Don’t get me wrong, I love Surly, and I really enjoyed my can of Furious, but there’s something going on here. Something more than just the beer. Let me take a minute to throw out a few ideas on what’s gotten everyone so hyped up about Surly.
1. At it’s core, Surly beer is all about passion. We know that it’s a small operation led by people that care about beer, hell even the name Surly comes from Omar and his wife Becca’s frustration at going into a bar and finding no good beer. Surly means “the anger fueled by the inability to find good beer.”
2. Surly is proud to be local. Sure they’re expanding and you can get Surly currently in some Chicago bars as well, but it’s pretty clear that their first priority is supplying Minnesota stores and bars. Not only that, but they support local businesses and artists, from the ingredients (like American barley from Rahr Malting) to their artwork (my friend Adam Turman has done a couple of sweet posters for them).
3. Probably the most important thing is that these things come through in Surly’s products. A can of Furious stands out from the rest. It’s red color and bold lines are not typical for the beer industry but they scream attitude. And the can itself is even a careful decision on Surly’s part to make the beer better and more portable. Or for those of you that prefer Surly from a tap, you’ve no doubt seen the kick-ass non-conforming Surly tap handles. Omar explains that these were designed over 6 months and are poured out of molten aluminum by Carley Foundry in Blaine, MN. In fact the more you dig into, the more you realize just how much thought has been put into every aspect of Surly.
So there you have it, I think Surly deserves the hype. They care about good beer, they support local businesses, and their design kicks ass. On a side note, I did find out that the Surly logo was designed by a local design firm Bidwell ID courtesy of Creative Director Todd Verlander. I for one would love to see a case study on their site for the logo and packaging work they’ve done.