New brewery Covert Artisan Ales will offer ‘wild’ beers

Feb. 14, 2019

A new Sioux Falls brewery with a “wild” production method will release its first beers later this month.

Covert Artisan Ales uses a unique process that captures wild yeast and microbes in the air around the brewery for spontaneous fermentation. Owners Dan and Stacey Berry started setting up their equipment this summer at a warehouse on the west side of Sioux Falls and began brewing in September.

Unlike other breweries in the area, they won’t have a taproom — Covert’s beers will be sold in pre-filled growlers at the brewery and other businesses, and “since our model and style is unique, we’re hoping to do one-offs (of barrels) for different businesses,” Dan Berry said.

Covert’s debut will be Feb. 22 at JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the Berrys will be pouring Dana, an American wild ale, and Erzen, a sour red ale, as part of a brewers’ meet-and-greet event. Those beers also will be part of Brrrvana, a ticketed event at Monks House of Ale Repute the next day.

They’ll likely be available for sale in growlers at the brewery next month after some equipment arrives, Berry said.

The production method is the key to Covert’s beer. “Every single beer that we have is South Dakota influenced,” Berry said. “That’s because of our house culture that we include in all of our beers, which includes the wild bacteria and yeast that we harvested in Sioux Falls. The exception is our spontaneous ale, named In Fate’s Hands, which uses the coolship method. This allows the unfermented wort to cool for about eight hours in the open air outside where wild yeast and good types of bacteria end up in the liquid.”

Breweries using a coolship are starting to pop up across the U.S., but “we’re the first to do it in South Dakota,” he said. The couple hopes to start hosting tours this spring at the brewery at 605 S. Watson Ave. to give beer drinkers a look at the process.

After the wort has cooled outside, it is added directly to a barrel to ferment for one to three years. When Covert uses its house culture, those beers ferment in one of three 300-gallon fermentation tanks.

“Each month, a tank is ready, but we take a portion of it to fill barrels and let it age for nine months to two years,” Berry said. “The remaining amount we split up into two portions. One portion is the beer itself. The other one we dry hop or add large amounts of fruit to it and let it age for two to six weeks.”

“We do long-term sours,” Berry said. “The youngest one is three months, and the oldest ones will be up to two to three years. A lot of people associate sour as Sour Patch Kids or Warheads. With our sours, some will have a tartness to it, and others don’t — they’ll have a tropical note. People will ask, ‘What fruit did you add?’ and we’ll say, ‘No, it’s just the yeast.’”

The first two beers that Covert will release are an American wild ale and sour red ale, Berry said.

“The first we will be releasing is Dana. They’re all named after people in our lives — Dana is our daughter. The red ale is named Erzen — that’s Stacey’s maiden name. Next month’s beer is named Silva. He’s an artist we became acquainted with in Europe.”

Silva was made with a Norwegian yeast sent to them by a friend. They added vanilla and blueberry, and it’s aging in two bourbon barrels that also had been for maple syrup.

Two tequila barrels are being used to age a blood orange sour, and two other tequila barrels have an added mix of honey and mango.

“Those will be sort of like a margarita,” Stacey Berry said.

The name of the business and its logo are nods to the couple’s military service in an intelligence unit.

“The symbol for our unit was a fox, and the colors are the coded classification colors for messages: secret, top secret and confidential,” she said.

Now, they work remotely for a St. Louis-based software company, but they hope to grow Covert Artisan Ales into a full-time endeavor.

New brewery Covert Artisan Ales will offer ‘wild’ beers

A new Sioux Falls brewery with a “wild” production method will release its first beer later this month.

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