Come inside for early peek at east-side brewery

April 22, 2019

With the recent arrival of production equipment for a craft beer brewery on the east side of Sioux Falls, Don Choate finally knew his dream was coming true.

“When those tanks came in, that’s when it was like this is really happening,” said Don Choate, who owns Obscure Brewing Co. with his wife, Jackie, and minority partner Mike Nussbaum, who will be the brewer.

Construction began in September on a vacant plot in a retail area on the north side of Arrowhead Parkway along Foss Avenue. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the brewing system operational and finishing out the rest of the space, which includes a taproom that will overlook the production area.

Choate hopes to open Obscure in early summer.

The taproom will seat 105 beer drinkers at custom-made wood tables.

“While it’s still a warehouse, the taproom is meant to be a comfortable environment, so people can enjoy their beer but still have a view of the work being done” on the brewery floor, Choate said.

A garage door on the west side of the taproom will open to a patio that will seat 45. The outdoor seating will have a view of sand volleyball courts being built next-door by Digz Volleyball Association. “I’m excited about the volleyball league,” Choate said. “It’s a built-in customer base for me.”

Choate plans to have tent parties on a grassy area on the east side.

Back inside, the tap lines will be on the bar instead of along the wall so bartenders won’t have to stop conversations they’re having with customers to turn and fill glasses, Choate said. There will be 18 taps.

“The goal is to have all of our beer,” he said, but Obscure likely will launch with a half-dozen choices, so it will fill in with offerings from other local breweries.

Now that the tanks have arrived, “our priority is to get them up and running so we can make beer while they are finishing up construction,” he said. “We need a few weeks to make beer to understand our new system and give it time to ferment in the tanks.”

Obscure will have a 15-barrel brew house and a 3 ½-barrel pilot system that will allow it to make special one-off beer. Total production capacity will be more than 2,200 barrels a year, which will allow for distribution of kegs to bars and restaurants in the Sioux Falls area too, Choate said.

He isn’t ready to release his lineup of beers yet but said, “We’re targeting a lot of palates. It’s a range that will appeal to a variety of people.”

Eventually, Obscure will add canning equipment for further distribution, but “we want to be sure the beer is dialed in before we make that investment.”

On the production floor, the future cooler is filled with empty kegs and a few white wine barrels that will be used for some of the small-batch creations. Choate and Nussbaum have ordered hops for the first two batches of beer, and other ingredients “are sitting in the (online) shopping cart, waiting to go.”

He expects to begin hiring next month but is looking already for someone to run the kitchen. As for the menu, “we’re just saying it’s bar food for now.”

Obscure will be open daily but hours haven’t been set. “We will be kid-friendly up until a certain time in the night,” he said.

Choate, who lives on the east side of Sioux Falls, is looking forward to offering fellow east-siders their own brewery.

“Sometimes, people don’t want to go downtown,” said Choate, who worked at one of several breweries there. “I love downtown, but sometimes you just want to stay close to home. I think with the growth there’s enough to build a community (on the east side) that’s passionate about craft beer.”

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Come inside for early peek at east-side brewery

While starting a brewery from scratch is taking longer than Don Choate expected, it’s coming down to the final weeks before Obscure Brewing Co. will open.

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