4811 Dusharme Drive
Brooklyn Center, MN 55429
Date: September 22
It’s no secret that Minnesotans love their craft beer. And it’s no secret that the local craft beer community is a vibrant, close-knit group. That’s why another great turnout is expected at the 2012 SurlyFest, a celebration of beer, food and good times at Brooklyn Center-based Surly Brewing. The event takes places Saturday, September 22 and is a culmination of a long series of company-sponsored events that attract not only locals, but people from around the country. Tickets costs $35 and the event goes from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring live music, food vendors, beer tokens and the chance to hang out at the brewery and make it your home for an afternoon. The ticket gets you entrance to the Fest, four beer tokens and a SurlyFest stein. Designated driver tickets cost $10.
Bryan Buser is a Global Beer Buyer for The Four Firkins Specialty Beer Store in St. Louis Park – the only liquor store in Minnesota that sells nothing but beer. Buser has been to every SurlyFest since 2008.
“It’s about the beer community,” says Buser, who is also a certified Cicerone, which designates him as a proven expert in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers. “You see people from literally all over the nation come for these events and you get to know them. You also have the chance to see the brewery, meet the brewery staff and hang out with like-minded people.”
Michael Agnew, owner of A Perfect Pint (aperfectpint.net), a Minneapolis-based company that provides full-service beer tasting and beer education events for corporations, private parties and the food service industry, says events like SurlyFest are enjoyable because of the community it forms.
“People stand in line overnight at that event,” says Agnew, also a certified Cicerone. “Some of them go to many of these kinds of events so they have established friendships with people they only see on these special occasions. They bring TVs and games and other things. People walk up and down the line visiting with both friends and strangers. Beer fans bring bottles of special beers from their cellars to share with others. Because people come from all over the country, you find rare beers that otherwise aren’t available in Minnesota. It really is kind of a beer-based community.”
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Surly Brewing was founded in 2005 by Omar Ansari, becoming Minnesota’s first new brewery west of the Mississippi since 1987. Since then, Surly has been active in the community, creating SGAD – Surly Gives a Damn – a volunteer group of community-minded beer enthusiasts who also give back through various service-based projects. On July 26th, SGAD members built a deck for People Incorporated Adult Foster Care homes in Apple Valley. In August, SGAD members spent the afternoon making sandwiches at 363 Ministries. And on September 22nd, 80 volunteers will help put on the City of Lakes Trail-Loppet half-marathon, Salomon 13.1K and the Finn Sisu 5K at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The race is held in the morning and SurlyFest in the afternoon.
“Surly runs a great event and they keep evolving and learning from past events,” says Buser. “Just when you think they have perfected the formula, they tweak and streamline how the event runs and they make it that much better. They really pay attention, the sense of community and inclusiveness is fantastic.”
Agnew says Surly manages to avoid the problems that can quickly turn a beer festival from fun to, well, surly.
“One thing that stands out to me is how well organized they are,” he said. “These kinds of events in other places have sometimes turned into disasters – beer running out, lines getting unruly. The Surly events, though large, have things well under control. The details have been thought through.”
And what brings them together is one common interest and passion: craft beer.
“These events are fun because you get to hang out with the rock stars of the industry and have beers with them,” says Buser. “Also, you get to drink beer fresh from the brewery outside with your friends. I can’t think of much better than that.”
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Matt Krumrie is a Twin Cities based freelance writer who has been published in over 150 newspapers, magazines and web sites during his 15-year writing career. He specializes in writing about jobs, careers/employment, business and sports. His work can be found on <a href=”http://www.examiner.com/workplace-in-minneapolis/matt-krumrie.