Facility Design Project of the Year

Recognizes the best of the Facility Design Projects of the Month; selected based the quality of the design and execution and its ability to meet the operator’s goals.


2016 Facility Design Project of the Year: Surly Brewery MSP in Minneapolis-St. Paul

This 50,000-square-foot destination brewery includes a beer hall, beer deck, beer garden, Brewer's Table restaurant, Scheid Hall, a central kitchen supporting fine dining, and an event center.

Surly Facts

  • Size: 50,000 sq. ft., including a 4,000-sq.-ft. main kitchen, with storage150429 HGA SUR 0003The 300-seat open beer hall contains long tables made from reclaimed wood and window walls that look into the brewhouse at one end. The HGA-designed hoop light fixtures in the beer hall pay homage to the traditional beer halls in Germany. Photos courtesy of HGA; photography by Paul Crosby
  • Seats: Beer hall, 225, and 80 seats on the beer hall deck; beer garden, 500 seats and standing room for 800; Brewer’s Table, 80 seats inside at tables, 14 seats at the food bar, 10 seats at the bar, and 28 seats on the outdoor deck; Scheid Hall event space can seat 135 and accommodate 175 with reception-style service
  • Average Check: Beer hall, $26.44; Brewer’s Table, $39.51
  • Transactions/Daily Covers: Beer hall, 2,000 on weekdays and up to 7,000 on Saturdays; Brewer’s Table, 200 on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Hours: Beer hall and restaurant, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. until 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday; Brewer’s Table, 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, and 5 p.m. until 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday
  • Menu Specialties: At the beer hall, charcuterie, burgers, brisket sandwiches, smoked brisket, smoked pork shoulder, sausages, plates with pork, mussels, ricotta gnocchi, flank steak, enchiladas, catfish and chicken; at Brewer’s Table, guinea hen, lamb, pork jowl, grilled short rib, octopus, trout, hamachi collar, crudo and vegetables. At Surly 20 unique beers are on draft, and other beers can be served in 16-ounce cans if all of the tap lines are full.
  • Staff: 300 with brewery staff, kitchen and front-of-house staff (some are seasonal). This includes an executive chef, chef de cuisine (events), chef de cuisine (beer hall), multiple sous chefs and pastry chefs, three front-of-house managers for the beer hall, a manager for Brewer’s Table, an events hall director and an events hall manager.
  • Total Project Cost: $30 million
  • Equipment Investment: $1.2 million
  • Website: www.surlybrewing.com

Surly Team

  • Owner: Surly Brewing Company; Omar and Rebecca Ansari, Pants Optional LLCSurly-pc 0519-outside-nite
  • Brewing Operations Director: Todd Haug
  • Hospitality Operations Director: Linda Haug (left Surly in January 2016)
  • Executive Chef: Jorge Guzman
  • Chef de Cuisine, Beer Hall: Michael Gregoire
  • Chef de Cuisine, Events: Ben Peine
  • Chef de Cuisine, Brewer’s Table: Dustin Thompson
  • Architect and Interior Design: HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis, Minn.; Mia Blanchett, AIA, principal in charge; Steven Dwyer, AIA, project and designer; John Cook, VAIA, senior project architect; Rob Good, AIA, project architect
  • Interior Design: HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis; Paula Storsteen, IIDA, LEED AP, senior interior designer in the Interior Architecture and Design Group
  • Landscape Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Foodservice Design Consultants: Rippe Associates, Minneapolis; Steve Carlson, FCSI, LEED AP, president; Michael Wrase, senior project manager; Trish Jass, senior equipment specialist; Shelby Wurscher, project coordinator
  • Equipment Dealer: Hockenbergs, Eagan, Minn.; Troy Jacobsen
  • Owner’s Representative: Terga Group, Minneapolis; Paul Koerber
  • General Contractor: McGough Construction, St. Paul, Minn.

Why it Won: The Judges’ Comments

  • Nicely conceived configuration of space and development of the whole concept150323 026-ktichenThe main kitchen’s hot line includes a griddle, broiler, range, deck ovens and long prep counters. The hood is oversized to allow for additional cooking equipment when the facility expands. Photos courtesy of Rippe Associates; photography by Corey Gaffer
  • Excellent meshing of the interior and exterior space
  • Well-programmed, well-designed, well-constructed and well-executed plan to utilize all the spaces and keep the equipment busy
  • Thoughtful and creative remediation of the brownfield site and diligent work to change the law so the company’s beer could be served
  • Impressive implementation of a goal to make this into a tourist destination and encourage customers to spend a lot of time
  • Appropriate placement of equipment in a limited space that had already been allotted
  • Design created good, clean lines of sight from one site to another and within each site
  • Notable energy-saving initiatives generated a 1.9-year payback
  • Clever design of hanging towers from the ceiling in the beer hall; reminiscent of beer halls of old
  • Good placement and use of various spaces that help conserve use of labor
  • Excellent use of decor to embrace old and new
  • Good use of the appropriate equipment to keep the beer at proper temperature
  • Appropriate net investment of $1.2 million for equipment to do 5,000 covers per day]

 Project Background

From its modest beginning in a converted family-owned abrasives factory, Surly Brewing MSP has grown from one 150323 013brewery-closerInside the brewery at Surly. Photo courtesy of Rippe Associates; photography by Corey Gafferman's passion for home brewing into a notable cultural addition to the Twin Cities.

