Now Open (or Damn Close): Sisyphus Brewing

By Brian Kaufenberg

UPDATE: Sisyphus Brewing’s Grand Opening is set for July 11, 2014 at noon.

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When Sisyphus cheated death for the second time, the gods sentenced him to the eternal task of rolling a boulder up a hill, only to have it tumble down at each attempt. In his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, 

French philosopher Albert Camus painted him as an absurd hero who attempted to live life to its fullest only to be condemned to a meaningless, eternal task. And so it is with us, argues Camus: “The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd.”

The thought resonated with Sam Harriman, co-founder of Sisyphus Brewing, but for him the story of Sisyphus isn’t a tragic tale. Rather, it’s a powerful metaphor for choosing your own fate in life. “Sisyphus is being punished, but we choose our setting,” explains Harriman, who left an unfulfilling corporate career to pursue one of his passions full-time, stand-up comedy.

Sisyphus Brewing // Photo by Catherine Cuddy

Sisyphus Brewing // Photo by Catherine Cuddy

He set off on a cross-country comedy tour, stopping at breweries and craft beer bars along the way with his wife Catherine Cuddy to trade a few Minnesota brews for local offerings. Then a shift occurred. “I think we thought the trip was going to be more about comedy,” said Cuddy, “and it turned out to be more about beer.”

The couple brought home notes on their favorite beers and breweries, and began developing the concept for a new brewery and comedy club. When they found the ideal space, a 7,500 square foot warehouse in downtown Minneapolis, they decided to cash it all in and purchased the property.

In late April or early May, owners Harriman and Cuddy plan to open the doors of their 1,500 square foot nano-brewery and 1,500 square foot taproom to the public. The comedy club will fit 100 guests and host local and regional acts when it opens in about a year. Until then, patrons can sample a wide range of full-flavored, sessionable beers including an oatmeal pale ale. They can play shuffleboard—“With the sand!” Harriman and Cuddy emphatically repeated.

The brewery is Harriman and Cuddy’s answer to the question posed by the myth of Sisyphus, What do I want to do with my life? If life is just the absurd task of rolling something up a hill over and over again, it might as well be a barrel of beer.

“I just want to do something I can manage and make a living,” concluded Harriman. “There’s going to be a lot of unexpected things coming out of here.”

Sisyphus Brewing // Photo by Catherine Cuddy

Sisyphus Brewing // Photo by Catherine Cuddy


The Brewer: Sam Harriman
The Beers: Oatmeal Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, Oak-aged Black IPA with Coffee, Imperial Steam Beer, and rotating selections
Visit: 712 Ontario Ave. W, Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Friday & Saturday, 12pm–1am

About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the associate editor, writer, and photographer at The Growler Magazine. His column "Now Open (Or Damn Close) keeps you up to date on the newest breweries in Minnesota and his "Brewer Profile" series introduces readers to the men and women who make the beer.