photos by tj turner
Best Burger & Beer Combo
It’s easy to forget that it’s been not quite four years since the passage of the “Surly Bill,” which paved the way for breweries to open taprooms in Minnesota. And after a period of ambitious construction, the Surly Beer Hall (industrial on the outside, welcoming and spacious inside) opened in December to as much fanfare as any sports edifice or cultural temple in recent Twin Cities history, with lines stretching out the door for a pint or a pick from the hip bar-food menu.Waiting outside in the huge line on a cold evening, warm your hands on what should be called the Eternal Flame of the Unknown Hipster (a fire pit outside the front door) or contemplate the restless scale of Surly’s brewing. Counting standards, seasonals, and beers once but no longer brewed, the river of Surly suds includes just short of 50 tributaries. Surly chef Jorge Guzman grounds his menu with a simple burger that harmonizes with the brewery’s hoppy beers. It’s actually two thin patties grilled separately (more surface sear) and packed together with American cheese, shredded lettuce, smithereens of red onion and “Fancy Sauce” (simple condiments and a trace of tarragon). It’s a bar burger delivered with attention to detail (the onions offer a trace accent without talking over their plate-mates)—you might finish it faster than your beer. • surlybrewing.com
Surly Beer Hall
The Standards: Year-Round Taps
A clean American brown ale, malty with hints of caramel and coffee.
The Cynic is named ironically—it’s one of the lightest and brightest of the bunch, a pale ale with a tang of citrus perfect for drinking on the patio.
The gold standard for those who love a bold, hoppy, in-your-face IPA—one of the signature flavors of the Surly brand and a template for many other local beers.
A light pilsner, bright and positively mild by Surly standards. Think of it as your point-of-entry Surly craft brew.
The West Coast IPA: paler in color than Furious, more fruity and less confrontational.
The Seasonals: Changing Taps
An intense dark stout with flavors of chocolate, cherries, and coffee.
If they have it, it’s a must-try: oat wine-style ale aged in whiskey barrels.
Surly’s pilsner brewed with oak and Mexican chiles.
Todd the Axe Man
Its name references Surly brewer Todd Haug’s other life as a shredding long-haired guitar freak: a strong, clean West Coast IPA.
A lower-alcohol, cardamom-scented brown ale.