Victory for Raging Bitch in Mich.


Flying Dog brewery's Raging Bitch beer, a tasty Belgian-style IPA, is no longer illegal to sell in Michigan, says Ad Age.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission in 2009 banned Flying Dog Brewery's Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale from the state on grounds that the attention-grabbing label had language "deemed detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public."

But the commission this week reversed that ruling, citing a Supreme Court decision issued last week that favored commercial free speech rights over state regulations.

Flying Dog, a Maryland-based craft brewer, had sued in federal court claiming its First Amendment rights were violated….

"We're glad that the people of Michigan are now free to decide for themselves whether Flying Dog's beer labels are, like the beer, in good taste," the brewer's attorney, Alan Gura, said in a statement.

And yes, this Alan Gura is the same Alan Gura who argued and won the landmark Heller gun case before the Supreme Court in 2008. The SCOTUS case referenced above by Ad Age is Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, a reverberating commercial speech case dealing with violent video games that Jacob Sullum wrote about here.

Flying Dog is continuing to press its suit against the Michigan liquor commission.

The brewer said the commission's reversal was a "victory for craft beer," but vowed to fight on in court, seeking to recover damages from lost sales while also hoping to strip the state's ability to "ban any beer that they find offensive."


"But the litigation won't end until the commissioners accept responsibility for the damage they've caused by violating the First Amendment."

Flying Dog's press release on the case is here. Read Brian Doherty's 2009 Reason interview with Gura here.

Baylen Linnekin is a lawyer and the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit that promotes culinary freedom, the idea that people should be free to make and consume whatever commestibles they prefer. For more information and to join or donate, go here now.

NEXT: Is Quantity of Government Involvement Correlated With Quality of Results?

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  1. Another win for First Amendment rights of those evil corporations.

    1. Please tell me you are being sarcastic. If you aren't, corporations are made of people, and people have speech rights.

  2. Isn't "Belgian" and "IPA" pretty much a contradiction in terms?

    IPA = hoppy as all get-out.

    Belgian = malty, with interesting flavors from fruit and/or exotic yeast/fermentation.

    1. If you taste the beer, you'll see that they somehow successfully incorporate both.

      It's a great beer. I love both IPAs and belgian brews and I also like this beer a lot.

      The problem is that drinking more than one will give you a nasty headache and a little nausea in the morning. I don't know why.

      I wish I could drink more of them, but they just don't sit right with me despite the good taste.

    2. Seriously. I love craft beer--
      Troegs brewery is 2 miles away--but some of them are getting a bit weird.

      I blame that brilliant goofball at Dogfish Head.

    3. Belgians aren't exactly malty. The Trappist styles, which many people think of when you say "Belgian" all have a very low final gravity (meaning it has few residual sugars). It would be very easy to find examples of commercial IPAs that taste quite "malty" when compared with Westmalle Tripel, for instance.

    4. Two great tastes that taste great together?

    5. I love Belgians, love IPAs.

      Belgian-IPAs crossovers, both bought and homebrewed, have always left me a little disappointed.

    6. I avoided them for a long time thinking it just sounds wrong, but both Stone and Green Flash make good Belgian/IPAs.

  3. That Pink Floyd The Wall aesthetic is still hangin' in there, ain't it?

    1. Actually, the label looks more like Ralph Steadman, of Hunter S. Thompson-association.

      And in fact it is...

      From a brewpub in Aspen, Colorado to a full-fledged Denver brewery, and then to a state-of-the-art brewing facility in Frederick, Maryland, Flying Dog stands for not only extraordinary beer, but also for standing tall, doing great things, and not letting anyone make you eat shit.

      For the past 20 years, we've done just that. We produce world-class craft beers and continue to push the envelope with experimental brews and limited-edition one-offs. All the while, we continuously pay homage to our Gonzo Godfathers ? George Stranahan, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ralph Steadman.

      They have a section there mentioning when they met, how he got involved, etc. Apparently Thompson was a friend of the founder of the brewery.