The idea of creating a multivenue concept that includes a beer garden came as a result of touring similar facilities, such as the Stone Brewery in San Diego, Victory in Pennsylvania, Founders in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Stiegel Brewery in Austria.

In 2011, the owner spearheaded the effort to change a Prohibition-era statute that barred production breweries from selling their product on-site. That change, colloquially known as the "Surly Bill," led to the proliferation of craft breweries and taprooms across the Twin Cities. As a result, Surly had to increase its production capacity to meet demand and expand outside of the local market.

Objectives and Goals Set and Met

Surly's owners set out to create a building tied to the image of the company and its people, and also to connect customers to the brewery process and to one another while remaining authentic to Surly's purpose and place. Overall, the place had to exemplify the idea of a lean, mean brewing machine.

The owners hired a successful heavy-metal lead guitarist to head the brewery operations and branded the microbrews with names such as Furious, Cynic, Bender and Devil's Work. Sponsoring local artists for all its graphic work, Surly has garnered an edgy, dark and beautiful visual image on par with its microbrew names.

Another goal was to create a tourist destination brewery. Surly selected a location with easy access to public transportation, the University of Minnesota and freeways.

A third goal was to create a multiexperience facility, one that includes a brewery, beer garden, beer hall, private beer hall and fine dining. In order to provide food to complement beer offerings and encourage guests to extend their stay, the project features a central kitchen with the capacity to produce many types and quantities of food.

Project Challenges and Solutions

One of the most critical challenges for this project was simultaneously bringing together brewing, hospitality and 150521 057-brewers-tableBrewer’s Table offers traditional table seating, as well as seating in front of the cookline and at the bar. Photos courtesy of Rippe Associates; photography by Corey Gafferfoodservice while separating them from each other for functional optimization. Foodservice at two levels is concentrated on the north side of the facility with a dedicated loading dock separate from brewing operations. From the main kitchen, serving internally is directed south toward the beer all on the main level and restaurant on the second level while service to the garden on the west is provided at the exterior of the building from a walk-up counter. Loading for all foodservices is on the east.

Located on the boundary between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Surly was built on a brownfield site. Methane gas was escaping from the soil. Therefore, a membrane floor — a structural concrete slab with continuous ventilation — became necessary. All the drains had to be located before the slab was poured because no penetrations would be possible afterwards. Only drains were run below the floor, and all other utilities were run overhead.

Since there was limited space on-site, the designers' equipment layout minimized the space for storage in order to give the maximum amount of space to food prep and serving.

In order to offer food diversity, the kitchen had to be able to produce various menus. The menu for the beer hall is relatively simple with brats, burgers, flatbreads, and meat and cheese boards. Following the original kitchen design, Surly hired a talented chef and team so the menu for the beer hall and more upscale Brewer's Table became more sophisticated, necessitating changes to the kitchen before opening.

To present Surly's core products in the best possible light, much effort was put into making sure the beer was the appropriate temperature, had the proper amount of carbonation and flowed in high enough volume. Almost as much attention was paid to the glassware for the beer. It is washed with the ECA water and rinsed with filtered water. In addition the glassware is again rinsed with filtered water just before filling.

Project's Answer to Classic Design Principles

Ingredients flow from the loading dock, where they are checked in by the receiving person and move through the 150521 054-both-levels-insideBrewer’s Table offers traditional table seating, as well as seating in front of the cookline and at the bar. Photos courtesy of Rippe Associates; photography by Corey Gaffercentral kitchen corridor and into the storage areas. From the storage areas food flows perpendicularly to the prep areas and then continues to the à la carte cooking areas. The servers pick up the food in the service window and deliver it to customers in the beer hall or the beer garden.

The central kitchen prepares food for the second-floor restaurant and prepares the meals for event space. An
elevator connects the central kitchen to restaurant kitchen and event space.

Efficiency Drivers and Financial Aspects

The location and size of the beer hall and the north property line were fixed. In addition, the brew house is visible from the beer hall, restaurant and event space, and the beer garden connected to the beer hall and the restaurant. The limited area remaining for the kitchen resulted in long horizontal storage, circulation, prep and finished cooking areas. The food pickup area had to be concealed, which led to the location of the long bar in front of the kitchen pass-through window.

