Surly Nation up in arms over 'price gouging' for Surly Darkness

Categories: Beer
surdyks surly.jpg
Andy Schmitt
Surly lovers are, well, you know, surly about this.
Darkness Day is long over, and stores are already selling out of the Russian Imperial Stout, but Surly Nation is still fah-reaking out on the Surdyk's Liquor Store Facebook page.

The root of the controversy: Surdyk's charged $36.99 for a 750 ml bottle of Surly Darkness. Most other retailers stuck around the $17 to $20 range.

"Your disgusting display of greed has pissed off the Surly Nation," wrote one poster. "Bad move."

Surly releases the beer every October, and it's become so popular that a long line of hop heads camp outside the brewery the day before. In stores, there's often a three bottle limit. In the off season, a bottle of Darkness can fetch astronomical prices on eBay.

Despite the rabid demand, several Surly lovers noticed the price difference at Surdyk's and began sharing the news with one another over various social networks. Eventually, they took their collective disgust to Surdyk's Facebook page, accusing the retailer of price gouging:

surly facebook surdyks 1.jpg

Jim Surdyk makes no apologies for his decision to charge roughly twice what his competitors did, and says the fact that he's already sold out speaks for itself.

"I sold it for what I felt it was worth," he says. "It sold out in a day and a half."

The controversy even found its way to Twitter, where Schell's brewermaster David Berg entered the fray on Surdyk's behalf:

David Berg twitter fight.JPG

Surdyk says he is not concerned that he has a boycott on his hands, calling his detractors "the same half-dozen guys, beer people that have nothing to do, apparently, but drive around looking for beer."

Meanwhile, an astute Surly fan tweeted that the price is actually $3 more at MGM.

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47 comments
Mark
Mark

Stores can charge whatever they please. But dont advertise, "nobody beats our prices."

Even the corner store beats Surdyks prices.

outstateliquorstoreowner
outstateliquorstoreowner

I just can't read this and not comment. Not only do I work in an off-sale liquor store, but my family owns it.  There are so many things that figure into the pricing of any product we sell.  Not only that, Minnesota Law regulates so much of what we do, and what wholesalers are allowed to give us.  We are a single store in out state Minnesota that does not have the buying power of large chain stores. I feel that I am fair with my mark-ups and base them on how competitive the competition is.  We were not able to even get any Darkness this year.  We sell other Surly products with the same margins as all other craft and import beers, demand or no demand.  Find a place you like and support them....and tell me where to get Darkness

Erikowen
Erikowen

I actually think it is fairly straight forward. If you don't feel like waiting in a line to pay $18 for a beer at another liquor strore, you can pay $36 at Surdyk's and not wait.  Sounds like what I have done with tickets to concerts before.  Why all the fuss?  Why must buying this beer involve a line?  Isn't that sort of my prerogative if I want to pay more to not wait?

Beer lover
Beer lover

Unlike Surdyk's and find another shop.  Done.

borat117
borat117

It's beer guys - don't ƒuckin buy it then.  Like one commenter said - there's plenty of awesome seasonal beers out there.  I do find it quite ridiculous that one would camp out in front of a brewery - wannabe hipster to the max!  I bet someone even tried to sell their place in line. I can just hear it..."dudes, I got the Darkness bro, let's sit on our stoop and brown-bag the Darkness."

Uh
Uh

26 comments about the price of a beer

Guest
Guest

Hey Surdyk - based on your Facebook page I'd say there's a bit more than a 1/2 dozen of us out there!

MX
MX

If you don't like the price, don't buy it. Im sure many people here have a Mac ( I do) even though they cost more then a PC. If you can't justify the price, then buy elsewhere or something else.

Anonymous
Anonymous

While everyone is "disgusted" over the "price gouging" at Surdyk's, no one has even bothered to mention that MGM and a few other stores have priced their Darkness at an even higher price, $39.99.

Pint Punk
Pint Punk

Yet another example of corporate greed. Surly nation is the 99%, any business who thinks they can gouge us will pay the price-- not us. History has proven this: when people are taxed unfairly for their liquor the perpetrators always meet an untimely demise 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.

Craft Beer Time
Craft Beer Time

That "astute Surly fan tweeted that the price is actually $3 more at MGM." was me.

Mark
Mark

Surly is just mad because it left money on the table. You aren't doing your business any good by doing that

Champs
Champs

Surly Nation should take a look at who's responsible for the limited release and the high retail price of its regular beers. It's not because there's a distributor marking it up!

