It was less than a month until Hay Camp Brewery's upcoming opening night and its owners faced a conundrum — how to host an exclusive opening, yet give everyone a chance to be included?
Sam Papendick, Karl Koth and Sam Coil found the answer with a little inspiration from the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." In the film, the only way to gain entry to the mysterious factory was to find a golden ticket hidden inside a candy bar.
The men plan to take a similar approach to the brewery's opening, except tickets will be hidden in T-shirts sold at other local businesses.
"We want to please everyone. I mean the public's been asking about what's been going on for a long time. Of course, we're really excited, too," Papendick said. "We decided to take kind of the Willy Wonka-style approach. So, we're going to be printing off some golden tickets."
The Hay Camp Brewery — at 201 Main St. in the back of the Fairmont Creamery Building — will hold its grand opening Saturday, Jan. 4.
Initially, the brewery will be open to the public from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The owners eventually plan to open on Thursdays as well.
The brewery's two staples will be Bitter Warrior, an English ordinary bitter ale made with Warrior hops, and the Victory Stout, a dry stout with Cherrywood Smoked Malt.
"They are very mild, very approachable beers. Even if you're not an avid craft brew drinker, they're something you can just come and enjoy," Koth, the head brewer, said. "But at the same time, they are complex enough to satisfy, I think even the most experienced craft beer drinker."
The third tap will be a specialty beer that rotates weekly. The featured beer on opening night will be the Hopdlebar Maltstache, a double pale ale with an 8.5 ABV (alcohol by volume).
The idea to start a brewery was born August 2012 when Papendick and Koth, who were both studying at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, met at the Independent Ale House in downtown Rapid City, a fitting place to discover their common passion.
They discussed their individual brewing experiences and decided to compare recipes, Papendick said. They later visited each other's home breweries and the foundation was laid for Hay Camp Brewery.
In July, they were joined by Coil, a friend from Stevens High School, who became their marketing specialist.
Koth and Papendick each have years of experience in crafting beers. Papendick started brewing in 2007 while attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins, while Koth has been brewing with his father since he was a sophomore in high school.
They also have backgrounds in the sciences. Koth has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in geology and geological engineering from the School of Mines. Papendick is working on his doctorate in chemical engineering at the School of Mines after getting his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in the same subject.
Koth and Papendick each say their brewing styles have been influenced by their science backgrounds.
"I think we look at things so much more analytically because of our backgrounds," Koth said. "There is lots of sensory perception in brewing, but at the same time you can get as deep in the composition of worts and the activity and yeast and those sorts of things. You could spend a lifetime studying it."
"We are not satisfied with just knowing the steps on how to make a beer." Papendick added. "We want to understand what those do, how to optimize them, why they're needed."
The brewers hope to reach full production and have all five taps operating by mid-to-late February. The beers will be available only in Rapid City for the first few years at least.
The golden tickets will be inserted into T-shirts at Cranky Jeff's Bicycle Shop and A.J.'s Wicked Salon and Spa. There are about 60 T-shirts in total and 15 pairs of golden tickets, so each winner can bring a friend.