  4. BEER THREAD!!1!!1!!

    I will take recommendations for any recent discoveries that the group wishes to share.

    My recommendation of the week: Anderson's Valley Brother David Double. Pair it with Tumalo Farms Classico cheese. Fucking ambrosia.

    Also, I will be attending my first meeting of the maltose falcons down here in SoCal and soon to start my own homebrewing operation (anyone know how much space will be required for a real small operation?).

    1. I've been really into Odin's Gift Ruby ale lately. Ambers aren't normally my bag, but I love this one to death. The juniper is not overdone and really sets it apart IMO.

      Also, how can you turn down a gift from the Allfather?

    2. Just don't make any IPAs.

      1. Blasphemer.

          1. Fortunately, I don't think Jim wants to ban IPAs, just encouraging me to brew something else. Not a problem for me. Although I like myself a good IPA, there are loads of options on the market for that. I feel that stouts and porters get a bit shafted in the market, especially in the current season.

            1. Bingo. I've got IPAs falling out of my ass (sometimes literally). I never really liked them to begin with, but everyone seems to be in a race to make the nastiest (by which I mean hoppiest) concoction on earth.

              Porters and stouts have long been neglected. I'm drinking the Stormking right now, London Porter, Anchorsteam Porter, and Belhaven ale.

              1. Just because you're a beer pussy and can't handle IPA's doesn't mean the rest of us can't, Jim. You beer pussy.

                1. He has a point about Porters and Stouts not getting sufficient love. Mmmmmm, Stormking.

                2. Pffft, any homo can handle an IPA. It's the stouts that separate the men from the Episiarchs.

                  1. If you can't handle IPAs, Jimbo, how can you handle a stout? Such as this?

                  2. Never get between Episiarch and his men!

                3. I don't know Epi, I think the most hardened beer connoisseurs are the stout people. I know many a beer novice that can handle IBUs of even the hoppiest IPAs but can't handle the full fuck-your-face maltiness of even the tamer imperial stouts. Both can be intense and really test a palatte in their own ways.

                  Personally, I can go for both. In fact, I have a small affinity for IPAs if only because hops is so closely related to cannabis. But I'm gonna brew porters and stouts because there are a metric fuckton of IPAs out there that I can always get if I'm in the mood. Right now, the stout scene is tragically underserved in SoCal.

                  1. See my response above to Jim. I love a good stout. And there are actually some to choose from in Seattle.

                  2. Sudden, have you tried Alesmith's Speedway Stout? They're supposed to be available in San Diego, (though not in TX, damnit.) Stone's IRS is always delightful, and can age surprisingly long (their 2004 was drinking nice last year). Green Flash's stout isn't bad either.

                    For those in Texas who like stout, go grab some Jester King Black Metal. Now. The best stout made in Texas, although Southern Star's Buried Hatchet is very good, especially their bourbon barrel version. Anvil Bar in Houston did one with macerated cherries that was outstanding.

                    It's a great day to be a beer lover.

                    1. I'll look for that this weekend up around Dallas. Thanks for the tip.

                    2. Alesmith's Speedway is now on my buy list. Yours is the third recommendation I've had for it. Three makes it a must buy. I haven't seen Green Flash available around here, but I'll keep my eyes open for it.

                      Now my recommendation if you can find it: Big Bear Black Stout. One of my recent discoveries and a personal favorite. (pair with a nice nutty gouda cheese.... yes, thats right, I'm a beer and cheese pairer. Cant let winos have all the cultured fun).

                    3. Also...Bear Republic, which sudden has mentioned, knows what the fuck they are doing...That is all.

                  3. umm...

                    You may be underserved, but that shit is awesome:

                    1. also refresh is a good thing and perhaps useful to me.

                  4. Going to SoCal in the middle of next week, hiking at big bear and hanging out in San Diego. Any recomendations for breweries close by, or local brews in general? I'm a Belgian lover, personally, but will try anything once.

