With this week’s release of Surly’s sixth anniversary ale, Syx, and of me enjoying a couple of Surly beers, I thought it might be time to give you a brief history lesson. First though, Surly Syx, is a 15% ABV Strong American Ale aged in six different types of wood. They will be having an official release party next Monday July 30th, 6:00 at the Aster Cafe.
Surly Brewing Company was the vision of Omar Ansari, a Minnesotan who enjoyed his first beer at the age of 14 at the Hofbrau Haus in Munich.That first beer fueled a passion that led Omar to travel the United States to find micro brews in every region of the states. In 1994 Omar received the gift thayt kept on giving, a home brewing kit. The more he brewed and drank the more his passion grew to create the best beer possible. Omar brewed and built his home “brewery” until it outgrew his garage and had to be moved to the family business. In 2002, on the occasion of his first son’s birth, Omar sent out Beer Announcements of an Extra Pale Ale, his friends and family were pleased to say the least. Finally, Omar made the decision to become educated in brewing and enrolled in the American Brewer’s Guild. He spent a week’s internship at Vermont’s Otter creek Brewery and then an apprenticeship at Michigan’s New Holland Brewery. Fate interceded at the 2004 Craft Brewer’s Conference where Omar met Todd Haug, Head Brewer at Minneapolis’ Rock Bottom Brewery. Todd and Omar knew each other from their days in junior high school, but hadn’t seen each other since. A month after the conference Omar visited Todd at his brewery and was extremely impressed by his beers. Todd joined Omar as Surly Head Brewer in the Fall of 2004, after much prodding from Omar. A year of planning ensued which included converting the family’s industrial space into a 5,000 sq. ft. brewery, complete with offices and a tasting room! Once the conversion was complete only a couple of things remained, 1) The law had to be changed in Brooklyn Center to allow a commercial brewery and 2) They needed to find equipment. The first one was pretty simple, who doesn’t LOVE beer? The second one posed a bit of a problem, you don’t just go on craigslist to find brewery equipment. They found a used brewery for sale from Wisconsin, unfortunately it wasn’t located in Wisconsin, it had been relocated to the Dominican Republic. It took several weeks of high tension international negotiating to secure the brewing equipment. By the end of 2005 Surly had what it needed to open the first brewery West of the Mississippi since 1987. There is the condensed version of the Surly story, thanks to the Surly website for the info! This story makes me thirsty, even though it is only Tuesday, I may need to grab a can of Surly and ENJOY!
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