Last month, The Mister and I had the good luck, or good timing, to get ourselves signed up for coveted spots on one of the Surly Brewing Company's tours.
It's all very tricky. You have to go to their website at a certain time on a certain day of the week when they post the tour openings. Or, just happen to be on Facebook when they announce they are adding a tour. The particular one we went on filled up in a matter of minutes.
For anyone that doesn't know about Surly, it's a tiny brewery located in Brooklyn Center, MN. I'm not an expert on beer at all, so I'm going to try not to embarrass myself by trying to explain the hows and whys of their beer being great. Anyway, you can read about their beers right here. You can find Surly beer on tap all over Minneapolis/St. Paul, and the 4-packs of cans are sold in most liquor stores. I would say there might be a certain demographic that is most likely to drink Surly, which became evident at the tour, and I'm not sure what that's all about except for a clever branding that seems to appeal to the post-college, black hoodie-wearing, disc golf-playing crowd.
We arrived just a few minutes before the doors opened. You can't see from the picture, but everyone waiting was carrying their non-perishable food items, which Surly collects for the food shelf. There was an enormous amount collected during this tour, and with several tours running every weekend, that's enough to make a difference. And really, no one minds bringing over some of their extra food when they are about to get a lot of free beer!
The first room we entered was the sampling area. We had our IDs checked, then were handed five Surly tokens, each good for one small glass of beer.
So, my favorite is the Coffee Bender, which is dark and rich and decadent. But I'm also a fan of Furious, and even a little Cynic now and then. We hopped in line, grabbed a beer, and like many others, got back into the line while still drinking it. The gift shop was also open at that time. Then we were told we could go into the brewery and wait for the tour to start.
No one could miss this giant stack of Furious. There were a lot of oohs and aahs and quite a few posed in front of it for a pictures.
Then Surly founder, Omar Ansari, came out and we all stood around and listened while he told the story of how he started brewing. He's a really likable guy, and this part was interesting. Of course, throughout the storytelling part of the tour, we were free to go back and get more beer at any time.
Our already-fun experience got even better when the FOX 9 news crew showed up to do a story about the "Surly Bill" which has since become law. It allows microbreweries in Minnesota to sell their products on site.
I have a special talent for showing up where there are news crews, and I love everything about the process of shooting a story. I like to see the local TV personalities and watch as they go through a few takes and have to re-do things because of blunders. The behind-the-scenes stuff just thrills me for some reason.
You can even watch part of the story here. They actually aired three segments the next morning, but only the last one is available for viewing online. Watch for us at 00:35! (Me with my unnecessary giant bag...hmmm.)
We had a blast and I recommend trying to get in to a Surly tour. Just make sure you don't go on an empty stomach because for some of us, it's a LOT of free beer.