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November 12, 2010

Flying Dog Ales to discontinue Wild Goose beer

wildgoose.JPGRest in peace Wild Goose. Flying Dog Ales confirmed today it will no longer produce the 21-year-old brand, which it has owned since 2006.

Ben Savage, vice president of marketing, said their Frederick brewery has run out of space to produce both Wild Goose and Flying Dog.

"The bottom line is we only have so much capacity here at the brewery and the market is demanding Flying Dog as our main push," he said. "There's no room to produce Wild Goose anymore."

The company will continue to produce Wild Goose IPA into the 1st quarter of 2011, Savage added. But the IPA's future is unknown beyond that point.

The Wild Goose Snow now in stock is the last batch the brewery will make.

Beer in Baltimore, which had been chasing the Wild Goose rumor since earlier this week, has a solid history of the brand up.   

Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, which has a capacity of 80,000 barrels, had produced just Wild Goose until 2008, when the company shut down its Denver facility and moved operations to Maryland.

While they ran side by side for two years, Wild Goose's popularity declined and Flying Dog's market share increased, Savage said. The brewery now produces 82 different packages of Flying Dog there, and may soon add more.

The company had been inching towards shutting down the brand for a while.

"Over the past two years, we've headed towards this decision because Flying Dog is our focus," he said. 

Savage acknowledged Wild Goose had a pretty good fan base, but he also said Flying Dog had a bigger one.

Commenters - agree?

Beer in Baltimore notes Flying Dog made attempts at keeping the brand alive - such as a re-introducing the original yeast strains, and a packaging redesign. But, solidifying production in one location might have been the brand's final straw. 

 Savage said the company won't shut down the door on the brand entirely and may bring it back if there is demand.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 4:41 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: News


I tried a Flying Dog mix pack a while back and was not a big fan of it, either the branding or the beer. The issue I have with the branding is that I find their label artwork a mixture of obnoxious, juvenile, and creepy (In a bad way), and their cutesy names are pretty lame. The issue I have with their beer is that it's often off for the styles it goes for -- things like porters with a ton of hops, or using some weird off strains of hops or malt in their golden ale that seem more suited for something else. I do like their Snake Dog IPA, though -- that one's a quality beer, and their hefe was fairly good for a hefe-- so it isn't all bad.

Wild Goose, on the other hand, I thought had very distinguished labeling and beers that matched their styles well. I'm sorry to see it go. I think with it's milder styles, if they had been able to widely distribute at a low price point (i.e. the "bargain" craft beer), it could have really taken off. It never got the right push from marketing or distributors, though -- a lot of times one couldn't find it consistently stocked in stores (and sometimes when one did find it, it wasn't always that fresh) .

I wonder if this makes my Wild Goose hat and pint glasses collector's items. ;) That'd be something at least.

Over all, though, this is a little bit of a bummer.

Interesting decision. I have never been a big fan of Wild Goose, but I was under the impression that it was a well-distributed beer. Either way, long live Flying Dog and the illustrations of Mr. Steadman.

I'm pretty sure the lack of availability of Wild Goose beers the past couple years had something to do with the 'lack of a market'.
If they don't distribute it, it probably isn't going to sell too well.

Very disappointing. For my money, Wild Goose IPA is the best beer with crabs. And I agree entirely--lack of availability resulted in the "lack of a market."

Very disappointing.

No more Snow Goose? I find this to be sad.

This is a sad day indeed. Let's not forget about the loss we have already suffered with this brewery and the Blue Ridge Ales and now this. I am shocked that they couldn't open another facility and grow and expand. I am not a big fan of flying dog. The label is obnoxious and gives me a headache just to look at it. With the dozens and dozens of varieties to choose from it's hard to get a feel for what they do best. The snow goose was a wonderful beer and I had many great cold winter nights with it close by my side. The line will be sorely missed. The company had long ago let this brand wither on the vine with a lack of marketing and push for shelf space. Now with sales predictably sagging they choose to divesture the entire line. What a terrible way to destroy all that brand equity. Maybe someone can pick up the receipe and open a brewery somewhere else in the State.

I also shall miss Snow Goose. We'll have one more keg on this season and then come enjoy what will probably be the last keg on earth at Mahaffey's annual Christmas in June celebration on 6/25.

Oh this is a sad day for me. Thursday when I walked into the liquor store I was extremely excited to see that Snow Goose was in stock. Now I get this news today. It makes me want to drive around and collect as much Snow Goose as I can find.

Everyone's crying about "I don't like Flying Dog, just because of the labels." Go have a Sam Adams then, yuppies. It's all about what's IN the bottle, not what's on it.

Sad that Wild Goose is being discontinued, but it's true--Flying Dog's a far more popular brand. And for those who don't believe, try their 20th Anniversary Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA!

Tim, the FD brand is far more popular NOW because FD expended lots of marketing effort and money on the brand, and some of that happens to be tied into the artwork and language used in the marketing. If the same effort and money had been expended on Wild Goose--and similar money was spent in the early 1990s--it would be a far different picture.

Wild Goose's original recipes and equipment, like those of Oliver's, Red Brick Station, and Baltimore Brewing, were somewhat labor- and capital-intensive, and not easily/cheaply made on the scale Frederick/Flying Dog demanded. It's similar to the idea that you can just crank out barrel-aged wine or whisky in a place with all stainless tanks--it just doesn't work. It was at least possible to compromise half-way so that most drinkers wouldn't notice the difference, but Frederick didn't even do that. I will give kudos to FD for at least reintroducing the old yeast strains to WG (or so they said), but in the end it was wanton and deliberate neglect of the brand that did it in at the hands of FD.

I would make the case that there's still room for another brewery to acquire the brand and recipes, but I'm skeptical that FD would easily enable a competitor in its own market....

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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