Wooden Legs Brewing Company

Jordan Smith Editor-in-Chief

A man who had two wooden legs. The English pub scene. Local brewery. All of these elements came together to form what is known as Wooden Legs Brewing Company. 

Wooden Legs Brewing Company was founded by three individuals, SDSU grads Seth Koch, Brant Mathiason and West Point grad Steven Kreeger. Wooden Legs first opened its doors on May 13, 2013.

Kreeger wanted to build something he could come back to when he got out of the military and Koch had been home brewing for a long time, according to Koch. The two were talking in the pub that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet. Kreeger had also fallen in love with the pub scene 

In the U.S., the mentality of bars is focused around people getting drinks, whereas pubs in England focus on people having a pint and chit-chatting with friends, Koch said.

South Dakota is good at sports bars, but places where people could go get a drink and sit down and talk didn’t exist, so the idea of Wooden Legs Brewing Company was born.

The name of the brewing company came from Wilmot Wood Brookings – a man with two wooden feet. The city of Brookings was named after him, and now the brewery is too. Brookings was a railroad man and a businessman. Although the city was named after him, he only visited the city of Brookings twice in his life.

Wooden Legs features a brewery, bar and a kitchen. The beers on tap are usually English inspired. The beers on tap feature both beers brewed by Wooden Legs and also local beers from places such as Spearfish, Omaha and Minnesota.

 Currently there are seven Wooden Legs beers on tap and by March 22 they will have 13. They also brew their own ginger ale and root beer. They have brewed around 20 different types of their own beer. They brew three barrels at a time, which equal six kegs. It is an opportunity for the owners to brew whatever they want to try.

 While Wooden Legs doesn’t bottle their own beer, they have about 115 different bottle styles for people to try. They also do not serve wine or liquor.

 “ I love craft beers. My favorite part about it is trying different beers,” said senior music entrepreneurship major Kelsey Vander Vliet.

 The beer servers all have received a certification from the Cicerone Certification Program in Chicago. The atmosphere is built around a willingness to teach.

 “We wanted to make it a classroom,” Koch said. “Our beer servers are fantastically nerdy.”

 The owners want to make it clear that they are not looking to have a full restaurant, but to have good munchie food. The menu features a 12-inch cracker crust pizza made in house. They also have pub sandwiches made with local ingredients.

 “We want to be known as a place where events are held and a place that fosters conversation and communication,” Koch said. Wooden Legs does not have TVs, and they want to provide events for people to turn up for.

 Wooden Legs holds trivia night on Tuesdays, open mic nights on Thursdays. They also hold tastings and beer-pairing dinners among other events. They will be serving a full Irish breakfast on Saturday, March 22.

“Our friends go there and we started going. We went to open mic night and it was really fun fun to see everyone play and sing,” Vander Vliet said. 

During open mic night, an audio engineer uploads the audio to sound cloud and the people that participate get a professional-quality recording.

“It is our way to give back,” Koch said. “Anyone who wants to play can play.”

 Vander Vliet will be participating in an open mic night. She wants to play her ukulele and maybe even her harmonica and even sing with friends.

 The owners wanted to put a focus on atmosphere rather than alcohol, Koch said. There is an event space where Wooden Legs has held non-profit charity dinners and speakers. They want to involve downtown Brookings. They also speak to classes at SDSU about entrepreneurial opportunities. Whenever the company gets the chance, they work with local vendors. They try to purchase vegetables and meat when they are available, as well as serving a special brewery blend of coffee made by local coffee vendor Kool Beans Coffee.

The decorations in the brewery come from things that people made for the bar. The brewing company opens at noon and guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi along with outlets along all of the benches.

Senior advertising major Emma Struwe likes to go to Wooden Legs because “It is a place where all our friends can go and enjoy a good beer and have a good time.  It’s not as packed as other bars downtown.”

Struwe and her friends originally went because they liked the atmosphere but are now going more because of the events.

“The only events that we have participated in is open mic night but some of us have attended trivia,” Struwe said.

 While many college-age students go to Wooden Legs for a drink or a fun night with friends, there are people of all ages and lifestyles that go. There is a variety of the Brookings population, such as professors, workers from Daktronics and 3M and video gamers all found in Wooden Legs at any given time, Koch said.

 “Our demographic is really cool. We have no idea what the average customer looks like,” Koch said. “We have newly 21-year-olds to 85-year-olds coming in for a pint on Sundays.”