April 28, 2021
Written By: Michelle Pawelski
If you brew it, they will come. Whether coffee or beer, Rapid City is fast becoming a mecca for these artisan, frothy beverages. Although the city’s population is less than 100,000, coffee shops and breweries line the city’s main corridors attracting locals and visitors with their unique offerings and Midwest hospitality. And while each has its own niche, all have a similar mission of creating a culture of people who love and appreciate coffee and beer.
We sat down with the following coffee shops and breweries to see what their pouring this season:
Pure Bean Coffeehouse I Dixon Coffee Company I Firehouse Brewing Company
Lost Cabin Beer Co. I Dakota Point Brewing I Zymurcracy Beer Co. I Cohort Craft Brewery
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“The thing I like about artisan coffee or beer is the connection to the community. It’s what we are doing in this town for these people. This is our home base,” said Nick Reid, owner of Pure Bean, located in the historic Fairmont Creamery. Reid, along with former partner Mark Royalty, started air roasting coffee in 2013 in Mark’s garage using a modified popcorn popper. They soon expanded into the former creamery building and in 2016 opened a coffeehouse in the same location. The small, specialized menu features drinks created by Reid and his staff, including the popular Cardigan, a signature drink that has cardamom, vanilla, and black sea salt. “It is important for us to keep our menu paired down, but we do offer seasonal drinks. This keeps us from getting too stacked up with stuff but also gives our customers something to look forward to,” said Reid. Pure Bean’s seasonal offerings include the Peach Hepburn named after British actress Aubrey Hepburn and is just as classy. The cold brew includes heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and peach bitters.
Despite no indoor seating, Dixon Coffee is no less popular. Locals line up on both sides of the Omaha Street gray and white kiosk to grab a quick cup of joe and a bright smile. Kayleigh Dixon, owner of the quaint coffee kiosk, said when she and her husband, Christopher opened Dixon they were focused on clean eating and valued organic and ethical fair commerce. “We try to stay true to the heart of that in all that we create,” said Kayleigh adding that locals love anything that includes their homemade almond milk and of course the unique creations dreamed up by the staff. Dixon has added nitro brew to their list of offerings this summer and recently partnered with Lone Pine Kombucha to offer the fermented tea on tap.
Like the local coffeehouses, Rapid City brewers are also gearing up for the summer with some fun events and, of course, tasty beer. Firehouse Brewing Company, located in the city’s original Main Street fire station, is South Dakota’s original craft brewery opening in 1991 and serving up pints of beer to thirsty patrons ever since. The Firehouse continues to serve many of the favorites from Firehouse Red to SmokeJumper Stout, but also rotates in some seasonal brews. Brewer Mike Kilroy said he is plans to release his “Eat a Peach” beer during American Craft Beer Week, which is May 10 – 16. It’s a take on the Firehouse’s popular False Alarm Jalapeno beer. “It just sounded good,” Kilroy said of the cream ale. “The peach adds a slight aroma and sweetness. It is a perfect way to start off the summer,” he said.
Just down the road, Lost Cabin, which will be celebrating its five-year anniversary during craft beer week, has a week-long party planned that includes several new beer releases and the grand opening of its new production facility on Dakota Craft Drive. “We are excited to show people what we have been working on during the pandemic,” said Jesse Scheitler, co-founder and CEO. Scheitler, along with his wife Adrienne, started Lost Cabin with Tom and Steph Silbernagel. Tom and Jesse started making beer in Tom’s garage and have come a long way in just five years. “There’s just been an incredible amount of support that we’ve seen from the community and from the other breweries in town,” Jesse said. “There is really an active craft beer scene in the Black Hills. We’ve been able to collaborate and work with people, visit each other’s taprooms, brainstorm ideas – it’s a fun industry to be a part of.” Lost Cabin even partnered with Pure Bean to create its SmokeWagon Coffee Stout. With a vision of making great beer and having a good time doing it, the owners of Lost Cabin and its staff thrive on pushing the limits of creativity. “Our staff here is a pretty amazing group of people,” Tom said. “We offer a lot of room for creativity and ideas.” While the new beer releases are highly guarded, Tom did give a little hint on what customers can expect next. “We have some new sours and a few new variations of Lord Grizzly.”
Within walking distance of Lost Cabin, childhood friends Neal Schlottman and Jim Boulter opened Dakota Point Brewing, a homage to the local hiking hotspot where the duo first developed a passion for beer and camaraderie. Decades later, Schlottman and Boulter wanted to have a place where others could create lifelong memories while enjoying delicious craft beer. Dakota Point, which celebrates three years this June, has an abundance of beers that will please any palate from the light blond ale “I Don’t Know” to the hefty doppelbock “Jack the Rippenator.” “We just really want to provide a quality product and an enjoyable experience,” Schlottman said. Several new beer releases are planned in the upcoming months to celebrate both American Craft Beer Week and their third anniversary including a collaboration with a Delaware brewery. The friends and partners hope that Dakota Point Brewing will become the gathering place for both locals and visitors. “We want people to travel to Rapid City and say they want to visit Dakota Point, and we want them to leave with a bigger smile than when they came,” Boutler said.
In 2018, Jay and Shanon Waldner brought their local brew to the southern end of Rapid City. Jay, a veteran of 28 years, developed a passion for beer while in Germany. After retiring from the military, the Black Hills natives returned home and, after extensive research and lots of beer drinking, decided to open Zymurcracy Beer Company. “My wife and I became certified beer judges and started entering a lot of competitions, testing recipes, and vetting everything to make sure we had a good product to sell.” Zymurcracy — a mashup of the words zymurgy, which is Greek for science fermentation, and democracy — is a community of individuals dedicated to the principles and art of fermentation science. Like other local brewers, Jay and Shanon, along with their staff, love to experiment with beer. “Craft beer lovers are always looking for something new and different,” Jay said. Zymurcracy has several new beers in the lineup including an IPA made from hops picked by veterans, a dunkel, and a gose which is reminiscent of a margarita, a little sour and salty. No matter the coffee shop or brewery, all have a goal to be a part of the community and make everyone a part of theirs. Just like the long-running TV series “Cheers,” they want to be a place where they know your name. “We tell all our staff to treat our customers like family, get to know them, get to know their names. People really like that. It goes back to our mission of connecting people through craft beer. They want a place where they feel comfortable,” Jay said.
The newest addition to Rapid City's brew scene, Cohort Craft Brewery, opened its doors the end of April. Owner Jason Kingsbury opened Cohort with a desire to be known for more than beer (although their signature mead is quite unforgettable!). Cohort is the neighborhood bar for southside Rapid City – a place for people to gather, drink, and be merry. “We want people to remember the experience more than the beer.”