A Video Conversation with Jim Caruso, CEO of Flying Dog Brewery- How Offit Kurman Helped

Maryland’s largest brewery, concocting one-of-a-kind craft beer

Jim Caruso is the CEO and General Partner of Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. Founded by astrophysicist and rancher George Stranahan in 1990 in Aspen, Colorado, Flying Dog was one of the first brewpubs to open in the Rocky Mountains. Sixteen years later, the company purchased the Frederick Brewing Company, which eventually became Flying Dog’s headquarters after the closure of its Denver facility. Today, Flying Dog is the largest brewery in Maryland and the 37th largest in the US. Emblazoned with names such as Raging Bitch, Bloodline, Snake Dog, and Fever Dream, Flying Dog’s labels feature art created by Ralph Steadman, who connected with the company through a mutual friend of Steadman’s: Hunter S. Thompson.


Can you tell us about your relationship with Offit Kurman? When did you become a client?


JIM CARUSO: From the brew pub to our first brewery, to our second brewery in Denver, to this facility—and we’re outgrowing this—so we do have 32 acres of land under contract in the city of Frederick next to the airport. That’s where we like to be. It’s not that hard to go out in the middle of the country and do a brewery. It’s more complex, you have more neighbors, more regulations, but that’s where we want to be: in the heart of the city. We had about 50,000 people visit us on tours and for other events from outside of Frederick and then go to downtown Frederick to enjoy the bars and the restaurants. So, as we see an opportunity to grow, we wanted to stay in Frederick, and when this opportunity became available within the city limits, it was perfect for us.


We put it under contract and it’s an extremely complex deal. We’re next to the FAA. We have city regulations to work with, you know, things that we want to do on this property with entertainment and music. Bob Kresslein and Offit Kurman have been instrumental—not only early on when Bob Kresslein worked with us to get the legislation in place that allowed us to serve a sample of beer to somebody who might come all the way from Amsterdam, and prior to this legislation we’d have to tell him, “No, we’re sorry, it’s prohibited by law.” Now, we can have people come in there, give them samples of beer, and Bob and his many hours that he spent working on that resulted in legislation that makes this experience possible. He worked with us to acquire the building, which went very well. Now, the big, big, project is working in conjunction with the city, who have been extremely amenable. We all want to make it happen, but it’s complex. There’s legislation, it’s FAA regulations, zoning and stuff like that. Again, Bob Kresslein and Offit Kurman have been invaluable, instrumental, and fun to work with.


You could tell we like to have a little bit of fun here, and Bob enjoys our beer, so it was just a match made in heaven from the start. I actually met Bob when he was walking in, and I said, “By the way, do you do real estate stuff?” And he goes, “Absolutely.” It’s been just a fantastic partnership ever since and Bob has helped us in many areas, so there are many areas of expertise in Offit Kurman that we’ve benefited from through our relationship.




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