Darkness Cometh: Surdyk’s and Surly

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

Is craft beer a commodity priced to suit market demand? Or does it somehow transcend commodity status when it becomes a limited-edition release event, akin to a concert or sports playoff ticket?

Some local beer fans fall into the second camp when it comes to the price of the coveted, limited-edition Surly Darkness at retailers. Surdyk Liquor‘s decision to price bottles at $36.99 (reportedly close to twice the price of some competing retailers) unleashed a small torrent of annoyed tweets.

The Surly Brewing Company commented yesterday, tweeting: “Had to stop @surdyksliquor to double-check. Really disappointed, I’ll tweet later when I’m not so hot.” (We contacted Surly for comment, and haven’t yet heard back from them.)

UPDATE 11/04/11: Surly declined to comment directly to The Heavy Table; however, the brewery released a statement this morning via their Facebook page.

And the consumer group Minnesota Beer Activists reported “sticker shock” and speculated in a self-admittedly conspiratorial way about political reasons for the high price. “[Was Surdyk's] intentionally trying to create a backlash around the pricing of Surly’s products?” the group’s site asked.

Surdyks Sign

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Reached by telephone, Surdyk’s owner Jim Surdyk said that his store had sold out of Darkness, evidence that his pricing was fair, as per market demand. “Surly sold it to me, right? I can sell it for whatever I want to,” Surdyk said. “The bottles were selling on eBay for $75. To each their own.”

Surdyk made the additional point that a bottle of Darkness can go through any number of markups: from the brewery to the consumer (customers bought Darkness for $18 a bottle on Darkness Day), from the retailer to the consumer (the $37 bottle at Surdyk’s) and from the customer to the collector (the $54.99 bottle we found on eBay, for example).

And that brings us back to the commodity question. At what point, if any, does marking up a limited-release beer become equivalent to scalping a ticket? And, for that matter: Is there actually anything wrong with scalping a ticket?

Facebook Comments

comments

James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

Visit Website

119 Comments

  1. Good for Jim Surdyk. As a retailer, why shouldn’t he charge what people are willing to pay at retail for a product? If people aren’t willing to pay what he charges, they can grab something else off the shelf or go somewhere else.

    That said, I imagine some Surly fans will look elsewhere for their next Surly release purchase.

  2. anonymous11/01/2011Reply

    I understand the economic rationale behind Surdyk’s decision to price Darkness at $37/bottle. It’s just a slap in the face to some of their best customers: craft beer enthusiasts. As a craft beer enthusiast, I’ll take my business elsewhere–just like I did yesterday.

  3. @anonymous, I think it’s safe to assuming that people spending that much for a beer are also craft beer enthusiasts.

  4. Charlie Quimby11/01/2011Reply

    I have a corporate retailer near me who prices Furious for a buck more than an independent two miles away. And that’s not the only item I typically buy that has a higher markup. Sometimes for convenience, I buy at the higher price, but I never make that place a regular stop.

    It’s true a shop can charge what traffic will bear, but it affects how buyers perceive the store on every other visit. The high price may add to the beer brand’s cachet, but it does nothing beyond immediate profit for the retailer.

  5. anonymous11/01/2011Reply

    Ed: That’s true. And there are obviously craft beer enthusiasts who believe that $37/bottle is a fair price. But there’s another group of craft beer enthusiasts that are upset about Surdyk’s decision to price the Darkness so high–upset to the point that they’re going to take their business to the other craft beer shops around town (e.g. Zipps, Four Firkins, Ale Jail, etc.). I am in the latter group.

    So let me rephrase: while Jim Surdyk can easily quantify the increase in revenue he stands to gain by pricing his Darkness so high, he can’t quantify the eventual loss in revenue from enthusiasts, such as myself, who are now going to take their business elsewhere. I was a frequent customer of his prior to this debacle. I hope this decision turns out to be a costly one for Jim Surdyk.

  6. Matt Schmoeckel11/01/2011Reply

    I haven’t lived in Minnesota since 2008, but my dad is nice enough to pick up a few bottles of special Surly releases when I ask. One store in the Stillwater area was selling 2009 Darkness for $34.99, with the same rationale as Surdyk’s. We haven’t been back.

    I can understand the frustration of retailers when faced with the new demand of limited beer releases – frustration in terms of a perception of lost profits and the time spent dealing with the hoards of Surly Nation looking for only one beer. But as has been made obvious by the backlash, raising prices doesn’t seem to be the answer.

  7. Out of morbid curiosity, for those who think it was too expensive, what price would be fair? Is there a price that is too low as well? If it was priced low enough that it sold out in 5 minutes, would you be upset as well?

  8. Well, the demand is clearly there. I spent a few hours calling and running around looking for it. I finally found it for $22 / bottle after tax.

    I intentionally didn’t go to Surdyks mostly because I figured that would be one of the places everyone would go. But they sold out at that exaggerated price…

    But when I sell concert tickets I always sell at what I paid after fees and taxes – but I’m not in the business of trying to make a profit. Personally I think its disappointing when people scalp tickets or in this case, scalp beer but I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, it’s all part of supply and demand.

    I’m sure if Darkness was easily available they would sell much fewer bottles of darkness at $37 but then again they have plenty of traffic going through the store so who knows.

  9. @Charlie I wonder if Surdyk’s could develop a reputation as a place that has the highest prices for new beer releases, but is also the place where you have the best chance of finding it once everyone else has sold out? If it takes them a few hours or days longer to sell out, they may still come out ahead.

    @anonymous, I’d love to hear your take on @ben’s questions. In your opinion, is there a magic price point that’s unreasonable for a liquor store to charge?

  10. David Foureyes11/01/2011Reply

    James – Looks like you brought some of Chowhound’s iron-fisted moderation back over with you. Poor.

  11. Surdyk’s has every right to charge whatever they want to. And craft beer enthusiasts have every right to only shop at stores that don’t charge twice as much as other stores in the same market for limited edition beers.

    That’s the beauty of the market.

    I for one will not be going to Surdyk’s any longer, so I hope they made enough in their markup of Darkness to cover their loss of my future business.

  12. Rob Raleigh11/01/2011Reply

    It’s perfectly fine for a retailer to charge whatever they want for limited release beers, but if they want my business, it better be in line with the rest of the marketplace. Charging nearly 2x over what everyone else is unacceptable for my wallet and in my opinion disrespectful to me as a customer.

    Sure they sold out at their high price, and I’m sure they made a few bucks in doing so, but what is yet to be seen is how badly they’ve hurt themselves from the stand point of loyal customers who know better than to pay that much. If I were a Surdyk’s customer (which I probably would be if I lived closer), they would’ve lost any/all loyalty from me due to this and they would’ve gone on my list of places never to shop.

  13. David-

    It was me who pulled your comment. I sent you an email about it immediately and detailed exactly why. Jim sent you an email as well. You are welcome to participate further on our site and I’m sorry if there was any confusion. Let’s keep this thread about brewers, retailers, consumers, and collectors as it relates to pricing.

    Thanks,
    -Aaron, Producer

  14. @Rob, when someone walks into Surdyk’s, sees a beer in the cooler that they want, notes that it costs $37 for a bottle, reaches into the cooler, grabs one, then pays for it, I don’t think they feel disrespected. They must have seen enough value – even at that price – to buy the beer.

