Bars and liquor stores have been virtually drained of Schell’s Grain Belt Nordeast lager since its release April 7, thanks to Northeast Minneapolis pride and a seven-year drought since the brewery’s last debut beer.
The brewery, which also makes Grain Belt Premium, has “beefed up” its brewing schedule in response to Nordeast’s immense popularity, said president and co-brewmaster Ted Marti.
Surdyk’s 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 line’s style matched his devotion — 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 “within hours,” Surdyk said.
“Nothing was here overnight ever,” she said.
Across from Surdyk’s, Keegan’s 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 Surdyk’s and brewmaster Marti, Keegan’s has been able to stay in stock since April 7, with the exception of one week without Nordeast.
“In the beginning, we went through six kegs in like two days, and then we were able to have some bottles for a while,” 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 beer’s popularity has been attributed to Northeast pride. Surdyk said some
Northeasterners who “probably don’t even drink a lot of beer” 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.
“There was certainly a lot of pent-up demand for another product in the Grain Belt line,” Marti said.
The taste of the beer is “by nature” appealing to a wider audience as well, Marti said.
Whereas many of Schell’s craft beers are “a bit more meaty and chewy and hoppy,” Nordeast “is an American lager that has a little more flavor and a little less sweet[ness] than our premium,” he said.
Still, Marti said, “We didn’t anticipate it being so widely popular.”
Despite his excitement with the lager’s hype, Marti said the selling out “creates some issues — there’s lots of unhappy people out there.”
Marti said the brewery is continually bottling and expects to be up to date with filling orders in a couple of weeks.
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