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Dreaming Big With Beer

A significant craft brew scene in Sioux Falls has been bubbling up over the past few years and now a brand new state law is creating more opportunities for the local businesses. 

This March, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 173, raising the cap on microbreweries from 5,000 barrels a year to 30,000. 

Remedy Brewing Company is a newbie to the downtown beer scene. Roosevelt and Augustana grad Tyler Jepperson and his co-founders opened their doors at 8th and Railroad this past July. 

"Oh, it's been awesome. Best job on earth I always say. I've been really happy to see Sioux Falls support craft beer. We had this thought that the city is ready for that. You go to other metro areas, we're kind of getting there. It's really fun to see the city ride the wave of craft beer," Jepperson said. 

A five-barrel brewhouse, Remedy is on pace to produce nearly 900 barrels of beer in its first year at the center. While Jepperson, the self-titled Chief Science Officer, loves creating new kegs, he's also focusing in on customer service. 

"Just relax, have a good time and really build a community around this. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be a big regional brewer," Jepperson said. 

With a new law, that's now a dream Remedy can shoot for while maintaining its other passion of running a taproom. 

"It was an imminent situation," Thompson said. 

Fernson Brewing Company narrowly missed having to switch up its business. Operations Manager Joel Thompson, also a Sioux Falls-native, says Fernson is getting close to that 5,000 barrel mark and will probably surpass it this year with its 30 barrel system. 

"We were going to possibly lose the ability to have other locations, the possibility to sell certain things out of our taprooms. It's nice to be able to know that we're not going to have to change that up," Thompson said. 

Like Remedy, Fernson serves fresh brews in downtown Sioux Falls. 

Just to the north of Interstate 90, it also carefully cranks out thousands of cans of beer at its manufacturing locationvthat also features a place to get a drink and fill crowlers. 

"We have some land on the backside that we could expand to. We also are open to other possibilities always. As a manufacturing company and a hospitality company where we want people to show up, they're two things that fight against each other. We're not in the most convenient spot to be a hospitality company," Thompson said. 

The site does make canning beer and shipping it off easier. Thompson says there's space to create 12-15,000 barrels at its current spot. Fernson is already a regional brew, because you can find it in five states. It still has a long way to go to reach the production of say a Surly Brewing in the Twin Cities. 

"They're in the 100,000 range and there's others in there that are that same size. The beer community in South Dakota is one that has been a little slower to catch on," Thompson said.

But that doesn't mean there isn't the potential to catch up. 

"When we think about the 30,000 mark, it's something that we think we're going to pass at some point. It's something that we think about, that's a conversation that we're going to want to sit down for again in the future. In the near future, I think we're totally fine with that and it's a good thing for brewers in South Dakota," Thompson said. 

While you might think microbreweries would just kick up their production with this new law, it's more about making thoughtful improvements and having options going into the future. 

New developments are happening all the time. Both Fernson and Remedy say they're interested in how downtown evolves with new construction including what happens with the railyard redevelopment. 

"We're quickly going to come to a point where that thing is running and taxing on itself, our little five-barrel brewhouse. There's talks about getting bigger one day but walk before you can run is kind of our mentality. Make sure you're taking care of your community," Jepperson said. 

Those community ties are what make these companies special. Fernson raised more than $1,000 for the Great Plains Zoo recently through a partnership with Hy-Vee. That will continue this year with a new collector's can and a bigger roll-out. Production is also expected to increase when a new 12 pack of its popular Lion's Paw is released. It's currently available in six-packs or the 24 pack you can find at Costco. 

"If you go to Costco, it's 24 a time. So every time somebody buys our beer at Costco, it's like four people buying our beer somewhere else. On some level, that volume is really nice but we love selling our beer one beer at a time," Thompson said.

With owners from Sioux Falls, Fernson and Remedy admit the culture in their hometown will always be a top priority. 

"That's the town we love. That's how we want to help develop the culture around here. That's honestly, born and raised here, I want to help contribute to the culture of Sioux Falls," Jepperson said. 

If they continue to do solid work, their brands will start to pour into other areas. 

Part of the new law also says microbreweries can self-distribute up to 1,500 barrels of beer. That will make logistics easier for the businesses when it comes to serving beer at festivals or events. Fernson and Remedy officials say distributors will still be a major part of the business. 

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