Category: Surly Brewing Co.

Ten Iconic Minnesota Beers

Minnesota has a rich brewing history dating back to the mid 1800s. Breweries such as Wolf Brewing in Stillwater, Minneapolis Brewing Company, Schell’s Brewing, and Hamm’s in St. Paul paved the way for the many breweries we enjoy here today.

 

It’s really pretty incredible to think how large the brewing scene has become once again, especially amid a society so hell bent on counting every calorie they put in their bodies. But here we are in the middle of a pandemic—with nothing but time to reflect on what got us here.

 

Here are ten beers that have helped define what local brewers are capable of. Some have been around for over 50 years, and some were formulated and brewed within the last ten years.

 

Schell’s Pils – A classic version of what a German Pilsner should be. One could argue that this recipe was one of the better American-made versions in production the past 30 years. Clean, crisp, and refreshing—this beer could be found in most brewer’s refrigerators across Minnesota. The brewery has since dropped this from their lineup, but here’s to hoping it makes a comeback.

 

Summit EPA – This is the first craft beer that many Minnesotans were introduced to. Anything outside of a standard American Lager was hard to come by around here, even in the 90s when many across the country were drinking beer from Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Deschutes and many others. Mark Stutrud brought this recipe to life back in 1986 and it’s still every bit as good today.

 

Surly Furious – Many were skeptical when they saw this beer in 16 oz. cans (thanks Linda Haug) on the shelves of liquor stores. A hoppy red ale in cans? This revolutionized the way people thought about packaging beer here in Minnesota. Oskar Blues had been doing this since 2002, but Surly had the foresight to put their boldest beer in larger cans for sale in four packs.

 

Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter – Often imitated, but never duplicated, this beer has converted plenty of “non-beer drinkers” to craft beer fanatics. This is literally Minnesota’s “dessert beer” and rightfully so. It tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in liquid form, a gem amongst many imposters. Their recipe for success in Northeast is simple. Brew unique beers that people will love, and they will come and spend their money.

 

Minneapolis Town Hall Masala Mama – Ask any homebrewer, brewer, or beer nerd around town what their favorite IPA was 15 years ago, and they’d say it was Masala Mama. This was the best IPA recipe in the Midwest and was the brainchild of Mike Hoops who still runs the show over at their Seven Corners location. This is easily the most influential IPA ever to be born here in Minnesota.

 

Fulton Lonely Blonde – The craft beer for your dad, uncle, or cheap beer crushing friend. This beer is full of flavor but is approachable to all who try it. Minnesota patios sell a ton of this from April through October and year-round for that matter. This is your perfect boating beer, and one that I keep in my fridge on the regular.

 

Fair State Roselle – This is a perfectly executed Kettle Sour that is an ideal choice for any wine drinker or sour beer fan. Roselle is tart, fruity, and floral and it set the standard for what local brewers are doing within the sour beer category.

 

Steel Toe Size 7 – Before the “haze craze” people actually used to appreciate a good West Coast IPA. There is no better example of the style than the one made in St. Louis Park. This beer is far from balanced with big citrus notes and a clean finish. There’s a reason why this is their number one seller.

 

Grain Belt Premium – This was once brewed by the Minneapolis Brewing Company right after Prohibition ended. Now this clean, Minnesota classic adjunct lager is made by Schell’s Brewing Company who bought the recipe back in 2002. Corn and blueberry notes come through in this legendary beer which can be found at any dive bar across the Twin Cities.

 

Barley John’s Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale – A classic Brown Ale from one of the original brewpubs in town. Roasty malts and subtle chocolate and vanilla satisfy the palate in this classic Minnesota beer. Homebrewers in the Twin Cities have long admired this underappreciated offering, and it’s still being made some 20 years after being introduced. Find this one on tap at the brewpub located in New Brighton.

 

Cheers!

Review – Surly Frost Pack Newcomers

Mention Brut around this time of year and visions of iconic (and I use that term loosely) commercials and thoughts of endcaps full of personal care products bubble up in the brain. Apparently, the holidays are the one time a year people need to be reminded they might smell bad and should probably do something about that.

However, Brut – the green, long-necked bottle of seventh grade – is not what’s on topic here. Nor is Stetson, Preferred Stock or White Diamonds. I’m talking about Brut the style descriptor – usually of champagne/sparkling wine, but more recently used to describe a style of very dry, effervescent IPA. Surly has brewed their own version of this style, as well as (for the very first time) a genuine porter and put them in their winter variety twelve-pack. Please enjoy these tasting notes of warmth and celebration for your holiday season.

