Brewery Profile: Dempsey’s Brewery, Pub & Restaurant of Watertown, South Dakota

This is the first in our first in a series of profiling all of South Dakota breweries. Look for a profile of another brewery next week.

Brewer Adam Erickson at Dempsey’s in Watertown, SD

Official Brewery Name: Dempsey’s Brewery, Pub & Restaurant

Ownership: The Dempsey Family, currently operated by Sean Dempsey

Brewers: Sean Dempsey, Adam Erickson

Year Founded: 1999

Address: 127 North Broadway in Watertown


Brewer and Operator Sean Dempsey

Flagship Beer: Battle Axe Blonde.

Year-round Brews: Black Bear Stout, Longship Lager, Valkyrie Red, Banshie Pale Ale, Battle Axe Blonde

Notable Seasonals/Features: Winter Seasonal is Frostbite Lager, (which is going away in 2 weeks) and our newest beer, Könningweizen (The White King) will be released in two weeks.

Brewing equipment:
New have a 10 bbl system. Three fermenters upstairs, 6 storage tanks in the basement. We brew about twice a month, and rotate our seasonals every 3-4 months (the next one is called Phoenix Rising, for our mid/late summer). Our brew system is a Century, which we picked up from a defunct brewery restaurant in Moorhead MN (The Trader and Trapper) in 1999.

What is a South Dakota beer law or regulation you’d like to see changed?
Self-distribution. It’s hard for us to even attempt to have a level playing field with the bigger companies when all the laws are generally supporting them.

What’s unique about your brewery / beer?
We are the 2nd oldest brewery in the State. We’re an Irish Pub, known for brick oven pizzas and Austrian Schnitzels, and a pretty damn good pint of brew. The family is still the family that started and is running the brewery. We don’t play around with adding too many things to our brews; we are believers in good German beer. The law of 1516, we don’t follow to a T, but we love the idea behind it.

What local ingredients do you use?
Our grain bill is from Minnesota; same with our hops. Most of our stuff comes out of Kasota, MN.

Any additional comments?
We’ve been in the beer game in South Dakota for over 17 years. We’ve seen the good times that are now showing up with the brewery boom, and we’ve been through the tough times of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. We’re proud that we’ve not only survived in this market, but that we’ve thrived. We couldn’t have asked to build a brewery in a better place, with a overly supportive city and community to back us. We’re looking forward to continuing to help build SodakBeer up and up.

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