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Ouch. $27 for Surly Smoke?

I generally don’t complain about craft beer prices and perhaps it’s an oversight or a mistake on this liquor store’s part but wow… $27 for Surly Smoke? That’s just about twice the going rate. (Found on BA.)


  1. chad says:

    Why would a legitimate liquor store advertise on Craigslist for Smoke? It’s not like that beer won’t sell. Also, who spells “spirits” with a z? Come on.

  2. Rapacious profiteers won’t get any love from me.

  3. Trav says:

    Rapacious? Here I come….

  4. Ben says:

    That is stupid. I hope Omar cuts them off. This reminds me of the $36 Darkness bottles. Pathetic.

  5. Nick says:

    Gouging has become commonplace with the Surly releases. Prices vary widely by liquor store so do your homework lest you be a sheep to the wolves. With Darkness range that I saw was $17.99 – $35. Chicago Lake Liquor being the biggest offender. With Smoke the range I saw was $12.99 to $17.99, in this case Surdyk’s was the highest.

    I was told by a certain liquor store owner the cost to liquor stores was $10 per bottle. When I spoke to this owner on the phone to inquire on pricing he said $19.99. I asked him why he was gouging customers and the owner went on to state he does not like how Surly handles their releases, difficult to deal with, create too much hype/demand etc. He went so far as to say he didn’t want to get their beer anymore.

    I pressed on and asked what that had to do with him overcharging customers. He responded by offering to sell me Smoke for $10/each if I buy a case. I immediately ceased my line of questionning obliged his offer. When I went into the store I found they were selling for $16.99, not $19.99. When I was making my purchase the owner said “I wanted to charge $30”.

    So, end of story I’m sitting on a case of Smoke if anyone wants to buy one, it’s gonna run you $50 a bottle. Call me.

  6. Ben says:

    That $36 bottle of Darkness was being sold by a liquor store that doesn’t even carry Surly I believe. More likely someone who works there went to Darkness Day and picked up a couple bottles to resell.

  7. Trav says:

    The 36 dollar bottle of Darkness was at MGM in woodbury. They have all the year round Surly beers, so they dist. there. That was on par with the price of regular Bender-$12.99

    Why would a store not want to carry a product that sells fast and brings customers in the door??

  8. I don’t know if this qualifies but I was quite shocked to drop a 4-pack, that’s a 4-pack of Founder’s KBS on the counter. The price was not marked but how much could it be? Well it was $18.99. It was the first time in my life I had to say Whoa cowboy, I think I’ll look for something with a little more value and headed back to the cooler. The owner stopped me and said he would knock off $2.00 for me. so thought for a second, I swallowed hard and gave him a $20.00 bill. You do the math, with taxes what they are $16.99 for a 4-pack of beer is quite a hit to the average persons brew budget. Just my two cents or should I say $20 for what it’s worth 🙂

  9. Bill says:

    Once again I need to bounce in a bit. $27 is outrageous, but to be clear, us boys in the NW who don’t get it straight from Surly paid more than $10 a bottle. Just throwing it out there.
    But to be clear, $27 a bottle and doing it on craigslist is weird. Now if he was selling a couch with the smoke, I get the whole craigslist thing.

  10. Ben says:

    Casual encounters with a Smoke, Bill?

  11. njg says:

    I’m very familiar with Vintage Wine & Spiritz (the place that is selling this for $27/bottle), and frankly, I’m surprised. For being a really small place, their beer selection is actually pretty good. I’ve heard the guy say he doesn’t like how Surly releases their stuff, but taking that out on the customers? Give me a break. I think Surly should oblige the guy and yank their distribution. Think of how many liquor stores would be more than happy to be getting releases like Smoke.

  12. Beerfan says:

    I think you have to blame faddish beer drinkers to some degree for the hysteria over special releases. There’s way too much buy in to the exclusivity and the huge/rare/extreme crap.

  13. Trav says:

    For every $27 bottle, there is a $8 bottle of equally great beer that is sitting on the shelf. I love Smoke, but i tell people to give LH Smokejumper a shot if they dig the style. Bit easier to come by as well.

