YANKTON, S.D. (KELO) – What started out as a need for more space for one KELOLAND business owner, has grown into another business opportunity.
Ben Hanten started a bar when he was 23 years old. That was 16 years ago.
As the founder of Ben’s Brewing Company he has a location in downtown Yankton. A few years ago, he started looking for a place where he could produce more beer.
“We had brewed in a basement, the building of an 1880s building in downtown because state law at that time required that if you are going to make beer and serve it, it had to happen at the same place,” founder Ben’s Brewing Company, Ben Hanten said. “When that state law changed, we were on the lookout for a place that was more condusive to bringing in all the grain that has to produce the beer and all the other kegs we send out to bars and restaurants because hauling those ingredients in and out of the basement was not super fun.”
That’s when he found this building. It used to house The Freeman Company.
“This building was completed in 1945, and they are an airline/aerospace manufacturing company, so parts for company’s like Boeing, SpaceX, and Bell Helicopters were produced out of here up until 2020 when they moved to their new location,” Hanten said.
He closed on the building in October of 2020. Officially owning what would become ‘Ben’s Brew Station.’
“The name Brew Station is because we are right across the street from the railroad tracks, we are a block away from the railroad depot, there is a rail spur that actually comes in the building where parts used to be loaded onto so we are playing up the railroad theme in here,” Hanten said.
Inside is a space for beer production and even a large area for people to come in and have a drink and play games. But having a bar in this building wasn’t part of the original plan.
“I got my first heating bill and I saw what it was going to cost to heat this place and said I’m going to need some customers to help me pay the bills just to keep the brewing going here,” Hanten said. “I started staring at this space because it already had bathrooms, it had the plumbing needs, and it was right next to the parking lot, and so I started dreaming about what this could look like as a bar.”
It took many week of work to get this place to look as it does now. He opened to the public in the beginning of June.
“Most Saturdays we will be doing tours here, we love to talk about the buildings history and specifically about Edgar Freeman who the building is named after, a colorful character, and we’ve learned a lot about him, and a lot of the employees that worked here have made the tour and have added a lot of extra details too,” Hanten said.
Brooke Thury is a general manager. She has worked for Ben for almost seven years.
“When I first started out, I already thought Ben’s was doing cool and exciting things, that was the bar you went to to get craft beer, had everything, so I thought we were doing cool things then, and then to watch it grow into this has been crazy, I never imagined we’d have two locations or that we’d be doing production like we are doing,” general manager, Brooke Thury said.
The man behind the brews is looking forward to seeing both businesses continue to grow.
“Feels like it’s been 30 years but 16 years ago we started that bar and it’s fun to see it blossom into this,” Hanten said.