On Tuesday, June 28, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission reversed its decision banning Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA from the Great Lakes State.
The move came three weeks after our first hearing on the case before the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We not only argued that the original decision by the Commission violated our First Amendment rights, but also sought a preliminary injunction to lift enforcement of the Commission’s ban while waiting for a final judgment from the court. Michigan reversed its decision to ban Raging Bitch in the state before the Court ruled on our request for an injunction.
Previously, the Commission declared that our speech – in the form of the name “Raging Bitch” and accompanying label imagery and text by renowned artist Ralph Steadman – endangered public safety and was harmful to any adult who might read the beer’s name on a restaurant menu.
“The Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s involuntary reversal of opinion is a victory for craft beer,” Flying Dog CEO and General Partner Jim Caruso said. “Now, the great people of Michigan are no longer denied access to Raging Bitch, Flying Dog’s top-selling beer. But the fight for First Amendment rights in Michigan continues to rage on.”
Though the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has now approved the sale of Raging Bitch in the state, we have no interest in dropping the First Amendment lawsuit. With the support of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the law firm of Gura & Possessky, we originally filed suit in U.S. District Court on March 25 not only to overturn the Commission’s regulation banning Raging Bitch, but also to deem their ability to ban any beer label that they find offensive unconstitutional. Additionally, the suit seeks to recover damages from the loss of sales under the rule.
“We’re glad that the people of Michigan are now free to decide for themselves whether Flying Dog’s beer labels are, like the beer, in good taste. Our lawsuit forced the Liquor Commissioners to see at least some of the light. But the litigation won’t end until the Commissioners accept responsibility for the damage they’ve caused by violating the First Amendment,” our attorney Alan Gura, partner at Gura & Possessky, said.
The controversy began in September 2009, when we applied for a license to sell Raging Bitch, then our 20th anniversary commemorative beer, in the state of Michigan. The Commission then barred the sale of Raging Bitch, claiming that the beer’s label is “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.”
When our brew crew got wind of an employee crab feast at the brewery, brewer Ryan Yeardon (pictured) and cellarman BJ Pagnotta decided to do what they do best: Make a beer!
Using our pilot brewing system, they created (and named it themselves) Toe Pincher Golden Ale — the perfect complement to steamed Maryland Blue Crabs. Toe Pincher is a cross between a Kolsch and an American IPA. They played around with hops that are new to us here at Flying Dog and the result is delicious.
Since this is for (ahem) internal consumption only and will not be released this year, we thought we’d share the ingredients for our homebrewing friends:
- Malt: 2-Row Pale, CaraPilsner, Biscuit, Flaked White Wheat
- Hops: Super Galena, Bravo, Delta
- Yeast: California Ale
So how does it pair with some Old Bay-smothered beauties? Our employee crab feast is tonight, so follow us on Twitter for our thoughts!
Join us to celebrate the release of Table for Two, “A Maryland Collaboration for the Ages” between Flying Dog Brewery and The Brewer’s Art, on Monday, June 27. The party starts at 4 pm at The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore.
A tribute to Belgian-Style table beers and Maryland’s agricultural roots, Table for Two is augmented with Westmalle yeast and brewed with local wildflower honey. It will be on draft at The Brewer’s Art and we’ll have our brewers on hand Monday to talk about the concept, recipe development process, test batches, and more.
We’ve teamed up with The Brewers Art in Baltimore for Table for Two — a beer that is being billed as “A Maryland Collaboration for the Ages.”
We started working closely with The Brewers Art on a recipe in March and landed on a beer that pays homage to the traditional table beers that have existed in Belgium for centuries. Table for Two will be a variation on the old world style with unique added ingredients like honey.
“We look to do collaborations in instances where it’s clear we will grow and learn from the partnership,” Flying Dog Brewmaster and COO Matt Brophy explained. “We have always had great admiration for The Brewers art and their beers. It was clear that working closely with them gave us the opportunity to try some new things and break the rules as well, which we always enjoy doing.”
Table for Two will be available at the beginning of July in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia.
SAVOR week in DC is upon us and we’ve got some bad ass events planned all over the District.
