Nordeast lager all tapped out

Schell’s Grain Belt Nordeast lager has been flying off shelves since its April 7 debut.

A customer purchases beer Saturday at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis.

Jules Ameel

A customer purchases beer Saturday at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis.

Katherine Lymn

Bars and liquor stores have been virtually drained of SchellâÄôs Grain Belt Nordeast lager since its release April 7, thanks to Northeast Minneapolis pride and a seven-year drought since the breweryâÄôs last debut beer. The brewery, which also makes Grain Belt Premium, has âÄúbeefed upâÄù its brewing schedule in response to NordeastâÄôs immense popularity, said president and co-brewmaster Ted Marti. SurdykâÄôs Liquor Store in Northeast Minneapolis was one of the stores to receive the brew exclusively April 7. Manager Melissa Surdyk said there were patrons lined up outside the store at 5:30 a.m. the day of the release. The first man in lineâÄôs style matched his devotion âÄî he wore a Grain Belt tattoo. The first shipment sold out by 1 p.m. thanks to some customers who left the store with carts full of Nordeast, Surdyk said. The store did not impose a limit on how much Nordeast a customer could buy. A second shipment arrived the same day and was sold out by 4:30 p.m. Two days later, a third shipment sold out âÄúwithin hours,âÄù Surdyk said. âÄúNothing was here overnight ever,âÄù she said. Across from SurdykâÄôs, KeeganâÄôs Irish Pub is one of very few establishments to currently stock the brew. Manager Marty Neumann said that thanks to a special relationship with both SurdykâÄôs and brewmaster Marti, KeeganâÄôs has been able to stay in stock since April 7, with the exception of one week without Nordeast. âÄúIn the beginning, we went through six kegs in like two days, and then we were able to have some bottles for a while,âÄù he said. Once the brewery stock catches up with demand and a special 16 oz. label is designed, the beer will be stocked at Target Field for Twins baseball games, Marti said. The beerâÄôs popularity has been attributed to Northeast pride. Surdyk said some Northeasterners who âÄúprobably donâÄôt even drink a lot of beerâÄù will still appreciate the tribute. Anticipation that had built up since the last Schell debut of Grain Belt Premium Light in 2003 was also a factor in the excitement, Marti said. âÄúThere was certainly a lot of pent-up demand for another product in the Grain Belt line,âÄù Marti said. The taste of the beer is âÄúby natureâÄù appealing to a wider audience as well, Marti said. Whereas many of SchellâÄôs craft beers are âÄúa bit more meaty and chewy and hoppy,âÄù Nordeast âÄúis an American lager that has a little more flavor and a little less sweet[ness] than our premium,âÄù he said. Still, Marti said, âÄúWe didnâÄôt anticipate it being so widely popular.âÄù Despite his excitement with the lagerâÄôs hype, Marti said the selling out âÄúcreates some issues âÄî thereâÄôs lots of unhappy people out there.âÄù Marti said the brewery is continually bottling and expects to be up to date with filling orders in a couple of weeks.