              2. >Slanders IPAs and hoppy beers
                >Drinking Storm King

                I have some news for you: that Storm King (or any other RIS) has more hops in it then 90% of the IPAs you find on the shelf. They are masked a bit by the roasted malts and higher than average final gravity, but they are certainly there and you can taste them.

                RIS's and IPA's were created for similar purposes: to survive long journeys without spoiling. Because of this, they both had more hops and more alcohol than normal.

            2. OH and Sudden, one word: schwarzbier, and lots of it.

              If you ever get the chance to try Blackened Voodoo, do so.

        1. He's a witch!

      2. It seems like IPAs are all over the place these days. Every brewer makes a hundred different IPAs. I'm a porter/stout guy myself, so I will go with one of those two for my first batch. Although I'm considering making a pils or a hefe since its a more appropriate brew for SoCal summers.

        1. I'm a porter/stout guy myself

          You have a beard, don't you.

          1. Haha, no. I go with a consistent stubble look myself. I only grow out the beard sometimes during the winters and when I visit Denver.

            1. OK, I was just playing the odds there.

    3. I doubt you can get it in SoCal but I had Devil's Backbone from Real Ale brewery when I went to visit (on Friday afternoons they have free beer and tours) and have been drinking it since. It is a Belgian-style Trippel.

      1. From the hill country, bitches.

    4. Good beer I've been drinking: Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown (good anti-authority beer), Tupper's Hop Pocket, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Bridgeport IPA, and any variety of DC Brau (first beer brewed in DC since Prohibition).

      Less good: Bud Select Light 55, Beck's Premier Light.

    5. I've been enjoying Coop Ale Works' Native Amber. It's more assertively hopped than what I usually drink, but it's very well balanced. The problem is that it's been hard to find. I found it in OKC, but my state doesn't import it. I'll probably slip across the border again and stock up--it's a great summer beer, and as a bonus, it's canned, so I can take it out on the river without running afoul of the authoritahs.

    6. Lagunitas is one of my fav breweries and they have an excellent limited release out now: the Lucky 13 Red Ale.

      1. I like Little Sumpin' Sumpin' the best.

        1. The Little Sumpin' is what is waiting in my fridge right now, in fact. Hurry up and end, day.

    7. ---"I will be attending my first meeting of the maltose falcons down here in SoCal"---

      A much respected and knowledgable group of brewers. They will be able to guide you through getting started. After you get a few brews under your belt, they can also help you decide what you need for what you want to do.

    8. Corona Familiar

      Despite what the internet tells you this is NOT Corona extra in a quart bottle. It is darker and has a stronger taste.

      1. Oh man, did you like that stuff? I could barely finish the bottle (it only came in a 40oz).

        1. I often drink Tecate in glass quart bottles ($1.99). The Familiar was $3.49 so I decided to splurge. I thought it was great. Much better than Extra and somewhat better than Modelo Especial.I put the bottle and a glass in my freezer for about 15 minutes, opened, poured and drank.

          1. I guess it's just different strokes for different folks. I really don't like Corona anyway, and drink Negra Modelo much more so than the Especial.

            I did have one down in southern Mexico, just north of Belize, called Montejo, that was a great light lager, and I don't normally care for those. Can't find it outside of that region, though (at least so far that I've been trying).

            1. San Miguel Dark. I know its not technically Mexican, only has a spanish name (I believe its phillipino). But its pretty good. My dad drank it a lot when he was in 'Nam along with some other pisswasser that tasted like fermeldehyde.

              1. +1 to San Miguel. Tons of Phillipinos in Vegas, you can always find it here.

            2. As for a good light lager, try Tusker. Its Kenyan and has a real distict flavor to it, IIRC, almost honeyish.

              1. That's the second or third time someone has mentioned Tusker to me. I'll set out to find it.

                1. I mentioned it before to you I believe. It was the closest thing I could imagine to Somalian Dead Rat Beer. Although someone else chimed in with an endorsement. It's a quality beer for the summer. Even us dark fans need to have a few go to staples for when the thermometer reaches 100.

              2. That flavor is elephant piss.

    9. Rodenbach. I haven't had a drink in quite some time, but if it shows up again locally on draft, I'll be partaking posthaste.

