5 Days of Beer & Wine in the Black Hills | Black Hills Travel Blog

5 Days of Beer & Wine in the Black Hills

By : 
Mike

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Day 1 – Rapid City

Pulling into Rapid City, you have an amazing array of things to choose from with everything located near or within a short drive due to its central location and proximity to many of the Black Hills must-do attractions.

Stay close though as Mount Rushmore and others can be seen later. Rapid City has it’s own highlights, including “Stav Kirke” – the Chapel in the Hills, Storybook Island, The Journey Museum and more, and then end downtown for the Presidential statues, Main Street Square and dinner at the Black Hills' oldest brewery: The Firehouse - which is recently stepping out and starting wine production as well. Rachel Ray once touted their cheap, delicious meal offerings - you can't go wrong with the Jambalaya. For beer, definitely try their stout.

Note: If you’re in town on Friday, you absolutely must get down to Hay Camp Brewing Co. as close to 3 p.m. as you can. They only have two tables and a limited beer supply, so make it a priority and plan everything else around this place. (Their English bitters style beer is a must – and at only 3% ABV, plus the fact that it is after noon, you need not feel one tinge of guilt for enjoying an early brew.)

Day 2 – Custer

Many of the monumental sights and most famous parks are located near Hill City, only 30-40 minutes from Rapid City. Before leaving Rapid City, grab breakfast (Tally's or Colonial House are two of our favorites) and then road trip.

From Rapid City, head first to Custer State Park, voted one of the ten best wildlife viewing areas in the world, to see up close buffalo, antelope, deer, mountain goats, burros, maybe elk, maybe mountain lions, and maybe more. You never know what you’ll see, but no matter what, it's the unbelievable access to the animals that will blow you away. The park also includes world-class climbing, great hiking trails and one of the region’s most scenic byways - Needles Highway cannot be missed.

While in the area, take this time to also stop at Crazy Horse Memorial, one of two gigantic and inspiring mountain carvings found in the Black Hills. The scope of Crazy Horse is unbelievable and makes it the world's largest mountain carving in-progress. Grab a snack here and save your caloric allowance for Custer and it's offerings just down the road.

In Custer, there are two breweries, one winery and TripAdvisor's number one burger joint in America, Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. While young, the burgers are done so masterfully that the gap between the #1 spot and #2 on the list is quickly understood. After your late lunch, Bitter Esters Brewhouse opened last year and has been making a reputation with its unique lineup. Here is your best chance at finding a popular Saison.

Next up, Naked Winery and Sic n' Twisted Brewery are both located at the same address, behind the same door. But while typically different audiences come for the varied beer/wine offering, the theme, like the address, is shared with slightly more adult-themed names and suggestions. We recommend taking their outdoor wine blends to go, and take care on-site with the beer list. They have a wide offering - most are imperials, so they weigh in heavy on the ABV. Try a flight and make sure to include their pilsner and wheat.

From here, check out Jewel Cave National Monument and know you are not done. More parks, mountain carvings and local craftwork are left for days three and four.

Day 3 - Hill City

Hill City is a tiny community that makes much bigger towns hop green with envoy. Only 700 in population, this town is home to some amazing galleries and restaurants, museums and attractions, two breweries and three wineries!

Suggested from Rapid City to Hill City is to take the scenic route down Hwy 16 and through Keystone, making Mount Rushmore National Memorial the first stop. This iconic sculpture finished in 1941, is America's Shrine of Democracy and is truly moving. While there, take the presidential trail to not only help work off yesterday’s pleasures, but also take in this work of art from every possible angle.

From here, you can either head out on Hwy 244 and experience the profile view of George, or head back into Keystone, walk the boardwalk, stop at a few shops and then take Old Hill City Road to Hill City (this route intersects with the 1880 Train's route some 14 times as you cut through the Black Hills National Forest).

Finally in Hill City, there are two wineries to hit (the third in town is Naked Winery & Sic n' Twisted's original and other location) and one brewery to get in.

