GEDDES — It’s already a destination for those looking for the Missouri River, camping and small-town food.
And now Platte Creek Brewing Company is aiming to put Geddes on the South Dakota craft beer radar, as well. Doug Dykstra, who has started the business with his wife, JoEllen, believes Geddes — population roughly 250 — is the smallest community in South Dakota with a craft brewery. The brewery’s taproom opened in May and hopes to start serving its own local beers in July.
Dykstra said it was those factors — the river and the nearby campgrounds and a couple of popular restaurants — that made him believe Geddes would be a good spot for the business, and he said Platte Creek is hoping to add to those offerings.
“If you come into town on a weeknight or on a weekend at night, there’s all kinds of vehicles on Main Street. It just has this draw,” he said. “We have two other establishments that have great meals, and so we know we have to be a little different than those. But that draw is what brings people into Geddes.”
The idea started about five years ago when the Dykstra family was traveling the country and located craft breweries along the way to check out. In 2018, Doug Dykstra registered the name Platte Creek Brewing, unsure of when the business might get off the ground. But Doug and JoEllen — empty-nesters with four adult children — decided they wanted to take a shot at making it work and try to move up from the five-gallon bucket homebrewing they were trying previously.
“I’ve talked about it for so many years and it was, ‘Am I finally going to do it or not? You know, a lot of this isn’t in my comfort zone,” Doug Dykstra said. “But if you don’t try it now, you’re never going to try it."
But the work got serious about 18 months ago when the Dykstras bought a Main Street building. The old brick structure previously housed the Geddes Historical Society and before that, was a hardware store about two decades ago. A third of building’s contents were kept and incorporated into the design of the brewery. The Dykstras balanced their own full-time jobs with what became a second full-time job getting their brewing business running.
What might have been a six-month process to get up and going has turned into 18, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing supply chain issues, and changes to the brewery’s ownership group. Some of the equipment ordered in January didn’t arrive until May, with other items still waiting.
“Considering how challenging the last year has been, I’m very glad to be at the stage where we are right now,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra joked that the name is all-encompassing for the area, even if it might leave some wondering about the location. For folks in Platte, a brewery with the name Platte Creek should be in Platte, while Geddes residents say it could be named after Pease Creek, the nearby stream and name of a recreation area along the river.
Currently, Platte Creek is developing its first public brewing offerings, but Dykstra said he’s benefitted from the advice of other local brewers in South Dakota and Nebraska. Dykstra said the plan is to have a blonde ale and a red ale, along with a porter, and then develop a few specialty beers off of those. The brewery is currently open from 4 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“The good thing is that there’s no secrets from brewmasters,” he said. “They’re usually pretty willing to share.”
In the taproom’s kitchen, JoEllen has developed a small menu, primarily with melt sandwiches sourced with South Dakota-made items, including a special s’more offering. The goal is to co-exist alongside Geddes’ already strong food and drink scene for such a small community. The Lone Tree Steakhouse is across the street and known for its steaks and prime rib, while the brewery’s next-door neighbor is the Blue Room, which serves food all day and is famous for its ribs, and has been a great sounding board for ideas, Doug Dykstra said.
There are already plans to make the operation better. The Dykstras own the neighboring lots to the north, so the goal will be to develop an outdoor space. Eventually, the goal will be to sell the Platte Creek beer in retail locations around the area. They will also start making their venue available to private parties and receptions this month.
And while craft breweries have been in South Dakota for a few years — there were 33 independent breweries in South Dakota in 2019, according to the state’s Craft Brewers Guild — this might be a moment for breweries in small towns. The Armour Brewing Company and the Choteau Creek Brewing Company east of Wagner have each opened since the start of 2020, and along with Geddes, bring local breweries to south-central South Dakota.
“I think there’s an interest in this area that people want to try something different,” Dykstra said. “I do get the question of ‘What’s the closest thing I can get to a Bud Light?’ And I guess I’ll have to play with that going forward.
“But there are other places that have that. ... We are definitely going for a niche,” he added.