Art Drives the Brand: Flying Dog Brewery

doggiestyle-cropWhat’s the formula for success? Take the untamed words of Hunter S. Thompson, “gonzo journalist”, add the iconic art of his long-time friend, Ralph Steadman, plus a fledging brewpub turned brewery, and the result is liquid magic.

The craft beer industry is booming. According to Fortune, “the industry has posted double-digit growth for the eighth consecutive year.” With approximately 4269 breweries competing for a share in the market, branding is a key component for success. In a departure from the conservative and staid–looking styles of the past, many brands proclaim their individuality with wild-looking labels and sometimes risqué brand messaging.

AIGA BrandCentral promotes branding content for all AIGA chapters. In support of that purpose, I began the search for beautiful, unusual and exciting brewery branding treatments. I was immediately drawn into a world where almost anything goes! I discovered unorthodox names of breweries, beers with edgy marketing styles, and label designs that were often “art gallery-worthy.” One brewery in particular, captivated me: Flying Dog Brewery, in Frederic, Maryland.


In 1990, Astrophysicist, George Stranahan, founded the Flying Dog Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado. From that brewpub to a full-fledged Denver brewery in 1994, and then to the current state-of-the-art brewing facility in Frederick, Maryland, where Flying Dog continues to grow and prosper.

I interviewed Flying Dog’s affable and gracious CEO, Jim Caruso, to gain an overview of how Flying Dog’s brand came to be. The resulting story had many layers, the art itself, the inspiration of Hunter S. Thompson, Free Speech issues and groundbreaking art driving the brand.

So with help from a few colleagues, the video we created will tell the rest of the story…

By Janet Scabrini
Published December 20, 2016
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