Prairie Berry Winery is the nationally-award winning winery must for this day. They've been around for generations and are known for their very well done fruit wines. What may not be known is that their artistry produces some amazing, much more select traditional varieties that absolutely must be tried. It also extends into some amazing bistro offerings and now, a brewery next door. Miner Brewing Co. opened in 2013 and is a personal project of Sandi Vojta, Prairie Berry's master winemaker. Their lineup is more traditional and top-to-bottom solid. Like all stops, a flight is suggested.

The last stop in Hill City is at Stone Faces Winery, which serves as the west-river South Dakota tasting room for Valiant Vineyards out of Vermillion, SD. This beautiful former B&B was converted in 2012 and the wine recommendations include the Tickle Me Rhubarb and Buck Naked.

With Hill City's tastings complete, here again is a great time to round out the day by taking a stroll down Main Street; see the Guinness World Record collection of teddy bears at Teddy Bear Town, hop on a round trip ride on the 1880 Train, or enjoy an incredible filet mignon dinner at the Alpine Inn.

Days 4 & 5 - Deadwood, Spearfish & Sturgis

For the last leg of the Black Hills Winery and Brewery tour, we recommend moving your camp to Deadwood or Spearfish, or any town in what is called the Northern Hills. Each has its own personality; Deadwood's being the bawdy and raucous gambling town full of Old West history and characters, Spearfish being considered one of the artsier, better behaved, more cultured communities in the region, and Sturgis, of course, is the city of riders, or Belle Fourche, the Center of the Nation.

In these two days, there are two breweries, one champagne house and now three breweries to try. Outside of these there is also: more beautiful trails to hike/bike, world-class rock climbing, one amazing scenic byway with three waterfalls, storied history and some pretty phenomenal parties depending on the time of year (you may have heard of a few like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or Kool Deadwood Nights).

In Deadwood, be sure to check out Schadé Winery, which like Stone Faces, is actually a tasting room for a SD Winery. Their goal is to produce a wine that is made from SD grown products. Currently their wines are produced periodically throughout the year and consist of Oakwood Red Table Wine, Prairie White, Dakota Red, Plum, Chokecherry, Rhubarb, Strawberry Rhubarb, Goldsmith, Raspberry Apple, Honey, and Tawny, which is a port style wine.

The other winery/tasting room is Belle Joli Winery, which produces a few miles north in Belle Fourche. Belle Joli's winemaker, Matthew Jackson, recently came back home after learning the craft in California. They break from what are the traditionally sweeter, fruit-based wines of the Black Hills and Midwest in general. Matthew Jackson and Belli Joli have another new option in the area, which just very recently opened up nearby Sturgis. The Sparkling House is the first champagne tasting room in the region and reflects Jackson’s outside training. Good things have been said about the Brut Estate Reserve.

Another Sturgis stop that just opened up this year is the Knuckle Brewing Company. Opened just before this small ranching community welcomed 420,000+ bikers for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, they're a perfect fit to the community.

Lastly is Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish, a Black Hills original that produces some stellar craft beers. Their beers (like our favorite, the 11th Hour IPA, porter or seasonals) can be found on tap or in canned six packs throughout the area, but their inventive selection available only at their brewery really makes this a must stop. As fall nears, locals start anticipating the release of their WICCA chile ale, something worth timing this trip around.

Other things to see and do in this area include: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, the Saloon #10, Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, Roughlock Falls State Rec Area, Spearfish Falls, Homestake Gold Mine Visitors Center, D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery, The Center of the Nation Monument in Belle Fourche and Bear Butte State Park.

Drive safe, designate a driver and Enjoy!

About the Author

Mike, by accident he ended up in sales and marketing; Mike's education and background is in journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism.

Having spent most of his life in various South Dakota towns on the east-side of the Missouri River – like Huron, Vermillion, Brookings and Pierre – Mike followed a girl west to Spearfish.  He has thoroughly enjoyed the past thirteen years there.

What Mike loves most is time spent around the Hills with his family, whether it's in Spearfish Canyon, at a Black Hills attraction or at Spearfish City Park and the DC Booth National Historic Fish Hatchery. He also loves dusting off his camera every now and then for a shoot, making a good meal and washing it down with a great beer.

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