Surly Brewing Company – Beer Hall Review

  Featured Contributor:  Bill Lowe  @BillsBeerReport

 After working Saturday I decided it was time to head down to Minneapolis and try out some of their breweries. The first brewery I visited has been on my list since my first time in Minnesota when I tried one of their beers, Surly Brewing Company. I head down the towards downtown using my Waze app to guide me towards my destination. As I arrived in an industrial style park I became confused and concerned. There was no way that at the end of this industrial park there was a brewery as large as Surly. I came to a cul-de-sac and on the left was a sign that said no through traffic. I looked at the sign and over the horizon I could see silos that could be apart of a brewery. So I took a chance and went against the sign. I came upon a large parking lot, half finished and half un-finished. It looked like a lot of people were there, so I figured I was in the right place. The parking lot had a feel of the wild west, everyone parked how they wanted, there was one car that was half in the lane and half in a parking spot, just crazy. I parked my car and headed towards the entrance.
Schadenfreude Dunkel

As I walked past the Valet parking and the bike rack I noticed there were quit a few people there, so I was curious if I had stumbled upon some type of event. I asked the door man what was going on, he responded with a simple but accurate “Just Good Beer”. They checked my ID before entering the establishment and gave me a yellow wrist band so I can be identified as 21+. As you walk in you are greeted with a glass wall that gives you a look inside of a part of their brewing facility. The hallway between the entrance and the hostess desk is filled with label art which I thought was pretty cool. At the end of the hallway the room opens up into a great beer hall. This beer hall is two stories tall with floor to ceiling glass wall allowing you to look at more of their brewing equipment. On the far side is an open air patio. Between the two are a collection of long tables that remind me of the beer halls back in Germany. As I make my way to the bar, I spot couple that is just getting up and I am able to snag a seat at the end of the long modern looking bar.

Behind the bar there is a simple back splash with large lettered signs displaying what beers are on tap today. In the middle of the bar is a tap well and down by the end of the bar where the walk ups are welcome is another tap well, both with what looked like 20 Surly Beers on tap. I settle into my seat and order my first beer, the Schadenfreude, which is a Munich Dunkel Lager. One of the reasons I ordered the Schadenfruede, besides how fun it is to say, is it reminded me of the funny Broadway Musical Avenue Q. Schadenfreude is a 5.5% ABV Dunkel that has a bitter taste to it with an amber color and minor lacing around the glass.

Todd the Axe Man

Once I finished my first beer I ordered some food. I read in an article that Surly had one of the best burgers in Minneapolis so I just had to see for myself. While I waited for my burger to arrive I ordered Todd The Axe Man, which is an American IPA. Coming in at 7.2% ABV and served in a 10 oz. glass it was an interesting IPA. As I raised the glass to my mouth for the first sip my nose was assaulted by a strong pine smell. As I tasted it, hoping it wouldn’t have the strong Piney taste, I was turned away but what tasted like a liquid form of a pine tree.

The burger was a good size and it was covered in some cheese and a thousand island base like sauce. It reminded me of the Good Sauce from the movie Good Burger. The fries were also very delicious. The burger seemed to have bacon grilled into it as well, making it taste that much better. It was a really good burger, one of the best I have had at a brewery for sure.

Cacao Bender

After my burger I ordered my last beer, Cacao Bender. This is an American Style Brown ale, and though its description on the menu says it should have some vanilla added to the coffee taste I was dissatisfied to find that the coffee taste was very strong. I am not saying it was a bad beer, I like coffee flavored beers from time to time, but I was really hoping for more of the vanilla to come through. I got my tab and headed outside to enjoy my last beer at the Surly Beer Hall.

It wasn’t a very sunny day but it was nice enough to enjoy the outside area. As you walk outside there is first the patio area with more tables, but then beyond the patio is sunken court yard where people can sit on the walls and enjoy their beers in the nice weather. Around the courtyard there are small seating areas around strategically placed fire pits. I really like this court yard area, it reminded me of the Founder’s Beer Hall in Grand Rapids, MI. I wish there was something similar to the Surly Beer Hall in South East Michigan.

Overall, Surly Beer Hall was an awesome time. It was packed with people, yet I didn’t feel cramped or crowded. There were no TVs, but the food was delicious and who needs TV when you can meet and talk to new people. Before leaving Surly I got into a conversation with four older gentlemen about the local breweries. They were on a day long Brewery Crusade, Surly was their 5th Brewery of the day and it was only 5PM. They were some cool older dudes and I enjoyed our conversation. As I finished my beer I made my way back through the beer hall for one final look. I would like to return to the Surly Beer Hall with a group of friends, maybe after seeing a Twins game or a Wild Game.

View into Surly Beer Hall from Court Yard


Bill’s Bio:

Blogger and Craft Beer Lover

Ferndale, MI

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