We’ll admit to having a soft spot for the breweries from across the U.S. that were part of the first annual Decibel Metal and Beer Fest last April. For those breweries that were relatively new to the game, it was as much a coming out for them as it was for us. Sioux City, South Dakota’s Hydra Beer Company is such a brewery. Opened in 2015 by metal musicans/brewers Chad Petit and Nick Murphy, the nascent suds merchants rapidly got a reputation as much for their quality beer, as their band collabs and metal iconography on the labels and their logo. In other words, they’re our kind of brewery. After just a couple years in business, Petit and Murphy are ready to expand. Their latest endeavor is an old-school beer hall in downtown Sioux City. Petit checked in with us, via email, about their new digs.
Hydra is already expanding, so business must be good. What was the idea behind your new Hydra Beer Hall?
We wanted to bring a bit of an old-school vibe back to our downtown area. Most of the newer establishments in our downtown have the same vibe: family based eateries who happen to serve craft beers. Which is great, but we felt our downtown was missing the old downtown pub vibe, the bar that has been there for 50 years feel.
How is the “concept” different from your main taproom?
For the Beer Hall we are taking a different approach in product delivery. We do not do flights, and we do not do fancy glasses per beer styles or anything of that sort. We offer pints and large 25-and-a-half-ounce mugs, depending on the beers. This is a place where people can go be loud and raise a little hell. We can leave all of the beer intricacies to the brewery for those who are still interested in the knowledge and fine details of craft beer. But for the Beer Hall, we wanted to eliminate all of that for those who are just out to enjoy a good night on the town. Some things, however, will not change. It is still very much a death metal venue, just as our Taproom is. The Beer Hall also features a grip of old-school arcade games like Galaga, Dig Dug and Street Fighter, as well as a beer skee-ball machine.
As a brewery, Hydra is still pretty young. Was the new Beer Hall in your plans from the beginning?
We have always kept an open mind on how we would approach growth. Initially we had the urge to build a larger brewery to accommodate for regional distribution, but as the craft industry changes, your business model changes. We felt it was better suited to build a second location to better supply our local market. Growth and expansion of production seems to be the desire of every brewery across the country, but making the best of your local market is key in our eyes.
Any plans for the Beer Hall to host live music?
Absolutely. We are in the middle of picking up a P.A. system, as well as a portable stage to host smaller tours, as well as local and regional bands. We are also looking to do some open mic and comedians as well. Really there is nothing in here that we are opposed to doing to bring solid unique entertainment to our downtown community.
Do you brew beer Hydra here?
At this point no. We do only sell our products that we brew across town. But as we move into the next year there is a good possibility we will set up a pilot system in there to do smaller runs of one-off beers. It is something we have wanted to do since we opened our doors; this second location gives us a great opportunity to do that. We would also be looking at setting up a small canning line in them to sell small batches in limited-run cans. This probably something we would hope to accomplish in 2018.
Any plans for guest taps?
Not downtown. We run several guest lines at the brewery on a pretty consistent basis. Our tap lines at the beer hall are pretty limited as we only have seven lines. We usually run 12 to 16 of our own beers at any given time at the brewery, so filling seven tap lines of our own product at the Beer Hall on a consistent basis is no problem.
How has Sioux Falls embraced a metal brewery such as Hydra?
Oddly enough, it was never a worry of ours. We were extremely confident in our product and the potential it had in our area. The branding, delivery and overal vibe of what Hydra is was a natural thing for us. We wanted Hydra to be a 100% pure reflection of Nick and myself. No smoke and mirrors. When you see the visual and aura of what Hydra is and then meet us, there should be no surprises. I think honesty and legitimacy go a very long ways in small business. People can tell that we are just doing what our hearts tell us to do. There is definitely a passion that goes into owning a brewery, the running small business for that matter, and that truly shines in what we do. Our city and region have really grown to embrace what Hydra is and what we represent. Being a metal focused brewery smack dab in the middle of the heartland, some may have been hesitant, but the support over the last few years has been tremendous. Now our name has spread considerably in that we see a very large amount of transient traffic. People search us out and make our place their destination, which is amazing. We like to think of ourselves as that little gem for any metal head or beer lover traveling through the Midwest.
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