Due to its limited size, designers worked hard to reduce circulation in the kitchen, centering on one main corridor and perpendicular cross aisles. Cold and hot prep for all four venues occurs in the same area. The only cooking outside of the main kitchen is in the restaurant and is limited to finish cooking.

"Looking back, there were no 'slow days,' particularly in the beer hall, so it was important that we didn't value engineer any of the hot prep and finish cooking equipment because this equipment is always fully utilized," says Steve Carlson, FCSI, LEED AP, president, Rippe Associates. "The smoker was included for a few menu items, but smoked items have been a big part of the menu. The kitchen staff had never used a combi oven before, but after they got used to it, now it is indispensable."

In addition, kitchen staff appreciate that all the equipment was brand new, heavy duty and ready for the volume. They believe the removable polymer shelves for the refrigerator were worth the additional cost since the walk-ins can be kept cleaner.

Green Initiatives

The project followed LEED guidelines for the site and building. The design team also worked with the Weidt Group and Xcel Energy to define and implement a host of energy conservation strategies that achieve approximately $15,200 in annual cost savings with a 1.9-year payback.

Among the project's many "green" features are the connection to multiple modes of mass and alternate transit and proximity to the downtown areas of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Additionally, the brewery replaced a brownfield industrial site that had become a magnet for graffiti and dumping. Existing site contamination was remediated, and a majority of materials from the existing foundations were salvaged in place, recycled and incorporated into the landscape design. The facility has transformed the existing urban site into a community amenity featuring gardens and gathering areas, retail, entertainment and employment. As the first regenerative "greening" project in the neighborhood, Surly Brewing MSP serves as the catalyst for future sustainable and economic development.

Other sustainable features of the building include:

  • Exterior sunshades to minimize heat gain and glare
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water use
  • Low-VOC interior finishes, such as paint, carpet
  • and sealants
  • Sustainably harvested wood products
  • Daylight harvesting to minimize electrical lighting and increase worker and patron satisfaction
  • Reduced pollution from construction activities by
  • controlling erosion and sediment
  • Community connectivity with use of a previously
  • developed site
  • Bicycle parking
  • Storm water quality (70 percent total suspended solids removal and reduced runoff volume with added pervious surface areas)
  • Reenergizing an existing deep water well
  • Reduced impervious cover with additional landscape area
  • Salvaged existing concrete paving and floor slabs for reuse as aggregate and pavers
  • Environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant is used in all Surly HVAC cooling equipment.
  • Improved efficiency DX cooling in HVAC equipment
  • Automatic, user-programmable HVAC setback schedule capability
  • Demand-controlled, variable-speed deep well pump
  • Water closet flush valves are solar powered, sensor activated with a battery backup, 1.28 gpf
  • Urinal flush valves are solar powered, sensor activated with battery backup, 0.5 gpf
  • Public restroom lavatory faucets are electronic sensor operated, 0.5 gpm flow rate
  • Nonpublic lavatory faucets are solar powered, sensor activated, 0.5 gpm flow rate
  • Shower valves are manually operated, 1.0 gpm flow rate
  • Domestic hot water is provided by means of a steam or water heat exchanger which utilizes the steam from the process boilers.
  • Kitchen spray rinse faucets have a flow rate of 1.24 gpm.

Sustainable features of the foodservice equipment include:

  • Electrochemically activated (ECA) water system separates water into basic and acidic solutions used for all general cleaning and for sanitizing for dishwashing
  • Mini pulper express
  • Low-water-use dishwasher with heat reclamation
  • Low-flow spray nozzles
  • Implementing a composting and recycling program including obtaining a matching grant from the City of Minneapolis to offset the cost of composting containers and bags for the kitchen, restrooms and all other areas of the facility

Progress and Success

The project has met all the projections in terms of revenue and customer traffic, exceeding 5,000 people per weekend day. More important, while beer is the focus, the facility attracts as many families as hard-core beer enthusiasts. The most popular beers are the Helles-style lager, approachable to all beer drinkers, followed by Todd the Axe Man, a West Coast–style IPA for the true craft beer lover.

The multiple venues offer customers varied experiences and reasons to come back to try the other areas. It has become a destination nationally and internationally. Some days there are more out-of-state or international identification cards shown than Minnesota driver's licenses.

This business level has allowed the Brewery to employ a great group of talented staff. "One of the main goals of the project was to strengthen the connection to the Surly brand," Carlson says. "This building has given a physical presence to the brand. From the day the facility opened, the customer has owned the space. It's common to see a customer knowingly leading a group of friends on a tour of the public areas. You see people standing in the beer hall with the look on their face that they are at home in their neighborhood place, along with 400 others. The craft beer fans come for the beer and come back for the charcuterie and pretzels, and the latest beers, of course. The foodies come for the Brewer's Table and discover that beer can be as interesting as wine. Customers bring their out-of-town friends since it's a must-see stop, and next week they come back on their own."