I had a chance to check out the new brewery on Thursday and chat with some of the Surly family. Check out my notes from media day at the new Prospect Park brewery.
On the origination of the new brewery:
I asked owner Omar Ansari if he thought when he started that Surly would be here after 9 years. “That’s just dumb, no that’s silly” he said. “Everything has changed so much in nine years.” He said the dream for this new “destination brewery” came about 4 years ago after Todd and Linda came back with a brochure from a brewery in Germany. When asked about the architectural design he said they were never going to build a historic looking brewery like Grain Belt in Northeast. Omar likes clean lines and he described the look of the new brewery as Danish Brewing Death Star. “Maybe you’ll love or maybe you’ll hate it” said Omar. “We hope people like it, we hope they say that’s why we passed the Surly Bill.”
On the future of their new neighborhood:
“The whole neighborhood is waiting for development. The whole thing is going to change because of the Green Line.” said Omar. He mentioned that breweries tend to take up home in parts of town that need some love.
On the brewery:
Brewmaster Todd Haug talked about the new digs mentioning that the brewing equipment came from the same manufacturer as the one at Stone Brewing.
It was interesting to see that they now have a Hopnik which is basically a dry hopping machine that the beer runs through via hoses. He explained that there is a lot of risk involved in dumping hops in the top of a fermenter such as the the beer blowing up in the brewers face—and this device prevents them from having to dry hop that way. Another tidbit worth noting was that BLAKKR will now be a winter seasonal offering from Surly.
On the food:
Chef Jorge Guzman was a busy guy but he brought out some food samples which included charcuterie, salad, brisket, bone marrow, some toasted bread, caramels, and cookies. “We wanted to create a menu that goes with the beer” said Jorge. He mentioned that he was humbled to join the Surly team and that beer pairs better with food than wine does. He would know after working at Solera prior to Surly. He mentioned that the reason they chose to have barbecue on the menu was that it pairs well with Furious. “There is no other place in the cities like this” said Jorge talking about the communal seating arrangement in the beer hall.
Hospitality Operations Director Linda Haug on the scale of the restaurant:
As you may know Linda Haug ran Cafe Twenty Eight in South Minneapolis for ten years before it closed whereafter she switched her attention to the new destination brewery. When asked what she thought would be different she pointed to the service and the quality. For example they now have plenty of employees including three people for the front of the house wheras they'd only have one at the small cafe. They also have an HR person, and a cleaning crew. So they have plenty more help here at the new beer hall as opposed to having to do everything at the South Minneapolis cafe. Linda mentioned that they brought over some people from Cafe Twenty Eight but that there is one very important person missing, Elyse Stearn who was tragically hit and killed by a car in 2013 while riding her bicycle. “It still breaks my heart that she’s not here. We can’t have the band back together.”
The new brewery will be open from 11 AM until 11 PM on Friday. Metro Transit is offering a free good from 6pm-3am on Friday, December 19 and 10am-3am on Saturday, December 20. Print your pass here.
Todd the Axeman
The 7th annual Town Hall Brewery Festivus celebration takes place on Tuesday, December 16th at 5 PM on the patio at the Seven Corners location. Bring your grievances and submit them to the suggestion box as you sip complimentary mulled wine and whiskey apple cider by the bonfire. Owner and Seinfeld fan Pete Rifakes is the one who will be hand ladling the mulled wine which he prefers to the mulled ale served in years past. The show obviously inspired this event and he still sets the TiVo to record re-runs of the show every week.
Pete is used to hearing some grievances and this year he expects to hear about a hot topic on the Beer Advocate Midwest forum board. “I won’t be surprised if I hear about growler refills” he said. This is of course in reference to the fact that many breweries (but not yet Town Hall) are now considering filling growlers purchased from other breweries as long as they are properly labeled.
