Q & A with CEO Jim Caruso
How has Flying Dog seen the craft beer industry change or evolve since the brewery’s founding? How has Flying Dog reacted (or not)?
There were around 250 total breweries in the U.S. when Flying Dog opened its brewpub in 1990. Today there are close to 5,500 breweries producing more than 25 million barrels of beer. Craft has evolved from a niche product to the beverage of choice for millions of beer drinkers. As Flying Dog moves toward the half-century mark, it has defiantly maintained its unique brand expression and distinctive Gonzo persona even as craft has become more and more mainstream.
How does the brewery and marketing maintain its high level of creativity and innovation?
We abhor such activities as focus groups, which only dumb a brand down to some common denominator and force it to get lost in a sea of sameness. Instead, we listen to the voices in our own heads, unbound by cubicles and political correctness, knowing that there are people out in the world who are just as irreverently off-kilter and whimsical as we are. It just never gets weird enough for us, as our good friend Hunter S. Thompson would say.
What’s the most exotic or unique beer that’s been made at the brewery?
We did a beer (International Arms Race) with the goal of achieving hop flavors without using hops. It took us 12 trial batches using dozens of exotic spices and herbs before we succeeded. The final (and secret until now) recipe included juniper berries, bay leaf, rosemary, spearmint, elderberry flowers, and lemon and orange peels.