Surly Brewing founder on Big Beer entering craft market: “kind of terrifying”

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Credit: gomattolson

(Minneapolis, MN) – Surly Brewing Company founder, Omar Ansari, joined Minnesota Public Radio in late November to chat about a number of topics related to the beer market both on a national level and a local level.

Some of the more interesting moments from the interview came when Ansari discussed the ‘big beer’ companies. One of those moments is captured below…

Q: Is there more competition for raw materials, especially for hops?

A: […] That’s always the fear on my end when the big guys get in, if the Buds and Millers decide to get more into craft beer and just go and somehow figure out how to buy all of the supply of it, that is kind of a terrifying prospect.

Q: Do you think that they are looking at that?

A: Well, Budweiser bought Goose Island out of Chicago, one of the older craft breweries, and they’re allowing them to do what they want to do and getting more of that beer out there but for someone that runs a craft brewery, I can’t say it is anything but kind of terrifying for them to come in because they have other motives than just trying to make good beer.

Ansari also touched on topics like the craft beer bubble, growth in Minnesota’s beer scene, challenges in opening a new brewery and working to change state laws. Watch the hour-long video below.



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8 thoughts on “Surly Brewing founder on Big Beer entering craft market: “kind of terrifying”

  1. I hope AB has other motives…LIKE MAKING MONEY. I hope Mr. Ansari has the same motives too. This isn’t a school project. This is one of the biggest most competitive industries.

  2. Is Surly’s only motive for business “to make good beer”?
    I’m not defending the big guys, but often small craft brewers like to hide behind a false mantle of self-righteousness when money is nearly as big a motivator for them as anybody at AB or MC.

  3. I would like to think the difference between the big guys and the small guys is how the money is being made, not that one of the goals is to make money. You’d be hard pressed to argue that the all of the business practices of a publically traded, multinational corporation are exactly the same as a privately held, small company, as private companies are not invariably beholden to shareholders, have less leverage because of size, etc. That said, of course the goal of any business is to be profitable. Let’s not straw man him…

  4. I would imagine money is always a factor when you own a business (craft beer or otherwise). The difference is that someone like AB wants to be in every store in every town in every country. Companies like surley for example see business differently. Sure they want to expand and make money, but they are more concerned with a local impact and a quality product. Surley came from the ground up scraping their way into the industry where AB had a good product (Budweiser) and when the craft beer bubble started they just started buying companies to make cash. Goose island, shock top, Stella, and the list goes on. They also hold down legislation to allow micro brews to sell bottled beer in stores. These guys don’t care about the common person (like their marketing campaign lets you think they do). I for one can’t bring myself to patron any beer owned by AB or Miller.

  5. Pingback: Surly Brewing approached 20,000 barrels produced in 2012 | BeerPulse

  6. I saw a great interview with Sam Calgione of Dogfish Head and he put this topic very well. It’s not that the smaller breweries don’t care about making money. The difference is that AB is a publicly traded company where the board is held by law to make decisions where the bottom line goal is to maximize shareholder wealth. A smaller brewery that is owned and operated by a much smaller group of people can make decisions to improve the quality of the beer that a publicly traded company could not even bring up at a board meeting. The operation aspect is completely different.

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