    It does seem like it could make people think twice about going to Surdyk’s first for the next release that interests them, but it may also put a thought in beer enthusiasts head that Surdyk’s won’t be the cheapest, but may still have what they are looking for in stock. At which point, they can decide whether they are willing to pay Surdyk’s price.

  15. anonymous11/01/2011Reply

    I expect Darkness to sell out in five minutes or less, so I wouldn’t be upset if it did. Given the lack of price controls on Darkness (and thus the lack of uniformity in pricing), it strikes me as incredibly greedy to see a retailer selling one bottle for $36.99 when another retailer is selling it for $18.69 (and, I assume, making a decent profit). Jim Surdyk would have been better off if he just sold his crate of Darkness on eBay.

    Also, David: I saw your comment before it was deleted. Interesting anecdote about the French vintner. I definitely won’t be shopping at Surdyk’s again.

  16. @Ben, Fair price? If 90% of stores are selling it for $20 (+/- $1), I’d be fine with anything up to $25. Too low? Um ok. If they want to sell it for $10, thinking that it will give them good press for future releases, go for it.

    But whatever. I bought 2 bottles at Zipps for $20 and 6 bottles at Chicago Lake for the same price. Both stores will continue to get my business while I’m done with Surdyk’s.

    FWIW, Ken & Norms on 48th and Chicago tried to sell Surly Smoke for $30 (normal was $12 I think) last year. It was still on the shelf for weeks after the release.

    I think another important note is the rumor that I’ve heard is that Surly could pull the account from a place like Surdyk’s. Not sure if it would take multiple offenses or what, but I’ve heard it could happen. I’d love to hear more from Omar.

  17. Rob Raleigh11/01/2011Reply

    @Ed, I’m sure many people were fine with paying the higher price. It’s possible they simply thought it was a good price for what they got, or that they knew it was in high demand and simply didn’t want the hassle of going elsewhere or even that they didn’t know what the typical going price was so just went with it. Lot’s of possibilities as to the profile of customers who made the purchase.

    What is unknown is how many customers reacted the way I would have and left the store empty handed with a tarnished idea of how Surdyk’s prices their products and treats their customers.

  18. Chad Hadler11/01/2011Reply

    Being new to collecting beer I expect that there will be some factors of pricing based upon supply and demand. When I go out to purchase a bottle I have a monetary level in my mind which I will not go over. I base my thought on the distribution of the beer. Is it only to a single state or a multi state area? I’m surprised this doesn’t drive more prices locally with MN only releases. As far as the hike that Surdyks put on the bottle I’m going to guess with the next release they will be one of the last stores folks might go to, but might be the last shop in town to still have some.

  19. Might also be worth noting that MGM is selling it for $39.99 (via Surly’s FB page)

  20. Charlie Quimby11/01/2011Reply

    @ed Kohler I think Surdyk’s reputation for high new beer release prices is well on its way with this move. I have a neighbor with a Lexus in his driveway for sale. It’s the best place of finding that car after everyone’s bought the more reasonably priced ones. But he’s only selling one car.

    Surdyk may still do fine in a country where people will still watch Kim Kardashian

  21. I bet someone will read @josh’s comment and decide to head on down to MGM to drop $39.99 to get a feel for what all the hype is about. If it sells out fast at $37 at Surdyk’s, perhaps MGM has it priced right?

    @Charlie, I’m cool with businesses testing what the market will bear. It’s not like Surdyk’s asked for a $650,000,000 to open a new location in Arden Hills, then charged $37 for a beer.

  22. This pricing decision is not merely greedy vis-a-vis the consumer, it also is a bit of a slap to Surly. I would understand if Surly felt taken advantage of. That’s a lot of profit going into Surdyk’s pocket while Surly doesn’t see an extra dime.

    Surly might even be deliberately pricing their beer below what the market could bear to allow more people to enjoy it. I’m sure they are well aware of how much they could get for such prized limited editions. For Surdyk’s to make so much money off the sweat of their labors… well, I’d be pissed.

    It’s totally legal, of course, but it doesn’t make me like Surdyk’s any more than I already didn’t. (“Customer service” seems an oxymoron there.)

  23. @Curioso, if a business gets upset after selling something for what they asked for to a distributor/retailer, they should just pocket their money and work on their next product. Perhaps Surly will realize that the market will bear more than they thought, causing Surly to up their prices to retailers?

    Customer service wise, it looks like customers had no problem finding what they were looking for, since the beer quickly sold out at $37/bottle.

  24. anonymous11/01/2011Reply

    Good point Curioso. I didn’t realize you could buy so many bottles at Chicago-Lake. I’ll have to head there for the next big beer release.

  25. anonymous11/01/2011Reply

    I think Surdyk’s is more than OK todo this. No one has brought up the point that you can pay $8+ a pint at the Twins game for Surly or some other places downtown that charge a fortune for the product. The end seller should always have the right to sell the product for the price they want to that they think reflects the market. If you disagree, look at the reason why Poor Decisions Brewery hasen’t seen any growth in this area…..they tried to tell retailers how much their product costs….It won’t work and Surly has to realize that it’s a fight they should not continue to fight. http://heavytable.com/b-j-haun-and-kristen-england-of-pour-decisions-brewery/

  26. To me, it’s looking at the market that’s able to spend time versus the the market that’s able to spend money. There are some who spend lots of energy and time researching where to go and when to get Surly Darkness. On Beer Advocate, for example, there’s a great thread with people collaborating their collective knowledge on the subject. There are some who got wrist bands, camped out, and waited in line overnight. Then they’re are others who are willing to spend more and will go to a place because they can assume it’ll probably be there and can get it without much more than just knowing what day it goes on sale and that it’s worth getting.

    To take the ticket scalping analogy, I’m lucky I have friends who let me know recently about recent Andrew Bird tickets: at a reasonable price I got front row seats pre-sale, after jumping through a bunch of hoops including joining a fan club, knowing a password and signing up for a different ticket purchasing service. Then there’s others who don’t have the connections I do nor the time who are willing to pay probably three times as much as I did to get similar seats a week before the show.

    So it goes. The hardcore musicheads probably avoid the ticket scalping services just as much as the hardcore beer fans avoid the places that charge more for limited edition brews. I think the markets exist for all the above audiences and consumers. My 2¢.

  27. Wow, Surdyk’s doesn’t make enough loot already? Gotta gouge the highest bidder for 2 cases of beer? the p.r. cost is a lot more than $400 as Surdyk’s will soon find out. I hope they kearn from this. Cmon stay classy Surdyk’s don’t spoil your name.

  28. Matt Schmoeckel11/01/2011Reply

    Supply and demand also play into the prices you see on eBay for “collectible bottles” of beer. When someone says that a bottle of 2011 Darkness sells for $75 on eBay, that eBay seller had the entire US population to sell to, and only a handful of competitors. If there were a significant increase in supply on eBay, what would happen to prices? I think it’s obvious, they would drop.

    Pricing your beer based on what it sells for on eBay is flawed logic since there’s no guarantee you would get a past price on a future auction. A retailer shouldn’t think they can put up a case of Darkness on eBay and they’ll get $50 per bottle.

