Scott and Melissa Heckel and Mark and Jennifer Stavenger opened Severance Brewing Co. in Sioux Falls, SD in the summer of 2019. Their goal was to “provide those longing to sever ties from the norm – both in life and drink – unique and creative craft beers that are not confined to pre-defined guidelines and the inspiration to follow their passion.” And with as much passion, they also focused on sustainable practices and community outreach.
Temperature plays a critical role during the brewing process, but it also inspires a lot of sustainable practices at Severance. During the brewing process, the “wort” goes through a boiling process, this is where the hops are usually added. After the boil, the liquid needs to be transferred to the fermentation tanks. The liquid needs to be cooled significantly as the yeast needs to be added when the temperature is around 50 degrees for lager yeast and 60-68 degrees for ale yeast. Cooling the liquid usually involves a transfer to the fermentation tank through a glycol chiller. This uses energy and water to help cool down the beer. Severance has a system that allows the heat produced by the glycol chiller to be pumped into their complex’s underground parking garage, to help reduce heating costs in the winter. The chilling water is also collected to use for future brews or cleaning, saving over 13,000 gallons a year in the process.
This same yeast requires no temperature regulation during fermentation, which saves on energy, especially in the summer months.
In 2020 Severance earned a “Crunchie Award” at the Craft Beer Marketing Awards for having one of the top four “Coolest Taprooms” in North America. They have built a highly functional and fun space. A space, they believe, that also encourages kindness.
Severance promotes a program they call Pints For People, where guests can buy pints of beer for teachers, first responders, and veterans. This gift is then listed on a sticker. And when a teacher, veteran, or first responder visits the brewery, they can select a sticker from the wall. Stickers can also be purchased as gifts for customers. It has been noted that often sticker recipients pay it forward with another pint purchase.
To date, Severance has paired up with 20 different non-profits to donate over $13,000. Additionally, they have created beers specifically for events and organizations. One popular example is the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society.
The Severance team is so committed to their community, they’ve posted about it on their website, “We believe in caring for our community and being good stewards of the love and support that’s been shown to us. Whether it’s donating, collaborating, or volunteering, we happily support the following causes: protecting the environment, helping humans, and supporting the arts.”
Severance Brewing Co. opened about six months before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. And through the toughest of times, the craft brewery has remained steadfast in their commitment to brew great beer and share it with their local community. They made sustainability and community outreach pillars of their organization from the start and are moving forward with optimism.