Unleashing the History of Flying Dog Brewery: From Fearless Beginnings to Craft Beer Excellence

Unleashing the History of Flying Dog Brewery: From Fearless Beginnings to Craft Beer Excellence

Flying Dog Brewing Company’s logo

Flying Dog Brewing

Flying Dog Brewery, nestled in Frederick, Maryland, has become an iconic name in the craft beer industry. Renowned for its bold flavors, provocative artwork, and irreverent spirit, Flying Dog has etched its place in the hearts of beer enthusiasts around the globe. In this article, we take a journey through the captivating history of Flying Dog Brewery, tracing its humble origins to its remarkable rise as a pioneering force in the craft beer scene.

A Fearless Beginning

The Fear by Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery traces its roots back to 1990 when George Stranahan, a doctor and beer aficionado, co-founded the brewery in Aspen, Colorado. Inspired by the works of his close friend, the acclaimed artist Ralph Steadman, Stranahan named the brewery after Steadman’s book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” which featured the infamous “flying dog” illustration. This partnership between art and beer set the stage for Flying Dog’s distinct brand identity and visual aesthetic.

An Eastward Flight

In 1994, Flying Dog Brewery spread its wings and relocated to Frederick, Maryland, seeking a larger brewing facility and expanded market opportunities. This move marked a pivotal moment in the brewery’s history, as it embraced the vibrant Mid-Atlantic region and forged a deep connection with the local community.

Brewing Excellence

Flying Dog Brewery quickly gained recognition for its uncompromising commitment to brewing excellence. Led by visionary brewmaster Matt Brophy, the brewery pushed boundaries, experimenting with innovative ingredients, and crafting beers that challenged conventional styles. From the flagship “Doggie Style” Classic Pale Ale to the award-winning “Raging Bitch” Belgian-Style IPA, Flying Dog’s beers captured the attention and taste buds of craft beer enthusiasts worldwide.

Artistic Rebellion

Raging Bitch by Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog’s unique artistic rebellion became an integral part of its identity. The brewery continued its collaboration with Ralph Steadman, renowned for his iconic illustrations in the works of Hunter S. Thompson. Steadman’s provocative and distinctive artwork adorned Flying Dog’s labels, capturing the brewery’s unapologetic and unconventional spirit. This marriage of art and beer gave Flying Dog a visual identity that stood out in a crowded craft beer landscape.

Raging Bitch is the biggest example of their ‘artistic rebellion’. Refusing to change the name, logo, or beer packaging had found them removing themselves from the Brewer’s Association claiming that they didn’t want to be censored.

The following comes from our article FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery:

(From the heading “Censorship and Controversy):

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).

FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery – The Beer Thrillers

Advocacy and Activism

Beyond brewing exceptional beer, Flying Dog Brewery has been a vocal advocate for freedom of expression and First Amendment rights. The brewery has stood firmly against censorship, fighting legal battles to defend its artistic labels and ensure creative freedom within the craft beer industry. Flying Dog’s commitment to pushing boundaries extends beyond its beer, making it a symbol of artistic and social rebellion.

Community Engagement and Philanthropy

Flying Dog Brewery takes pride in being an active member of the local community and giving back through philanthropic endeavors. The brewery collaborates with various nonprofits and charitable organizations, supporting causes that align with its values. From fundraisers to partnerships with environmental initiatives, Flying Dog demonstrates a commitment to making a positive impact beyond the realm of brewing. This community-centric approach has further solidified the brewery’s reputation as a responsible and socially conscious industry leader.

Crafting a Legacy

Different Flying Dog Beers

Today, Flying Dog Brewery continues to soar to new heights in the craft beer world. It remains dedicated to its core values of brewing uncompromising, boundary-pushing beers while embracing the artistry and freedom of expression that have defined its brand. With a state-of-the-art brewing facility, a talented team, and a loyal following, Flying Dog remains a beacon of innovation and integrity within the craft beer community.