 

Surly Mortal Sun

American Porter

ABV – 5.5%

Aroma: Crisp and chocolatey with bitter coffee notes. You can tell it’s going to be dry right from the first whiff.

Appearance: Dark brown to black.   

Flavor: Dark chocolate and coffee. Very toasty body with sustained bitterness from start to finish.

Mouthfeel: Light on the palate and drinkable. This is not Darkness (i.e., heavy and sippable).

Overall Impression: If you don’t know what you’re getting from Surly by now, you haven’t been paying attention; a great representation of the style that is turned up to 11. 

 

Surly Liquid Stardust

Sparkling/Brut IPA

ABV – 7.0%

Aroma: Bitter and citrusy. Complex. 

Appearance: Between yellow and dark yellow. 

Flavor: There’s a lot to unpack here. Lemon peel slaps you in the face right away and the other fruity hop notes play underneath that banner – melon, mango and pineapple all popped out, but that lemon bitterness carried throughout. 

Mouthfeel: Not an understatement when they say incredibly crisp and dry. Very refreshing, but the bitterness makes you pace yourself. 

Overall Impression: I had to do a couple rounds of tasting to get a good impression of this one. This included stopping in the taproom and comparing it to the Brut IPA on tap there. There was a distinct difference between the two and I see why they chose to can this version. The multiple fruit undertones along with the bitterness make it a more interesting and tasty. 

Review – Surly HeatSlayer

So much slay coming your way. HeatSlayer, a Kölsch-style ale featured in Surly’s seasonal variety pack, is available now. Surly is even throwing a party for it this Sunday the 27th where, for the price of admission, you can get unlimited food and pours of this new beer. They’re calling it Slay Day.

If that weren’t enough, thrash metal legends Slayer are coming through town this week on their farewell tour. I’ve heard music and beer go well together, so let’s review them both at the same time:

 

Surly HeatSlayer

Kölsch-style ale

ABV – 5.0%

Thursday, May 24 – Slayer @ The Armory in Minneapolis

Sunday, May 27th – Slay Day @ Surly Beer Garden

Aroma: Bready and crisp. Really no indication that Slayer’s been making music for nearly as long as I’ve been alive and this is their final tour.

Appearance: Pours a very light straw color and Tom Araya doesn’t really headbang anymore which is interesting to see. Still, the show will be worth it; I hear the Armory is a great venue and Gary Holt really does Jeff Hanneman justice.  

Flavor: Consistent with the Surly approach, this is as hoppy as this style should get, without being overpowering. This makes it a nice complement to the variety pack in that it fits the theme, but definitely stands out from the other members of the Big Four – Hell (Megadeth), Xtra Citra (Anthrax) and Furious (Metallica).

Mouthfeel: Fine, I guess, but why worry? This is absolutely the least important feature to consider when shotgunning beers before a metal show.

Overall Impression: This is good, but “Raining Blood” will always be their signature track. Personally, “South of Heaven” is my fave. And to think, neither of those were what earned them Grammys.

Slayer is done after this tour and HeatSlayer is exclusive to the variety pack so get on both now.

 

National Brett Day Celebration at Surly

There’s a National ______ Day for everything, now, isn’t there? Today is no exception – our friends at Surly Brewing Co. are going Brett-wild (look what I did there) in celebration with a very limited special food and beer menu.

The brewery and kitchen teams have gone all-out for some serious Brett-a-mania today in the Beer Hall. Stop in and check out a variety of food and drinks spiked with Brettanomyces including:

  • Brett Poppers
  • Brett Cracklins’
  • Responsibly-Raised Freshwater Brett Filets
  • Bretteast IPA
  • Beef Brettskit
  • Firkins of Brett-Aged Brett Fermented on Brett
  • A variety of meats and cheeses slathered in our house-made, small-batch Brett Sauce

“We love brett and want to marry it,” says Surly Head Brewer Jerrod Johnson. “But apparently you can’t marry a yeast strain. I thought this was America. I guess I was wrong.”

