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Oldest Beer Joint in South Dakota
Dec 15, 2011
If anyone is serving beer in an older building, let us know. But we figure that the Excelsior Mill in downtown Yankton probably takes the cake.
Two brick and stone structures were built in 1872 as a flour mill. Several hundred bags of flour were milled, packaged and shipped both east and west to prairie farm towns, forts, reservations and eventually to gold miners in the Black Hills.
Yankton was alive with manufacturing in the 1870s. Factories were set up to make beer, bricks, soap, combs, cigars and other goods.
Eventually, the flour mill became part of the Gurney Seed & Nursery complex, and local entrepreneur Paul Lowrie took over the buildings when Gurney's closed. He has been laboring to find appropriate uses for the sprawling space by the Missouri on the south edge of Yankton. Several years ago, he created a popular nightclub called The Landing, and now the Old Mill — a few doors away on Capitol Street — has also opened as a tavern on Friday nights.
It's not fancy. Utility company spools serve as tables. You can toss peanut shells on the ancient wood floors. The brick and beams are visible, and you can almost smell the wheat. Or maybe that's the beer?
But it immediately ranks as one of the most historic places in the West where you can enjoy a cold brew.
Eventually, the Old Mill will be open more often. Live music is planned, and the menu will expand beyond brats.