New exhibit about beer in South Dakota opens at Cultural Heritage Center

A Blatz Beer bottle from around 1908 that was found in an air handling vent in the House Chambers of the State Capitol last summer. (State Historical Society photo)PIERRE, S.D. — A new exhibit at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre examines the history of beer brewing in the state. The exhibit is titled “Bottoms Up! Beer in South Dakota.”

“There are few things that have more power and pull to bring folks together than that possessed by beer,” said Helen B Louise, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society museum in the Cultural Heritage Center. “This is certainly just as true in South Dakota’s history, as it is in any other place.”

Breweries sprung up almost as soon as towns did in the Dakota Territory. Some brewers made their beer in the back of their taverns, while others were much larger scale commercial endeavors. The first brewery in the Territory was started in the late 1860s by John Foerster in Yankton. Others soon followed in Sioux Falls, Huron, Central City and Pierre.

The exhibit features artifacts and photos related to South Dakota breweries, bars and taverns, prohibition, and the biggest watering hole in the state, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. One of the most notable artifacts on display is the Blatz Beer bottle from around 1908 that was found in an air handling vent in the House Chambers of the State Capitol last summer. Another prominent piece is a turn-of-the-century cash register from the old Odemark Bar in Pierre.

“This exhibit has some very fun artifacts, and great information about a lesser-known subject in our state’s history,” said Louise. “These breweries disappeared so long ago that many people don’t realize there was a thriving industry here, until prohibition. It is nice to see the recent rebirth of the craft in the state to carry on the tradition.”

The exhibit is located just inside the entrance to the museum gallery. It will be up through the end of April. You can also check out the exhibit online at the museum’s Flickr page:

— From a State Historical Society news release

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.


  1. mike geones
    mike geones 27 April, 2012, 08:45

    what brewery was located in huron and what brands did they bottle? also how was that company desolved? and who might have the reciept for that beer?

    Reply this comment

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