    There’s also the idea that you’re only paying for a bottle on eBay, not the contents inside. That’s the disclaimer that must be in the auction per eBay. Posting bottles that are clearly meant for consumption aren’t in compliance with eBay regulations. It happens, and there are probably many happy sellers and buyers. But the idea that a legitimate business is going to violate eBay regulations, as well as laws regarding shipping of alcohol is absurd.

    In short, if a retailer justifies their prices based on what it sold for on eBay, go tell them to list it on eBay.

  29. Surdyks can do what it wants and the market will respond. They may lose customers over this. So be it–that’s the market talking. They may also not get any Darkness distributed to them next year. So be it. Best place to buy it is the BC liquor stores on release day. They get by far the largest amount to sell.

  30. I am sure people are fatigued of this thread already if they have gotten to my post, but I had to add my two cents. I agree, a business can sell a product at whatever price they decide. BUT, as a craft beer enthusiast, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes. I would be shocked if the people that bought $37 bottles at Surdyk’s were from Surly followers. That is, we know we can get it for closer to $20 at almost any other liquor store in town. However, those who might not know any better, will think that $37 is the going price. There is absolutely NO WAY I would have even thought to pay that. To me, Surdyk’s is counting on the people who just are feeding off the hype that Darkness creates throughout the metro area and beyond. I would love to hear a comment from a craft beer enthusiast, well, and more specifically, a Surly fan, that actually paid $37 for a bottle.

    But here is my real frustration. I am not sure how many bottles Mr. Surdyk got of Darkness, but the additional money he made off of what was a very limited amount could have not been even 0.00001% of his sales. If he sold Darkness all year at the price, yes, profit would be significant, but for a product that sells out in 48 hours, I don’t get it. I will never go back to Surdyk’s. Where I have spent the last 7 years shopping at and have probably spent 10x more money there than he made with his pricey Darkness.

    Ugh. SO frustrated.

    Thanks for reading this post if you made it all the way through!! Cheers!

  31. Dave Eldred11/01/2011Reply

    Am I seeing this too simply?

    Producer sells to distributor, distributor sells at (apparently) market price.

    People dislike this, refuse to go to distributor at their discretion.

    Isn’t this just a market economy?

    Not sure Surly has a right to be upset…particularly since they are courting cities for the right place to build their new brewery. Any city money going to go to that location? Details to come, but if so, maybe they shouldn’t complain about others also enjoying the same free market from which they have succeeded.

  32. Rob Raleigh11/01/2011Reply

    @Dave, in a “free market”, Surly would be able to sell it’s beer directly to consumers and not have to worry about a shop like Surdyk’s taking advantage of it’s end-consumer. Any reference to “free market” in this discussion is crap since the market is not actually “free”. Surly has every right to advocate for the end-consumer, and it’s unfortunate that they have to deal with “free market” distribution channels to maintain their own brand presence.

  33. Surdyk’s doesn’t have the greatest beer selection, being a high-end wine and cheese shop. I can’t imagine there are a lot of Surly-heads or beer snobs that shop there exclusively. I don’t think this will hurt them at all.

    Now let’s talk about that $24 bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz at dinner.

  34. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Surdyk’s was “wrong” per se. I understand the free market arguments of the people who are rushing to defend Surdyk’s. I get all that. That part is obvious.

    But if I were Surly, and if I were a little more active than to follow the (oversimplified) dictates of supply/demand, and instead decided to curate my in-store presence a little more… well, Surdyk’s move might change some of my decisions when Darkness falls next year.

    And while that wouldn’t really damage Surdyk’s position much soon… it’s funny how big things change over time.

  35. Dave Eldred11/01/2011Reply

    Rob — fair point; this is not a truly free market.

    On the other hand, if Surly wants to ensure lower prices, there’s another solution: make more Darkness.

  36. @Rob, while liquor distribution isn’t a free market in the 3-tier distribution sense (at least not yet), there certainly is competition at the retail level. No one was forced to pay what Surdyk’s charged, so it doesn’t seem like anyone was taken advantage of in those transactions.

  37. Dave Eldred11/01/2011Reply

    Curioso — exactly.

  38. Dave Eldred11/01/2011Reply

    Ed, another good point. At the end of the day, whomever ends up with the beer: they’ll have the option to sell it at a more expensive price.

  39. Rob Raleigh11/01/2011Reply

    @Ed, just because you buy into something doesn’t mean you weren’t taken advantage of. Per my prior post, there could be many reasons someone went ahead and bought at the higher price. It doesn’t make it right, or make it good business.

  40. @Rob, I have a hard time understanding how someone can be taken advantage of when buying something that they don’t need but want. Especially when it’s something that they are buying as a collectible, and willing to pay for more based on exclusivity. The sound of the register seems to be the deciding factor here.

    If people find out that they could have gotten the same product for cheaper elsewhere, they may feel taken advantage of, but they shouldn’t. They paid what they were willing to pay.

    And, as Aaron pointed out, a person who is most motivated by price over convenience could find cheaper locations to buy the same product. Perhaps more will do that in the future? Or, perhaps other stores will move their prices upward as they get a feel for what the market will bear?

  41. Each liquor store gets an allotment each year of Darkness (the most I have heard for a single store has been eight cases of Darkness == 96 bottles). They don’t know ahead of time what that will be, and part of the calculation used to determine the allotment is how much Surly inventory they’ve sold during the past year. It’s possible that Surdyk’s got a smaller allotment than they expected, yet still wanted a certain amount of profit, and thus they priced Darkness accordingly.

    Assuming Surdyk’s got 8 cases worth — and their cost/bottle was the same as every other liquor store — they generated $3550 in sales from Darkness. If they sold at “market rate” of 19.99, they would have generated $1919 in sales.

    Assuming an allotment of 8 cases, their markup earned them an extra $1631 in revenue. I guess that’s the going rate these days for a whole lot of upset consumers and bad press that seems to be snowballing on the social networks.

    I am guessing that a combination of factors (fewer patrons, even smaller Darkness allotment) will limit Surdyk’s supply of Darkness next year, anyhow. Your best bet is to avoid the Surdyk’s mediocre beer selection to begin with and shop with a smaller, customer-forward liquor store in the future, especially when it comes to your Surly needs.

    I got my Darkness from another store and Surdyk’s STILL lost me as a customer. If this is the game they want to play, so be it. There are MANY other liquor stores that offer craft beers at competitive prices.

  42. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.

    Can Surdyks set prices wherever they want? Sure!

    Was it a dick move and a slap to loyal customers? Yep!

    Vote with your feet and dollars.

  43. Andrew Karre11/02/2011Reply

    Free with every bottle of Darkness: a lesson in economic theory and practice from Professors Ansari and Surdyk. A bargain, really. I bought one bottle at Surdyk’s because it was convenient to my office and I was afraid my favorite St. Paul beer retailer would be out. Surdyk’s may price how it sees fit, but I probably won’t buy Darkness there again. I could have bought the same amount of Darkness on draft in bars for less.

