Surly begins search for new brewery site after winning political support

Surly Brewing Company
A rendering of Surly Brewing Company's proposed $20 million brewery and restaurant.
Surly Brewing Company

With a new law that allows beer sales at their brewery, Surly Brewing Company is now looking for the best spot in the Twin Cities area to build a new home.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed legislation that allows Surly to sell customers glasses of beer rather than just handing it out for free. That will allow the company to have a bar or restaurant on site or hold events where beer is sold, Surly founder and president Omar Ansari said.

Surly plans to build a $20 million brewery somewhere in the Twin Cities area, but no site has yet been finalized, Ansari said. The brewery is currently in Brooklyn Center.

The site needs to be at least six acres and needs to be in a location that could accommodate both a commercial and manufacturing facility, where semis can come and go with loads of beer.

"We have to put all those pieces together and find a spot that can work," Ansari told MPR's Tom Crann.

The company hasn't ruled out taking over an old brewery, though Ansari said it would be easier to build a new facility.

Omar Ansari
Omar Ansari, owner of Surly Brewing Co., visits Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul, Minn., on May 26, 2011.
MPR News Photo / Nikki Tundel

Surly went to the Legislature to change a law that said only small brewpubs making fewer than 3,500 barrels a year could sell their micro-brews on site. Surly was too big to qualify, so the new law creates a new license for breweries to sell beer on site.

Ansari said Surly's experience dealing with the Legislature was positive. He attributed the success in getting the bill passed to the company's supporters, who got involved in the campaign through social media and then contacted their representatives.

"I think that's just evidence that Minnesotans are pretty passionate about their local businesses," he said.

Ansari is also hopeful that the law change will help other breweries establish themselves in the area. He noted that other metro areas in the U.S., including Portland and Denver, each have more than 30 breweries

"This is really going to create a new wave of breweries opening up all over the metro, and I think all over the state," he said. "Minnesota is really falling for craft beer."

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