Flying Dog Brewing Ready to Kick Off the Next 25 Years

flying dog brewing

With 25 years in the books, Flying Dog Brewing is already looking toward the next 25.

“There is a lot of stuff going on in the industry. Lots of sales and cashing out,” said CEO Jim Caruso. “But we are a legacy brand, we are private and closely owned, and my vision is just to keep building and growing. We are in this for the long haul and the love of the brand, and to do the best we can to quench the thirst of craft beer drinkers.”

Caruso spoke Thursday at the brewery to celebrate the now Maryland-based brewery, which moved from Denver in 2008 after opening as an Aspen-based brewpub in 1990.

Brewmaster and COO Matt Brophy and CMO Ben Savage joined the conversation, which was broadcast live on Periscope, to talk with fans and friends as it celebrated with a 25th anniversary beer, a fruity take on its popular Belgian-style IPA, Raging Bitch with the release of Tropical Bitch, which will hit shelves for a limited time on Monday, Feb. 1.

Brophy explained that Flying Dog has been working for many months on tweaking the hop profile of Tropical Bitch on the facilities 15-barrel pilot system.

“Back to 2009 when Raging Bitch was born, it was a product of our R&D team,” Brophy said. “We meet every Thursday and started to play with the concept many months ago. [We] … kept dialing it in until we got it right.”

Although a deal is not set in stone, Caruso opened up a bit about the brewery’s pending $2.25 million purchase of more than 30 acres of vacant farmland near the Fredrick, Maryland airport to open a new production brewery. Flying Dog has reported that the new facility would increase its current capacity from 100,000 to 700,000 bbls. Caruso hopes to start building by mid-summer.

“The city of Fredrick has been exceptionally helpful,” Caruso said. “We’re working with the FAA because we are next to an airport. We may be the only brewery to soon have an active navigation antenna on it.”

Since the Frederick airport is one of the few tethering sites for blimps, Caruso joked that instead of a party van to advertise the brand, the company could buy a “party blimp.”

With the potential for so much more beer flowing, Flying Dog is opening up to international markets. Already in 17 countries, Savage said that it just shipped its first cases to China with hopes to add markets in Thailand and Australia.

More cans of Flying Dog will hit shelves this year as well. The new lineup includes Bloodline Blood Orange Ale and Numero Uno Summer Cerveza. They’ll join the ranks of Snake Dog IPA and Easy IPA. Bloodline and Numero Uno will be available as both 12 ounce and 16 ounce cans.

“We don’t want to expand that much further is because we are decidedly not a can brewery,” Savage said, citing that the facility is set up for bottles more somoreso than canning. “We don’t necessarily want cans to dominate our portfolio. It’s a “nice to have,” and there is a can customer that we want to appeal to but we have to be careful with which styles we introduce in cans.”

When asked about some wise words to brewers looking to start out in the world of craft beer, the veteran said: “Some people are starting to look at a brewery as a get-rich-quick scheme. And nothing is as easy as it looks. If you aren’t willing to dedicate yourself 24/7 and willing to put everything on the line, this business or any business, don’t get into it.

“Once you get into it’s more fun than anything you can imagine.”


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