In addition to the Beer Hall, charitable coordinator Mary Brettske has launced a special one-day project: Surly Gives a Brett, a charitable arm focused entirely on raising brett awareness. Events include:

  • Brettanomyces 5K/Fun Run
  • Brett ‘n Bikes Trail Ride
  • Mississippi Headwaters Cleanup (with Brett)
  • Let’s Throw Some Brett in a Lake Just to See What Happens
  • Can You Build a House with Brett? Let’s Find Out Together Without the Cops.

Festivities conclude with tonight’s Lighting of the Brett in the Beer Garden.

“At sundown, we invite everyone on social media and various internet forums who has celebrated Surly’s use of brett to gather with us by the Brett Pit as we consecrate the spent Brettanomyces with a cleansing fire and somber ceremony. We’ll also do some fireworks and shit.”

For more details, please visit http://surlybrewing.com/news/surly-celebrates-national-brett-day/

Menus below:

#theresnosuchthingasnationalbrettday

The Land of 10,000 Beers (and more)

“Four and three and two and one, when I’m on the mic, the suckers run…” Hoops Brewing’s Dave Hoops raps with the audience in the Land of 10,000 Beers.

In case you live under a rock, the Minnesota State Fair starts today in St. Paul. Years ago, I had an office on Energy Park Drive and always cringed as the Fair approached. We usually had a flood of last minute creative and print work for a few big clients and the traffic always sucked. I’ve never understood why people choose to travel to or from the fair during rush hour. You’re smarter than that people!
Looking for some food and beverage updates? HeavyTable (Twitter) has you covered.
Thirsty? Here are a few suggestions.
Land of 10,000 Beers
The Land of 10,000 Beer exhibit, courtesy of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild returns to the Ag/Horticulture Building for a 6th year with 300 beers from nearly 70 Minnesota breweries and brewpubs. Try all 300! Or maybe not. This year they’ve revamped the flight categories to align more-closely with Brewers Association beer categories: Crisp and Clean, Malty and Sweet, Dark and Roasty, Hoppy and Bitter and Fruity, and Spicy Tart and Funky. Our friends at Better Beer Society are also curating a “Blue Ribbon Flight” with hand-selected flights from our favorite nerds, BBS’ certified cicerones.

New this year is a refreshed rotation of beer flight categories that align with the Brewers Association of beer categories: visitors to the exhibit can select among different flights of beers — Crisp and Clean, Malty and Sweet, Dark and Roasty, Hoppy and Bitter and Fruity, Spicy Tart and Funky. Also new, the Guild’s partner, the Better Beer Society (BBS), is curating the “Better Beer Society Blue Ribbon Flight” comprised of beers selected by BBS’ certified cicerones.

In addition to the beer, the Guild offers daily education programs at 3 and 6pm on weekdays and noon, 3pm and 6pm on weekends.  And if you want to step up your edumacation, BBS’ cicerones will also be conducting Fair food and beer pairing ideas.

Ballpark Cafe
This is a required stop in my book. The Ballpark Cafe has been slinging good beer longer than some of you have even cared. Along with some State Fair classics like Summit Oktoberfest, Lift Bridge Mini Donut and Steel Toe Size 7, the Ballpark Cafe also offers up a variety of beers from Bauhaus, Bent Brewstillery, Bent Paddle, Castle Danger, EastLake, Excelsior, Hoops Brewing, Indeed, Modist and Surly. You can also check out some ciders from Sweetland Orchard and an IPA from War Pigs (3 Floyds, Mikkeller).

Other Beers to Seek Out

Insight Duke of Cuke – Insight’s light lager infused with cucumber. (Lulu’s Public House)

Barley John’s Pickle Beer – Dry-hopped with fresh dill, horseradish and spices. Garnished with a dill pickle and havarti dill cheese. (Giggles)

Mini Donut Beer from Lift Bridge – this State Fair classic is a real treat. We’ve often joked that State Fair beers occasionally “jump the shark,” and this was the first. We really only need one of these per year, but still can’t help but enjoying it. (Ballpark Cafe)

Freehouse Caramel Apple π  -It’s like a little shot of apple pie. Much like Fair food, once a year is enough… but you may as well enjoy it while it’s there. (Blue Barn)

 Bad Weather Lemon Sunshine – a Limoncello-inspired ale brewed with lemons and lemon zest. (Mancini’s)

Summit Lazy Slipper – a Kolsch style beer brewed with ingredients sourced in Minnesota.  (Shanghaied Henri’s)

Follow this link for a list of all of the State Fair specialty beverages. Enjoy!