Trailblazers 2016: Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewing

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Jorge Guzman // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Brewery taprooms have become one of most significant cultural developments in the Twin Cities in recent years, but most lack in one clear area: food. Food trucks get the job done, but they rarely take dining to the next level. That’s where Jorge Guzman separates Surly from the pack.

Guzman spent years as lead chef of Solera perfecting the art of pairing the small bite with complex wines like sherry. Thanks to Guzman, Surly has become as much a destination for food as for beer. Guzman’s food menus cover a full spectrum of flavors that complement the brewery’s wide-ranging beer styles.

Downstairs at Surly’s Beer Hall, Guzman brought barbecue to a bustling and high-volume room, working hundreds of orders each night. No easy task for a cuisine that emphasizes long, slow cooking times, yet he manages to satisfy the cacacophonous crowds filling the dining hall to the brim.

Related Post – Minnesota Spoon: Tacos and timing with chef Jorge Guzman

Then, upstairs, is Brewer’s Table. Guzman’s fine dining menu takes influence from his youth in Mexico and his schooling at The Culinary Institute of America. It’s not an elevation of Mexican street food, but a distillation of the technique, spice, and heat that make the cuisine rich, fulfilling, and divine. It intermingles with Northern influences, meeting in a new delicate, colorful and enlightening path. With thoughtful plating and a focused effort on pairings, Guzman’s food brings unexpected elements to the beer that highlight character when needed and temper at others.

The success of both menus landed Guzman national honors. He was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in 2016, and Surly was named to Food & Wine Magazine’s “2016 Restaurants of the Year.” From the cozy Brewer’s Table dining room overlooking the beer hall and brewery, Guzman isn’t just endeavoring to elevate beer and food pairing beyond expectation—he’s succeeding.


Our mission at The Growler is to tell stories that inspire progress in local food, drink, and culture. And in that spirit as part of our 2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Issue, we felt the need to point out 25 people, ideas, businesses, and organizations who have done necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in 2016. See the rest of our 2016 Trailblazers here.

 
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