Jae
Jae

I like Surly but am not really a fan of Darkness.  Im really less of a fan of Surdyks, it is the closest liquor store to my home but I never go there because of the prices and the attitude of the staff/owner.   What a dick comment to make toward your customers, be a real man Mr. Surdick and go say that to the face of one of the "half dozen" guys you just insulted... what a douch bag.. I avoid that place like the plague during wine sale...

MPH
MPH

And just think how much they overcharge for their wine! Come shop at Chicago Lake Liquors. We LOVE new customers, and there's a great cheese shop right across the street at Midtown Global Market!

Glali0020
Glali0020

Jim will change his tune if Surly decides to pull stock from his store.  They are one of the more popular beers in the state and have more than enough demand to go without Surdyks.  There was no mention of the @surlybrewing:twitter tweet that mentioned how mad they were about it.  Surly's goal is not obscene profits off their customers and probably don't want their suppliers acting like jackasses either.  Sony would do the same thing if Best Buy tried to sell their things for well above MSRP, they would pull their product.  Hopefully Surly will tell Jim to shove it and send their beers to another more worthy store.

OZ
OZ

Supply and demand.

Guy
Guy

The Schell's guy has a point. I appreciate quality beer, but generating this level of hype around a beer is just kind of silly, and if stores are going to take advantage of that hype, the beer snobs have only themselves to blame. Plenty of brewers release very good seasonal beers without the hive mind getting all crazy about it. If people stopped doing ridiculous things like camping out in front of the brewery, then retailers wouldn't feel like they could get away with price hikes.

David Foureyes
David Foureyes

Half the products in the liquor store at Surdyk's are marked up over 40% what K & L charges...this is nothing new for Jim, which is why he shrugs...he does this every day. Business ethics is not really his thing, booze and rascal scooters...those are his things. Charging what the market will bear is code for gouging. This isn't an auction, it's retail.

The lesson: Be a better consumer. When you get that wine-sale flyer four times a year, mark your favorites, then look them up on K&L or any other online merchant. For the median priced stuff up, online prices are better than the Surdyk's sale even with shipping.

Chris
Chris

There are both pros and cons to social media - this is an example of the latter. It allows ignorance and knee-jerk reactions to snowball out of control.

$18 is already overpriced, and yes $36 is way too much (especially for Darkness), but as noted above, it sold out at Surdyk's so obviously it was in line with what the market is willing to pay.  Buy a 4-pack of Old Rasputin for $10 and find something better to do with your time 'Surly Nation'. And I doubt Surdyk's is worried about losing the hipster/facetweeting clientele making a big deal out of this.

I mean, like Surdyk's is a big company, the 1%, man, which totally doesn't care about the rest of the 99%, man, even if we are too apathetic and passive aggressive to do anything other than type nastygrams into our porn machines. Occupy Surdyk's man!

If anyone is looking for a bottle of Darkness I'll sell you one for $50.

Greg
Greg

Thanks for the tip Louis, but those 6 guys that drive around for beer must have beat me to it. I did find what is probably one of the last 6-packs of Great Divide Rumble there, so no worries.

ryan coleman
ryan coleman

And for that reason I had lunch there today. But I rarely step foot into the liquor store part.

eeguy
eeguy

How is Surly Nation the 99% when all of their products cost as much as they do?  You pretty much have to be a greedy banker to afford to buy their product on a regular basis.  I'm pretty sure Mich Golden Light Nation would have a better shot at proclaiming themselves as the 99%.

Guy
Guy

Brausen, it's so like you to always try to get the last word . . .

Guy
Guy

Hey Champs,

Quit trying to bring common sense into this!  Everyone knows that Jim Sir Dick is a meanie-head and an all around Rascal-ridin' scoundrel, to boot!

Surly Nation is the 99%!  Beat-down Capitalism!  No Justice No PEACE!!  Rah Rah Rah!

Sincerely,

The Guy Under the Bridge with the Beer30 Ice, smokin' the Kools

P.S. Brought to you by Carl's Jr.

Ericshawnsmith
Ericshawnsmith

I paid $20.00 for a bottle of Darkness and planned to cellar it for a year but FAILED!! I drank it that very night. It is a very challenging beer to drink. It was like going 12 rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime but I was victorious in the end, and very buzzed. Great beer worth every penny but would certainly benefit from a year or two in a cool dark basement. Having said that I personally would pay $50.00 on ebay during the December month when it is impossible to find at a store. There is a reason this isn't available year round, it is a very special beer meant to be sipped, savored and shared with a few friends with other beers of the same ilk. I have no need to travel to Surdyk's as I live in Saint Paul and am close to Ale Jail, Big Topp and Haskell's which IMO have better selection and ethos toward beer. However this recent fiasco has stopped any possibility of me making a curious trip to Surdyk's. 

