'Raging Bitch' beer barred

March 29, 2011 at 2:00 PM
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 29 (UPI) -- Flying Dog Brewery is suing Michigan's state Liquor Control Commission in federal court over its prohibition of the bottler's "Raging Bitch" label.

In its complaint filed March 25, the beer maker alleges the agency is censoring its free speech, The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press reported.

The 20th Anniversary India Pale Ale label urges customers, "Remember, enjoying a Raging Bitch, unleashed, untamed, unbridled -- and in heat -- is pure GONZO." Ralph Steadman, an illustrator best-known for collaborations with author Hunter S. Thompson, penned the disputed phrase.

The case began in September 2009 when Flying Dog applied to sell "Raging Bitch" beer. The commission denied the request and affirmed its decision on appeal. The commission based its decision on its power to regulate language on the bottle that is "detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public", the filing said.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to override the decision, asserting it is "damaging Flying Dog's goodwill in Michigan and thus hurting the sales of Flying Dog's other beers." The company's products presently sold in Michigan include "Doggie Style" Classic Pale Ale and "In Heat Wheat" Hefeweizen Ale.

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