Brewing up business


YANKTON, S.D. (KELO) – What started out in a garage home brewery, has now expanded into a historic building in downtown Yankton.

John Shelso and Rita Jensen-Shelso are visiting Yankton this week and decided to stop in one of Yankton’s newest businesses – Backspace Brewing Co.

“We are just riding downtown and on the bike trail and saw the sign and thought this looks like a nice, new place to try and so we did, and really good beer,” visiting Yankton, Rita Jensen-Shelso said.

“I didn’t even know this was here, the prices are good, the people are great, the weather is fabulous for bicycling, it’s a win, win, win,” visiting Yankton, John Shelso said.

Backspace Brewing opened its doors to the public back in January.

Before moving to downtown Yankton, it started out small.

“I met Tyler through his parents, I work with them at my other job and they introduced us one time,” owner Backspace Brewing Company, Chris Allington said. “He wanted to learn how to brew all grain, which is how you do it professionally, where you are milling your own grain wheat, so one weekend we had a weekend off, we basically decked out his garage as a home brewery and started making beers there.”

Eventually they decided starting their own business was the next step they wanted to take.

“At first it just started as something fun, just making different beer that I would want to try and then it progressed into, hey this is actually pretty good, we were looking at creating a different lifestyle for ourselves and quitting our jobs and start our own business,” owner Backspace Brewing Company, brewer, Tyler Schindler said.

But it didn’t come without challenges.

“That happening in the middle of a pandemic, kind of delayed things as well, we thought we would be open last summer but with how the pandemic affected things with the SBA and different bank financing, delays on equipment, pushed us back to this year,” Allington said.

Now Backspace Brewing has been open for a few months.

Located in the Meridian District, this building also has a unique history. Over the last few years many different businesses have called this place home.

“More recently it’s been a laundry mat, a bike shop, a gym,” Schindler said. “This building used to be a brewery back in 1901, it was purchased by Fred Schwenk and Martin Barth and it continued to be a brewery until 1917, that’s when prohibition hit here, and they tried to do NA beverages for a year, and then they made industrial alcohol during the Second World War, but other than that, that was the end of it.”

“To bring that history back and be in the same space but put your own twist on it is really fun,” Allington said.

And that twist includes creating unique beers everyone can enjoy.

“The ideas for beers is honestly very spontaneous, we do not have a very specific process, we kind of go by what the season is and what we think would be relatable, we really want to make approachable beers,” owner Backspace Brewing Company, Trace Millage said.

“Right now we have a blueberry crisp beer, we have a key lime pie beer, we’ve done peaches and strawberries, we do some more traditional beers like lagers,” Allington said.

Eventually the owners say they would like to grow and expand in the future, but for now, they want to continue to have a presence in the community.

“For the immediate future we just want to get engrained in the community, we really want to do some volunteer things, just anything we can do to get involved in the community,” Millage said.

As for these first-time customers, they plan to stop by again, and encourage others to do the same.

“If people come down to Yankton this would be a really good place for them to experience,” John Shelso said.

One project the owners are working on is helping raise money for the local VFW, which has had its own struggles during the pandemic. They created a lager for the VFW and now through the beginning of July, for every pint they sell at the brewery, they will donate $2.

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