Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Brewery Tours

I used to work in a pub, a proper English pub in England that was part of Youngs Brewery. Sadly I was a kinda-broke and incredibly busy graduate student who never made it to the brewery tour there.

But I've been on a brewery tour in Minnesota!

Many weeks ago my buddy Michelle (pictured below) got us spots on the Surly Brewery Tour. Surly is a young brewery based in Brooklyn Center with ridiculously delicious beers including one that combines the power of coffee with the soothiness of...beer...

It's a VERY small building for a brewery, so the big benefit is to first sample loads of great beer!

The next big benefit is to hear Omar, the founder, tell a fantastic story about starting the company. A bonus for us was that his dad, with his lovely Egyptian accent, was there to tease Omar and make us sing 'Happy Birthday' to anyone with a birthday that week. You could tell he was a proud papa, or else he wouldn't be up on the platform!

Omar's story is really about a hobby that turns into a job-creating local business. Business students should write a case study on Surlys if it hasn't been done already. The ups are great and the downs are hilarious. Remember, we've all had a lot of beer and Omar has clearly polished his story into a wonderful one-man show – with beer!

I particularly enjoyed the story about how he rented a cement cutter and used it pretty much the entire time he had it, not only wearing out the thing to cut a drainage ditch into the building, but accidentally striking a water main that wasn't correctly marked on the building's plans.

About one month later, my coworker Mr. Bill and I went on a tour of the old Grain Belt Brewery! This is the main building in our large office complex on the river. It hasn't been a brewery in a very long time and was derelict for decades before an architecture firm converted it to office space. It is gorgeous! I'll just stick a bunch of photos below, but comments on what I can remember.

The lovely staircase in the center!

The top from the deck.

Mr. Bill near the gangplank where the vats used to sit.

The notes on the masonry, including 'flagstone.'

Downtown views from the deck.

The library in the building for the business. Not to be confused with the public library on the brewery complex!

These bricks have worn down after nearly a century of grain flowing through the grain elevator, leaving only the mortar behind.

One great part of the tour was when the guide, who is part of the firm, mentioned the difficulty in filling in the drainage ditch in the cement floor of the building. No one there knew why I started laughing so hard.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bob vs The Furminator