By Brian Kaufenberg
Photos by Joe Alton and Brian Kaufenberg
When Omar Ansari set up his brewery in a corner of his father’s abrasives manufacturing facility in Brooklyn Center in 2005, it was hard to imagine outgrowing the space. On Tuesday morning at 11am, with family, co-workers, and members of Surly Nation in attendance, the founder of Surly Brewing Company—in the company of his parents & wife and kids—broke ground in Minneapolis at the site of a $20 million destination brewery.
The brewery will be built on an 8.3-acre plot of industrial land in southeast Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus and will feature a taproom, restaurant, and beer garden to draw visitors from Minnesota, the region, and beyond. The concept was inspired by the Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg, Austria and closely mirrors Stone Brewing Company’s World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, California. Surly will continue brewing operations in its Brooklyn Center facility and hopes the destination brewery near the U of M Transitway and Central Corridor light rail lines will be a craft beer focal point in Minnesota.
Ansari acknowledged that from the start of the company the “Surly way was not the easy way.” The process of bringing his dream brewery into reality stayed true to this theme. The site was from a list of 80 possible sites, but requires extensive clean up of brownsite contamination from its past industrial uses. Working with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Surly was able to secure a grant to help alleviate the site remediation costs.
Ansari expressed his gratitude to all those who made this dream possible including his family, his employees including brewer Todd Haug (and Todd’s wife Linda), Surly Nation, attorneys, and all of the representatives from the city, county, and state including Mayor R.T. Rybak, who is well-loved in Minneapolis’ craft beer community. Ansari’s father presented him with the gold shovel used to break ground at the abrasives factory his father built after immigrating to Minnesota and starting his own company.
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