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Free Minds & Free Markets

Raging Bitch, Good Shit, and Flying Dog Beer's Fight for Free Speech

Flying Dog Brewery's Jim Caruso took on government censors and won.

"I've lived my life as a pro free enterprise person," explains Flying Dog Brewery CEO Jim Caruso. "Not pro business. Pro free enterprise, pro consumer choice, artisanal manufacturing."

A central player in America's craft beer revolution, Caruso is dedicated to creating something special both inside and outside the bottle. Famed artist Ralph Steadman, best known for his iconic illustrations for work by Hunter S. Thompson, creates all of Flying Dog's labels. It was Steadman who spontaneously wrote on his first commissioned label "good beer, no shit." And it was this label that kicked of Flying Dog's first -- but not last -- fight with government censors.

Caruso sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to talk about his run-ins with the state, why he is a libertarian, and the how his values keep him happy.

"I'm a happy person. And I attribute that to living as an individual, taking self responsibility, self reliance, but connected to society. It's not a Lone Ranger sort of thing."

Cameras by Meredith Bragg, Todd Krainin, and Mark McDaniel. Edited by Bragg.

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This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy.

Nick Gillespie: America is in the throes of a beer revolution. Today the United States has more breweries than colleges. But it wasn't always this way. It was only after Jimmy Carter rescinded the prohibition on home brewing that Americans began innovating and experimenting. Flying Dog Brewery CEO Jim Caruso was there during the early days. And while today Flying Dog has cemented it's place as a leader in the craft brewery movement - as well as an unlikely champion of first amendment rights - Caruso still remembers the challenges of being a pioneer.

Jim Caruso: Nobody knew anything. There was nobody to turn to. So, bottles of beer exploding, we're selling out of the trunk of our car. All that sort of stuff in the start up industry. It wasn't taken very seriously.

And today for example we have Flying Dog University, we want people to make good beer. We've made it through 27 years, we're happy to share that knowledge. Even today breweries are opening faster, the capacity is increasing faster than demand, people are really getting into it. The last two years, three breweries opened per day for the last two years, every day for the last two years.

Nick Gillespie: Wow.

Jim Caruso: More breweries opened in the last 90 days than existed in 1990.

Nick Gillespie: And it's not just beer, I mean there's been an explosion in food and when you think about supermarkets like Whole Foods has really kind of changed the way people think about food or what the possibilities are. In all sorts of fields you see this, the rise of the artisanal of individualized, of niche products.

What's driving that in your estimation?

Jim Caruso: Yeah, s everal aspects of that. One is, certainly the artisanal nature, it's higher cost, it's lower production, it's scaling demand, not scaling supply. We're not pushing into the market, we're responding to consumer demands and offering this interesting portfolio of design and clothing and getting close to it.

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  • Don't look at me.||

    I am so sick of having to pretend we all live in Disney world or some other sanitized environment.

  • Brandybuck||

    Not cultural marxist, which is a bullshit term all on its own. Free enterprise is what we used to call free markets. It was the gold standard term used for the economic system where property was private, government intervention was minimal, and the playing field was level. It does not mean that business gets to do what it wants, it means everyone is free to pursue their own business without interference.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I think he's making a distinction between the "Pro Business" people who are for government supports and special favors, and actual Free Enterprise, which implies the freedom to fail.

  • Curt2004||

    Or the pro-corporation folks who think corporations are people and it's ok for them to walk all over individuals as needed to pad the bottom line.

  • ||

    There are crony businesses and free enterprise businesses. The first is fascist, the second voluntarist. When a socialist is anti-business he makes no distinction, in fact refuses to acknowledge there is a distinction. But the distinction is crucial to explaining why socialism is authoritarian and voluntarism is a celebration of rights.

    "Crony capitalist" is an contradictory term. One cannot be a capitalist and in bed with govt. But one can be a businessperson in bed with govt.

  • Brandybuck||

    That's good shit, man!

  • PaulTheBeav||

    We gotta get this guy to run for office. I want to live in a town where he's the mayor.

  • Radioactive||

    how would you know? he'd be the mayor who wasn't fucking with your shit 24/7

  • Hank Phillips||

    Second that.

  • TGoodchild||

    Now, if only Flying Dog Brewery actually made good beer, we'd have a true cause on our hands.

  • swampwiz||

    When I was temporarily living away from my home, I had drunk Flying Dog Dog in Heat Wheat. Most of the time it was amongst the most wonderful brew I've ever had; however, sometimes something would be off, and it was terrible.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This was the most inspiring Reason podcast ever. Jim Caruso is absolutely brilliant, and the kind of people we want to have on our side. His arguments were crisp and relevant and he hardly let whatzisname get a buzz-killing word in edgewise. I'll have whatever he's having.

  • Bridget Rangel||

    Over Hear i can say dogs are smart, they bark and bite only when they are afraid from inside.
    This shows that they are in tension of being hurt from others.
    Thank you.

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    gamesdro.com/freecell-solitaire web link and play the game as much the want for free and online.this is the multiplayer game also you love to join your friends on this game portal.

  • dogiefoodstuff||

    Proteins are the main source of diet for an animal. Where in if this protein are given at right age can get a better growth in terms of health and life balance of dog.
    I got some top brand food names like Achana and Orijen.

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