Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Slip The Surly Bonds

When I hear news that involves a confluence of beer and politics it's almost certain that I'll take a swing at it. MN Beer passes on an announcement of The Big Surly News:

Thanks to you, our Surly fans, we’re celebrating five years of Surly Brewing. We’ve expanded our Brooklyn Center brewery as much as we can and brewed almost three million pints of beer in 2010, but you’re still thirsty, and we can’t keep up. So, we’re excited to announce our plans for a new brewery. But this ain’t just any brewery, it will be a destination brewery, worthy of our fans.

The new $20 million destination brewery will be a two-story, 60,000 square-foot building, complete with a roof deck beer garden, a 250-seat restaurant with mouth-watering view of our brewery, and a 30-foot bar.

That sounds absolutely spectacular. My mouth waters at the mere thought.

The brewery is good for us, and great for Surly fans, but it’ll also benefit our state by creating as many as 85 construction jobs to build it over nine months and 150 permanent Minnesota jobs, and offer a complete event center, for concerts, parties, business events, weddings, and more. Now there’s a reason to renew your vows.

Good for Surly. Good for beer drinkers. Good for the Minnesota economy. Let's break ground baby!

It’s a big idea but it’s not a done deal yet. We can’t be licensed as a brewpub because we brew too much beer so Minnesota law currently says we can’t sell beer in the new brewery. We are working with legislators right now in hopes of getting the law changed because a restaurant, bar and beer garden have to be a part of the new brewery. We may need your help soon, please keep checking our web page and our Twitter and Facebook pages for updates.

With the support of our fans and the great state of Minnesota, we can build this destination brewery and start cranking out 100,000 more barrels of Surly beer every year—more than 850 percent more beer brewed than last year. Getting thirsty yet? Hell yeah you are!

Let’s get more Surly!

Of all the Minnesota laws on alcohol still on the books from the post-Prohibition Era, the one preventing breweries from selling beer on site is probably the most egregiously outdated and detrimental. Beer lovers who've visited breweries in other states know how sweet it can be when one of your favorite brewers also can also be one of your favorite destinations for fresh beer and food. Surly has an awesome plan to create just such a brewery here, one that would be a win for everyone involved. The only thing holding them back is an antiquated law that serves no purpose other than to constrain growth for local brewers.

Minnesota beer fans should join together in asking the state legislature and the governor to free up the animal spirits of a successful local entrepreneur and help Surly realize their dreams (which are now my dreams too). This isn't just politics as usual, this is about beer. Mr. Dayton, tear up this law!

By the way, it has been reported that Surly's owner Omar Ansari has remarked that if he wanted to he could open up his dream brewery in Hudson, Wisconsin tomorrow. The Vikings moving to Los Angeles is nothing compared to the nightmare scenario of Surly moving to Wisconsin.

UPDATE: If only we knew a legislator who could champion this noble and just cause...

Anyone? Anyone? Banaian?

UPDATE II: More from Twin Cities Business:

Ansari announced the expansion plans to a crowded room at the Muddy Pig bar in St. Paul on Monday as Surly celebrated its five-year anniversary. He said he is fielding calls from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and “other folks” interested in the expansion plans, and he hopes to garner support for the legislation and have an answer within a couple of months.

Surly has been at the forefront of a micro-brewery movement in the state, winning many awards for its ambitious brews. Ansari attributes much of the business’ success to brewmaster Todd Haug, who joined Surly after working for Summit and then Rock Bottom Brewery. Ansari was recognized by Ernst & Young as one of its entrepreneurs of the year in 2010. In fact, Ansari says that the award prompted him to consider expansion possibilities. “It opened my eyes that we could swim with the big fish and be more than just a small brewery in Brooklyn Center.”

Ansari hopes that the new brewery will be “a complete beer experience” and will become a part of the metro area’s “cultural fabric.” “This would be another great amenity for the Twin Cities,” much like other attractions such as the Mall of America and Target Field, he added.

I think I know a local architect who would be interested in the project. Will draw for beer.