  14. Beerfan says:

    And for every overpriced bottle on a shelf there’s a profiteering jerk trying to sell it on Craigslist or Ebay to some sucker for even more.

    There’s a lot marginal or just plain wrong here. It’s beer, people. Get a grip, a life, some sense.

  15. Trav says:

    If their is a market for it, people are going to sell it. Beer is no different. If you buy something for $20 and can turn around and sell it for $100, not many would think otherwise.

  16. Brandon says:

    I’m with Bill on this one. I had to price mine at $16.99 to make an appropriate amount. We unfortunately don’t get to buy directly from Surly, even though I’m only six miles from them. It’s hard to explain to customers why they can go down the road only two miles and get it for $2 cheaper. $27 is absolutely gouging people though!

  17. Beth says:

    I just noticed that it has been reduced from $27 to $19…hmmmm…word must have gotten back to them regarding the outrage:) Nice work!

  18. Jason B says:

    “Rapacious” – I approve!

  19. Karl says:

    Brandon & Bill,

    I’m not trying to be facetious at all here, just a curious guy, I thought all beer had to go through a distributor before going to the liquor stores? Unless of course the brewery itself is selling growlers or what not. If one of you could explain more as to how this works that’d be very cool. Like I said, just curious.

  20. Jonny says:

    I’m taking a different philosophical POV from this lesson:

    A retailer used Craigslist as a means to promote a highly-anticipated release from a very popular local brewery. Aside from being a total tosser by over-charging for the bottle, he brought his store attention he couldn’t have received from $360 worth of a paid print ad (and granted, it’s the wrong sort of attention, but at least people now know his store is there!)

  21. Matt says:

    @Beth -I sent a pretty nasty email to the craigslist address when I first saw the posting, giving them hell about charging double what everyone else was charging. Maybe it got through.

    @Jonny- You are right, but will any of us shop there after they did this? Good press is always more expensive than bad press. Simple law of retail, if you do something good, a person will tell one other person. If you do something bad, they will tell 10.

    I am not a store owner, but if I was, I certainly would not be basing my profits on a couple once a year released beers. I would know what my bread and butter is and I can’t imagine that these beers are it. In fact, if I were a store owner, I would be selling a beer like this for almost cost. Its not like I would be sitting on the inventory long. And that would generate me some cheap good press.

  22. Bill says:

    Early on, Surly signed on with a distributor, just mainly to help out. They do not have to use the 3 tier system for everyone, until they hit a specific barrel capacity(from what i understand). So until they get to that point, they will continue to self distribute to most of the metro. It is just us in the Northwest Suburbs that have a distributor for Surly. It is really weird considering the brewery is about 5 minutes from my store.
    I am not sure if that answers everything, because I don’t know specifics.

  23. Ben says:

    Then they can start their own distributorship like Brooklyn Brewery, Stone, and others.

  24. Will says:

    Gotta say that on a teacher’s salary I suppose I won’t be sampling ANY of these overpriced craft beers, which is too bad since I try very hard to support local business’. I suppose Surly and others will have to rely on those with deeper pockets and less financial responsabilites to keep them in business.

  25. Kyle says:

    Nice work Will. Way to miss the point!

  26. Beerfan says:


    What was the point exactly and what’ wrong with what Will says?

    It’s beer. A pint to share with your mates.

    Instead it seems as if its more and more becoming about extreme, rare, and expensive. With insane beer zealots breathlessly twittering each new special thing and racing to be the first.

  27. Matt P. says:

    Will…drink better, drink less!!! I spent more on a case of Miller Lite per week, than my two quality six packs I buy now.

    Smoke for $27 is insane, and I am not a huge fan of this beer, so I am not willing to spend $16. I usually will have a couple at Darkness day and am set for the year.

  28. Kyle says:

    I suppose Surly and others will have to rely on those with deeper pockets and less financial responsabilites to keep them in business.

    BF: Surly’s not charging $27 for this. They won’t see a cent more than someone charging $11/bottle. Surly isn’t gouging. Leave them out of this.

    Unless of course Will’s point is that craft beer is overpriced to begin with. In that case he’s even more of an asshat.

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