A Legacy of Excellence

Flying Dog Brewery’s impact extends well beyond its remarkable beers. It has played a significant role in shaping the craft beer landscape by embodying the spirit of artistic freedom, advocating for the industry’s rights, and inspiring countless breweries to embrace creativity and individuality. Its unwavering commitment to brewing excellence, coupled with its rebellious nature and dedication to community engagement, has cemented Flying Dog as an influential and respected name in the craft beer world. As it continues to innovate, collaborate, and challenge the status quo, Flying Dog Brewery’s legacy of fearlessness and uncompromising quality is sure to endure for years to come.

Expanding Horizons

Flying Dog Brewery’s success and growing popularity allowed it to expand its reach beyond the United States. In 2008, Flying Dog entered into a partnership with the prominent European brewery, BrewDog, which shares a similar rebellious and innovative approach to brewing. This collaboration led to the creation of international brews, opening new doors for Flying Dog to showcase its beers to a global audience. The partnership also enabled the brewery to gain valuable insights from the European craft beer scene and further refine its brewing techniques.

Innovation and Experimentation

At the core of Flying Dog Brewery’s success lies its relentless pursuit of innovation and experimentation. The brewery’s Brewhouse Rarities series showcases its creativity by introducing limited-edition, small-batch beers that push boundaries and explore new flavor profiles. These experimental brews allow the brewery to continuously evolve and surprise beer enthusiasts with unique and exciting offerings. Flying Dog’s commitment to pushing the envelope has earned it a dedicated following of adventurous beer drinkers who eagerly anticipate the next groundbreaking release.

Embracing Beer Tourism

Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland

Flying Dog Brewery has embraced the concept of beer tourism, inviting enthusiasts to visit its Frederick location for immersive experiences. The brewery offers guided tours that take visitors behind the scenes to witness the brewing process firsthand. Guests can witness the artistry of brewing, sample a wide range of Flying Dog’s beers, and engage with knowledgeable staff members who are passionate about their craft. The brewery also hosts events, including festivals, live music performances, and beer pairing dinners, creating a dynamic and engaging atmosphere for beer lovers to enjoy.

(It is to be noted that their brewery in Frederick Maryland has had its taproom closed since the beginning of the COVID – 19 pandemic in March of 2020.)

FX Matt Brewing Acquires Flying Dog

The following comes from our article FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery:

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.

FX Matt Brewing Company Acquires Flying Dog Brewery – The Beer Thrillers

Please go to that article to read more about FX Matt (Saranac Brewing) Brewing Company Acquiring Flying Dog Brewery. (It was written in May, 2023.)


As noted in the article – Top 50 Craft Breweries of 2022 (by Production) – Flying Dog Brewery was listed as number 34.

In 2019, the brewery reported producing over 100,000 barrels (approximately 3.1 million gallons) of beer annually.

Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewing Company Logo

Flying Dog Brewery’s journey from a fearless beginning to craft beer excellence is a testament to the power of passion, artistry, and unyielding dedication. Through its distinctive flavors, rebellious spirit, and unwavering commitment to creative freedom, Flying Dog has carved out a unique place in the hearts and palates of beer enthusiasts worldwide. As it continues to challenge norms and brew boundary-breaking beers, Flying Dog Brewery remains an inspiration and a trailblazer in the ever-evolving world of craft beer.

Other Flying Dog Brewery Articles

Here’s other related articles:

Articles about Frederick Maryland:

A Series of Craft Beer Articles

This is just one of several in a series of over arching ‘craft beer’ related articles. Several alone in a ‘flagship’ series. In the next few weeks there will be some more that come out as well. I would like to have this general level of different ‘craft beer articles’ that everyone can kind of jump to and read and use for informative purposes, and give a better understanding for the other articles on the site.

Some of these articles are about definitions (like “What is Craft Beer?“) and others are about Craft Breweries in general like the Top 50 Producing Craft Breweries, etc.

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

Thank you for taking the time to read about the History of Flying Dog Brewery. If you like these kinds of articles, let me know in the comments section! Thanks!


-B. Kline

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