Photos by Aaron Davidson
On Tuesday, Surly Brewing Company gave a preview of its fine dining restaurant, Brewer’s Table, located on the upper floor of its Minneapolis destination brewery.
“We’ve been brewing since December; the taproom opened up, the beer hall downstairs; the garden’s kind of greening up, so that’s great,” recounted Surly Founder Omar Ansari. “[The Brewer’s Table] is the last piece we’ve been waiting for, so it’s pretty great to finally be here.”
According to a press release, the name Brewer’s Table is meant to underscore the idea behind it as a place “where beer harmonizes with food to empower trailblazing pairings that showcase an extensive representation of flavor profiles, of both food and beer.”
“The whole idea up here was to bring that food and beer piece together,” Ansari explained before the tasting. “A lot of brewers talk about how great beer is to pair with food, in contrast to how it can pair with wine, and we thought let’s not just tell restaurants how to do it, but let’s actually do it.”
After months of serving a bustling Beer Hall downstairs, Surly’s Executive Chef Jorge Guzman and Surly’s Director of Hospitality Linda Haug, who is captaining a massive new hospitality team, were able to turn their attention to developing the Brewer’s Table upstairs. Executive Chef Guzman and his chef de cuisine, Dustin Thompson, created the menu, which will change frequently and emphasize ingredients from local farmers.
“As chefs we’re continuously growing and learning, and we never really stop,” said Chef Guzman. “It’s always nice to be challenged; it keeps you busy and it keeps you fresh. This is probably the biggest challenge of my career right now to date—this beer and food.”
Chef Guzman worked closely with Surly Head Brewer Todd Haug to craft dishes for the Brewer’s Table menu that best complement Surly’s beers, and vice versa. It’s a process that’s been invigorating for Haug as much as Guzman.
“As craft beer has gotten more and more accepted, and flavors have gotten more bold, [beer and food pairing] is even better now,” Haug said. “There’s a lot of people that have argued for years that beer is the better beverage of choice to pair with food for a number of reasons […] I do believe beer and wine go great with food, and we’ve got a tremendous opportunity here to showcase our beer.”
“It’s exciting to work with Jorge, of course,” Haug added. Where he’s come from, it’s a little more traditional food and wine pairing background. So we’re all learning about the potential here,”
“Like Todd, I drink wine every day too, but I think beer has a special place with food,” explained Chef Guzman. “I think it’s more versatile, there’s a lot of things you can do with it […] To pick one component in the beer and accentuate it with food is kind of special, and the beers that Todd has created are pretty amazing. They’re all really different. And to try to pair food with them is very humbling.”
While the dishes at Brewer’s Table are paired with a specific beer’s flavors in mind, diners need not feel boxed into that pairing.
“I think we have a lot of beer that can accentuate our food and there’s not necessarily one specific beer that needs be to paired with each item of food,” explained Chef Guzman. “We can do that and that’s why we do the ‘Chef & Brewer Pairing [Menu],’ but when you come in you shouldn’t have your mind so wrapped around, ‘One dish needs one beer.'”
The restaurant largely reflects the brewery’s industrial chic aesthetic, but sports a softer color palette and warm wood tones than the rest of the brewery. Brewer’s Table seats 85 people inside and an additional 28 on the outdoor deck that overlooks the beer garden on the west side of the brewery. While the food is elevated, diner’s won’t be greeted with white linen table cloths or bowties at Brewer’s Table.
“We’re trying to take things to the next level but there’s no need for suits and ties, folks,” said Surly in a press release.
Brewer’s Table opens May 22 and unlike the downstairs Surly Beer Hall, dining reservations for the restaurant can be made online. The restaurant will be open Wednesday–Thursday, 5–10 pm and Friday–Saturday, 5–11 pm.
Food and Beer Pairings from Tuesday’s Preview
Beet salad paired with Pentagram
Charred red beets marinated in orange and caraway, pickled yellow beets, yellow beet puree with lemon and brown butter, with shaved beet gel fortified with cured foie gras. “It almost eats like peanut butter and jelly. Some of the sweetness in the beet and the fattiness in the foie.” – Chef Guzman
Tea egg paired with Cynic Ale
Five-minute poached egg steeped in black tea and truffle powder with Skyr sheep’s milk cheese, juniper, puffed quinoa, black garlic puree, macadamia and hazelnut, and asparagus ribbons.
Octopus paired with Overrated
Roasted octopus with a chorizo glaze, Marcona almond and Calabrian chile romesco, fried potato shards, and white bean puree.
Trout and Parsnips five ways paired with Doomtree
Idaho rainbow trout garnished with trout roe, pine syrup, dill, nasturtiums, and sea beans; with parsnip puree, parsnip chip, roasted parnsip, fried parsnip, and fermented parsnip. “What I wanted to do is accentuate that maltiness [in Doomtree] and I think parsnip is a great vessel for that because of how earthy and how sweet it can be. It kind of accentuates the biscuit malt in the Doomtree beer.” – Chef Guzman
Pork Jowl paired with Todd the Axe Man
Cured, sous-vide, and roasted pork jowl with frijoles burachos cooked with Surly Mole Smoke, with hazelnut vinaigrette, puffed amaranth, picadillo sauce, garnished with lime, cotija cheese, and farro with cilantro and chipotle pepper.
“Basically the pork jowl is a taco, that’s what I was going after. Everybody knows I have a little Mexican heritage in me and I like to bring that out a little bit in the food I cook.” – Chef Guzman
Surly Cynic Mousse
Mousse made with Surly Cynic, rhubarb, strawberry, champagne, sesame, and pistachio.