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COM: March 2014

Flying Dog Cans

This month's cans are also kind of a throwback, but not because they copy a can from the past, nor is the brewery, Flying Dog, that old. But the cans were designed by Ralph Steadman, a British artist who first came to prominence, at least in the US, in the 1970s for his work with Hunter S. Thompson. OK, that's stretching this year's Can-of-the-Month "Throwback" theme a bit much, but I liked Steadman's artwork when I read "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972 " while attending college in the 70s, and so I wanted to feature these cans. Besides, I've talked about the spreading success of micro breweries on previous pages, and one thing I like about micro-canning is how creative many breweries get in their label designs. These designs are certainly eye-catching.

Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery was originally a brew pub in Aspen, Colorado. Opening in 1990, it's “Doggie Style” won the award for “The Best Pale Ale in America” at the Great American Beer Festival. They expanded beyond their original small brew pub capacity in 1994, opening a 50-barrel brewery in Denver, Colorado. That's still a pretty small capacity though. They made the jump to a much larger facility in 2006 when they purchased the Frederick Brewing Company located in Frederick, Maryland. By 2008 all their production was based there although their offices remained in Colorado. As of 2014 Flying Dog has a capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer per year, which doesn't put them into Miller-Coors territory for size, but it is about the size successful regional breweries used to be, before the wave of consolidations and closing in the 1960s and 1970s. Flying Dog sells their beer throughout most of the US.

Snake Dog Box.

Ralph Steadman

Steadman, born in 1936, got his start by taking a correspondence art course in the 1950s while serving in the RAF. After getting out of the service, he began doing editorial cartoons and a cartoon strip while continuing to study art. He did cartoons for "Punch" and the "Daily Telegraph", and then for "Private Eye." After a falling out with a good friend and fellow cartoonist, Steadman came to the US in 1970 and began work for "Rolling Stone" magazine. That's where I first saw his work a few years later. Working with "gonzo" writer Hunter S. Thompson gave Steadman more exposure in the US. and since then his work has been recognized on both side sof the Atlantic.

Halley Stamp. In 1986, Steadman did a series of four stamps for the British Post Office for the reappearance of Halley's Comet. I especially like this one, honoring Edmond Halley.

According to the British Cartoon Archives, Steadman.....has won numerous awards for his work including the V&A's Francis Williams Book Illustration Award in 1973, the Designers' & Art Directors' Association Gold Award in 1977, the American Institute of Graphic Arts Illustrator of the Year award in 1979, W. H. Smith Illustration Award in 1987, BBC Design Award in 1987, CAT Advertising Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1995, 1996, and 1998. He also received an Honorary D.Litt. from the University of Kent in 1995. In addition, he has directed a film for TVS in 1992, designed for the stage, written libretti, designed stamps for the GPO in 1986, given lectures, and, from 1987, designed catalogues for the wine merchant Oddbins.

Cartoonists and Beer Cans

Steadman is not the only notable cartoonist to design a beer label. The cartoon series of Rainier beer cans from 1956 featured designs by a number of notable cartoonists of the time, including Robert Osborn, VIP i.e. Virgil Partch, Ray Patin, Irwin Caplan, Bob Cram, and William Steig, who wrote and drew the children's book, 'Shrek.' Of course Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, did not design any beer labels, but he did come from a family of brewers and he drew cartoons for numerous breweries' advertising including Narragansett, Regal and Schaefer. I discussed his ties to the brewing industry in September 2006. I am sure there are more, but I am not aware of any at the moment.


Here are some later additions to their lineup...

Easy IPA.
Easy IPA
Numero Uno
Bloodline Blood Orange Ale
New Snake Dog label, 2016.

New Easy IPA label, 2016.


16 oz Numero Uno, 2016
16 oz Snake Dog, 2016
Raging Bitch. Saw this can for the first time in 2017.



"Ralph Steadman" Wikipedia

"Ralph Steadman" British Cartoon Archives

"Flying Dog Brewery" Wikipedia

Flying Dog website.


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