FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery

FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery

A Big Brewery Shift

Yesterday around noon, a huge brewery shift was announced. F.X. Matt Brewing Company (Saranac) from New York has acquired Flying Dog Brewery (from Maryland). New York’s FX Matt Brewing Company has struck a deal to acquire Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland,both companies announced today via press releases, social media, and other formats.

As of this writing, no financial terms have been discussed, disclosed, or announced so far as the deal pertains. Flying Dog’s production will begin shifting to FX Matt Brewing Company’s Utica New York production facility over the summer; unfortunately this means that Flying Dog’s production in Maryland will cease and stop sometime mid August.

They are looking to keep a presence of Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, choosing not to fully abandon the area that gave birth to Flying Dog Brewery and that supported them.

Flying Dog will maintain a presence in Maryland as FX Matt is seeking a location for an innovation brewery and taproom in Frederick.

FX Matt is a logical fit for Flying Dog as the company has contract brewed many of Flying Dog’s offerings over the years due to capacity constraints at the Maryland brewery.

FX Matt to Acquire Flying Dog, Creating Top-10 BA-Defined Craft Brewery – Brewbound News

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery

…a great opportunity to grow in the Mid-Atlantic region.

FX Matt CEO Fred Matt (in talking about acquiring Flying Dog Brewery)

CEO Fred Matt was very enthusiastic in the announcement of their acquiring Flying Dog Brewery. Discussing how it’ll help them distribute their own, as well as Flying Dog’s brand of beers more, as well as growing their footprint and area scope.

When you think of craft beer in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic, Flying Dog is the first brand that pops into your head. We are excited to join forces with such a great brand and look forward to helping Flying Dog reach new heights.

FX Matt Brewing Company CEO Fred Matt

Flying Dog Brewery’s CEO – Jim Caruso was also very enthusiastic over the deal. Saying how he believes that FX Matt Brewing Company, and CEO Fred Matt, will do a wonderful job of handling the Flying Dog Brewery brand.

I could not imagine a better steward for the Flying Dog brand going forward than FX Matt.

Flying Dog Brewery CEO Jim Caruso

Jim Caruso continued:

We have worked with them for many years, they are a prestigious family-owned brewery with more than 135 years of history, they are committed to building on the deep roots Flying Dog has established in Maryland, and their capabilities will take Flying Dog to a new level. “It is important to me that FX Matt Brewing is offering employment opportunities to as many employees as possible and we will provide job placement assistance to team members. Frederick is a great place to live and do business, unfortunately even though we have invested millions of dollars in the brewery, it has too many limitations and puts Flying Dog at too great a competitive disadvantage.

Flying Dog Brewery CEO Jim Caruso

In 2021, FX Matt Brewing Company completed a nearly $35 million brewery upgrade, (as shown in the Brewbound News article linked there) with the investments made possible by the sale of a 20% stake in the business to the Brooklyn Brewery, which has contract produced its beer at F.X. Matt Brewing’s Utica production based facility, for around 30 years.

The deal between FX Matt and Flying Dog will bring together the 14th and 34th largest Brewers Association – defined craft breweries by volume in 2022, respectively, as shown on the Brewer’s Association list here – Top 50 Craft Breweries. This will instantly catapult them by volume into the Top 10 of that list.

Flying Dog Brewery’s CMO – Ben Savage will become head of the Flying Dog Brewing Division after the FX Matt take over.

This acquisition gives our brand immediate capabilities and flexibility to adapt to the changing consumer preferences. There will always be a market for great beer, but the lines between beer, cocktails, spirits, and wine continue to blur. FX Matt Brewing Company gives Flying Dog significant resources to not only optimize our current product portfolio, but also quickly develop products in new, emerging categories.

Current Flying Dog CMO – Ben Savage

The merge between these two will certainly be shifting things in the overall brewing landscape, as far as volume, distribution, sales, and shelf space are concerned.

In 2021 (the latest year that production data is available), FX Matt produced 183,200 barrels of beer (-4%), while Flying Dog’s output reached 81,231 barrels (+4%). The two breweries’ combined output of more than 264,400 barrels of beer would rank them as a top-10 BA-defined craft brewery that year.

