On The Town

Flying Dog Wins Six-Year Raging Bitch Case

The United States Court of Appeals ruled that a liquor commissioner was violating the brewery's freedom of speech.

Frederick-based Flying Dog Brewery is known for its unconventional beer names and crazy label art, drawn by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas illustrator Ralph Steadman. Probably the most provocative out there is its Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA.

Well, back in 2009, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission prohibited the beer from being sold in its state, deeming the Raging Bitch label “detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public.”

After a six-year long process of appeals, denials, and lawsuits, the United States Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the commission can be held accountable for violating Flying Dog Brewery’s First Amendment rights.

“This ruling is invigorating,” says Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso. “It’s taken a few years, but now appointed bureaucrats are accountable for imposing their personal agendas and prejudices on the public, and for committing the crime of violating Flying Dog’s right to freedom of speech. This is refreshing, and I hope this Federal Court ruling benefits breweries, wineries and distilleries in other states, as well.”

The ruling will allow Flying Dog to recover damages from the loss of sales during the ban, which Caruso plans to use to establish a Freedom of Speech Society in Frederick.

We think Hunter S. Thompson would be proud.