Surly Brewing

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Through frequent suggestions, a persuasive desperation, and a sympathetic audience, I was finally able to make it to Surly Brewing, probably the best brewery in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area – at least according to Beer Advocate.  And, on the strength of their IPAs I’ve had, I’m not going to contest the “objective” reference.

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Surly constructed a $30M “destination brewery” which opened over a year ago.  And, by car or bicycle (implied by the racks and their likely use by nearby University of Minnesota students), it’s a worthy one.

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Upon entering, you’re greeted with a clear view into a portion of the brewery, and the investment is readily apparent in the flooring and the mammoth concrete slab through which the tanks descend.

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Venturing further, you find a fairly spacious beer hall as well as a second floor with an upscale restaurant and an event/meeting space that overlooks another section of the plant.

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The beer list was considerable, including many offerings not bottled or readily available.

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From this I selected Furious Black, a roasted version of their trademark Furious IPA.  Here it is, after a couple of sips as taking a photograph is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when beer is placed in front of me.  It was tasty and another step along the path to see if I can find a black IPA that I like as much as the usual varieties.  I’m not there yet.

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Afterwards, I had the Hopshifter #3, which was sadly decent but not overwhelming.  Had I spent more time researching, I might have noted that Todd the Axe Man is Minnesota’s highest rated IPA.  Dangit.  That puts me in the unconventional position of seeking the axe man next time I’m in town. 

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As it sometimes happens, the best thing about the venue was actually the chopped brisket sandwich.  This has less to do with beer mediocrity as opposed to a really tasty sandwich.  It’s a bonus.

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With 55,000 sq.ft., Surly isn’t limited to a shelf in the corner for their souvenirs.  Sadly, their store does not include beer as they have apparently grown to a volume where the State does not permit it.  The entrenched alcohol distribution companies hold their sway over legislatures everywhere it seems. 

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The only other disappointment (#1 – no cans of beer to go, #2 – failure to select the Axe Man) was the kids.  There’s no discernible kids menu, and event the pub food offerings were not inexpensive.  I guess modern breweries are kid friendly, and those that fester in  ancient warehouse or manufacturing spaces are for adults only?  Well, more research is necessary.  Next up as trips to MN allow:  Bent Paddle (on a summer day),  Insight Brewing, Fulton Brewing and Summit Brewing.  I’ll have to pace myself.

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