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Brewery to open doors with music extravaganza

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HARTINGTON — The old Surge building will soon be surging with activity.

Brett and Leah Wiedenfeld purchased the downtown Hartington building last October with the idea of opening a brewery there. Now, seven months later, the Big Hair Brewhaus will open its doors to the public.

Friday’s opening will be accompanied by a plethora of musical entertainment, beginning with local favorite Casey Rossiter at 6 p.m. Several other area musicians have also agreed to perform with Rossiter. On Saturday, Sioux City based musician Ben Grillet will take the stage.

Wiedenfeld said the key to having a good brewery is having an experienced brewmaster. Reed Trenhaile, a Wayne native and Wiedenfeld’s cousin, has been working at the brewery since February getting things set up.

"I like craft brew, but Reid has a real passion for it," Wiedenfeld said.

Trenhaile worked at Wooden Legs Brewery in Brookings, S.D., with Hartington native Brant Mathiason for three years prior to moving to Cedar County to get the new brewery established.

He began to brew his first batch of beer in the large stainless steel tanks at the back of the Surge building in early May. Trenhaile said it takes about three weeks to brew a batch.

Right now they have three different brews. As of Friday, they still had not come up with names for their beers, however.

They have the capacity to brew more beer and expect to add more varieties down the road. They don't want to bite off more than they can chew, though, Wiedenfeld said, as they want to make sure their initial offerings are quality products.

Getting the facility transformed from a dairy supply and equipment store into a brewery and pub has been quite an endeavor, Wiedenfeld said.

A bar was constructed near the front of the building. The front bar area is separated by French doors which open into a larger seating area featuring six big screen TVs. That area can also be sectioned off to make a separate private party room near the front of the building. A beer garden has also been built at the back of the building.

The Fire Marshall has rated the total indoor capacity for the facility at 200 and 50 more people can occupy the beer garden area.

The physical makeover was just one part of the process, though.

"The paper work was unbelievable," Wiedenfeld said. In order to operate a brewery, he first had to register with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and then submit a Brewer’s Notice application.

They then needed to get an on- and off-sale license to sell alcohol, and finally, they needed to pass inspection by the health department.

The process of picking a name for the new business also turned out to be a complicated task, Wiedenfeld said.

"You can't just pick any name you want. If another brewery had that name, or something like it, then you can't use it. Even if that brewery closed its doors years ago," he said.

In the end, all they had to do was look in the mirror to come up with a name for their establishment.

"We both have pretty big, bushy hair, so we figured, 'yeah,' that works" Wiedenfeld said. The company logo and sign adorning the outside of the building also features their likenesses.

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