Maryland brewery sues North Carolina commission after label deemed ‘inappropriate’

North Carolina News

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — A Maryland-based brewery is suing North Carolina regulators after one of its beer labels was rejected after it was deemed inappropriate.

Click here to read the lawsuit

The owners of Flying Dog Brewery say in the lawsuit filed last month that the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission has violated its First Amendment rights by rejecting the label for its Freezin’ Season Winter Ale.

The Commission said in an email to the brewery that the label was in “bad taste” and “[a]s you can see the image below is seen as inappropriate to many here.”

All of Flying Dog’s labels are created by Ralph Steadman, known for his friendship with “gonzo” journalist and author Hunter S. Thomson. The label for “Freezin’ Season Winter Ale” consists of the silhouette of a naked man standing next to a campfire.

The brewery says the label has been approved in every other state within its 24-state distribution network.

“Flying Dog Brewery’s inability to advertise and commit to sell Freezin’ Season in North Carolina has damaged Flying Dog Brewery by unlawfully depriving it of its right to free expression and costing it significant sales of Freezin’ Season beer and ancillary Freezin’ Season products,” the lawsuit says in part.

The commission didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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