When Hay Camp Brewing Company’s 450-square-foot taproom and brewery got cramped, Karl Koth and Sam Papendick decided to go bigger. Way bigger.
“The building is 37,000 square feet, so we’ve got about 19,000 on the main level and 18,000 in the underground parking garage,” says Papendick, gesturing around the downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, property that’s been Hay Camp’s base since 2017. “We knew it was too much space for what we could use for our brewery, so went for this mixed-use venture, to focus on businesses that focus on craft. “
The space they chose was constructed as an Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealership in 1948. You don’t have to be an architecture expert to notice that the building’s curvy windows and awning make it look a little like a flying saucer.
“To us, that just kind of screamed ‘Mothership’,” says Papendick.
The nickname stuck.
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Populating the Mothership
Hay Camp Brewing Company’s tavern and commons area anchor the main floor. Local carpenters fashioned reclaimed wood into tables and cozy booths. It’s a welcoming place to settle in with one of Hay Camp Brewing Company’s small batch, handcrafted beers, which include the Bitter Warrior (an English-style bitter), the toasty Better Brown and the brewery’s flagship, Victory Stout, which is smooth and chocolaty.
Photographs by Kevin Kinzley, who was raised in the region, showcase some of the West’s most striking scenery. The space also features paintings by Rapid City artist James Van Nuys, a weathered bison skull and black-and-white photographs of the street outside, taken when Rapid City was known as “Hay Camp” and the young supplied cattle feed for booming Black Hills gold rush towns in the 1870s.
The brewery’s 3,000-square-foot event space can hold up to 350 guests, so it’s a popular spot for parties and weddings. Regional and national concerts – from hip-hop to bluegrass – draw both locals and tourists in town to see Mount Rushmore and other Black Hills attractions.
“Rapid City and the Black Hills are kind of a strange market because we’re so tourism-heavy in the summertime,” explains Papendick. “So in the down months, you really have to rely on your locals and some other means for production so that you keep things rolling. I think the event space has really helped us out from that perspective.”
But the brewery and event space are only the foundation of this craft community.
“We also have an artisan distillery in the building,” says Papendick. “We’ve got a plumber and woodshop. There’s a band playing later tonight that plays black metal, but they’re renting space in the building where they have their studio and practice space. “
The basement is configurable storage. Two offices are housed under the Mothership’s roof, an arrangement that enables musicians, carpenters and plumbers to share space with chemical engineering consultants, architects and a team of medical schedulers.
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The Science of Hay Camp Brewing Company
It’s unusual for a brewery to oversee an experiment that combines art, skilled trades, medicine and science. But it’s logical for Koth and Papendick, who came to brewing from science and engineering backgrounds. The avid homebrewers founded Hay Camp Brewing in 2012, arranging their brewing schedule around their coursework at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. (Koth has a Master of Science in Geological Engineering and Papendick has a doctorate in Chemical Engineering.)
Now Papendick schedules concerts, beer and yoga sessions, burlesque shows, beer dinners and an ongoing STEAM Café event where attendees discuss science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. Meanwhile, Koth uses his analytical skills to craft consistent beer.
“We’ve got technical backgrounds, so we use that to really hone in some quality craft beer,” explains Papendick. “We try to stick with some traditional styles, but I like to think that we do them really well and keep a nice balance.”
Of the 10 beers in the Hay Camp lineup, most are malty, true-to-style session beers, with the piney Centennial IPA and crisp Mother’s Temptation IPA, and a kettle soured, dry hopped American sour beer to round out the selection. In keeping with the owners’ precise natures, beer is served in Spiegelau glassware at 42 degrees Fahrenheit for an optimal taste experience.
Casking experiments like the Black Magic Sour Stout, an anise-infused Cascadian dark ale and aging Russian Imperial Stout in rye whiskey barrels inspired an investment in a six cask system, temperature controlled closet and bar-mounted beer engines. South Dakota’s new self-distribution laws enabled Hay Camp Brewing Company to sell outside its taproom for the first time in 2018. But don’t expect Papendick and Koth to stray too far from their base.
“We are hyperlocal,” says Papendick. He currently delivers beer to a half dozen clients within blocks of the brewery.
Consistency and community are the cornerstones of Hay Camp Brewing Company’s philosophy. But if you want to try this beer for yourself, you’ll have to head to the Mothership.
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