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Judge to decide if Flying Dog can sell latest beer in Michigan

This is the label from the new beer as attatched in federal court records.
This is the label from the new beer as attatched in federal court records.

Should the state of Michigan’s liquor control commission be allowed to ban the sale of a certain beer based on its name? That’s the question a federal judge in Grand Rapids will decide, following arguments this week.

People can buy several kinds of Flying Dog beerin Michigan already; In-heat wheat, Doggie Style pale ale, and Horn Dog barley wine for starters.

The state of Michigan argues the name of Flying Dog’s latest beer is a “sexist, derogatory and demeaning portrayal of women.”

Alan Gura is the brewery’s attorney.

“The liquor commissioners don’t happen to like the name of Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch beer. They think it’s very offensive, we simply think that’s too bad.”

Most all of Flying Dog’s beers are dog-themed. Gura says the ‘raging’ portion of the beer’s name is named after the ‘raging’ yeast that ferments the beer in about half the usual time needed.

Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission has banned other beers and wine labels with similar titles. The commission argues it can restrict labeling because alcohol is an intoxicant.

Flying Dog argues they have the right to free speech. Raging Bitch is sold in 27 other states.

“I’m sure the State of Michigan has a better use for its resources than to go around censoring beer labels.”

The commission has banned other brands with similar names. They argue the offensive labels harm the “health, safety or welfare of the general public.” Flying Dog wants the judge to throw out that rule based on free speech rights.

To read details in some of the court documents, click here.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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