  44. Sounds to me like the other stores under priced the product, not the other way around.

  45. Because of the mind-boggling three-tier distribution system, Surly cannot sell directly to the consumer. As such, there should be a way that Surly can offer price controls. Because a d*ck move like Surdyk’s pulled not only makes them look bad, but to those who don’t understand how distribution works, it also makes Surly look bad as well.

    Next year, Darkness should be a whole weekend, more tickets/wristbands issued, and people can have much more confidence of being able to purchase this beer directly from the brewery at the release party. There is no reason to mess around with this three-tiered idiocy if they can at all avoid it.

    Surdyk’s may wish to bow to the almighty greenback, but I think Surly is more interested in having passionate supporters of their beers/causes.

    Take a look at my back of the envelope math above: is all of this backlash _REALLY_ worth as little as $1600 extra in Jim Surdyk’s pocket? Time will tell.

  46. To suggest that distributors would not exist in a “free market” is disingenuous- they very well may exist due to economies of scale, and different priorities on the part of the supplier.

    I really don’t see a problem with this. To go with the scalping metaphor, scalpers exist because a section of the public is either unable to or uninterested in acquiring tickets/knowledge before hand. Should those people be unable to enjoy a concert, for those reasons? I don’t think so. There exists a place, and a need, for those willing to “ostracize” themselves in order to make the product more available. I will continue to shop at Surdyk’s, but will simply do my research beforehand.

    This is a business deal. Personal feelings don’t play into it. They’re not forcing you to fork over your rent money, guys. It’s not personal.

  47. Re: the reference to Poor (sic) Decisions– it’s actually Pour Decisions, and they haven’t been affected by their preferences on pricing, since they don’t exist yet.

  48. Dave Eldred11/02/2011Reply

    After my not particularly well thought out posts last night, I’ve come full circle: whatever the silliness of the current distribution system, the fact of the matter is that Surly will not have ultimate price control — and nor should it.

    I certainly appreciate that they want to get their beer in the hands of their loyal customers at a reasonable price, and more power to Surly to attempt to do that. Pearl Jam has jumped through hoops to keep ticket prices low; it is doable — but nonetheless, PJ tickets and Surly beer will get in the hands of those who want to make a profit on it. And if people are willing to pay that price, hey, that’s just how it works.

    This is a luxury good (in the sense that it is a pure want, not a need) — so how else should we really play it?

  49. This is supply and demand, pure and simple.

    - If you want Darkness to be readily available and cheap, they will have to mass produce it, and the cache will be gone.

    - If you want it to be exclusive and cheap, no one but those willing to go to darkness day will get it, or those willing to pay through the nose. Cache still intact.

    Viva la capitalism!

  50. I like Derek’s idea of a Darkness weekend.

  51. price it however you want mr. surdyk this isn’t communist russia.

  52. Also I didn’t read all teh comments completely but did anyone take Surly to task for limiting production.

    Surly (see what i did there) this is mostly a marketing move intended to create exposure and drive up demand.

  53. By running after these overpriced, over-hyped, limited beers the beer lemmings have created this crazy market. I think it’s funny that these morons are crying in their beers. Boo hoo, babies. Get up early and stand in line if you want to be gouged less.

    Rare is good, right? Right? I paid a crapload for it and it’s gotta be the best!!! EVER!!!!

  54. Ryanl,

    Yeah, it’s totally that they wanted to limit production, thereby driving up demand, and not because Darkness is labor intensive, or because it takes an incredible amount of materials(so many, in fact, that they made an entirely brand new beer out of the runnings that wouldn’t fit in the kettle!)to create.

    But, yeah, take them to task. I can’t wait for you to open your RIS only brewery!

  55. Here’s a point of view from the devil’s advocate:

    Anyone consider that Surdyk’s was doing a favor to those who have more money than time?

    Think about it. All the stores who sold Darkness at a “fair” price put it on sale in the middle of a work day when many of us are at jobs that we cannot leave just to buy beer. Those stores were sold out in a matter of a hour or two (or much less).

    I’m sure there were enough people who were glad that they could stop at Surdyk’s later that night and pay an extra $18 for the convenience of not giving up their lunch hour (if that was even possible) just to buy beer. It doesn’t take a high salary to make up $18 in time & gas money.

    I’m sure there are plenty of other scenarios where people were glad to pay the extra money for the availability. The older I get the more I realize that time is way more valuable than money.

    I’d like more people to answer Ben’s question about what *is* a fair price to charge. I’m guessing if everybody is honest, they’d say “Whatever I’m willing to pay for it.” People who are scraping to make a living probably think that $10 a bottle is outrageous. Can you say they’re wrong?

    Interesting that Moe complains about Surdyk’s price & yet is one of the people that’s driving to multiple stores to buy his 8 (or more) bottles and helping drive that demand that allows Surdyk’s to charge what they want.

    I wonder what Josh does for a living that allows him to spend several hours calling/driving around looking for beer and in the process saving himself $19. I guess he might make only $5-6 an hour but if he does, is a single bottle of beer a good choice for four hours of work?
    (scratch that one from the record your honor, it’s really none of my business what his job is)

    Before anybody asks, I went to Darkness Day & bought my bottles there so this really doesn’t concern me directly. I think charging $38 a bottle is pretty crazy & if I were Surly I’d probably be mad about what some people think of my pricing because of Surdyk’s.

    That all being said, I just wanted to post to interject some different sides to the story while I sit back, eat my popcorn and enjoy another great controversy.

    Cheers!

  56. Oh see chad I didn’t know that barrels were a one time use kind of thing.

    I always thought after one batch you could make another in the same barrel.

  57. I’ve been a beer geek since the mid-80s. I’ll admit I was surprised to see Surdyk’s charging that much, but I think this is getting blown out of proportion.

    Surdyk’s is free to charge double if they want. The more interesting question is whether it’s in their best interest. The answer to that depends on the store.

    Nobody seems too surprised that some MGM stores are charging high prices for Darkness. That’s because they’re a big corporate chain store, and craft beer enthusiasts are not their main market. But smaller stores that cater to beer geeks would be stupid to do that. Surdyk’s probably falls in the middle somewhere. I think of them primarily as a wine store.

    I saw Surdyk’s post on Monday announcing that they had Darkness in stock. If I had left work and rushed across town to buy some, only to find it at $37, would I have been pissed? Yes. Am I now less likely to buy my wine at Surdyk’s? Yes. But Surdyk’s is free to charge whatever they want, and customers are free to shop elsewhere. Will Surdyk’s ultimately lose money because of this? Who cares.

  58. Dilettante11/02/2011Reply

    Surdyks lost my business and I buy a good amount of beer, wine, & cheese there. If you feel they pulled a dick move simply boycott them.

  59. I’m guessing there are a lot more Surdyks customers who don’t give a crap about a highly over-rated beer (and brewery for that matter) than you tempest-in-a-teapot, self-important beer geeks who really need to get some perspective.

  60. Yeah, this is a little disappointing but I’m not surprised. Since I moved here, I’ve been pretty shocked at a lot of the high prices I see for beer, liquor, and especially food.

    Would I have paid $37 for 1 bottle Darkness? Probably not. I had it this summer and thought it was pretty good but I’m not a collector so there’s not a novelty factor in it for me. Would I buy it at $18 per bottle? Probably, and I probably would have purchased two of them. Better value and more in line with other brewery’s limited releases.