This is one of Pete’s favorite events (along with Blessing of the Maibock) that the brewery hosts pointing to the intimate setting of regulars and the relationships that are formed with brew master Mike Hoops. “They always put this on their calendar” says Pete. “Hoops is usually there and it’s nice to see them interact with him.” When asked about his favorite memory he reminisced about a couple of regulars he enjoys seeing Phil and Patty. “Patty makes these cinnamon crusted pecans and she always makes sure that I get some” said Pete.
The Festivus beer this year will be a Double Red completely void of hops, full of spruce tips, and aged on cedar. Hoops is typically not fond of “special” ingredients but knowing his history, he most likely nailed this one. It’s also worth noting that both Grinch’s Grog and Elves Elixir (the other two holiday brews) will be available on Tuesday as well.
If you go:
Town Hall Brewery Seven Corners
1430 South Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Tuesday, December 16th at 5 PM
Surly and Doomtree (a local hip hop collective for those who don’t know) brewed up a partnership over the summer and on December 7th you’ll be able to celebrate by participating in a pub crawl curated by both parties. Todd Haug has brewed up a batch of beer called Surly Doomtree but the details of this brew are being kept under wraps.
Surly is in the process of opening their destination brewery and Doomtree is about to kick off a week long concert series called Last Blowout Ever so the timing is just right for both parties. Both Surly and Doomtree have always been about quality and doing things their own way so the marriage makes sense.
Details of this event are as follows:
On December 7th there will be a bar crawl spanning both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Surly and Doomtree will take two busses of fans, VIPs, and friends to these bars where fans can purchase merchandise and try the new and exclusive beer beginning at 2:30 PM. The crawl will finish up with an intimate show (invite only) at an undisclosed location. Don’t worry there will be a chance to win some tickets if you show up at any one of these locations and help them celebrate.
Minneapolis bar crawl:
- 2:30pm, Muddy Waters (2933 Lyndale Ave. S.)
- 4:00pm, The Depot Tavern, (17 N. 7th Street)
- 5:30pm, Red Stag Supper Club (509 1st Ave. NE)
St. Paul bar crawl:
- 2:30pm, Billy's on Grand (857 Grand Ave.)
- 4:00pm, Pizza Luce (1183 Selby Ave.)
- 5:30pm, Grumpy's Roseville (2801 Snelling Ave.)
- 7:00pm, Exclusive Doomtree Show (invite only)
Tickets will go on sale for the Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest on Black Friday at 10 AM. This festival taking place on Saturday, March 28th 2015 features rare beers from around the country and is going to be worth every penny.
This is going to be one of the best beer festivals in town for years to come and I would imagine that starting this year tickets are going to be hard to get. I heard only great things about last year about the beer and about how short the lines were. I will not miss this event going forward.
For one, the location is as good as it gets with the Minnesota History Center and with a brewery lineup featuring Deschutes, Lagunitas, Fitger’s Brewhouse, Surly, and Steel Toe bringing some rare beers you can’t go wrong. On top of all of this some of the proceeds will be donated to Pints for Prostates.
Tickets are going to run $100 and will include a catered meal and the opportunity to try a ton of rare brews.
Town Hall Brewery is partnering with ESPN 1500 to fight prostate cancer in the month of November. Here is how it works. Go in to any Town Hall location with a clean face and donate $10. In return you will get a card that permits you $2 pints at any location (must present card) all month long as long as you don’t shave.
If you can’t grow a beard you can always donate $10 and get a free pint at any location. Then at the end of November you will have a chance to compete for prizes if you are still sporting that nice foam catcher.
One has to wonder if Town Hall brewer Mike Hoops is participating. He was looking a bit grizzly last time I saw him but that was a couple weeks ago. I do know that owner Pete Rifakes is participating and he was looking quite baby faced in a recent photo.
The ESPN 1500 crew is also participating and it will be interesting to see my two favorite sports writers and radio personalities Reusse and Judd grow beards. Twins closer and now homebrewer Glen Perkins is also participating and here’s to hoping for another fabulous neck beard. You can follow their progress here.
Happy beard growing!