Both Flying Dog and FX Matt are elder breweries within their respective corners of the industry. FX Matt was founded in 1888 and is in its fourth generation of family ownership. At 135 years old, it is the fourth-oldest family-owned brewery in the country, according to a press release. FX Matt’s brands include Saranac, Utica Club, Flying Bison and beyond beer offerings such as McKenzie’s Hard Cider and Jed’s mule RTDs.

Members of the Matt family have long been seen as leaders in the industry, with the BA’s annual F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award given to a person who advocates for beer at the state or federal level. Earlier this year, Fred Matt was named chairman of the Beer Institute’s inaugural Brewers’ Council.

George Stranahan founded Flying Dog in 1990 as a brewpub in Aspen, Colorado. The brewery added additional capacity in Colorado throughout the 1990s, before acquiring Maryland-based Frederick Brewing Company in 2006. The Frederick facility became its sole headquarters after the company announced it would shutter its Colorado brewery in December 2007, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Stranahan’s friendship with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson colored much of the brewery’s attitude and branding, which was created by artist Ralph Steadman at Thompson’s recommendation, according to the brewery’s website.

FX Matt to Acquire Flying Dog, Creating Top-10 BA-Defined Craft Brewery – Brewbound News

Flying Dog Brewery’s Stance on Free Speech and Censorship

Flying Dog Brewery has had a bit of a history of ‘controversy’. They’ve always partnered with local (and national) groups, organizations, and fundraisers about free speech, censorship, and anti – book banning. With beer names like “Raging Bitch” it is easy to see how they drew the ire of different groups over the years.

Flying Dog Brewery has also used a few sexually explicit, or sexually suggestive names over the years as well. With beer names like Pearl Necklace Chesapeakee Stout, and Doggy Style Pale Ale, amongst a few others.

They have been partnered with Ralph Steadman for artwork on their beer cans and beer bottles for quite a while now. Ralph Steadman also did the artwork for Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas, as well as other books (he also recently did the artwork for a new edition of Animal Farm by George Orwell).

Flying Dog has long held free speech as a company value. In 2009, Flying Dog filed a federal challenge after the Michigan Liquor Control Commission rejected a label for Raging Bitch, the brewery’s 20th anniversary beer, as well as several other labels containing the word “bitch.” Flying Dog won its case in 2015 and was awarded a six-figure damages payment, which it used to establish the First Amendment Society.

The brewery terminated its Brewers Association (BA) membership in 2017 after the trade group amended its Advertising and Marketing Code to curtail the use of “sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images” in craft beer marketing.

FX Matt to Acquire Flying Dog, Creating Top-10 BA-Defined Craft Brewery – Brewbound News

Brewer Association Top 50 Links

For More Information on Flying Dog Brewery

The following information comes from Untappd. Flying Dog Brewery is a regional brewery fro Frederick, Maryland. They have 88 unique beers, with over 2 million ratings, and a global average rating of 3.62 (as of 5.23.23). Their Untappd description reads: We are craft beer crusaders who stand tall and never eat shit.

You can find them on the following social media pages:

For More Information on F.X. Matt Brewing Company (Saranac)

The following information comes from Untappd. Saranac Brewery (FX Matt Brewing Company) is a regional brewery from Utica New York. They have 412 unique beers with over 800,000 ratings, and a global average rating of 3.47 (as of 5.23.23). Their Untappd description reads: The FX Matt Brewing Company is the only brewery in America to have three district tours in craft beer: – Our founder, FX Matt, was making craft beers pre-Prohibition (including his West End IPA (AKA Legacy) in1914) – The “Utica Club” brand was notably crafty for the WWII era, having made a large variety of styles – Finally, we came full circle back to our craft roots when we initiated the Saranac brand in the mid-80’s. Why does all of this matter? It Means we’ve got a whole lot of expertise in the craft space.

You can find them on the following social media pages:

Brewery News

Interested in finding out about many other brewery openings, new locations, closings, movings, and in general brewery news? You can check out our links below:

Thank You For Reading

I honestly can’t say the last time I had a Flying Dog beer, or a Saranac beer. I know both breweries seemed like a much bigger deal, ten – twelve – fifteen years ago when I was getting into craft beer. I loved the Flying Dog beer art due to Ralph Steadman and the Gonzo / Hunter S. Thompson correlation.

Its interesting and amazing how times change. This might be a big shift for the brewing industry with two Top 35 breweries merging, but I’m not sure it’ll be all that huge. Time will tell.

Cheers All!

-B. Kline

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