    I’ve never been to Surdyk’s but I’ve heard a lot about them as being THE wine store in the Twin Cities. My in-laws buy all of their wine there, many by the case.

    After reading this, I’m suspecting that Surdyk’s mark ups are much higher than they should be and I’ll have that in my head for a long time. I probably won’t make it over there any time soon and if I go, I’ll be comparing their prices to those I can find online.

    They may not have a ton of competition locally but the internet is always out there. The more people are educated about what things should cost, the better it is for everyone.

  61. S -

    Highly overrated is just plain wrong:

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/13014/33127
    http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/surly-darkness/65289/

    It’s possible, for whatever reason, you don’t like the beer. That’s fine. But you are in the minority. Realize that and accept it.

    ryanl -

    A Russian Imperial Stout takes significantly more ingredients (meaning utilizing more of the brewery’s equipment) to brew and significantly longer to age/mature (taking up more of the brewery’s available space to brew others). A good RIS like Darkness takes at least six months to age after brewing. If they produced as much as they wanted to, their brewery would only be able to put out one beer per year. So, rather than go that route, they brew a limited amount of universally-agreed-upon damn fine beer (see links above) as an annual event.

    Surly sold these bottles for $18 at their event. More than doubling the cost for that in retail is gouging no matter how you slice it, and Surly can’t simply “brew more” of it to increase supply. It’d be one thing if Surly charged $25-30 a bottle and Surdyk’s added another $10 on top of it for their troubles. But that’s not the case, here.

    And Surly is right in line with many other breweries who sell their RIS for $15-20 per bottle. See 3 Floyd’s and Portsmouth Breweries for example.

  62. They may be inline with comps but that doesn’t mean their not manipulating supply to create an “event”. It’s not a bad thing, just like Surdyks it’s well within their rights to do.

    Besides they could always just stop making Furious for a while…fulton seems to do a good enough job at it anyways.

  63. Derek-

    Oh please. Those sites are bullcrap. It’s all Me Too!!! And everyone is an expert with a great palate, right?

    Have you ever seen the top beers on those laughable rating sites? Why are the vast majority of them big, boozey, rare beers? Hey, look at me! I paid a fortune for this it must be good. I traded a crapload for this rare beer. It MUST BE FREAKING AWE-SOME!!!

    Why are there no pilsners or bitters or bocks or etc….in the top ranking? Why are most of them from the US? You’re telling me that US RIS is the best beer ever? Bullshit. It’s skewed crap from people with their heads up their butts.

    Rating sites are for people who can’t think for themselves ie make up their own mind.

    You want real evaluation, then get a bunch of beers and taste them blind without the hype.

    I’d bet you and entirely different set of beers would come out on top when you don’t know what you’re tasting ahead of time, when you’re not thinking this is rare or expenseive or Beer X and it MUST BE astounding.

    So, yes, Darkness is over-rated, over-hyped, and over-priced. No matter what a bunch of sheep on rating sites groupthink.

  64. ryanl -

    Speculating that they’re manipulating supply doesn’t make it so. Have you been to their brewery? How about other breweries that also have yearly RIS releases? If not, it’d be hard for you to know with your own eyes that they simply don’t have the space & equipment to brew their year-rounds, other seasonals, AND increase output of Darkness on top of it. Maybe it’s starting to make sense why Surly wants to build a new brewery?

    Also, Fulton doesn’t brew a beer that can compare to anything Surly brews yet. This is not a knock on Fulton, but more a realization of the quality beer that Surly produces.

  65. S -

    You have some serious conspiracy theories going on. I guess it’s just not possible to make something so well that most people like it.

    Look, some people are predisposed to liking Stouts and Porters, just as some are predisposed to liking Belgian Quads or Trappists. I happen to appreciate all styles, and sometimes I’m in the mood for an RIS, other times I just want a really good Scottish Ale.

    The point is, when people taste a good beer, they know it. You seem to assume it’s all bandwagoning and justification of the higher price, but you have no justification, just theories. Meanwhile, many thousands of people have rated all sorts of beer styles, and this particular beer consistently scores well, whether the drinker obtained the beer via trade, from Darkness Day, from their local liquor store, on tap at a local bar, or from a friend who offered them a taste.

    I think for a small percentage of the population, the hype or rarity does influence ratings. But I think that’s few and far between.

    I have to wonder, S, what is your favorite beer to drink? And it’s OK if it’s hard to choose; I’ll take your top 5 beers if that’s easier for you.

  66. Derek-

    RIS need not be expensive. Try Great Divide Yeti for $8, a much better beer than Darkness. Or, get a whole 6-pack of Bell’s Expedition, when it’s in season, for ~$15, another RIS that kicks Darkness ass. Old Rasputin from North Coast.

    There’s ton’s of better beer out there that costs less. Think and taste for yourself.

    Get a bunch of them. Have a friend pour them and taste them blind and then tell me which you think is best, sans BS hype.

  67. S -

    Thanks. I know they don’t need to be expensive. Great Divide Yeti is an excellent beer and I’ve had several of their variations (Chocolate Oak aged is my favorite). And actually, for an inexpensive one, Leine’s Big Eddy is really, really good. I’ve had all of the ones you’ve described, and they’re great. But not better than Darkness. There are few I’ve had that are better than Darkness. Deschutes’ The Abyss and 3 Floyd’s Dark Lord are among them.

    But this is all aside from the point that the typical going rate for Darkness has been from $18 at Darkness Day to $20 in most liquor stores. That is nominally more expensive than the much larger, mass produced ones you listed. The increase in cost can be fully expected from a brewery like Surly which is much smaller than those you suggested.

    The problem for me comes from the few liquor stores, like Surdyk’s (and apparently MGM) that decide they want to mark it up even further, approaching 2x what everyone else is charging, on something that is hard enough to find to begin with.

  68. If people are stupid enough to pay $38 for *one* bottle of beer, I guess there’s nothing wrong with what Surdyk’s did.

  69. When people taste good beer they know it? Really? Really? You’re serious?

    No.

    Take the whole skunked beer issue with green bottles. People used to think that’s the way pilsner should taste. They were wrong.

    Many thousands of sheep run in herds on RB & BA.

    My favorite beers are irrelevant, but for the hell of it right this moment I’d pick:

    Pliny the Elder – nothing comes close
    Saison Dupont – world class
    Summit Black Ale – another tasty gem from the state’s best brewery
    Town Hall’s Dortmunder – another please
    Town Hall’s Czar Jack – rich and amazing, lots of depth at the release last week

    A good RIS should be more than sweet and cloying.

  70. Derek-

    Abyss is awesome, but I think Darklord sucks too. Another over-hyped, sweet POS.

  71. Derek-

    I’ve opened different years of Darkness in different setting with knowledgable beer friends alongside several other beers including Dark Lord 3-4 times. Each time, people take a sample, but they they never go back. Meanwhile, all the other bottles we were sampling got drained first.

    Fail.

    There the sad half full bottles sat. Rejected, along with Dark Lord. Meanwhile, people went back to the Abyss, Expedition, anything but the Darkness and Dark Lord.

