learn more about backspace Brewing CO
Backspace Brewing Co. started very true to its name, founded in 2019 in the garage of our founders throughout their journey as homebrewers! We spent our spare time outside of work writing and refining our own beer recipes while we talked about one-day bringing our unique hand crafted brews to our home here in Yankton, South Dakota. A few years (and a few iterations of a business plan) later, we eventually took up shop in a historic, pre-prohibition brewery in Downtown Yankton's Meridian District. Our taproom inside the old brewery is open 5 days a week (Wednesday-Sunday) and features 14 house-made craft brews on draft, domestic canned beer and non-alcoholic options, as well as limited wine and Coke products! We also carry Kringle's Pretzels as a snack in the taproom.
Originally built in 1902, our rustic, industrial taproom and brewery once played host to Schwenk-Barth Brewing Co. Some information about its history follows: The first brewery in Dakota Territory, was right here in Yankton. Mr. Charles Rossteuscher came to Yankton in 1860 to open a butcher shop. He was fairly successful and wanted to expand his horizons. He had a great interest in beer. Rossteuscher, who served as mayor and held several other local offices during his lifetime, constructed some buildings out of cottonwood, had equipment shipped up the Missouri River by steamboat. He opened his brewery at the intersection of Second and Walnut streets in the summer of 1866. In 1876, Rossteuscher’s son-in-law joined the business, and it became the Rossteuscher and Meyer Brewing Company. Patrons could buy a dozen quarts of bottled beer for $1.50 in 1878. Rossteuscher died in 1887, and the brewing business would go on to face challenges when South Dakota became a state in 1889.
“The first order of business (for the state)? Prohibition!” Stewart said. “What a way to celebrate statehood.” The prohibition on alcohol was eventually repealed in 1896. Rossteuscher and Meyer went through several name and ownership changes between 1887 and the new century. In 1901, the property was purchased by Fred W. Schwenk and Martin Barth of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Schwenk-Barth Brewing Company was born. “Schwenk-Barth was the premiere brewing company of Yankton,” Stewart said. “Schwenk-Barth modernized the facility, got new equipment and started piping in the water from the Missouri River (rather than manually hauling it) to use in the brewing process.” Part of the brewery, with its tall brick smokestack, is still standing at the northeast corner of the intersection of Walnut and Second streets, and its our home today... in additional to containing the 'Rosebud Room' and the 'Barley Room' event spaces. “It’s a rather magnificent structure,” Stewart noted. Schwenk-Barth called its product Rose Bud Beer. At the time, many people were seeking claims on the newly-opened lands of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, a phenomenon which is likely what inspired the name. “Schwenk-Barth products were sold as far west as the Black Hills,” Stewart said. They could also be found in Nebraska and Minnesota.
According to Stewart, the Schwenk-Barth Brewing Company was worth $500,000 in 1917. However, the state once again voted to prohibit alcohol. The measure became effective in 1917, and the nation followed with prohibition in January 1920. Despite attempts to sell non-alcoholic beverages, Schwenk-Barth went out of business in 1919. An attempt to revive the brewery was made in 1934. However, Stewart said that Fred Schwenk was apparently unable to raise the funds in the midst of the Great Depression. During World War II, the facility was used to produce industrial alcohol for the government but was never again used for manufacturing beer. It has been home to several other business ventures since that time including a laundromat and bike shop, but has been returned to playing host to a brewery as of late 2020!
At Backspace Brewing Co. creating bold, flavorful craft beer is our passion. We try to honor the brewing tradition of those that came before us in this space while forging our own path in modern day craft beer. Using fresh, local ingredients and culinary inspiration to craft the best brews we can offer. Drop by and grab a pint, take in some local music, and enjoy the history of this beautiful building while we work to 'Delete Boring Beer!'
Looking for some Backspace Brewing Co. beer to put on draft at your establishment? Join a number of other businesses across the region in supporting a local, independent craft brewery! We are proudly distributed throughout Southeast South Dakota by our partners over at Conkling Distributing here in Yankton! If you're already on board with them watch for our available beer list sent out by them weekly or feel free contact us (we really like to talk about our brews and finding what works for our customers)! Their contact information is available here if you have questions, or feel free to reach out to us directly! We can help with questions about beer and upcoming brews, availability, and creating fun events for your business such as 'Tap Takeovers'!