Monday, May 30
Craft, Crabs & Casks
Noon to 5 pm
We’re kicking off SAVOR week with a craft beer and crab feast at Policy. Joining Flying Dog are Heavy Seas, Port City, DC Brau, and Dogfish Head. All beers will be $5 (including specialty casks) and Chef Brian Murphy will be cooking crabs with all of the fixings.
Tuesday, May 31
The Lore Behind Our Labels
Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe
5 to 7 pm
Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso and Anita Thompson, author of The Gonzo Way and beloved wife of the late Hunter S. Thompson will be at Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe to discuss “the lore behind the labels of Flying Dog.”
The two will delve into Flying Dog’s unique relationship with our Gonzo Godfathers: George Stranahan, Ralph Steadman, and (of course) Hunter S. Thompson.
Afterwords Cafe will be featuring the following during the event:
- Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
- Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter (aged for months in Stranahans Oak whiskey barrels)
- Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale
- Limited-edition Coffee Stout (on nitro)
M-Paired with Lagunitas and Flying Dog
5 pm to close
Flying Dog and Lagunitas, two breweries known for brewing great beer, standing up for what they believe in, and occasionally causing a little trouble, are teaming up to showcase their portfolios at Pizzeria Paradiso on M Street.
The event will feature 5 beers from each brewery, along with food pairings. Here’s the style lineup:
- Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale & Lagunitas Dogtown Pale
- Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA & Lagunitas IPA
- Flying Dog “In de Wildeman” Farmhouse IPA & Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
- Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA with Centennial & Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter & Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown
Wednesday, June 1
Death by Hops and Smoke
The Big Hunt
Join us for a brewer-led tasting of some of our more specialty beers at The Big Hunt. The event will feature:
- Backyard Ale (a collaboration between Flying Dog and Chef Bryan Voltaggio)
- “In de Wildeman” Farmhouse IPA
- Snake Dog IPA
- Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
- Single Hop Imperial IPA with Centennial
- Single Hop Imperial IPA with Simcoe
- Double Dog Double Pale Ale
- Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
Tickets are $40 and include 6 oz. samples of each beer, along with complimentary appetizers. This event will sell out, so contact The Big Hunt to purchase tickets soon!
Thursday, June 2
Backyard Symposium Reception
Following our industry and invitation-only Backyard Symposium educational sessions and social at the brewery, we’ll be showcasing the featured breweries at ChurchKey. On draft that night will be Brewery Ommegang, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, and yours truly.
Friday, June 3
SAVOR After Party
Flying Dog is hosting an after party at RFD immediately following SAVOR. Anyone with a SAVOR ticket or hard copy invitation is welcome to attend. (Contact your local Flying Dog friend for an invitation.)
Complimentary Flying Dog will be served, along with a performance by Lucas and the Lovelys.
Saturday, June 4
SAVOR After Party
Iron Horse Taproom
Flying Dog is hosting an after party at Iron Horse immediately following SAVOR. Anyone with a SAVOR ticket or hard copy ticket is welcome to attend. (Contact your local Flying Dog friend for an invitation.)
Complementary Flying Dog will be served, along with other great craft beer available for purchase.
Flying Dog Brewery will host “The American Craft Beer Revolution,” a panel discussion and press conference, Friday, June 3 at the National Press Club. Beginning at 3 pm in the Holeman Lounge, the event will provide a platform for leaders of the industry to offer their experience, insight, and outlook while they are in Washington, DC for the Brewers Association’s SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience.
The Brewers Association will begin with a presentation on the craft beer industry followed by a moderated panel discussion between:
- Jim Caruso, Flying Dog Brewery CEO
- Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Founder & President
- Steve Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Brand Ambassador
- Rick Kempen, Bier & Co. (Amsterdam), Export Manager
- Tomme Arthur, The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company, COO
Participating panelists and their respective breweries will be providing complimentary beer for attendees to enjoy during the event.
After the panel discussion, a social reception and meet and greet will run until 5 pm.
Due to the panelist participants and the public demand for their excellent American Craft Beer, space for this event will be extremely limited. Arriving early is recommended to ensure entry.