Flying Dog Brewery of Maryland has won a free speech case that could have wide and far ranging impacts on craft beer labeling.
Flying Dog has been known for its somewhat abrasive and occasionally controversial beer label graphics. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned the use of their “Raging Bitch” label back in 2009, designed by well-known illustrator Ralph Steadman, because it was “offensive.” The United States Court of Appeals has sided with Flying Dog and, of even greater importance has reversed a 2012 ruling from a U.S. District Court that had granted the MLCC immunity from a Flying Dog lawsuit. This potentially means that state liquor control agencies do not have immunity if they violate a suppliers constitutional rights by banning a product label.
State liquor control agencies may be much more cautious in future rulings if this case holds.