Surly Brewing Co. has narrowed the possible locations for its "destination brewery" to three cities in the metro area, including two sites in Minneapolis.

The Brooklyn Center-based brewer with a cult following has spent months looking for the perfect place to build a $20 million facility, complete with restaurant, beer garden and event center. It was made possible by a 2011 change in Minnesota state law, known as the "Surly Bill," which allowed brewers to sell pints of their beer on the premesis.

Cities across the area have been laying out the red carpet, but the company said Tuesday that only three remain on the short list: Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, and an unnamed "innersuburban" location.

One of the possible sites in Minneapolis is 3171 5th Street SE, a former food processing plant just east of the University of Minnesota. That location is a stone's throw from the future Central Corridor light rail line.

Another Minneapolis location in is the Bassett Creek Valley redevelopment area, which is west of Interstate 94 and north of Interstate 394, said Tom Hauschild, Surly's real estate advisor. He said one challenge is that the area is largely zoned residential.

Hauschild said the Brooklyn Center location would involve "multiple properties," which he declined to identify.

The other suburban location remains a mystery. "In the last couple of weeks Surly has also been approached by another innersuburban location that is substantially larger than the brewery plans, and may change the project scope, but is considered a short list option too," the company said in a statement.

Hauschild said once they select a site, it will undergo an extensive review process before the company reveals it publicly. He expects they will be able to go public with a site by the end of the year. 

Bloggers in the beer community took note this weekend when Surly owner Omar Ansari said at a recent craft beer conference that they were finalizing the site near the University.

"[We] have a meeting next week to hopefully nail down an 8.5 acre site in the middle of Minneapolis-St. Paul area, real close to the U of M," Ansari told the crowd.

Hauschild dismissed it as wishful thinking from an eager business owner.

"That' optimistic entrepreneur not knowing what all goes into the sausage making of a commercial real estate transaction," Hauschild said.