New brewery to build on city’s east side

April 30, 2018

The booming east side of Sioux Falls is getting its own craft beer brewery.

Obscure Brewing Co. expects to break ground in the next few weeks in a retail area on the north side of Arrowhead Parkway. The 4,400-square-foot building that will be set into a hillside will include a tasting room that will look down into the production area.

The business is the longtime dream of Don Choate, who is starting the brewery with his wife, Jackie, and minority partner Mike Nussbaum, who will be the brewer.

“If everything goes to plan, it should be open in the fall,” Choate said.

Obscure will open with six to eight beers that are a combination of recipes created by Choate and Nussbaum.

“We’ll have the standards, from an IPA to porter to amber ale to a few lagers. … It will evolve as we grow,” he said.

The brewery will have fermenters of different sizes, so it will be possible to make one-off batches too.

Choate and Nussbaum work as bartenders at Monks House of Ale Repute, so he said they know what drinkers are looking for in craft beers.

While all of the Sioux Falls breweries are downtown or have taprooms there, Choate is excited about bringing craft brewing to the east side.

“I do lament not being part of that circle of brewers, but I don’t know how much more downtown can support. … The east side needs this.”

Obscure will attract a different crowd from the one that’s part of the downtown bar scene, and the craft beer aficionados will seek out new tastes wherever they are, Choate said.

“We see them go from place to place. They definitely have their favorites … but no one is that loyal that they wouldn’t go to another place.”

Choate and Nussbaum have years of experience as home brewers, and both have worked in craft breweries. Choate was the brewer at Wooden Legs Brewing Co. in Brookings for about a year, and Nussbaum has worked on and off as the assistant brewer at Gandy Dancer Brew Works, which is part of Monks.

Choate, who has a master’s degree in English, said the name “Obscure” comes in part from the novel “Jude the Obscure” and the main character’s unattainable desire to be a scholar. When his family moved to Sioux Falls seven years ago, he wanted to be a brewer, but as the startup breweries began to open, no one needed another brewer. “I felt like I was on the outside looking in,” Choate said. “Obscure” also fits for South Dakota as a fly-over state, and the domain name was available.

Originally, Choate imagined himself as the Willy Wonka of brewing, making 10 gallons of beer a week in a garage. That dream has evolved into a full-fledged business, which means someone will have to tend to the operation.

“I got into it because I wanted to make beer … but I see the need to run the business. I’m resolved to the fact that Mike will do 90 percent of the brewing.”

He said it’s too early to say how much beer Obscure will produce in a year and he isn’t planning to sell off-site, “at least not right away. I want them to experience the taproom.” Someday, “if there is a crowd favorite, that would be the one I’d distribute around town.”

The brewery won’t be a “sit-down restaurant,” but it will have a small kitchen. “We’ll offer a well-thought-out menu of bar food that complements the beer,” Choate said. His father-in-law is making the wood tables for the tasting room, and the bar top will be made from a red elm that was planted by his wife’s great-grandmother and lived for more than 100 years before it succumbed to Dutch elm disease.

Another feature for Obscure will be a patio.

“People in this town love to drink outside,” Choate said.

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New brewery to build on city’s east side

Obscure Brewing Co. expects to break ground in the next few weeks.

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