There’s a well-known picture of Surly Brewing co-founders Todd Haug and Omar Ansari laying on a bed of Surly Furious cans. Ansari looks giddy, reclining with his hands behind his head, wearing a shirt advertising bro-rock novelty act the 4onthefloor. Haug is prone and deadpan, his gray beard falling idly down to his Ghost B.C. tee.
Drawing from the picture alone, it’s not surprising that Haug and Ansari eventually ran into creative differences. Last November, Haug—the bellwether Minneapolis brewery’s brewmaster and de facto mascot—left Surly, citing the fact that he’d been given no ownership stake in the $35 million enterprise he’d help build 10 years prior. Haug took his grudge and his talents to Chicago, and started making beer in all-black cans at a brewery named after a Black Sabbath song. Ansari bought an ultimate frisbee team.
Of course, this is but a sliver of the full story. The gory details of what went down between the two will likely never be laid to ink. All we have to draw from is the beer. And the beer speaks emphatically.
Haug introduced WarPigs Brewing and their flagship Foggy Geezer in a triumphant return to the Minnesota State Fair this past August. WarPigs is a joint venture between two of the best breweries in the world, Indiana’s 3 Floyds and Copenhagen’s Mikkeller, who’ve been running a brewpub by the same name in Copenhagen since 2015. Haug has overseen the launch of three WarPigs beers in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the most notable of which is Foggy Geezer.
It’s an unbridled beer, baptized in the greasy drama of a thrash metal guitarist who wants nothing more than to make beer that wails as hard as he does.”
Foggy Geezer toys with the idea of the popular contemporary IPA. It claims to be hazy, fruit and dank on the label, almost challenging hophunters to ignore it. The truth of the beer is somewhere at the apex of those buzzwords—it pours clearer than a NEIPA and finishes with a brilliant boom of West Coast dry-hopped bitterness. It beguiles not only sense, but also sensibility. Foggy Geezer doesn’t care for style or limitations. It’s an unbridled beer, baptized in the greasy drama of a thrash metal guitarist who wants nothing more than to make beer that wails as hard as he does.
Grapefruit is the eminent aroma, but an underlying grassiness appears mid-swallow. You can huff deep and get a whiff of pelletized hops. Some cans come with flaky residue floating to the bottom, but Foggy Geezer isn’t chewy or grainy. You could technically call this a double IPA for its diesel-strength ABV (8%), but you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a tropical session IPA at first taste.
And all this disorienting beer magic is encased in an all-black (down to the tab) can decorated with biker font and a sinister skeleton king. It looks like something out of Finland’s church-burning metal scene and tastes like something Treehouse would brew.
Though Haug has attracted much of the attention for WarPigs, head brewer Chris Boggess and 3 Floyds co-founder Nick Floyd deserve much of the credit. Foggy Geezer was previously brewed at the Copenhagen brewpub, and it’s stateside interpretation has only been overseen by Haug, but goddamn it if it doesn’t suit the man perfectly.