News & Politics

Flying Dog Brewery Sues North Carolina Regulators Over Rejected Risque Label

It's hard to figure out why the label was rejected

Image courtesy of Creative Commons. "Flying Dog Brewery... the happiest place on Earth" by sparkedheart is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0"

Frederick, Md.-based Flying Dog Brewery has found itself in a legal dispute with state authorities once again, after regulators in North Carolina blocked it from using the image it had selected for one of its beer labels, according to the Associated Press. 

The image in question—a naked man’s silhouette alongside a campfire—has been approved by authorities in 23 other states, according to the AP. But its rejection by the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission in North Carolina prompted Flying Dog’s owners to file a federal lawsuit against the state’s regulators, alleging violations of First Amendment Rights. 

Flying Dog Freezin' Season

The North Carolina Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission’s rationale for rejecting the label is not clear. 

The lawsuit comes six years after Flying Dog won a similar legal fight. Back in 2009, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned the label for Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch IPA, alleging that the label was “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the general public,” according to

In response, Flying Dog sued the Michigan regulators, arguing that it had been unlawfully censored, according to In 2015, a federal court sided with the brewery. 

In her 2017 feature on Flying Dog Brewery, Washingtonian’s Amanda Whiting explored the Michigan case. 

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.