Flying Dog Brewery

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Flying Dog Brewery
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
Founded1990; 28 years ago (1990)
FoundersGeorge Stranahan
Richard McIntyre
HeadquartersFrederick, Maryland, U.S.
Production output
100,000+ barrels
OwnerGeorge Stranahan

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.[1] As of 2017, Flying Dog is the 28th largest craft brewery in the United States.[2]


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.

In 1990, Stranahan opened the Flying Dog Brewpub in Aspen. It was the first brewery to open in Aspen in over 100 years, and was one of the first brewpubs in the Rocky Mountain region.[3]

Demand for Flying Dog beers quickly grew beyond the brewpub's capacity, so in 1994, the company opened a 30-barrel brewery (Broadway Brewing Company) in Denver, Colorado, which was a joint venture with the brewpub Wynkoop Brewing Company.[4]

In 2000, Flying Dog purchased Wynkoop's interest in the brewery and opened a second location in Denver at 2401 Blake Street.[5]

Looking to expand again in 2006, Flying Dog purchased Frederick Brewing Company in Frederick, Maryland in May[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Flying Dog Brewery had the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer per year 2015, they are currently upgrading the facility to produce 700,000 barrels per year.[9]

As of October, 2017 the expansion project has been put on hold with the owner citing legislative issues.[10]


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.[11] 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, Fatima Jinnah. The painting depicts a classical Chinese Fawn Pug with wings soaring across the verdant foothills of the Himalayas. Jinnah's mythical incarnation of the pug, a recognizable symbol of the Chinese aristocracy in the Song Dynasty among the people of the Tibetan plateau, is thought to evoke nostalgia for the prosperity and trade that flourished in central Asia in the centuries prior to the Opium Wars and semi-colonialism of China in the mid-20th century. 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. [12][13][14][15][16][17]

Hunter S. Thompson[edit]

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".[citation needed] 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[edit]

Label of Flying Dog's "Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale"

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."[18]


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,[19] a mid-sized music festival presented by Flying Dog.[20]

Legal issues[edit]

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".[21] 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.[22]

He later spoke at events by Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty about the legal battle, and was described as "an ardent believer in free expression".[23][24]


  1. ^ "Flying Dog Brewery is by far the largest beer producer in Maryland - Baltimore Business Journal". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  2. ^ "BREWERS ASSOCIATION RELEASES 2017 TOP 50 BREWING COMPANIES BY SALES VOLUME". Brewers Association. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  3. ^ "Flying Dog Brewery - History -- Beer Info". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  4. ^ "Tap Takeover: Inside Flying Dog Brewery - BrightestYoungThings - DC". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  5. ^ "Flying Dog brewery makes LoDo move - Denver Business Journal". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  6. ^ "Business notes". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  7. ^ "Flying Dog to move beer production to Maryland - Baltimore Business Journal". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  8. ^ "News from Flying Dog Brewery •". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  9. ^, Nancy Lavin. "New brewery project on tap for Flying Dog in Frederick". The Frederick News-Post. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Alaina G. Levine (2010). "Brewing a Life of Worts and Ale". The American Physics Society. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  12. ^ Elliott Niblock (25 December 2015). "Flying Dog Brewery Company". The Hoppy Hour. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  13. ^ George Stranahan (22 August 2007). Breakfast with George Stranahan and the Meaning of Flying Dog (Video). Woody Creek, CO: Flying Dog Brewery.
  14. ^ Dave Kiefaber (9 May 2014). "The Self-Made Man: George Stranahan". TBSMag. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  15. ^ Mike (1 April 2012). "Flying Dog: Raging Bitch (Part II)". The Thirsty Muse. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  16. ^ Eli McAdams (22 May 2015). "BEER REVIEW: Flying Dog Brewery - Lucky SOB". Culture Collide. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  17. ^ Jess Lebow (2015). The United States of Craft Beer: A Guide to the Best Craft Breweries Across America. Adams Media.
  18. ^ "Flying Dog Brewery Presents The Gonzo Collection, An Art Tribute to Ralph Steadman, in Baltimore October 11". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  19. ^, Colin McGuire. "Frederick Fall Fest: The culmination of coming together". The Frederick News-Post. Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  20. ^ Mulinix, Casandra. "The Frederick Fall Fest Compilation, Song By Song". Frederick Playlist. Frederick News Post. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  21. ^ Amanda Whiting (January 22, 2017). "The Battle of Raging Bitch". The Washingtonian. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  22. ^ "Flying Dog Raging Bitch beer ban spurs first amendment-based lawsuit". BeerPulse. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°21′46″N 77°25′35″W / 39.36278°N 77.42639°W / 39.36278; -77.42639