Cover Story Notebook: More Fun for Surly’s Ansari

In an ongoing series, Brewer will take a small note from interviews of some of the cover stories it has run and give a small tidbit that didn’t make the issue but is still worth diving into.

The ​craft ​beer industry seemed much sexier ​to Omar Ansari ​because he ​came from a background of industrial abrasives, where ​the co-founder of Surly Brewing had worked with his parents his whole adult life.

“It’s identifying feature is letters and numbers indicating hardness and grit. It’s pretty boring stuff,” Ansari ​told Brewer in a recent cover story interview for the July/August issue, out soon.

And business was slowing as ​his parent’s factory was losing business to Mexico. “So this just was such an easy wide-open avenue of creativity.

The big thing ​Ansari wanted ​was ​to make sure the name of the brewery was something ​so they could have some fun with beer names.

​”​And it seemed so easy from where I was coming from​,” he said. ​​”It was easy to have this pretty vibrant, huge aesthetic to stand out because there was nothing like it.

​”Now you go to a liquor store and it’s like every color of the palette is out there. Hot pinks and oranges and everything, but in ​20​06 it just wasn’t.”

​It was all bottled beer as well, so Surly did 16-ounce cans which Ansari believes ​Surly was the second brewery after Kettlehouse to do so.

“We had a whole can to do our art on so that just seemed to be an easy way to kind of develop in it,” he said. “When we started we knew we’re not doing fucking canoes and lakes. I mean, I love it. But it’s like, I’ve seen enough of those ads. We’re in the city. In the metro let’s embrace that part of it, not just drinking beer around a campfire. So we’ve tried to embrace a little bit more of an urban/gritty edge to the whole marketing.”

Paired that with ​fellow co-founder Todd ​Haug’s affinity for metal and that’s how Surly got its edge.

Photo courtesy Surly Brewing

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