    Might make good pancake syrup. Shame to dump it.

  72. I can’t believe the vitriol and drama associated with this. Surdyk’s obviously has a right to set their own prices and those prices are not just based on what Surly sells to them to Surdyk’s for. With a high demand beer like Darkness, where people are buying it just so they can sell it for close to $100 on Ebay, setting the prices high not only makes money for them, it slows the sale of an extremely popular beer so more people might have access to it.

    I agree that they set the price way too high, but no one was forced to pay what they did. I’m always surprised at the idea that people feel they are entitled to never having prices raised. If something costs too much, maybe you don’t need to buy it. What you don’t need to do is boycott a business just for price-hiking a single item. People seem pretty short sighted and easily forget how much Surdyk’s has done for the Twin Cities beer scene and what a resource they were before Surly even existed. Piss poor.

  73. mitch zavada11/02/2011Reply

    S-
    [if that's your REAL initial] If everything you like is great and everything you don’t is over-hyped shit, maybe you should put your name on a newsletter and tell us all about it instead of hiding behind an initial and ripping everything in sight. You are everything that is wrong with the “leave a comment” option on web articles. Grow a pair and take ownership of what you say.

  74. S -

    So you like things a little hoppier. So be it. That does seem to be a fad these days…but that doesn’t make it a BETTER beer or a “POS”. It just makes it a preference. There are hordes of people that think Darkness, Dark Lord, and all the other sweeter RIS beers are, in fact, world class beers. You and your knowledgeable beer friends are not going to change that.

    Flagonofale –

    How many customer-unfriendly moves are granted to Surdyk’s based on how much they have done for the Twin Cities beer scene? Do they get just the one? And am I supposed to continue patronizing Surdyk’s, even with their extortionate prices (2x more is extortionate to me) just because of what they have done for the Twin Cities beer scene? How much leeway do they get?

  75. A few thoughts/points:

    - It’s illegal according to MN Liquor laws to even have a suggested retail price when presenting to a retailer. Surly legally has no ability to control pricing.

    - Those talking about the ‘three tier’ system are off here … Surly self-distributes in MN. They are not part of a beer distributor yet. Watch what happens when that is needed!

    - Getting back to an earlier point/thread: Jim Surdyk can charge anything he wants. And look at how many people are uttering “Surdyk’s” today.

    - I wonder … how many retailers are now thinking they charged too little? (and we’re not typing/saying their names over and over today)

    - What recession? (Honestly … c’mon. It’s BEER. It’s really good beer, obviously. But wristbands? All night camping to get some? $100 for anywhere from 3 to 6 bottles???? It’s beer, folks. Bigger problems in the world.)

    - Supply and demand do wonderful and strange things to people and mad props to Surly for cracking the code on this one! (Malcolm Gladwell should write a book on this.)

  76. I haven’t seen anyone suggest that Surdyk’s CAN’T charge whatever they please for this or any other product.

    The only question is whether they SHOULD. Whether their doing this will lose them lots of business (it’s clearly going to). Whether they deserve to lose lots of business (some may think they don’t, but lots of folks think they should). Whether Surly decides to reduce or eliminate their allotment of Darkness and other beers (they certainly can, and may).

    So in the end, it turn out to have been a terrible decision. Or not. We’ll find out.

  77. Somebody—definitely not a distributor—is making lots of profit when Surly’s regular beers run $10 or more at retail for less than a six pack’s worth. This is not unrelated to factors of supply and demand.

  78. “s”…you have too much time on your hands. Go back to mead-making.

  79. I like this “S” character. Brings to mind the absolute worst of every Internet message board ever. “The movie/album/book/anything you like sucks, and the one I like doesn’t! Why? It just does, deal with it!”

    As for the price gouging (which is what it is, plain and simple), what can ya do? If Surly keeps producing limited beers, it’s going to keep happening more and more. Hopefully there will be liquor stores who continue to actually value their customers…

  80. The biggest mistake that was made here was Surdyk’s not charging $60/btl…..they would have sold out in the same amount of time. Econ 101 will tell you the laws of supply and demand, price elasticity, etc. That should be required learning for all that don’t agree with what Surdyk’s did.

    I love that beer and I love this country!

  81. @Mikey

    Surdyk’s was one of the first stores to get Surly Darkness and was THE first store to run out. Your little theory and logic are EPIC FAIL! It has nothing to do with whether a person makes 5-6 dollars an hour or is unemployed. I took the entire day off of work because that is my right as a human being. Not sure where or who you work for (McDonalds)but not everyone is working in a cubicle or slaving away at some car wash where they can’t take a day off or leave for an hour(lunch).

  82. surdyk’s can change whatever they want. i hope the additional revenue makes up for all the future business they have lost. I too have moved my business to Chicago Lake / Zipps.

  83. Sally -

    Why shouldn’t Jim Surdyk have taken his allotment of Darkness and gone straight to eBay? Why bother with price-conscious Minnesotans when you can have beer collectors the world over offer $70, $80, or more for a chance at a bottle? No one disagrees how rare/scarce this beer is. If it’s only about pure profit, Surdyk’s should have never put one bottle on the sales floor and instead, it should have all been taken to eBay.

  84. WhereIsDarkness11/02/2011Reply

    ‘dyks can certainly charge what they want, and if it sold out they could have charged more. There is a big difference between ticket scalpers and a liquor store. People expect to pay a premium for tickets from re-seller, they already have a bad reputation people call them scalpers afterall.

    Maybe ‘dyks has been liquor scaling for years and its been hard for consumers to spread the word. With the advent of social media ‘dyks now has a greater risk of hurting their reputation. They aren’t an anonymous re-seller, if they get a reputation of charging 75% more then competitors customers will leave. I’m not surprised they still sold out, there are people paying that price on the secondary market.

    They already lost $100 in my business, I went to Bulldog NE for Darkness, and almost went to ‘dyks then took my business to another liquor store.

    50% above the producers msrp ($27) is what I deem reasonable unless most other stores are charging the same.

  85. @Eric

    The first store to run out? What time do you think they ran out?

    I lost track of the number of stores who were sold out before my friend was in Surdyk’s looking at bottles on the shelf. (Also heard it was still there Monday night but I’m not one to make up stuff without some confirmation)

    When did I say it wasn’t somebody’s right to take a day off to do whatever they want? I don’t know that it’s your *actual* right as a human being to take a day off work but I’m not the one dealing in hyperbole here.

    Slave to a cubicle or a car wash? McDonald’s? I don’t feel a need to answer the rest of your post because it’s obvious you have no intent on having a reasonable, constructive discussion on the topic.

  86. As my friends in Chicago like to point out, no one gave two shits about Dark Lord until they started selling tickets and created the perception of rarity. Same thing with Darkness.

    Popularity/hype/rareness and world class are not the same.

    njg & Derek-

    What I like is not relevant. My only goal is to challenge people to think for themselves and not mindlessly buy into BS hype.

    Hordes, eh? Kinda like zombies…mindless, shambling, unthinking.

    Sweet is easy to understand. A sweet/flabby/cloying RIS is a simple beer for simple people who need the validation of popularity and bogus web sites to make them think they’ve made a good choice.

