heeb likes to see.

"I love it when my family comes to visit or I have friends come to visit and they're beer lovers as well.  And you can take them to the bar and say, 'hey I know the guy who brews this,'" Heeb says.

Heeb is part of a local brew club along with Strubel. She says being able to get together and bounce ideas off each other works great with someone who knows his stuff.

"So learning the process and refining things is exciting. Making beer is a learning process so having a local expert is wonderful," Heeb said.

Strubel also has a home brew store for people such as Heeb. You can come in and get everything you need to make your own concoction right at home.

"I actually have two batches coming up. I'm going to be doing an oatmeal cream stout and an Irish red and Tom has those things on order for me.  So I'm excited to see those things come in and I'll probably bring samples to share," Heeb said.

And while it's fun, it's the future that Strubel is looking toward. You can already find his beer at JL Beers in Sioux Falls and North Dakota and at Cubby's and Brownstone in Brookings.

"I'd just like to up production and supply South Dakota more, kind of branch out into some more of the cities and then hopefully get West River," Strubel said.

Strubel says many surrounding states have multiple craft breweries. While he may be one of the few in South Dakota, he hopes it's something more people will get involved in.

"It's a great hobby and the more people the merrier. It's something you need to share. If you keep it to yourself it's not going to be as fun as it could be," Strubel said.

Because let's face it, if a beer is better around a table with friends, brewing must be the same.

Strubel hopes sell off-sale beer at his brewery by the end of the year. If you're not old enough to drink, he's even having a Root Beer brewing event November 16.

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