Group plans to open Drift Prairie Brewery in 2023
Grainline Investments purchased The Jamestown Sun building in August and is leasing part of the space to the brewery.
JAMESTOWN — Jamestown is opening its first brewery since North Dakota became a state.
Drift Prairie Brewery formed from a group of locals looking to bring a community space for people of all ages — from college students to parents with young children and longtime residents.
The space is intended to celebrate the community and locals with good food and drink, said Nick Bruns, chairman of the Drift Prairie Board.
“The morning and early afternoon gathering place is reserved for coffee shops. But the afternoon and into the evening? That can be for a brewery, since it’s so different from a bar,” Bruns said. “It’s different from a restaurant, too, because there you’d eat and leave. But a brewery is where you can come and stay for two hours and hop tables to join friends sitting nearby. It’s really just that community gathering space.”
Drift Prairie is planned to open at the start of 2023 at 121 3rd St. NW, which is The Jamestown Sun building. Real estate investment company Grainline Investments purchased the building in August and is leasing part of the space to the brewery. The Jamestown Sun is continuing to use a portion of the building.
Grainline Investments is owned by partners in Drift Prairie, including Bruns, who is also an insurance agent in Jamestown.
While there are a handful of bars in town with plenty of beer options, they don’t fill a need for a large portion of Jamestown residents, Bruns said.
Bruns is married with a 4- and 2-year-old. He’s aged out of the bar scene like many other parents in the area, especially since parents can’t meet friends for a drink unless they find a babysitter for their children.
It was the same story with others in the Drift Prairie Brewery founding member group. Most of the members are in their 30s with children and thought starting a brewery was the perfect solution to fit their needs.
But instead of waiting for someone else to bring a brewery to Jamestown, they started Drift Prairie themselves.
“A lot of people say they think it’s nice if there was a brewery here, but is it really going to happen?” said Christian Cairy, founding member and marketer for Drift Prairie. “We can have this. We just have to put a little elbow grease in it.”
The group started the process to make Drift Prairie a reality about a year and a half ago. The group, which includes 11 members, chose to house the brewery downtown because they want to be “in the heart of the community,” Cairy said.
The portion of The Jamestown Sun building that Drift Prairie will be housed in was the newspaper distribution and warehouse space, which is a “blank canvas” for the brewery layout, Bruns said.
The group envisions a large communal table inside the space, similar to a traditional brewhouse. But Bruns also wants to incorporate space for children to play safely away from adults while their parents can still keep an eye on them — whether that’s an indoor playground or simply a space for children to play with toys.
Bruns also hopes to get creative with the space based on community needs, such as creating a mini golf course inside the space in the winter. A large outdoor patio will allow space for people to gather in the summer months outside of the roughly 7,000-square-foot brewery space.
Much of that vision is still in flux, Bruns said. But the partners’ main focus is that they want it to be a space for community and celebrating Jamestown and North Dakota.
Drift Prairie is actually the technical name for parts of the South and North Dakota landscape, referencing the organic materials deposited by glaciers millions of years ago and the flat grassland throughout the region.
Anton Goss will be the lead brewer for Drift Prairie. Goss has a history and interest in brewing, having formerly worked in the Cargill malting laboratory where he would take samples sent out to brewing companies and test brew them.
“It’s from Jamestown, made in Jamestown and consumed in Jamestown,” Cairy said. “We want it to be for the community and for the community to rally around; a place for conversations and connections in a family-friendly environment.”
Brews will generally appeal to the masses, Bruns said, since it’s meant to be a communal space. The brewery will feature a variety of beers and some nonalcoholic drinks, including house root beer, lemonade and kombucha.
The products will also be available in cans, and Bruns hopes to grow outside of Jamestown someday.
“We can dream big and wild that one day Drift Prairie is across the Midwest and that there’s a big distribution coming from the heart of Jamestown,” Bruns said.