By Adam Estrem
More and more people are getting into beer. Never before has the quality of beer been this high in our country, and it showed Saturday at the Surly Brewery in Brooklyn Center.
For the last four years, Surly has put on their version of Oktoberfest and wowed SurlyFest goers with their innovative and extremely tasty beers. I had a chance to go and partake in the festivities, soaking in the Surly suds and talking with “The Surly Cult,” or the die-hard fans of Surly.
To call the group a “cult” is a term of endearment for them, as Surly’s followers live, breath and drink Surly. I had a quick chance to talk to the very busy owner of Surly, Omar Ansari:
Tell us what’s going on here:
Ansari: We are kicking off our Surly fest celebration, so we got folks streaming on in here, it’s our version of an Oktoberfest. Being that my mom is German and I’m half German, it seemed incumbent upon us to have an Oktoberfest style party, so here we go. I don’t think we were counting on it being 80 to 90 degrees, but it’s a great day, not raining and I think people are ready to go.
What beer are you most excited about now?
Ansari: Well, SurlyFest beer, that’s what we’re drinking here today. That’s the been the beer we’re tapping that we brewed for this time of year and we debut it every year at our SurlyFest parties, so its our interpretation of an Oktoberfest style beer, being that it’s a Surly beer it’s a little hoppier than most.
Tell us about the festival:
Ansari: Basically it’s in the style of Oktoberfest. The whole idea is we want to have a big party, just have people come on out and enjoy the camaraderie, enjoy the weather, enjoy being outside. We give a commemorative stein away to everyone from Germany, and folks get some beers and of course drink our beers, walk around the brewery and see what’s going on in there. We have three bands playing and our first ever polka band “The Bratwurst Brothers.” We have food here of course, because food and beer go really well together and then a little bit after 6 p.m., we kick them all out.
Why do you think you have been so successful with the Surly brand?
Ansari: I really think one of the reasons why we have grown so much in the last few years is that we are really mirroring what has been going on across the country in the craft beer scene. It has exploded, it has been going on for maybe a little longer in some other cities like Denver, San Diego, Portland, Washington and some other areas of the country and now it’s here. I’m president of the Minnesota Brewers Guild and we have six new breweries opening this year in the Twin Cities and the rest of the state, so there’s just a lot of excitement and a lot of people looking to drink a local beer as their eating local food, so I just think there’s a lot more interest in local beer going on right now and we got into it at the right time.
The day was hot and the beer was cold. Seven beers were on tap, the Hell, Furious, SurlyFest, Cynic Ale, Bender, Bitter Brewer and Coffee Bender, all quenching your thirst for an amazing craft beer. Food trucks were on hand to provide the food parings for all their beers, and music filled the air, thick with excitement.
Adam Estrem is a writer, photographer, foodie and cook. After traveling the world and tasting the cuisines and wines of Mexico, Spain, France and much of Europe and the middle east, he has gone local and focused on restaurants and food producers of Minnesota. When he isn’t working you can find him in his kitchen, creating recipes and entertaining friends. You can follow him on Twitter (@mspfoodie) or email him (firstname.lastname@example.org).