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Citing Need To Meet Demand In Home State, Surly Brewing Pulls Beer From Chicago Market

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 15, 2010 2:00PM

2010_06_surly.jpg Here's a fun craft beer fact for you: Surly Brewing is the fastest growing brewery in the country, with an projected production of over 15,000 barrels in 2010, only it's fourth year of existence. As a comparison, Three Floyds and Two Brothers, each in business since 1997, only crossed the 10,000 barrel threshold last year.

The Minnesota brewery has been having a hard time meeting the demand of its home market, accounts in Wisconsin, North Dakota and here in Chicago where Surly was only available in draft. Faced with a tough decision, Surly decided to pull out of all markets except for the Twin Cities while they finish an expansion project intended to increase their capacity. Wesley Phillips, sales manager for Windy City Distribution (Surly's local distributor) confirmed the pullout to Chicagoist yesterday. "They had nearly 200 accounts on a 'waiting list' in their home market," Phillips told us via e-mail, "and the pressure to service those accounts, while still supplying other markets, became impossible."

Surly's brewhouse expansion includes the addition of extra fermentation tanks in order to fill that waiting list and all other accounts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. As to when Chicago bars and restaurants may expect Surly to return, Phillips made no promises. "The burning question is when. The optimistic hope is that they will be back some time this year. Realistically, it will probably be a while, possibly not even for a couple of years."

A request for comment by Surly brewer Todd Haug was not returned as of post time.

10:20 a.m. UPDATE: Surly Brewer Todd Haug responded to my e-mail, saying, "It's probably safe to say we won't be back anytime soon."

Haug also confirmed Surly's focus on servicing all of their Minnesota accounts first. "We are increasing capacity,but our current accounts in Minnesota are selling all of it and we are trying to get our beer to accounts in the state that have been waiting for years." In short: if you can find surly on tap in Chciago now, enjoy it while it lasts.