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Seeing the bigger pitcher: Micro-breweries in the Twin Cities – Surly Brewing Co.

The view from inside Surly Brewing Company. Founded by Macalester alum Omar Ansari ’92, Surly Brewing Co. has seen great success in Prospect Park since its establishment in 2006. Photo by Henry Nieberg ’19.

If you’re a Macalester student, there’s a pretty high chance you’ve seen a Surly Furious crunched up in the corner of an undersized dorm room, or inside (hopefully) a recycling bin. Just a few stops away from the Green Line on Snelling Avenue, there is a hidden jewel of the Twin Cities: the Surly Brewing Company. Right when one gets off at the light rail station, thirsty customers are humbled by the giant mills, water towers and warehouses that helped create Minnesota’s milling industry. However, this neighborhood, Prospect Park, is not just embracing Minnesota’s past: it is clearly a marker for its future. There are apartments, lofts and restaurants left and right in this up-and-coming neighborhood, but at the center of it all is Surly Brewing Co.

Surly Brewing Co. was created in 2006 by a Macalester alum, Omar Ansari ’92. He gained his love for beer out west, through multiple Ultimate Frisbee trips. After he graduated from Macalester, Ansari was given a home brewing kit that would impact not only the humble Omar Ansari, but the rest of the Twin Cities. In the early 2000s there were few breweries, let alone micro-breweries in the Twin Cities, besides Summit Brewery. Ansari saw an opportunity to create one of the most successful breweries in the Midwest. “I was just trying to bring a business to Minnesota that really wasn’t there before… after looking at over 60 locations in the metro area, we decided Surly Brewing Company had to be in the center of the Twin Cities,” Ansari said.

Omar Ansari ’92, founder of Surly Brewing Company sits in his office. Photo by Henry Nieberg ’19.

Today, Surly Brewing Co. distributes to all states surrounding Minnesota, in addition to Illinois, Nebraska and the Denver area. Surly brews around 30 types of beers, with over 20 on tap in the brewery. During the summer, there is a 2-acre beer garden that is a social space open for everyone. However, knowing Minnesota, chances are you’ll be enjoying your beer inside. The interior of Surly Brewing Co. has high walls, long tables and huge windows that allows the customer to see the brewing process at any given time.

In terms of the beer, Surly prides on selling some of the finest pale ales in the Metro area. I had the privilege to try some of the IPAs, ales, lagers and sours. I can assure you the IPAs were the way to go. If you’re a stressed out student, and I know you are, I definitely recommend stopping by Surly to relieve that stress. The brewery is open, filled with laughter and its food will have you drooling. My favorite beer was the Todd the Axe Man, a West Coast inspired IPA. However, even if you don’t drink, Surly is a place you’ll definitely have to check out. And for those movie fans, don’t call me Surly.

Henry Nieberg
Food and Drink Editor

Henry Nieberg has spent all three years of his Macalester career with the Mac Weekly and currently works as the Food and Drink Editor. He is also a Geography and Religious Studies Major and Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization Concentrator. He wishes to leave you all with this quote: "The news is just the first-draft of history".

February 1, 2018

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