Ryan
Ryan

the problem is that people have learned that they can make an easy buck flipping these beers. people who don't know about beer but want something that is collectible are buying them up and charging lots of money, founders cbs was selling for insane prices on ebay, I saw someone on craigslist trying to sell this years darkness for $100 a bottle. It is people profiteering off the people who don't realize that buying that from someone is only going to further people reselling it for absurd amounts. 

I am willing to pay the $18 for darkness, it is a special beer, it is a beer that I can cellar and enjoy several years down the road.

kevin47
kevin47

So it's unethical for a brick and mortar retailer to sell their product for more than their online counterparts? Interesting. Absurd, but interesting.

Pint Punk
Pint Punk

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.

SmokingTiresV6
SmokingTiresV6

Yeah, but it was his Brausen Brother and Wife who supplied the photo :)

April Brausen
April Brausen

it was from the MGM in Bloomington who still has bottles...took this pic because I couldnt believe that someone would pay this much for darkness. At the time they had at least 10 bottles and they still havent sold out a few days later.

David Foureyes
David Foureyes

Kevin - You are bad at reading. I make no claims of mutual exclusivity between Jim selling beer and being unethical, simply that both conditions exist. Additionally, K&L has brick and mortars that honor their online pricing. I'm glad there is a forum in which I can say what I always want to on Chowhounds, but won't get modded: You are a dipshit.

It is absolutely the prerogative of the business owner to price their merchandise as they see fit. It is the prerogative of the consumer to not be stupid. If condition one exists without condition two, people cannot bitch when they get bamboozled.

See what I did there? I made a conditional clause. Now you can make a comment about how absurd that is...you know, because it exists.

ryan coleman
ryan coleman

Pint Punk: You do not have to go to Surdyk's. You could go to MGM and pay $40.

I will continue to shop at Surdyk's. Why? Because I buy reasonable beer and wine. And deli items at lunch.

You are not being forced to go there. So... if you think that they damaged their brand or reputation with this incident you are sorely mistaken.

ryan coleman
ryan coleman

And... they sell them later on fleaBay for $100/bottle. That's astute capitalism. :)

AG
AG

A lot of people do.  Beer meant to be aged changes character over the course of a year to 5 to 10.

Brian
Brian

*smarter 

Auto-correct on my phone just made me look not so smart

Brian
Brian

People smarted than you

kevin47
kevin47

" Kevin - You are bad at reading."

Not so. You wrote:

"Business ethics is not really his thing,"

So you are saying he is unethical. You stand by that, yes? You then claim he is so because he charges more than 40% over what K&L charges. K&L is principally an online venue. Perhaps it does honor its online pricing. Does it honor its online selection? Do you know how a business works?

"booze and rascal scooters...those are his things"

Per you, Jim Surdyk has late-stage diabetes and has lost his legs. You seem to delight in that fact for whatever reason. If this is in reference to that, it says something about you.

"It is absolutely the prerogative of the business owner to price their merchandise as they see fit. It is the prerogative of the consumer to not be stupid. If condition one exists without condition two, people cannot bitch when they get bamboozled."

So what the hell is your point?

"See what I did there? I made a conditional clause. Now you can make a comment about how absurd that is...you know, because it exists. "

Well said. You are an outstanding writer.

" I'm glad there is a forum in which I can say what I always want to on Chowhounds, but won't get modded: You are a dipshit."

Yeah. I'm glad this particular forum exists. This has been pleasant.

Research
Research

Thanks David.  I just purchased a wine rack and need it filled.  A coworker suggested to go to Surdyks.  I will check out this K&L.  Go to Surdyks to taste wine and buy it on K&L.  Kind of like using Best Buy as a show room floor and buy it online for 33% + cheaper.

Pint Punk
Pint Punk

FACT: The damage done their brand OUTWEIGHS any profit made from the extra $15/bottle. Based on reading headlines, twitter comments and facebook feedback. Even if they made an extra $1k profit there's now dozens of negative articles, blog posts and 200+ unique angry customers between facebook and twitter.  I know this because I have 12+ years working in advertising including social media.

You're welcome to your opinions but bring some proof if you want to dispute the facts.

ryan coleman
ryan coleman

Pint Punk (since I can't respond to your response)...

It's not as though they are the ONLY reseller or that they are in collusion with other resellers to bring the price up. Also this is not gasoline, milk, corn, bread, flour, etc. Your arguments simply are wrong.  You're welcome to be a snob... but you don't have to prove it to the world.

Pint Punk
Pint Punk

Obviously you're not paying attention to the news. The common theme has been the term "price gouging" and "angry customers".

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