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April 25, 2023

Cape May Brewing acquires Flying Fish, one of N.J.'s oldest craft breweries

Beer from the Camden County-based brewery will still be available at the tasting room in Somerdale and at retailers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

Food & Drink Breweries
Flying Fish Cape May Josh Olalde/Unsplash

Cape May Brewing Co. will acquire Flying Fish Brewing Co., one of the oldest craft breweries in New Jersey, as part of an investment to expand its reach across the Mid-Atlantic.

Cape May Brewing Co. has acquired Flying Fish Brewing Co., a Camden County-based company widely considered to be the oldest craft brewery in New Jersey. 

The purchasing agreement, which was announced on Monday, allows beers from both breweries to be sold independently of one another while expanding Cape May Brewing's distribution across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Cape May Brewing purchased all of Flying Fish's assets, including its tasting room at 900 Kennedy Blvd. in Somerdale, which opened in 2013.

The rapidly growing beer maker has described the acquisition as a "strategic investment" to increase its production and warehouse space in South Jersey and provide additional manufacturing space to expand its selection of craft beers, hard seltzers and other malt beverages. The agreement is meant to represent the "union of two brands that charted the course for craft brewing in New Jersey," according to an Instagram post announcing the acquisition. 

All Cape May Brewing and Flying Fish beers will remain available for sale at the same stores and at their respective tasting rooms in Rio Grande and Somerdale. Cape May Brewing will keep all of its brews on retail shelves in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, while Marylanders will continue to see Flying Fish brands at grocery and liquor stores across the state. 

"This is a massive milestone for both Cape May and Flying Fish, who we've long admired as a true pioneer of craft brewing in the Garden State since its founding in 1995," Ryan Crill, Cape May's CEO and co-founder, said in a press release. "We are thrilled to expand our product portfolio and are approaching this acquisition with a focus on our core values, passion for brewing, and commitment to serving our customers with the highest quality brews." 

Flying Fish was founded in 1995 and sold its first beers at a virtual brewery helmed by founder Gene Muller. The company began brewing beer at a small facility in Cherry Hill the following year and touted itself as the first craft brewery in the state. Climax Brewing Co., a beer maker based in Union County, also claims the title.

In 2012, Flying Fish's original brewery in Cherry Hill had outstripped its capacity, and the team moved operations to a larger facility in Somerdale. The tasting room, which opened in 2013 at the Coopertowne Plaza Shopping Center, is equipped with 463 solar panels, indoor solar tube lighting, recaptured steam and outdoor rain gardens as part of a larger effort to keep its operations sustainable.

Flying Fish offers up eight year-round beers plus seasonal options and specialty brews at its Camden County tasting room and in stores across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Among these are best-selling Hazy Bones IPA brewed with hints of pineapple and mango for a tropical finish. 

Cape May Brewing was founded in 2011 and has grown steadily ever since, becoming one of the largest craft breweries in the state. The company's first beer, the Cape May IPA, debuted at Cabanas (now known as Taco Caballito) in Cape May after being brewed and hand-delivered to its owners. Since then, the company has expanded to bars and retailers across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. 

The brewer's sister company, Cape Beverage, distributes beer and seltzer to retailers throughout all 21 counties in New Jersey. Most recently, the company began distributing beers from the Philly-based Dock Street Brewery to retailers and bars across the Garden State. 

Last summer, the company became embroiled in legal drama over the release of its "Shore Tea" collaboration with Wawa. Jeff Plate, co-founder and former owner of Asbury Park Brewery, claims he developed and unsuccessfully pitched the hard iced tea concept to Cape May Brewing and the company subsequently stole it. The brewery later released a statement calling the accusations "groundless," but the legal battle will continue this year. 

"We are excited for these new opportunities, and grateful for the teams and fans of both brands who have supported the New Jersey craft beer community over the years," Krill said. "This may be a brand-new chapter in our company history, but it's one that is rooted in the same values that have driven our commitment to quality, people, and refreshing brews since our founding in 2011." 

To find stores selling Cape May Brewing and Flying Fish beers, hard seltzers and other malt beverages, check out each brewery's respective beer finders. Beer aficionados can find more information and updates on Cape May Brewing's events and business expansions by following along on Instagram