Earlier this month we took a trip to visit our friend Rachelle and her boyfriend Nick in Marshall, MN. We had planned to make the drive to nearby Hendricks and make a visit to the Bank Brewing Company while we were there. What we didn’t plan was the bitter cold temperatures and high winds, but Samantha winning the coverall bingo at the American Legion Post 113 earlier in the day softened the harsh weather.
Located near the state line between Minnesota and South Dakota, Hendricks holds the honor of the smallest town that I’ve visited a brewery in. When the owner and founder Jason Markkula was asked why he chose this area to establish a brewery, it was clearly his love for the area and his passion for historic buildings that drove him to found the business. They officially opened in 2014 within a massively renovated creamery building on the corner of Main and Railroad. Their taproom is in a previously renovated building down the street which, among many other things, was one of the town’s old banks.
In an area not known for their craft beer Bank Brewing, along with Brau Brothers and several Sioux Falls breweries, has taken on an effort not only to brew great beer but to expose locals to a culture that they may not be familiar with. When we were there it was clear that they’re doing a good job of creating a community that is passionate and willing to support local businesses.
They’re also able to do some unique things. Locals can become a member of the Vault Club which gives them discounts on purchases along with free access to several events throughout the year. One such event was occurring during our visit: Into the Black Day. This is their annual release of Into the Black an Imperial Black IPA. One of the things available for purchase was a pass to drink all day, something I feel a couple people there had taken full advantage of!
One might think that with the challenges they face they might be brewing styles of beer that appeal to the masses but that is definitely not the case. Jason, along with head brewer Richard Drawdy, are making styles of beer you wouldn’t expect to find in a town with a population of 700.
In addition to the normal Pale Ales and IPAs they’ve also got a sour and a smoke. I wasn’t able to try their Smoke Bomb but the Sour Bomb was crisp and tart without the pucker factor you can find in other sours around the state. They even mixed me up a version containing a Monster Energy drink that tasted like sweet tarts! I also enjoyed the Hop Bandit which had huge hop aroma but a sweet smooth flavor. There were two versions of Into the Black that I tried. These were the 2016 version and 2015 version barrel aged for 12 months. While both had notes of chocolate and roasted grain the barrel aged version was surprisingly smooth for how high the alcohol content was. Its strong whiskey aroma and flavor complemented an already excellent beer to make something truly delicious.
Their event took place directly within their brewery, but I was able to tour their taproom when the owner offered to show a group of us around. We were even able to go on the roof which was very neat but absolutely frigid! The taproom itself is very small but has a beer garden for the warmer months. It took two years to fully renovate and still has the original tile floor and bank vault.
We really enjoyed our visit to Bank Brewing Company. It was like no other brewery I’ve visited as far as the atmosphere and the patrons. Hendricks is a small town and it seemed that most of the visitors were locals. The environment was welcoming and everyone was very friendly and went above and beyond to make sure we had a good time. It’s definitely the only place I’ve visited that has served me their beer in a red solo cup!