Tracy'sThings were hopping at Tracy’s Saloon in Minneapolis for the SurlyFest bar release party. Great beer, good food, and very nice company. I covered the event on behalf of Heavy Table, so be sure to check out the story here.

While I’ve hung out in the Seward neighborhood on numerous occasions (usually stopping in to check out the selection at The Blue Nile), I’d never been to Tracy’s before. It was clear to me that this little neighborhood bar, which has been around since 1979, would be a great place to spend a few hours sampling their nice selection of craft beers on tap (a quarter of their offerings are Surly).

Most of the food we enjoyed at the SurlyFest event is not generally offered on the regular menu, but it was a good sign, in my opinion, that Sanjaya and company at the establishment were branching out and experimenting with some bolder dishes. Could mean some great things to come. 

Be sure to check them out if you’re in the area.


My first lager review. And what better way to kick things off than with Surly Brewing here in the Twin Cities. Bier for a Stein, From a Can. These guys are known for brewing beers that don’t adhere to any particular style, but taste fantastic. Novel concept! Take Surly Bender…an oatmeal brown ale. Surly Cynic…a Belgian Saison that tastes like it was steeped in apricots and peaches.

Now, enter SurlyFest Lager, a dry hopped rye beer. Not exactly what the Germans had in mind when they enacted the Reinheitsgebot. According to Surly, they brew with a combo of Vienna, Pilsen, and Rye malts, and hop with Summit. And the hops are what really come at you with the first sip, much bolder and inventive than any other Oktoberfest I’ve had. Simply by conditioning or habit, you’d think that you’re enjoing a nice IPA. But then the taste hits you…clean, crisp and mineraly (I’m inventing words now) with strong hints of rye mixed in. This is the kind of beer you wouldn’t mind sitting down at a long wooden table in Munich to enjoy one after another, each time expertly replenished by an exuberant bar maid named Ermentraude  wearing a tightly fitting dirndl and toting approximately 18 steins with one hand.

SurlyFest comes in at 6.5% ABV, which, compared to most of the high-octane beers I’ve been drinking lately doesn’t seem like much. But I could easily see this one becoming a nice session beer. Only problem is, Surly limits their production to only one batch per year. Guess I’ll have to wait until next fall to enjoy it again.      

Rating: A-