By All Means

a podcast by TCB

Omar Ansari

Omar Ansari

Surly Brewing Co. founder Omar Ansari takes us back to where it all started, and how he's adjusting to big changes in the beverage industry.

By Allison Kaplan
Air Date: Thursday August 17, 2023

The Surly Brewing Co. story is the stuff of entrepreneurial legend in Minnesota, but in recent years, founder Omar Ansari has had to contend with an industry wide decline of beer sales, diversification of the adult beverage market, pandemic shutdowns, and changing employee expectations.

“Things have changed and we’re having to change with it,” Ansari says.

Over the summer, Ansari got back to his roots: visiting neighborhood bars that sell Surly, connecting with fans, and telling the story.

In this wide ranging conversation, we go back to how it all started, and then talk about how Ansari had had to come around to doing contract brewing and introducing new beverages like hop water and a THC seltzer to stay competitive. “If that’s where we’re at, that’s what will do.”

Then we go back to the classroom with the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. Assistant professor Casey Frid has conducted research on the craft beer industry and talks about how the market saturation can chip away at a brand’s character. “Previously, craft brewing was about independence,” Frid says. “Now you do what have to to survive.”


Allison Kaplan

Allison Kaplan is editor-in-chief of Twin Cities Business.


Omar Ansari

Surly Brewing Founder/President

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