Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wild Goose, nevermore

Snow Goose was once one of the highly anticipated winter seasonals of the mid-Atlantic beer scene, brewed by the Wild Goose Brewing Company. Alas, officially, nevermore. Beer In Baltimore reports that Flying Dog, the current owner of the Wild Goose brand, has ceased production of all Wild Goose beers.

Wild Goose was only the second micro-brewery, post-Prohibition, to operate in Maryland. Investor Rich Klein opened the original production facility in 1989, in the small town of Cambridge, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Beer industry veteran Jim Lutz would soon sign on. The brewery was famous for fermenting its beer in open vats, with a yeast that produced a distinctive, rich malty/buttery flavor.

Wild Goose Brewery 1989-2010

In 1997, Kevin Brannon and Marjorie McGinnis of the Frederick Brewing Company purchased Wild Goose and moved all operations to their brewery's larger, more advanced, facility, in Frederick, Maryland. Since the newer brewery used only closed fermentation vessels (and a different yeast strain), Wild Goose beers, though still good, wouldn't quite taste the same.

Frederick itself had its goose cooked when it was unable to pay its million-dollar water bill, and was purchased in 2006 by Flying Dog Brewing of Denver, Colorado. Shortly thereafter, Flying Dog would move all of its operations to Frederick and shed most of its Colorado identity. Jim Lutz is currently the Vice President of Sales for Flying Dog.

Rest in peace, Wild Goose Brewing Company.



  1. Too bad. I have five Wild Goose bottles down in the collection, and seem to recall particularly enjoying the Porter and Snow Goose. I also have what I guess was a contract brew, Samuel Middleton's, which I can't claim to remember at all.

  2. Nice post as always Tom.

    Snow Goose is available in Montgomery County. I saw it today at Old Georgetown Beer & Wine (strip center at Democracy and Old Georgetown). I feel bad that I went for Sierra Celebration. Now that I know of its demise, I will have to get some Snow Goose. It's the same old story "you never miss the water 'til the well runs dry."

  3. I was a bit late to the Wild Goose party, but what I had was pretty good. Nothing mind blowing (likely due to the updated fermentation vessels), but I obviously understand the emotional attachment here locally.

    Thanks for sharing Tom.

    I still see quite a bit of Wild Goose at the retail locations in my area.

  4. Wild Goose died long ago. I recently had a bottle and it was nothing like what I remembered. Originally, it was brewed only with English grain (munton and fisson) and English hops. First runnings were caramelized by the direct fired kettle. Whole flower hops were steeped in a hop back to create an aromatic hop tea which the brew was knocked out through. Ringwood yeast offered a fruity note and was kept that way through top cropping from open top fermentation vessels. Sadly, many formerly great beers are now just merely labels in a game played by companies. They use these labels to utilize excess fermentation capacity and garner extra shelf space to prevent others from taking it. Heileman used this technique to their ultimate demise, however this was due to the lack of a strong central brand.


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