Earlier this year I was able to try Crow Peak beers while visiting family in Sioux Falls, SD. Based on that experience and hearing a podcast interview of the brewer, I was inspired to visit it on the way back from Colorado. I can't find the podcast I heard, but here's a youtube interview dealing with the business side of brewing. Combined with Firehouse Brewing down the road in Rapid City, the drive back via Wyoming and South Dakota allowed me to log two brewpubs and avoid the dreaded cross-Nebraska route. Stopping at Monk's House of Ale Repute earlier in the trip, I received some great advice to drive through Spearfish Canyon outside of town that added exponentially to the beauty of the trip.
Crow Peak looks like a woodsy lodge driving up. Log pole ceiling inside the roomy restaurant as I sit down at the colored cement bar of red, black and grey/green. The brewery is behind the bar, separated by glass and more field stone. Six taps of Crow Peak beer line the wall with clear information for all of them. Combined with the definition of a properly filled pint nearby, they are clearly attempting to educate the local population in all things beery. I also like the attention to detail of the glass washer before each pint is poured. Locals seem to like a pub pour known as a "dirty IPA," which is 11th Hour IPA with Pile-o-dirt Porter in any proportion desired. All of this plus the named pint club glasses points to a dedication to serving the regulars. I just get a good feeling from the attitude of the place that they are working hard to do quality work.
On this trip, I took advantage of the half pints to try several new Crow Peak beers:
- Olde Crowe Winter Ale: 10 IBU, 5% ABV, light brown head that falls quickly over a dark copper colored ale. Malt, dark fruit and a hint of spice in the nose.
- Up in Smoke Porter: 35 IBU, 6.5% ABV. Creamy tan head on a near black-brown porter. Assertive smoke and roast in nose. Smoke is full and lingers in the nose. Full bodied and a light spice hidden underneath the smoke.
- Canyon Cream Ale: light ale brewed with local honey, super light, almost watery, very sweet. honey apparent and of a nice flavor, light spice in nose from 10 IBU or the honey itself. Super drinkable and a well done light beer.
- Lean Horse Ale: light ale with a white head and barely amber body. Strong caramel flavor that's hinted at in the nose. Odd but interesting flavor and I can see how some would like it, but too sweet for me.
- 11th Hour IPA: 70 IBU, 6.5% ABV. Big nose and a strong IPA. Citrus, especially grapefruit and a bit of passionfruit on top of a sweet amber to golden ale, back lit by the sun coming through the upper windows.