Adventures With Ahtra: Brewing Beer At Fernson

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Nothing says summer more than cracking open a cold, locally-crafted beer and Fernson Brewing Company makes some of the best. The two men who started the brewery are not only partners and business, they’re also best friends.

Blake Thompson and Derek Fernholz started experimenting with beer recipes in Thompson’s parents’ garage years ago.

“His mom, Jana would often make us lunch, it was great! Hopefully we’ll never forget those formative days, just him and I in a garage dreaming about hopefully having this some day and working on recipes,” says Fernholz.

Blake and Derek started making beers in their parents’ garage.

After perfecting a couple recipes, they just needed one thing before they started their brewery: a name. With new breweries popping up all over the country, options were limited.

“We invented a word, which is an amalgamation of our last names. So Fernholz, Thompson: Fernson,” says Fernholz.

Fernson isn’t just a name, they say it’s a character that helps tell the story of their brand. Fernholz says their brand is still evolving.

“We’re constantly sort of evolving and finding our brand’s voice. I think in general, it’s being thoughtful and being respectful of our ingredients and what we can do with what we have and brewing beer that appeals to a wide majority of people,” says Fernholz.

They’ve done just that with their Lion’s Paw Lager, their most popular beer that has to be brewed several times each week. Each batch makes over 800 cases of beer. To see more of their brewing process, watch the video above.

Thompson says their barley waste is donated to local farmers.

Nothing goes to waste at Fernson. All of the excess barley are donated to local farmers to use as a nutritious feed for their animals, according to Thompson.

As Thompson and Fernholz have grown a business together, their families have grown close as well. They say their wives are good friends and they joke about their kids growing up together. Through their trials and errors of growing a brewery, Fernholz and Thompson don’t lose sight of what’s important.

“The reason we started this company is because we love making things and getting to brew a beer, it’s fun. We get to make stuff and eventually, down the line it makes people happy. It brings people together and that’s why we do this,” says Thompson.

Fernson sells its beers in states across the Midwest.

For more on Fernson Brewing Company, click here. Fernson on 8th will be participating in Downtown Sioux Falls’ First Friday Art and Wine Walk on Friday from 5-9 p.m. They will feature their art director, Mitch Torbert as he makes drawings on a projector. For more information on the First Friday Art and Wine Walk, click here.

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