    Take some time and analyze the stupid rating sites and their top beers and see what patterns emerge. Almost no English or German beers? Really? All big ass boozy beers and over-hopped cloying crap? Hunh. Rare and hard to get? It’s BS. Pure and simple.

  87. What I find most amusing about this thing is how polarizing it is for so many people. Most don’t seem to leave any middle ground for those who don’t take a hard stance on it.

    It seems that if you’re not outraged at Surdyk’s you’re labeled as an anti-Surly, greedy capitalist pig.

    It seems that if you think they made a bad decision and/or decide that you might not shop there in the future you’re labeled as a knee jerk communist Surly fanboy.

    Here I am stuck in the middle with myself it seems.

    1) I love Surly beer, I love Darkness
    2) I wouldn’t pay $38 for a bottle of Darkness but I also wouldn’t pay $25 for a bottle either (which many people are these days with no rage)
    3) I have no problem with somebody who thinks that a bottle of Darkness worth to them & paying that price
    4) I don’t think that Surdyk’s made a good decision to charge what they did but I won’t avoid the store because of it.
    5) Like I said, I’m pretty much not effected by this problem but I can never avoid a good debate but in the end, it’s just beer people. If you missed out on Darkness, crack a Furious or whatever you can buy and be happy that you can buy it.

    Cheers!

  88. S-

    I had a whole response typed out, but why bother. With all this beer talk, I suppose the main point is this: you seem like the kind of guy it wouldn’t be all that fun to drink one with. Good day.

  89. Sweet child – o-vine = furious = overhopped, overhyped IPA.

    Surly is good beer, not great but good. I certainly won’t wait in line for anything they make, of course their really isn’t any booze that I’d wait in line for.

    Most of my problems arise, I guess from not knowing enough about the beer making process.

    What in the darkness is the bottleneck-what ingredient can you simply not source more of?

    It sounds to me like it’s not an ingredient but rather production time..so is it fair to assume that when they expand capacity- darkness will become a regular or at least semi-regular release?

    Does Surly grow hops, barley, any of the products used in the making of their beer?

    Wines limited availability I can understand – you only have the grapes on your vineyard to work with.

  90. In my opinion, Darkness is overpriced even at $20. Go buy Old Rasputin. Same style,way cheaper.

  91. S -

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Like many of us, you are also a beer snob. But you appear to be the worst kind, the kind who like what they like and anything else is crap, POS, over-hyped, pancake syrup, etc. etc. etc.

    There are MANY people who love Darkness, Dark Lord, and other sweeter RIS. Their opinions are just as valid as yours.

    ryanl -

    It’s not necessarily the sourcing ingredients, though brewers are very particular about the hops and malts used, and a hop shortage, for instance, can severely cut into production. But mostly it’s about production capacity, and Surly is not large enough to produce all of their beers, all year. Maybe they will be able to when their new brewery is operational, or maybe they will produce additional beers and keep the seasonals, too.

    Also, Surly does not grow their own hops, malts, or barley. But, again, brewers are pretty specific on which ingredients go into their beer. If for whatever reason they can’t source the exact ingredients, production may be impacted and availability may be limited.

    It’s for these reasons I find the claims of brewery-induced artificial demand to be pretty bogus.

  92. We’ll agree to disagree.

    IHMO Surly like Apple makes a decent product but really excels at marketing more than anything.

  93. Mark Osbourne11/03/2011Reply

    Surly should be mad because they left money on the table and under priced its beer. You have to balance pricing. If you are leaving money on the table, you aren’t doing your business any favors. One reason Surdyk’s has been in business for so long is it doesn’t leave money on the table. Plus Surdyk’s has always had expensive beer, what did you expect?

  94. Clearly Surly could charge more to the retailers who want to carry Darkness. Why let the retailer or re-seller profiteer by capitalizing on the scarcity when Surly are the ones creating the real value by marketing and producing the stuff.

  95. one-surly-customer11/03/2011Reply

    Yet another example of corporate greed. Surly nation is the 99%, any business who thinks they can gouge us will pay. History has proven when people are taxed unfairly for their liquor the perpetrators always meet an untimely end at the hands of an angry mob. Surdyk’s, I dare you to try this again next year. We don’t take kindly to insults.

  96. Carrie Ann11/03/2011Reply

    While it is apparently illegal for Surly to tell any retailer how to price their product, I believe it is legal for them to decline to sell it to certain retailers. Perhaps the retailers who price Darkness at a level Surly feels is reasonable will continue to get the product next year, while Surdyk’s and MGM won’t. Surly controls the supply, and because demand IS high, I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem selling more product to other retailers next year.

  97. Surdyk’s mark up the beer and just about everything else in their store when they are not having a sale.

    Bill

  98. shoot your own foot11/03/2011Reply

    Surdyk’s, the small profit you made by charging double for a bottle of Darkness will never cover the cost of damaging your brand image and reputation. Your owner, Jim Surdyk, has only made the matter worse by sticking his foot in his mouth. Craft beer is an expanding market where even in this down economy customers have, within reason, increasingly spent more for higher quality ales. These beer lovers will also likely get old, and fat, and want to drink wine and cheese. But now we would rather burn in hell, and drink warm beer, before ever stepping into your store again. Why you ask? Isn’t this a free market? Sure it is, but be prepared for Surly nation to put you in your place. We are the people that wait 17+ hours in line to buy beer. We will visit your store every day and/or call in anticipation of the beer. But we will NOT allow you to treat it like some luxury good reserved for those with big pockets. It’s obvious now that Surdyk’s customer base are the people who think the more you spend on a bottle of wine the better it’s going to taste.

  99. I’m curious as to why you’re so intent on defending Surdyk’s @Ed Kohler. Are they a client of yours?

    Plain and simple, Surly sets what they believe is market price. Obviously retailers sell it for a markup, but in the case of Surdyk’s and MGM, they took it to a whole new level. To the point where even Omar Tweeted that he was “hot” over the issue (and not in a good way). People have the right to buy goods and sell them at whatever price they want. I could buy (enter hot artist, playing at small venue) tickets and sell them for wild prices. You can try and justify it any way you want, but at a certain point one crosses over the line from being “convenient” to being a royal D-Bag. For Darkness, that line is around $22-23 a bottle.

    The great thing about what Jim Surdyk states as being his right, also applies to Omar/Surly. Jim is more dependent on Surly than Surly is dependent on Surdyk’s. Surly has cut off retailers for lesser offenses… and I hope they do the same in this case.

    The saddest thing about all of this is Jim’s childish response and obvious disdain for this customer segment. It shows a complete lack of respect for these consumers. A diverse group of people (well beyond “a half of dozen guys”) that can afford to pay a premium price for a well-crafted beer. People that are emotionally invested in the company, to the point where we banded together to help pass the “Surly Bill.” In the end, like many mentioned Jim was consumed with short-term profit versus long-term business. Rather than wanting a relationship with these customers, he just wanted to capitalize on the visit. Sure he sold out of his inventory, but it doesn’t mean those people will ever be back. Just as Jimbo reserves the right to charge whatever he wants, we reserve the right to tell everyone we know to never shop his store(s) again… and by (insert your God), I personally will make it my mission to do so.

