|Flying Fish Brewing Company
900 Kennedy Boulevard | Somerdale, NJ 08083
Flying Fish Brewing Company was founded by Gene Muller in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 1995. Originally the world’s first virtual microbrewery, the cyber presence generated press coverage and gained the investors necessary to open in late 1996.
Muller was trained at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, America’s oldest brewing school. While his original plan was to become a brewer, he quickly realized the need to run day-to-day business as President of the company.
In September 1996, Flying Fish released their first 2 beers, XPA (Extra Pale Ale) and ESB on draft. After purchasing a bottling line in October that year, they bottled XPA and ESB for the first time in November.
Since then Flying Fish’s capacity has tripled, making them the largest craft brewery of the 20-something breweries in New Jersey. In 2012 Flying Fish moved to their current, larger facility in Somerdale, New Jersey.
The new brewery showcases recycling, reuse and conservation. The brewery uses passive solar light tubes that greatly reduce the need for artificial light, and the main brewery has 463 solar panels that provides much of the electricity needed.
The brew kettle recaptures steam to create 1 gallon of hot water for every 5 gallons of beer brewed. The fully automated brewhouse also reduces the number of pumps needed and uses less natural gas than most systems.
About 15% of the rainwater that falls on Flying Fish is diverted to a rain garden, returning to the ground instead of the creek. The garden also has native plants to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. All spent grain is sent to a local dairy farmer.
Flying Fish produces 4 year-round beers, in addition to a variety of seasonal and specialty beers. In 2009 Flying Fish started the Exit Series line of beers named after New Jersey Turnpike exits. Each beer is said to represent the part of the state served by the exit. Check out the complete list of Exit Series beers here.
The tasting room is open from Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 8 PM and Saturday from 12 to 6 PM and Sunday 12 to 4 PM. Self-guided are on-going, and free guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 1, 2, 3, and 4 PM and on Sundays at 1 and 2 PM.
A sampler flight of 4 beers costs $6. Full pours are $4.50 with barrel aged beers costing $6. Beer can be purchased to go in 6-packs, cases, 1/6 and 1/2 kegs. Growlers are also available for purchase. A gift shop at the brewery sells tons of Flying Fish gear, including T-shirts, hats, scarves, glassware, coasters, and tap handles.
The beers on tap during our visit included…
- Redfish – 7.0% ABV hoppy red ale brewed with Columbus, Chinook and Cascade hops for a robust piney nose and Two-row, Crystal and Cara-red malts for a malty background.
- Exit 3 – 15% ABV blueberry braggot brewed with sweet orange peel, lemon peel, New Jersey honey, Hammonton, and New Jersey blueberries.
- Hopfish – 6.5% ABV English-style IPA boasting plenty of hop bitterness balanced by malt sweetness. Dry hopping creates a floral and herbal hop finish.
- Abbey Dubbel – 7.2% ABV Belgian Abbey Ale with a fruity nose, malty taste and clean, almondy dry finish with slight alcohol warmth.
- Exit 4 – 10.2% ABV Belgian-style tripel featuring citrus aromas with hints of banana and clove. Strong malt flavors finish slightly bitter. Won a Gold Medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.
- Exit 16 – 8% ABV wild rice double IPA brewed with organic brown and white rice along with pils and pale malts. Dry hopped additions of Chinook and Citra hops add aromas of tangerine, mango, papaya and pine.
- Extra Pale Ale – 5.2% ABV American pale ale brewed with Midwestern two-row malt and imported aromatic and Munich malts and Pacific Northwest hops. XPA is the best-selling local craft beer at the Phillies ballpark.
- ESB – 5.9% ABV classic British extra special bitter made fresh with an American slant. Features five different malts, including imported English malts, and three hop varieties.
- Demon Fish – firkin of Redfish with habaneros. Delicious!
Other noteable brews from Flying Fish include NJ 350 Anniversary Ale, which is brewed with blackstrap molasses. Another is FU Sandy or Forever Unloved Sandy. The wheat pale ale was brewed as a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts. It’s hopped with experimental hop ADHA 483, donated by the American Dwarf Hop Association, offering aromas of mangoes, peaches and guavas.
When touring breweries in New Jersey, Flying Fish can’t be missed. The facility is impressive and the beers are quite tasty.