Surly Beerhall, 520 Malcolm Avenue, Southeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Surly Beerhall

Surly Beerhall
Address: 520 Malcolm Avenue SE
Neighborhood/s: Southeast Industrial District, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 2014
Current Function: Restaurant
Architect or source of design: HGA - Robert Goodman & John Cook

Southeast Industrial District Minneapolis Hennepin



Surly Beerhall Description

Site: The site is located in Prospect Park and included in a sliver that pierces Dinkytown and the surrounding neighborhoods as a forgotten industrial park focused around the railroad tracks. Surrounding context includes unused concrete silos and rusted stagnant train cars. It sat on top of what was a considered a “brownfield” industrial site that became an attraction for graffiti and illegal dumping. After addressing the existing site contaminations any immediate destruction done on the site was reused within the surrounding landscape design. The layout of the site in coordination with the building is designed to account for upwards of 200% expansion on the site. Being located along many mass transit routes including, lightrail, bus and a main bike route it has an increased ease of accessibility to those much further outside of the adjacent Prospect Park neighborhood. This facility also acted as the first regenerative project in the neighborhood and is intended to act as a catalyst for future development.

Materials: The exterior is cladded with corrugated metal siding with red cedar accents to reflect the industrial character of the neighborhood while also staying true to Surly’s bold red color within their logo. The interior has an open air, large community space type of feeling with a warm and welcoming use of wood throughout and glass walls to allow multiple views into the brewing process. These views in combination with large beer hall is meant to ensure patron immersion into the brewing experience from multiple areas within the building and exterior garden.

Interior Program & Architectural Highlights The main interior beer hall consists of almost 4,600 ft.2 and has space for a line to form at the bar up to 220 people long. The main entrance is greeted with a massive cauldron burning what seems like an eternal fire for those daring enough to step out and have a cigarette during Minnesota’s harsh winters. Inside the entrance customers are greeted by the “chamber room” which hosts dramatic floor-to-ceiling walls that frame the heart of the operation the brew house. Alongside the glass-cladded giftshop and massive interior hall, operable window walls line the west side of the beerhall opening up to a large patio and additional seating in the beergarden accompanied by multiple gas firepits. The upper level is much more modest in size but hosts an upper-class restaurant and 2,300 ft.2 event space, both accompanied by outdoor balconies that offer views to TCF Bank Stadium or the Witch’s Hat in Prospect Park.

Surly Cultural Impacts

Not only did Surley redefine the definition of a brewpub within the state of Minnesota, their growth and popularity have influenced other major changes when it comes to alcohol sales within the state. The “Taproom Bill” only allowed for breweries to sell their beer directly to the customers in pints for on-site consumption, which meant they had to put the sale of their 64 fl. oz. growlers on hold for the day. This inconsistent sale of growlers when confronted by the exponential growth in number of microbreweries within the Twin Cities since the “Surley Bill” was easily overcome. In June 2015, this law was changed and all breweries across the cities benefitted from the additional income of take-home growlers alongside their regular sit-ins. However, this law change went against one of Minnesota’s biggest off-sale liquor laws which stated it unlawful to sell alcohol on Sundays. The surrounding liquor stores found this giving the breweries an unfair advantage with Sunday sales for off-site consumption and so after a long battle between sides, Sunday liquor sales was permitted across all licensed liquor stores on July 2, 2017.

Surly Awards

June 2007:

  • BeerAdvocate magazine names Surly Brewing, “Best Brewery in America”
  • RateBeer magazine names Surly Darkness, “Best American Beer in the World”

February 2012:

  • Esquire magazine names Surly CynicAle 16 oz. “Best Canned Beer to Drink Now”
  • Continual “Top 100 Beer” according to RateBeer since 2007

Surly History Timeline


  • Omar Ansari (Surly Co-Founder) started homebrewing as a hobby after given a homebrewing kit as a gift
  • His first brew was an Irish Red Ale….it was horrible.
  • He put it away for a few years and then after trying other homebrews he decided to try again


  • Omar and his wife had their first child, Max
  • He brewed an EPA with a birth announcement and picture of the baby for the label and sent it to all of his friends and family

2004 (January):

  • Omar is brewing everyday at this point and sees a 3-barrel brewing system in a beer brewing catalog
  • Convinces his parents to transform their abrasive factory (that was soon to be his) into a beer brewery
  • He took classes from the American Brewers Guild and also took an apprenticeship at New Holland Brewing Company (Michigan)

2004 Spring:

  • At the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, Omar met Todd Haug, head brewer at Rock Bottom Brewery in Minneapolis
  • After talking they realize they went to the same school in Golden Valley and Todd invites Omar to brew with him a few days a week
  • Omar volunteered and learned at Rock Bottom for a month before Todd came over to Omar’s brewing station, he was very impressed with the product Omar had perfected

2004 Fall:

  • Todd is convinced to start a brewery with Omar and they begin the transformation of the abrasive factory

December 30, 2005:

  • Omar & Todd successfully brew 1st batch of beer
  • It took over 14 hours because the fermenter controls were not yet working properly from the transition from an abrasive factory environment to a beer brewery

February 1, 2006:

  • Surly sold and delivered the first 2 kegs of Surly Furious
  • It was difficult at first to convince bars to purchase kegs because it was the same Surly Furious IPA they sell today, hoppy and different.
  • Being the 1st brewery west of the Mississippi River in MN built in 20 years the population was not ready for this beer brewing change.
  • Popularity grew and Surly would throw fundraisers and parties in order to promote local companies while also pushing their newest brews

Early 2011:

  • Surly Brewing has been available outside of MN for over a year and with such a high demand in state the brewery had almost reached its peak production limit for the space it was in
  • Jim Mott, a fellow Surly employee brought on after production took off, had a brewery experience abroad while vacationing in Europe where he drank beer in the same building as where they made it
  • He showed Omar and Todd the brochure of the Austrian brewery/pub combination and it seemed like a smart progressive move for their new brewing space
  • Unfortunately, there was a Prohibition-Era state law in MN that only allowed very small microbreweries to sell pints of their beer directly to customers. This law is part of a 3-tier system that was designed to keep on-premise sales, breweries and distributors separate. This type of law was already changed to allow these types of brewpubs in other states such as Oregon and California

May 24, 2011:

  • Governor Mark Dayton signed “The Taproom Bill” otherwise known as the “Surly Bill” into law allowing breweries that produce less than 250,000 barrels annually to sell directly sell pints to customers within the same building

October 2013:

  • Surly breaks ground on site of new brewery outside of Prospect Park in Minneapolis

December 2014:

  • Surly opened the new “Destination Brewery” or “Beer Hall”
  • The 1st mega brewery/pubhouse built in Minneapolis with the capacity to make 100,000 barrels annually

This is the work of Nick Hennen

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