If you haven’t been to Minneapolis recently, you’re missing out. The city is bustling with art, food, culture, and, most importantly to any rapidly growing city, great beer. Front and center of that is Surly Brewing.
Surly debuted in 2005 and delivered its first beers in 2006. The following year, BeerAdvocate named it the best brewery in America. Today, Surly’s destination brewery offers an expanding lineup of bold, innovative beers. The space offers a full food menu, events, and up to 24 beers on tap at all times.
We caught up with head brewer Ben Smith to pick the brain of one of the people behind the brewery.
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1. What’s your desert island beer?
I would lie if I didn’t say Coors Banquet. To me, this is a perfect beer. One hundred percent drinkable. The perfect amount of banana on top of a classic lager flavor profile. That being said, I think the beer I daydream about the most is the Petite Orval, a low-alcohol-by-volume beer brewed for the monks that can be found only at the Abbey itself. Just a phenomenal beer. I would happily accept it as the only beer I could drink for the rest of my life.
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
When I was in college we used to buy quarter-barrel kegs of Summit Great Northern Porter. For some reason, it was always on sale at Zipps, our local liquor store. To be honest, not many people stuck around our parties to drink this wonderfully rich porter, but my friends and I all loved it. It never lasted long. From this grew a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) obsession with craft beer. Alternatively, the beer that made me love hops was Town Hall’s Masala Mama. I’ve drunk cauldrons of this beer in my lifetime, well before I ever entered the industry. It’s the gold standard when it comes to the Midwestern IPA.
3. FMK three beer types: IPA, pilsner, sour?
I don’t want to fuck, kill, or marry any beer type. Well, maybe I’d kill New England IPA if given the choice …
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last supper beer?
The oldest bottle of Cantillon Kriek you can find.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
Grumpy’s NE in Northeast Minneapolis. Duh. Hands-down the best bar in the world.
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
Best beer? Probably Westvleteren 12. Worst? The beer was great when it was first packaged but I’ve got some local Crowlers from at least nine months ago that I guarantee suck ass. Not the best package for longevity. I don’t know why I don’t just dump them out.
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?
Sparkling wine, no doubt.