Craft Brewers Combine

Last month news broke that FX Matt, a Utica NY based contract brewer, would acquire Flying Dog Brewery based in Frederick MD. FX Matt is the 14th largest craft brewery in the country, producing 183,200 barrels in 2021. Besides providing brewing capacity for other brewers including Flying Dog, FX Matt’s own beer line includes Saranac and Utica club. It is the 4th oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, dating from 1888.

Flying Dog, the country’s 34th largest craft brewery, is much younger. It began as a brew pub in Aspen CO in 1990. In 2006 the company purchased Frederick Brewing Company and is now based solely in Maryland. In 2009 both the Michigan and Colorado liquor commissions banned the labels connected with the brewery’s Raging Bitch beer. Flying Dog sued, winning both cases and used its $6 million settlement to create the First Amendment society. It is not clear if FX Matt will continue Flying Dog’s controversial advertising approach. I personally find such a name and its’ connected labeling misogynistic and salacious. I am, however, free not to buy the beer.

Flying Dog produced 81,231 barrels in 2021. Once the two breweries have combined, their output would make them a top ten craft brewery, according to the Brewers Association’s definition. Although the deal between the two companies will produce one larger brewery, the projected production level of at least 264,000 barrels is miniscule compared to the 495 million barrels Anheuser-Busch produced in 2021.