By Kevin Sawyer
The local foodie outrage du jour relates to the decision by Surdyk’s to charge $36 for a bottle of the much-ballyhooed Surly Darkness. The idea is, because most stores sell (out within hours) the brew for $18, the good folks at Surdyk’s were thereby obliged to do the same.
To which: Hogwash.
For starters, price fixing happens to be illegal. That swings both ways. Surdyk’s may (and often does) choose to undercut competition by lowering prices. That’s how our economy works. Stores cannot agree to charge a certain amount, which would screw over customers. They are thusly allowed to charge whatever they please, to avoid getting screwed.
Second, contra owner Omar Ansari’s outrage, Surly makes a killing doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Surly pushes the market value of its beer by obfuscating the degree to which the brewery makes it available. Having had an iteration of the Darkness, I can say with confidence the empirical value of the stuff is less than half of $18. Most great imperials are around $6-8 for 750 ml. It certainly doesn’t merit waiting overnight in the cold, as Surly expects its customers to do in late October just for the opportunity to buy the stuff.
Third, it just so happens Surdyk’s is an outstanding place to shop for booze. The store is clean, with an intuitive layout, absurdly strong selection and a very helpful staff. This isn’t some municipal liquor store arbitrarily cooking the books. Surdyk’s is consolidating the cost to provide an extra measure of service (which includes free parking and carryout) against a very popular item.
If you want to be zealous about consuming Surly beer, be my guest. If you want to camp out all night for it, I’ll be a few blocks away, sleeping in my own bed. I happen to think the Abrasive ale is a full iteration better than the Darkness, but to each his own. But if you’re planning to boycott Surdyk’s for the sheer fact they are charging market price to sell one particular product, you are cutting your nose off to spite your face.