Flying Dog Brewery
|Founders||George Stranahan, Richard McIntyre|
Flying Dog Brewery is a craft brewery located in Frederick, Maryland. Founded in 1990 by George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre, it is the largest brewery in Maryland. As of 2015, Flying Dog is the 37th largest craft brewery in the United States.
A physicist with degrees from the California Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Institute of Technology who had previously co-founded the Aspen Center for Physics in 1962, George Stranahan left an associate professorship at Michigan State University in 1972 to assume ownership of the Flying Dog Ranch in Carbondale, Colorado, a town thirty miles northwest of Aspen. Eight years later, he made his first foray into the restaurant business, opening the Woody Creek Tavern in nearby Woody Creek, Colorado. It became notable for its association with journalist and Woody Creek resident Hunter S. Thompson, who frequented the establishment on a near-nightly basis for late lunches when in town; Thompson and Stranahan (who previously served as Thompson's landlord) had enjoyed a close friendship since the late 1960s.
Demand for Flying Dog beers quickly grew beyond the brewpub's capacity, so in 1994, the company opened a 50-barrel brewery in Denver, Colorado, which was a joint venture with the brewpub Wynkoop Brewing Company.
In 2000, Flying Dog purchased Wynkoop's interest in the brewery and opened a second location in Denver at 2401 Blake Street.
Looking to expand again in 2006, Flying Dog purchased Frederick Brewing Company in Frederick, Maryland in May and began producing beer in both Maryland and Colorado. Flying Dog also acquired the Wild Goose brand and produced those beers until December 2010, when the brand was sold to Logan Shaw Brewing Company.
In December 2007, Flying Dog announced that it was closing the Denver brewery and would solely produce beer in its Frederick facility. At that time, the Denver brewery was in need of at least $1 million in infrastructure improvements. Flying Dog was also experiencing its strongest growth to date and could surpass Denver production levels by concentrating operations in Maryland.
In 1983, George Stranahan, Richard McIntyre and a crew of 10 close friends decided to climb the K2 mountain in the Himalayas, the second highest mountain peak in the world. The story goes that they had with them a suitcase of contraband, a donkey, and a Sherpa. About halfway through the trip, the contraband was depleted and their Sherpa had suffered a broken leg. Eventually, the entire crew made it back unharmed. After the trek, the group settled in the Flashman Hotel in Rawalpindi, Pakistan to have a drink. Hanging on a wall of the hotel was a painting of a flying dog made by a local Pakistani woman. George and his crew were inspired by the picture and the idea of the flying dog, which eventually took root in his creation of the company.
Hunter S. Thompson
Author Hunter S. Thompson lived a few blocks from George Stranahan's Flying Dog Ranch in Colorado. The two became good friends over common interests in drinking and firearms. In 1990, Thompson introduced Stranahan to Ralph Steadman, who went on to create original artwork for Flying Dog's beer labels in 1995. His first label artwork was for the Road Dog Porter, a beer inspired and blessed by Thompson who wrote a short essay about it titled "Ale According to Hunter". In 2005, the brewery created a new beer in Thompson's honor, Gonzo Imperial Porter. Initially in limited-release in 750mL bottles, the Gonzo Imperial Porter is now one of the regular offerings of the brewery.
Labels and artwork
Flying Dog Brewery is noted for using the unusual art of Ralph Steadman, best known as the illustrator of the works of Hunter S. Thompson, on its labels. His Flying Dog artwork typically consists of strange, twisted imaginations of dogs with wings, featuring a vast array of bright and vibrant colors.
In October 2013, in honor of the relationship between Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson, Flying Dog Brewery created an exhibition titled "The Gonzo Collection", featuring reinterpretations and responses to Steadman's work by several notable international artists, including Bob Dob, Nathan Spoor, Justin Bua, Michael Owen, Nanami Cowdry, and Tatiana Suarez. In regards to the month-long exhibit, Flying Dog CEO stated, "Ralph is one of the true artists in the world. He is also a principled, loving, generous human being. To pay tribute to him by furthering his impact in the art world is only appropriate."
Since moving to Frederick Maryland, Flying Dog Brewery has become a large supporter of the burgeoning Frederick music scene. After hosting a yearly summer concert series, in 2015 the brewery released "Frederick - Volume One". A compilation album featuring new unreleased music from 15 Frederick based artists and bands, including indie-rock bands Big Hoax and Silent Old Mtns. The album was released at the first annual Frederick Fall Fest, a mid-sized music festival presented by Flying Dog.
In 2009, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission denied Flying Dog Brewery the licensing right to sell their 20th anniversary beer, "Raging Bitch" in Michigan, with claims that the label is "detrimental to public health, safety and welfare". In 2011, Flying Dog, with help from the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, filed suit against the 2009 decision, citing freedom of speech. Several months later, the MLCC reversed their original decision, allowing "Raging Bitch" to finally be sold in the state of Michigan.
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