Todd Haug, the former head of brewing operations at Minneapolis beer staple Surly Brewing, has joined the team at Chicagoland heavyweight Three Floyds. There, Haug will work alongside head brewer Chris Boggess to help navigate the company through a brewery expansion, the launch of a forthcoming distillery, and to brew new signature beers, per Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. The announcement comes two weeks after Haug resigned from Surly, relinquishing a position he’d held since the company’s infancy in a move that astonished the Midwest’s beer community.
WHY IT MATTERS
At the time of Haug’s resignation, details as to where he would wind up next, and, more importantly, why he was leaving Surly at all, were unavailable. The company said simply he was leaving in pursuit of “other opportunities and challenges” within the beer industry. Both of those blanks were filled in today.
First, the why: As we reported at the time, Haug’s resignation from Surly came seven months after his wife, Linda Haug, was let go from the company. She had worked there as the hospitality operations director. Linda’s unceremonious departure, it’s clear now, was the impetus behind Haug’s decision to step down.
“When I saw what they did to Linda, after she never had a bad performance review or one word of warning, I had to ask, could they do the same thing to me?” Haug said, speaking with Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine.
Surly has yet to respond to a request for comment regarding Haug’s explanation for how things unraveled there. This post will be updated to include any statement offered by Surly if and when it provides one.
Regardless, Haug was more to Surly than a talented brewer. On since the beginning, Haug helped shape the brewery’s aggressive and sardonic identity, and was, in many ways, the public face of the company. Indeed, the company produces a West Coast IPA called Todd The Axe Man, named for the guitar playing beer maker himself. But, in light of his wife being let go, Haug told the magazine he had no ownership stake or other financial incentive to stay on board. “I’m just a lowly brewmaster,” he said.
So he left, and in so doing instantly became one of the hottest free agents on the market. Subsequently, and in the shadows of news stories about other notable brewers (like Mitch Steele, formerly of Stone) leaving reputable posts to start operations of their own, it was impossible not to wonder if Haug would similarly follow. Especially if you connected the dots early on, which seem to suggest Haug and his wife enjoy working together. So how did he land at Three Floyds?
From a purely aesthetic perspective, the fit appears quite natural. Three Floyds is known for the type of aggressive beers Haug made famous at Surly, and, plainly, he just looks like a Three Floyds ambassador. (The two share a love of heavy metal, an affinity that finds its way into Three Floyds branding). But more likely, the selling point was that Mr. Haug wasn’t the only person Three Floyds was interested in. Three Floyds is now hiring Mrs. Haug as well.
“When Nick [Floyd, co-founder, Three Floyds] heard what happened to Linda, he called her immediately and said, ‘if you guys could work for us, that would be an all-star team of brewers and hospitality people. We could join forces and have fun doing it,” he told the magazine. “When I gave my notice I suddenly got job offers from all over the planet… But I knew what I wanted to do – to go to Three Floyds.”
The benefits for Three Floyds are obvious. Less obvious is what the loss of Haug—and his brand-informing attitude—will mean for Surly.
Brewer Todd Haug Goes to Chicagoland’s Three Floyds [Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine]