At the end of Kennedy Blvd in Somerdale, NJ sits the largest craft brewery in the state. This 45,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility is home to Flying Fish—a prominent craft brewing company responsible for a number of award-winning beers, such as HopFish IPA, Red Fish and Abbey Dubbel.
Gene Muller, the founder of Flying Fish, is recognized as a pioneer in the craft beer scene. From Rosemary Double IPA to Bayshore Oyster Stout and Pork Roll Porter, he has brewed a variety of beers sure to stimulate the palate of any craft beer connoisseur.
When Cheers SJ met with Gene Muller, along with owner Andy Newell, to discuss the brewery’s famous beers, we had a list of questions prepared – like, what’s your favorite hop for dry hopping?; and of all the beers you brew, which is your favorite and why? – but the interview took an unexpected turn. You see, with each question, Gene and Andy spoke less and less about beer, but more about the history and values of their company.
Woven into the fabric of Flying Fish Brewing Co. are Gene and Andy’s efforts to stay environmentally friendly, to stay connected with the community, and to stay unique and relevant in today’s ever-changing craft beer scene. To say the least, Flying Fish represents more than just great beer.
Here are 10 things you should know about Flying Fish Brewing Company:
- The Flying Fish logo, which is actually an airplane designed in commemoration of two fishing buddies who served as fighter pilots during World War II, was awarded the Prestigious Commercial Design of the Year award in 1996.
- Flying Fish has earned 10 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, which is more than all other NJ breweries combined. In 2016, two of their year-round beers—HopFish IPA and Red Fish—took home awards for best Classic English-Style Pale Ale and Extra Special Bitter.
- The Flying Fish facility in Somerdale was originally built for Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown. For over a decade, Berry Gordy used the building to press records. The Flying Fish crew often scours the building for Motown memorabilia.
- The Flying Fish brewery is a paradigm for recycling and conservation. One of the most sustainable breweries on the East Coast, the facility showcases 529 solar panels on its roof and a rain-water recovery garden that returns over five-thousand gallons of water to an underground aquifer for every inch of rainfall. Committed to the environment, the brewing company recycles all paper, metal, plastic, glass and wood. Last year alone, they donated over two-million pounds of spent barley to local dairy farms.
- Flying Fish was the first craft beer sold at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Today, Phillies fans enjoy a variety of Flying Fish beers at Citizens Bank Park, a park known for having the best craft beer selection in baseball.
- Every year, Flying Fish hosts an in-house mentoring/education brewing program. The employees participating in this program account for more than half of their current brewing team.
- Always on the cutting-edge of hop innovation, Flying Fish paved the way for other craft breweries by being the first to experiment with Simcoe, Azzaca and Sorachi Ace. Every week, in the tasting room at their Somerdale location (open 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 12 to 6 p.m. on weekends), Flying Fish invites the public to sample an array of unique craft beers.
- In December of 2016, Flying Fish Crafthouse, an urban American restaurant, opened in the Brewerytown area of Philadelphia. This 191-seat restaurant features an innovative food menu designed by Chef Brain Duffy, whom you may have seen on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, as well as a myriad of Flying Fish brews exclusive to the Crafthouse.
- Each year, Flying Fish donates more than $100,000 in goods, services and merchandise to local non-profit organizations. In February of 2013, with the help of beer wholesalers and retailers, Flying Fish released a beer named FU (Forever Unloved) Sandy as a fundraiser to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this brew—an amount in excess of $75,000—were donated to a variety of charitable organizations throughout the state.
- Flying Fish originated as the world’s first virtual microbrewery. After graduating from the Siebel Institute of Technology, America’s oldest brewing school, founder Gene Muller designed the Flying Fish Website in order to generate positive press coverage and attract investors for a microbrewery. The site afforded beer lovers the opportunity to help build and manage a microbrewery. Visitors of the site were asked to help select and name beers, as well as design t-shirts and labels. Moreover, they could volunteer to be a taste-tester or apply for a job as a brewer. Less than a year after launching the site, Muller had gained the notoriety and funding he needed to construct a successful microbrewery.