      1. I just picked up a sixer of Rodenbach yesterday...a rare find in's dreamy good.

  5. Hey, I have an offensive idea: is there a Human CentIPA beer yet?

  6. Awesome beer. First time I had Flying Dog was in Vermont - tried the Tire Bite on draught. Bought it for the name - I'd just finished 35 miles on the bike at Mount Snow. We keep it around the house for weekend consumption. I bought Raging Bitch one day just because I liked the label and name, and was just as pleased with it. Glad they are permitted to market their product.

    ION, a local bar proprietor is being hassled about opening up Buck Foston's in New Brunswick, NJ. The ostensible reason: his permits are being held up while the city waits on additional documents. The speculated reason (and probably more likely one) is that his bar's name conjures a profane word - and the mayor of New Brunswick is rumored to be a Boston fan who is offended by the name of the establishment. This from a town that houses a rowdy university, tons of college bars, and CLUCK-U Chicken restaurants all over Easton Ave.

  7. It can never be plugged enough -- Surly:

    Bitter Brewer is teh awesome, as is Cynic.

    1. Sure... mock those of us who can't get Surly. What's next, a comment about how awesome New Glarus is?

      Bah... I'll just curl up with some Great Lakes Brewing, Hoppin' Frog, Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing, and Fatheads...

      Long live the Head Hunter!

      1. Actually, yes.

        Without a doubt, my favorite, and one I have every Sunday night is New Glarus' Wisconsin Belgian Red.

        There's nothing better than putting the kids to bed for some peace and quiet and downing a bottle with a nice little appetizer of some sort. I live for Sunday nights...even if it does mean I'm back at work the next day.

        1. I have 2 Belgian Reds and a Raspberry Tart on hand. The NG IIPA, however, does nothing for me.

  8. Taste the Bitch!

  9. "But the litigation won't end until the commissioners accept responsibility for the damage they've caused by violating the First Amendment."

    I am glad they have the resources to take it to the logical conclusion. I wish everyone detained by the police for public photography had the resources to sue for false arrest, replacement value for damaged/"lost" phones with cameras, pain and suffering, infliction of emotional distress, and general poopy headed behavior.

    1. IANAL, but I think the Constitution clearly say states can make up whatever rules they want for alcoholic beverages.

      21st Amendment Section 2.
      Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

  10. What's that you say? A beer thread?

    Check what I will be drinking this weekend hier. If anyone spots a must-taste on the list, let me know. Also featured are my old favorites the Lagunitas Brown Shugga and the Rodenbach Grand Cru (perfect winter and summer beers, respectively, IMHO).

    1. Gulden Draak (Obviously)
      Parabola Stout by Firestone.

      One I haven't tried, but I'll kill you if you don't taste it and give me your thoughts: Stone Brewing Smoked Porter. I love me smoked porters (Alaskan Brewing Co. has the best I've tried to date).

      Also, Agave Mead sounds like something that must be experienced just to experience it.

      1. Yes x1000 on Alaskan Smoked Porter. Try their Baltic Porter.....yummy.
        I hate this beer thread because I have to go to work now where I have no interwebz to participate....sad face for dunkel.

      2. Stone's Smoked Porter is the cat's ass. I'm usually a cost efficient drinker(read: 2 beer capacity limit), but one time due to a scheduling mishap I drank an entire pitcher of the smoked porter at Lindas on my own. I was pretty silly when my company finally showed up!

      3. Good call on the smoked porter. I'll definitely try it.

        I am also psyched to try the various Quadrupels as I've never even seen that style offered before and it sounds delish.

        1. Stone Smoked Porter is a tasty beer, if you like a smokey beer/scotch/etc... if you like sours... I'd recommend trying the gueuze... Be aware that some of those are sour enough to strip the enamel off of your teeth.

          Quads can be dangerous... on the really well made ones, you don't notice the alcohol in them. Until you go to stand up.

      4. IMHO, Alaskan's is better, but Stone's is really tasty too. Ranger Creek, in San Antonio, makes a tasty smoked porter too.

