Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Trip to Flying Dog

Last week I posted about the recent news of Flying Dog Brewery moving from downtown Denver to Frederick, MD. Since I'm in Denver for Christmas I figured this week would be perfect to make a special trip to the brewery for a tour, a tasting, and hopefully to talk to some of the fine folks there. Well I must say I couldn't be happier with my trip there. All three things happened and it ended up being great time. I spent quite a bit of time speaking with Josh Mishell and Neil Stewart at Flying dog, and had a long conversation with both. None if it was an official interview or anything so I won't get into direct quotes just some interesting news bits based on my discussions with him and others at the brewery.
Flying dog has brewed the last beer in the Denver Brewery, however, they have one more bottling run in January then everything will be moved to MD. Currently the brew tanks are holding the distillers wash for next doors Stranahan's Whiskey. After Stranahan uses up this wash, they will be contracting to another craft brewer to help out in their whiskey making (who this will be is still to be determined). Flying Dog will not be keeping open the tasting room in Denver as its not economically feasible to use that space solely for tasting, however they may work with next door's Blake Street Tavern (whom they already have a relationship with) for some tasting events. One of the big questions I had was why were they heading out East in the first place. It was explained to me that Flying Dog had been doing some contract brewing in the past (Spanish Peaks most notably) however those opportunities have started to dry up and many contracts are trying to go to other brewers for less money. After this Flying Dog looked to expand operations and since they couldn't do that in the facility they were at they initially looked at contracting their beer out east in the Frederick facility. This would allow them to expand their distribution across the US. However after a time the brewery came up for sale for a reasonable amount of money and the folks at Flying dog jumped at the opportunity. This led them to operating two facilities, one in Denver, one in Frederick. This was never good economically, and with the increase in prices for raw materials it became even more difficult to pay lease on the Denver building when it was only making 30% of the product. With that they made the difficult decision to move all operations to Frederick starting January of next year. They are offering all current employees relocation packages, and those that don't accept will be getting severance packages. Its nice to see them take such good care of their employees. While I'm disappointed that they are leaving Denver, the reasons why make sense to me.
In other interesting news I did find out that Flying Dog will be releasing two new beers next year, one will be there Spring Release and it will be a Bierre de Garde, the second will be a Trippel.
Lastly I was able to pick up 3 really amazing beers one of which I will be using as my Sessions Tasting, the other two I'll be writing up when I can. Special thanks to Josh and Neil for being so nice to me and my wife during our visit.
Thanks again to all the rest of the folks at Flying Dog and good luck to you all in MD.

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