Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company

Sage of Monticello Pale Ale

Custer, SD

(pdf version)

    The Mount Rushmore National Monument is one of the most iconic symbols of the United States of America.  This remarkable work of art evokes patriotic pride matched only by an elite group of symbols like the White House, the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty.  Mount Rushmore took just over 14 years to create and has left the legacy of four of America’s greatest presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, literally carved in stone.
    Mount Rushmore was actually named long before the carving began.  The Lakota Sioux Indians referred to the mountain by the names Tunkasila Sakpe (“The Six Grandfathers”) and Igmu Tanka Paha  (“Cougar Mountain”) but it became Mount Rushmore in 1885 after it was named in honor of a New York lawyer named Charles Rushmore.  The original idea for the sculpture was brought forth by South Dakota native and historian Doane Robinson and American sculptor Gutzon Borglum.  Robinson is credited with the original concept but he actually wanted to sculpt famous Western stars into a group of granite pillars and spires now known as The Needles.  His wish to display explorers Lewis and Clark, Oglala Lakota leader Red Cloud, and showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody was rejected by Borglum who felt that the presidents would have a broader appeal.  Mount Rushmore was chosen because of its high quality granite, its usable shape and because the cliffs faced southeast which provided maximum exposure to the Sun.  Borglum, the son of Danish immigrants, had a remarkable career that included the creation of many impressive sculptures of great Americans that are found throughout the country today.
    The first mockups for Mount Rushmore saw the four Presidents sculpted from head to waist.  Borglum created multiple models of the monument, some more than 15 feet tall, and received congressional approval to begin in 1925.  Construction began on October 4, 1927 and for the next 14 years a team of 400 sculptors, led by Borglum and his son, Lincoln, carved out the heads of the four Presidents, each about 60 feet in height.  Initially, Jefferson’s likeness was to be to Washington’s right but after finding poor quality granite in that location the design was changed and Jefferson was moved to Washington’s left.  Susan B. Anthony’s face was nearly added to the sculpture in 1937 but funding could not be acquired.  
    During construction, workers used dynamite to remove large sections (about 90% of the total material) and hand carved smaller areas.  They often used a process called “honeycombing” which requires workers to drill many holes that are close together causing the granite to weaken and then be removed by hand.  Workers had to endure hot summers and cold winters and were required to climb 700 steps every day just to punch-in on the time clock.  Many workers even spent the day swinging from a special harness held by a 3/8” thick cable that kept them at dizzying heights; however, as the monument was built during the Great Depression, finding workers was never a problem.  In the end, they removed about 450,000 tons of rock from the mountainside.  Amazingly, no one died during construction but Gutzon Borglum passed away in March of 1941, never seeing the project’s completion.  His son took over the project and continued construction until October 1941, when it ran out of funding.
    The four presidents chosen for the monument were selected as a representation of America’s first 130 years of existence.  George Washington was chosen because he was the first president, Thomas Jefferson exemplified American expansion, Theodore Roosevelt was selected for his efforts to promote conservation and industry, and Abraham Lincoln was chosen for his work in maintaining the Union during the Civil War.  
    The original intention of the monument was to increase tourism to the area and it certainly worked.  Today, over two million people visit the monument and the surrounding Black Hills region every year.  While there, many of those visitors enjoy another great site in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore: the Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company.  Visitors to the brewery will find a collection of beers named in honor of the monument and the four featured presidents, like their memorial to Thomas Jefferson, Sage of Monticello Pale Ale.

From the Brewer:  Derived from our Long Tom Pale Ale, our “Sage of Monticello” is another ode to Thomas Jefferson.  The wild raspberries and sage in this pale ale were picked by our brewers and friends here in the Black Hills.  It’s a crisp, dry, and refreshing pale ale with fleeting hints of raspberry and sage on the nose, with a lingering sage, hop, and malt aftertaste.  It’s a subtle-yet-complex, easy-going beer.  ABV 5%, IBU 40
Janet and Brian Boyer - Founders & Co-Owners


Workers sculpting George Washington’s face