    PS – An example of a best-in-class retailer in this situation. Liquor Barrel in Golden Valley. They only charged $18.99 a bottle. Limited customers to 1 bottle each. This was genius. Not only does it ensure that most customers would get one, but it also helps them drive traffic (which customers like me end up getting other stuff). They had supply for about 3 days. Due to the ~$1 I’m also appreciative that they are not ripping me off. In addition to that they are the nicest, most knowledgeable people I’ve ever bought beer/wine/liquor from. They will make recommendations and tell you if they don’t think something is good, even if it puts them at risk for losing the sale.

  100. Charlie Quimby11/04/2011Reply

    Agree with Abe about Liquor Barrel. They were an early supporter of Surly and one of the few places you could get kegs when they were available.

  101. I’m curious as to why you’re so intent on defending Surdyk’s @Ed Kohler. Are they a client of yours?

    lol- I think it’s because he’s rational.

    “Yet another example of corporate greed. Surly nation is the 99%, any business who thinks they can gouge us will pay. History has proven when people are taxed unfairly for their liquor the perpetrators always meet an untimely end at the hands of an angry mob. Surdyk’s, I dare you to try this again next year. We don’t take kindly to insults.”

    Your a couple of days early – it’s not the Fifth of November yet.

  102. Anon@123MainStreet11/04/2011Reply

    Watch that allocation to Surdyk drop…

  103. Does anybody here really think Omar is “hot” over the issue that gave him a ton more free press on his brewery? It’s all talk for PR reasons. If he was pissed and prepared to do something about it, he wouldn’t have tweeted his intentions. Wait and see if Surdyk’s gets it’s next order of Wet.

    And Surdyk’s isn’t going to be hurt by a “Surly-Nation” boycott. Go somewhere else. Darkness wasn’t/isn’t very hard to find in the marketplace. Did anyone plan to hit up Surdyk’s and get their fill of Darkness? No, they planned to hit a few stores at least looking for it, and they could have skipped buying at Surdyk’s. Yes, Jim Surdyk sounded like a jerk about it, but he’s got every right to charge that price. He’d maybe feel different if it was still sitting on his shelves. If the people that paid $37 at Surdyk’s feel ripped off, it’s their fault. Heck, I feel like I’m about to be ripped off every time I almost buy a 4-pack of Surly at any liquor store. Thankfully, I realize it’s over-hyped and put it back.

    I’ll second Abe’s praise for Liquor Barrel’s service on Darkness. They were amazingly accommodating!

  104. Anyone who thinks Surdyk’s selling Darkness at $38 per bottle is disrespectful to craft beer drinkers should try shopping for craft beers @ Surdyk’s. the beer section at Surdyk’s is an afterthought in terms of both inventory and service. Also, GV Liquor Barrel is my neighborhood store…and I love it.

  105. At least Surly handles people who disagree with them well http://bit.ly/tWXNEL

  106. ^^^^How nice of Surly’s brewer. Kevin’s blog post hit the nail on the head IMO, and “surly nation” keeps coming off as unpaid shills for Omar.

    Had Darkness for the first time last night…by far the most over-rated beer I’ve ever had. Glad I’ve got 6 bottles of the stuff. Guess I’ll trade and gift it out.

  107. I assume you all understand that an employee of a company does not speak for the company itself, right? @Surlybrewer is not @Surlybrewing. Todd has a right to his opinions just as everyone here does, but I don’t mistake Todd’s opinions for those of Surly Brewing in general.

    RFGuy -

    Unpaid shills, eh? Ever considered that some people actually like the beer? Get over it. Which leads me to…

    You bought 6 bottles (at $18+/each) of something you’ve never had before? That’s no one’s fault but your own, and it seems like you bought into the hype yourself. Caveat emptor and all that. Many local bars/restaurants have Darkness on tap; I would recommend anyone looking to buy bottles of Darkness try it first. Unless, of course, the goal is specifically for trade fodder or gifting.

  108. Yep, I unfortunately bit into the hype. I had plenty of trusted friends tell me how awesome it was, and it’s not bad, just not worth $18+ bottle. Had it on tap last night. Too sweet for my liking.

    And by “unpaid shills”, I’m referring to all of those that feel Surly is perfect in every way on everything, not simply those that feel Darkness is great.

  109. ABeerGeek11/08/2011Reply

    Derek-

    So as the head brewer the fuck-off attitude of Todd is not representative of Surly? That’s kinda splitting hairs.

    And Jim is right, Surly thinks their shit don’t stink. And, no, they don’t market. Right.

  110. ABeerGeek11/08/2011Reply

    I agree with RFGuy about Surly Nation. They act like Surly invented beer and have little perspective beyond their own backyard.

  111. WhereIsDarkness11/08/2011Reply

    I agree that Darkness is not the best Russian Imperial Stout out there, and there are cheaper RIS that I enjoy more. However it is quite different then those cheaper RISs. It is also the only RIS made in MN, and is my favorite stout made in MN. If it wasn’t made in MN I probably would probably only buy 1 bottle a year.

    Part of the allure is that it is widely popular throughout the country, and therefore is a good beer to obtain for trade purposes.

    While not every Surly beer is my favorite, they do like to take a style and amp it up, which I can appreciate.

  112. So wait, WhereisDarkness. You said above that Surdyk’s already lost your business, then you talk about trading the beer? How about the fine folks in MN that want to try this beer, because, you know, they like to support local businesses. Pot, meet kettle.

  113. How can Surly Nation be the 99% when it costs that much? Plus, wouldn’t Mich Golden Light Nation be the 99%?

  114. WhereIsDarkness11/09/2011Reply

    Pete, I fail to see where your confusion is?

    There is no beer that Surdyk’s has that I cannot get at another locally owned liquor store, and likely at a cheaper price with better service. There are many beers that are also limited and cannot be obtained in MN, I’d rather spend time going to Darkness Day and get the quota and then use some of some of the bottles to trade.

    I’m not a liquor store, its not my responsibility to ensure everyone who would like to try Darkness has the opportunity. I’ll trade with people in state, if they can obtain trade worthy beer. Ideally Surly would have enough brewing capacity to produce enough Darkness that it the masses can obtain it without too much effort. Until then those in MN that want to try Darkness can easily go to the bars that have it on tap, or wake up earlier for Darkness Day.

  115. Oh, there is no confusion. However, one may interject that perhaps Surdyk’s did you a favor by charging more for the beer. After all, if you are doing a $4$ trade, you can point to their pricing to help you land that big white whale from afar. Because, you’re really not interested in the beer, you’re only interested in what it can bring you. Well played.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. [...] MN) – Surdyk’s Liquor got quite the dose of bad PR on Monday when beer enthusiasts cried foul over the store marking up Surly Darkness ~100%. The beer [...]

  2. [...] brewmaster at Schell’s “go[es] wild” in defense of Surdyk’s pricing of Surly Darkness, food writer Mecca Bos will be helping to open the new deli Rye, a taste of peach-wood aged saison [...]

  3. [...] retailers were asking for Surly Brewing Co.’s limited-edition Darkness beer. There’s a heated comment thread about it over at Heavy Table, which includes some who defend the choice to sell the product at $36.99 a bottle, simply because [...]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*