        From your list, Dagny, the Stone Elijah Craig Bourbon IRS should be very good. The Drie Fontanen Oude Gueze should be interesting, and very winey for a beer. Looks like a lot of fun.

  11. *peeks out from under covers*

    Is the craft beer/brewing jerkfest over? Is it safe for non-beer-dorks to emerge?


    *pulls covers tight*

    1. Wanna hijack the thread into one about Mt. Dew flavors? We can, you know. I'll start:

      I hate Code Red.

      1. I kinda like Code Red but I try to avoid too much HFCS.

        1. I've never actually found any of the Mt. Dew spin-offs that I like as much as the original. I don't drink soda often, but when I do, I prefer Mt. Dew (original).

      2. HAHAHAHA[HA]HAHA! You have no idea to whom you [are] talking. I AM [MOUNTAIN] DEW! It's all I drink (pretty much literally, except for teh DEMON [ALKYHOL] now and again) - since 8th grade.

        So - they need to put it in glass bottles again, and none of that lowfat, no sugar, no [caffeine] bullshit. Sugar, caffeine, the picture of the dude with the cork shooting through the brim of his hat, some [yell]ow [dye] - GO.

        Also, the stuff in Ohio tastes different than that [from MI], so I buy all mine in MI when I'm home on the weekend, and bring it to OH for the work week.

        No, wait, there's more - ONLY 16.9oz bottles, which are kind of hard to find, but are fortunately at my grocery [store]. I've seen them in one store in OH, and just in the past week, and they only sell them as singles. The 24 oz get warm and lose their fizz too fast. One pint (or the 1/2 litre) is the [PERFECT] and [only] size for the [Mountain Dew] commonsewer.

        And NO fucking cans. Ever. [Period.] Plastic bottles are barely acceptable, but [NO ALUMINUM]. Fucks [up] the taste.

        Wow - good threadjack. You did get a little lucky hitting a Dew de la Montagne-holic.

        Also - [EMPIRE]


          1. I used to be Captain Dew myself, until I suddenly found myself about 45 lbs heavier than I was when I left the army and decided the soda had to go (except for Saturdays!).

            Do you guys still have Mellow Yellow up north? I seem to remember that competing with Mt. Dew.

            1. Hmm - I'm not sure. Haven't seen it much since they sponsored Cole Trickle in "Days of Thunder" 🙂 (worst car racing movie EVER)

              I'll have to look for it...

  12. My favourite beer right now is the Trappistes Rochefort 10. Can't stand IPA's, personally, but whatever. Drink what you like, I say.

  13. Beer is a waste of good malt. Whiskey, people, whiskey!

  14. I'm glad that Flying Dog is free to sell this beer. I'm equally glad that I, personally, am free not to purchase it. Seriously, all the FD beers I've had taste like Ralph Steadman's taint, and they are an embarrassment to Maryland, the memory of DeGroen's, not to mention the late, lamented Red Feather of Chambersburg (which is kinda near Fredneck).

    /At least Delaware has Dogfish.

    //New fave is Rogue Double Dead Guy, which I hope they'll begin making again soon.

    1. How do you know what... you know what, don't answer that.

    2. I've agreed with that assessment of Flying Dog's beer, dmoynihan, despite a lack of familiarity with anyone's taint, but their Gonzo Double Porter is really good. Really.

      I liked Rogue before they got bitten by the pricing bug. $14 a six pack for Dead Guy? What?

  15. This reminds me of Velvet Merkin changing its name to Velvet Merlin, just to avoid this kind of problem. It's a shame that government regulations affect something as stupid and incredibly unimportant as beer names.

  16. If you're not one of the IPA haters, Bear Republic's Racer 5 is delish. If you do hate IPAs, try Lost Coast Brewery's Downtown Brown.

    1. Racer 5 is nearly perfect.

  17. Pabst Blue Ribbon!

    1. You're my kinda guy, Frank. Bravo.

  18. We need to respect the rights of any species

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