Start 14-Day Trial Subscription

*No credit card required

Bob Townsend's picture

Ralph Steadman and His Wild Flying Dog Brewery Beer Labels

Ralph Steadman and His Wild Flying Dog Brewery Beer Labels

Ralph Steadman has been providing scintillating and risqué beer label artwork to Flying Dog Brewery since it moved to its current home of Frederick, Maryland. Explore the wild story behind Steadman’s process when delivering these often-controversial labels and learn more about the man behind Raging Bitch.

Ralph Steadman

It’s a tale of art, beer and plenty of controversy. From the mid-1990s to the present day, artist Ralph Steadman has been the mastermind behind the outlandish labels for Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. In this piece, we hear from Steadman himself about his creative process as well as Flying Dog's general partner and chairman, Jim Caruso, about how the idea of Steadman designing labels first surfaced.

From the infamous inaugural Road Dog Scottish Ale label to the banned artwork for Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA and Freezin’ Season Winter Ale, Steadman's art has been the subject of legal challenges and censorship for years. Join us as we explore the wild and crazy world of Ralph Steadman, where madness, beauty and good beer intersect in wonderful and unexpected ways.

flying dog brewery raging bitch IPA
Steadman's label for Raging Bitch IPA was banned in Michigan upon its release in 2009, and after a six-year battle, Flying Dog once again declared victory in March 2015 when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan commissioners could be held accountable for violating the brewery's First Amendment rights.

Suddenly, it feels like a seance. I’m staring at the ink-spattered, bug-eyed image of a snarling dog that seems poised to fly out of my computer screen on bat wings. On the phone from his studio in Kent, England, artist Ralph Steadman is channeling the grumbling voice of his departed friend and famed Gonzo journalism cohort, writer Hunter S. Thompson.

Steadman as Thompson is telling the artist that he might like to think about doing some artwork as a favor to patron and neighbor, George Stranahan, the co-founder of Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland.

“Come on, ah, Ralph. Ah, ah, this will be good,” Steadman says, searching the past for the shadows of Thompson’s halting Kentucky drawl.

I’ve been shamelessly cajoling Steadman to go back to the mid-1990s, when Flying Dog, once a brewpub in Aspen, had become a full-fledged brewery in Denver. And when Steadman’s wildly imaginative, allegedly obscene, Flying Dog labels for Road Dog Scottish Ale (later Porter) and Doggie Style Pale Ale were first unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

This full story is available only to premium subscribers.

Login / Subscribe

Not yet a subscriber? Visit the store now.
Options start for only $9.95!

Table of Contents