Tip of the hat to Mark G of the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild for alerting me to this post from the blog of Minnesota brewery Surly: http://www.surlybrewing.com/brewersblog/?p=12
At their current location and rate of growth, the likelihood that we would ever see Surly beer in Madison is quite slim. Since opening in 2006, Surly has constantly added capacity, selling 12,000 barrels of beer in 2010. While still a fraction of the 89,000 barrels sold by St.Paul's Summit, it is an impressive number for the brewery's fifth year of business. As a comparison, Indiana's Three Floyds, which opened in 1997, didn't pass 10,000 barrels until 2009.
The other impressive thing about Surly's quick success is that, while brands like Summit and Three Floyds distribute across the midwest, Surly is currently only distributed in the Twin Cities. Surly had been sending small amounts of beer to Chicago, Sioux Falls, western Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, but as the demand for their beer in Minneapolis and St.Paul increased in 2010, they decided to pull out of all other markets to better meet local demand.
According to this article in Twin Cities Business magazine, Surly's current facility still has some room for expansion, but would max out at about 20,000 barrels. Rather than simply upgrade to a larger space, Surly has come up with an ambitious plan to create a "destination brewery" consisting of "a two-story, 60,000 square-foot building, complete with a roof deck beer garden, a 250-seat restaurant with mouth-watering view of our brewery, and a 30-foot bar."
Sounds great, but the only problem is that no brewpub in Minnesota can exceed 3,500 barrels a year, so Surly will have to get the state legislature to change the law if their plans are to move forward. Sound familiar?
Surly has been a favorite of many at Madison's Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival, and if these expansion plans go forward we may just see some pint sized cans hitting Madison shelves.