Flying Dog Brewery is being acquired, and flying out of Maryland

Flying Dog Brewery CEO Jim Caruso. (Courtesy Flying Dog)

Craft beer maker Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland, known for its sometimes edgy beer names and labels, has agreed to be acquired by Utica, New York-based FX Matt, a 135-year-old family-owned brewer, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will also mean most of Flying Dog’s beer production will move out of Maryland and to New York, though FX Matt will maintain some sort of presence in Maryland. The company said it is seeking a location for an innovation brewery and taproom in Frederick.

“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,” said Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso.

“Frederick is a great place to live and do business, (but) 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 is ranked as the 34th-largest craft brewer in the country by the Brewers Association. FX Matt Brewing is ranked 14th on the same 2022 list. The merger will place the companies in the top 10.

FX Matt CEO Fred Matt said the acquisition gives his company immediate capabilities and the flexibility to adapt to changing consumer preferences, and gives Flying Dog significant resources to develop new products.

FX Matt’s brands include Saranac, Utica Club — and, appropriately enough, its own flying beer, Flying Bison.

The two are not strangers. Flying Dog has partnered with FX Matt several times for contracted brewing, most recently last year on a joint venture called Right Coast Spirits for a line of canned cocktails.

A six-pack of Freezin’ Season. (Courtesy Flying Dog)

Flying Dog’s Caruso famously canceled its membership with the Brewers Association in 2017 after it changed its marketing code to discourage the use of sexually-explicit, lewd or demeaning brand names. Flying Dog’s flagship beer for years has been Raging Bitch.

In 2022, Flying Dog won a court victory against the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission over a regulation allowing commissioners to ban labels deemed undignified, immodest or in bad taste.

The suit came after the commission rejected its label for “Freezin’ Season Winter Ale,” whose cartoon label featured a naked man standing next to a campfire. The label was designed by English artist Ralph Steadman, who has been creating Flying Dog’s eye-catching labels since 1995.

Flying Dog was founded by George Stranahan in Aspen, Colorado, in 1990. It acquired Frederick Brewing Company in 2006, and moved its headquarters to Frederick in 2007.

Stranahan died in 2021 at age 89. Flying Dog brewed a limited-edition beer last year in his honor.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up