San Diego, California based Green Flash Brewing has been one of the biggest success stories in craft beer, but even they are not immune to the more challenging marketplace we have in 2018 as they pull distribution from 33 states including Oregon and Washington. The pull-back includes a fifteen percent decrease in Green Flash’s staff. In a recent announcement, the brewery failed to list Oregon and Washington as one of the 18 markets they would stay in.
We reached out to Bob Repp, the Vice-President of Specialty Craft at their Oregon distributor GDI and also a former regional sales manager for Green Flash for confirmation, he said:
“They are pulling distribution from Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest unfortunately. GDI will continue to service both the Green Flash and Alpine brands until we exhaust our inventory. We are hopeful that over a period of time they could come back to the market.”
Just a few months ago in December, 2017 Green Flash President and COO said “We are currently focused on reducing overall SKU count while expanding distribution of core brands as well as amplifying our brand’s impact in key regions. As we near completion of our Lincoln, Nebraska brewhouse and restaurant, we are continuing our search for opportunities to expand. We look forward to opening upwards of four new outposts in cities across the country over the next 2 years.”
If you recall, Green Flash Brewing announced they were opening a 3rd brewery in Lincoln, Nebraska just last summer after announcing a Virginia brewery a year before that in August 2016. In interviews, Green Flash founder Chris Hinkley has said they had aspirations to become a legacy brand available in all fifty-states, but apparently, that has changed after looking at the recent numbers. Instead the brewery will pull back to focus on the markets near their three breweries, I would think Oregon and Washington were close enough to their San Diego headquarters but maybe our fiercely local beer drinkers have not been purchasing enough West Coast IPA in the last year. Apparently, Green Flash will still open more brewpubs as that seems to be the model these days in expanding your footprint (see 10 Barrel, Ballast Point, Golden Road etc.)
Does Green Flash’s inevitable acceptance to be a regional (not national) brand say something about the prospects of other breweries with grand ambitions? And does their pull-out of Oregon and Washington distribution speak towards a blowback to all of the out-of-state breweries launching distro into the area? It will be interesting to see if some of the non-pacific northwest breweries new to Oregon will stay in this market, namely ones like Founders Brewing and much smaller guys like Revision Brewing.
According to the announcement:
Green Flash will streamline its distribution reach and focus sales and marketing efforts on core U.S. regions with the most efficient access to the Company’s San Diego and Virginia Beach breweries. This strategic re-focus will enhance the Company’s operations and provide consumers with the freshest beer possible. Concentrating sales and marketing efforts on a more focused geographic footprint will accelerate sales velocity, increase inventory turnover, and result in more than 90% of all shipped Green Flash and Alpine beer arriving the same day that it is shipped.
Beer brewed and packaged in San Diego will ship to Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Beer brewed and packaged in Virginia Beach will ship to Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. These East Coast states have collectively become the fastest growing Green Flash region, benefiting greatly from the Virginia Beach brewery’s first full year of production in 2017.The Green Flash Brewhouse & Eatery in Lincoln, Nebraska will open as scheduled in the first quarter of 2018, and will brew beer serving the state of Nebraska. The Company is excited to build the Green Flash and Alpine brands in Nebraska, which will serve as the model for future Green Flash geographic expansions.This strategic initiative has resulted in 15% of the Company’s workforce transitioning out of the Company. No employees working in Green Flash’s tasting rooms and no Alpine Beer Company employees were impacted. “We are sorry to lose these valued team members. They are all talented and passionate individuals who have contributed to Green Flash,” shared Mike Hinkley.“Re-focusing our distribution was a difficult decision that we did not arrive at lightly,” says Chris Ross, President, “we are grateful to our friends working at the distributors and retailers that made it possible for our fans to enjoy Green Flash beer over the years.”About Green Flash Brewing Co.
Green Flash Brewing Co. is headquartered in San Diego, California, and was established in 2002 by co-founders Mike and Lisa Hinkley. Brewmaster, Erik Jensen, leads brewing operations. Green Flash is an award-winning brewer of fine, craft ales, and specializes in brewing assertive and distinctive beers, such as nationally acclaimed West Coast IPA: an award-winning beer whose wide acceptance has helped define a category. In 2016, Green Flash opened a full-scale brewing facility in Virginia Beach, VA and in 2018 will open a Brewhouse and Eatery in Lincoln, NE. Please visit the Green Flash website www.greenflashbrew.com for more information.