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Flying Dog Wins Battle For Raging Bitch

Raging Bitch Battle

Flying Dog Brewery has won a six-year long legal dogfight with Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission, culminating in a decision holding the Commission accountable for violating the brewery’s First Amendment rights.

In 2009, Flying Dog filed to register the Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA in Michigan. Not expecting any controversy, the Frederick-based brewery had begun shipping their brew to Michigan.

“We were ordered to have the beer removed from the market, so we did,” CEO Jim Pura told The Beer Connoisseur. “I appealed it, but the appeal went to the same three people who rejected it. They said, ‘You can consider it a reconsideration.’ They reconsidered and said no.”

So Flying Dog took the case to U.S. District court in 2011, and filed a preliminary injunction to allow Raging Bitch to be sold in the state. With the federal case pending, the Commission reversed its ban.

But the brewery, known for its iconic label art by Ralph Steadman, wasn't done yet. 

The case went to the Federal Court of Appeals, where Flying Dog ultimately won the right to recover damages from the two- year ban, which it will use to establish a Freedom of Speech society in the brewery’s hometown of Frederick, Maryland.

Though Pura says the recoveries from the ban and subsequent legal battle will be “significant,” he feels the real victory is one of principle.

“It was never about the money. It was about a pattern of behavior, and a small group of people thinking they could bully people around with impunity… It’s taken a few years, but now appointed bureaucrats are accountable for imposing their personal agendas and prejudices on the public, and for committing the crime of violating Flying Dog’s right to freedom of speech.”

When asked whether he plans to celebrate, Pura said he may have a Raging Bitch at HopCat Grand Rapids, located conveniently down the road from the Federal courthouse. “For me, it will taste sweeter than ever.”