Described as New Jersey’s first craft brewery, Somerdale’s Flying Fish brewery has been navigating financial difficulties recently including bankruptcy, leading them to announce Thursday on Facebook that an auction for the brewery assets and intellectual property is scheduled for Tuesday.
The brewery’s social media commentary goes on to say that they have no way of predicting what will come of that auction, but the best case scenario is that someone buys the entire brewery with the intent to keep the Flying Fish brand alive, and the staff of the brewery can all retain their employment.
That early morning post offered a glimpse of hope, but another update just few a hours later intended to promote the weekend events changed the tone a bit; “In our final installment of – This week at Flying Fish…” and “One last weekend of the good stuff and discounts on all retail beer from 3pm today until 6pm Sunday.“
Despite that level of uncertainty regarding the brewery’s future, as mentioned the tasting room is open this weekend through Sunday. I stopped in Friday night to see a very packed tasting room, with cars overflowing the parking area and a band setup in the tasting room.
Some Internet sleuthing finds that Capital Recovery Group is formerly conducting an auction which they state had already started on February 6th. The website includes photos and descriptions of all the auction items, and bids have already been placed on several items.
Monday February 12th is a viewing day where prospective (registered) purchasers will be allowed to tour the facility and merchandise.
It is then stated that the auction “Ends From” on February 13th at 10am… Which is the day given in the Facebook post by the brewery.
Browsing through the auction website I can see that several items already have bids attached to them, from 50 bucks for an Insignia cooler to $10,000 for a Pro Brew Beer Can Filling Seaming Line.
The best outcome for those involved would be that someone steps in and purchases the entire brewery and intellectual property, which if that happens at anytime before the close of the auction it would negate any of the individual item bids.
If it seems far fetched… well if someone were to step in and purchase the entire brewery it would be the exact same pattern which happened with another iconic South Jersey company, Clementon park.
The amusement park had also entered into bankruptcy, had all of its business property including rides listed online for auction… and at the last minute a savior buyer stepped up who bought the entire facility outright. Clementon has opened each Summer season since 2021, under the ownership of Indiana Beach.
Flying Fish Brewing – Financial Ups And Downs
Started as a virtual brewery in 1995, Flying Fish opened its first brewery location and taproom in Cherry Hill in 1996.
In 2012 they moved their operations to the Somerdale facility which was a significant space upgrade.
Things continued very well for Flying Fish and by 2016 they had become the largest craft brewer in New Jersey.
It was that same year that Elk Lake Capital stepped in to take an ownership position in the brewery.
It also seems that soon after, things started to shift with the brewery with sales and its associated production volumes steadily decreasing.
In April of 2023 it was announced that Cape May Brewing had agreed to acquire Flying Fish Brewing. Cape May stated that both brands would continue on after the completion of the acquisition, but it seemed Cape May was looking to utilize Flying Fish’s surplus capacity to also brew and house Cape May branded beers.
It was a huge success milestone for Cape May Brewing, who was only 5 years old in 2016 when Flying Fish was the largest in the State, and then 7 years later Cape May had grown so significantly they were positioned to acquire the Somerdale brewery.
But about two months later the acquisition deal was called off. Cape May Brewing later said that “after extensive analysis during the due diligence phase, they had determined it will not complete the planned acquisition of Flying Fish”
For the remainder of 2023 it seemed as if it was business as usual for Flying Fish… until December of 2023 when Flying Fish filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. “Chapter 11” indicates they were looking to reorganize their finances and continue operations.
The bankruptcy filing showed that the private equity firm Elk Lake Capital as the owner, with $1.3 million in assets versus $9.3 million in liabilities.
Several days later an article at Brewbound.com stated that one of their creditors felt the brewery’s financial situation was more dire, and the creditor was requesting liquidation of the brewery’s assets.
Which brings us to this month where the auction process is underway, bids are being accepted.. and on Tuesday the brewery will likely know its fate.
Let’s hope someone steps in to purchase the entire brewery, and keep the brewing and growing in Somerdale.
Links and Location
Flying Fish Brewing Co.
900 Kennedy Blvd
Somerdale, NJ 08083