The end may be near for Green Flash, should you care? The short answer to this question whether you like Green Flash’s beers or not is yes. You should care that what is happening to Green Flash could easily happen to your favorite brewery at some point in the (near?) future. The craft beer bubble is real and it is going to burst at some point, this could be the sign of things to come. There was a time when Green Flash was distributing to 50 states and expanding rapidly; buying up smaller breweries, extending their reach, building a second ambitious brewery on the east coast to further their reach. Now they have pulled out of nearly every single state they distribute to, are having to sell off assets, lost most of their investors and the bank that was their largest lender foreclosed on their loan. What I am saying is it wasn’t a lifetime ago that “West Coast IPA”, “Le Freak” and “Palate Wrecker” were considered top tier IPAs by many. “Le Freak” was the first of it’s kind, a Belgian IPA, the NEIPA of the early 2000s. Oh how things have changed.
Green Flash’s legacy of SHELF TURDS. Green Flash’s fall from grace probably started long before any of these financial woes if you ask the average craft beer drinker. When was the last time you went to your local bottle shop, checked the date of a Green Flash beer and it was even remotely drinkable (standard IPA shelf life is about 3 months). They stopped distributing to Illinois 4 months ago and I bet I could go to 10 different stores and still pick up at least 2 of their flagship beers right now. I would never do that because 1 year old West Coast IPAs are not my thing (nor should they be anyones). Unfortunately I haven’t even remotely considered buying a Green Flash beer in probably 5 years and most of the time my friends and I just try to guess how old they are. Word association game, Green Flash: Shelf Turd. If you are distributing all over the country and all of your products are just sitting on the shelves something is wrong and the financial problems are bound to follow regardless of how big you are.
Can other breweries learn from the mistakes Green Flash made? Yes, yes and yes. Green Flash REFUSED to adapt to the current craft beer climate. They seemed completely stuck in their ways of brewing the same 7-8 beers all the time, forever. Yes in 2004 “West Coast IPA” was great and probably helped a lot of people get into IPAs, in fact fresh it is probably still a solid beer. But cmon, let’s get real here. If you aren’t brewing some sort of NE style beer, having high profile can releases, using your money to invest in an extensive barrel program or brewing sours you are just living in the past. I know, that kind of sucks but it’s where we are at right now. Green Flash’s biggest move in the past few years was acquiring Alpine who just brews the exact same beers they do and just like Green Flash, people cared more about them in the early 2000s. There was a time when Alpine “Duet” was an extremely sought after beer in trades and was widely considered one of the best IPAs in the country. It is now most likely sitting on the shelves of a liquor store near you oxidizing and aged at a ripe 13 months.
What does this mean moving forward? I’m interested in what they will do. They aren’t completely bankrupt and shut down at this point. They have made the necessary steps to continue to operate. They are only distributing to 7 states now, which I assume are their largest markets and the ones closest to Cali, they sold off their unnecessary assets and seem to be hitting a reset button of some sorts. Like I said above though, they need to adapt, they need to realize that what they have been doing until is not gonna cut it. The craft beer world is changing, they need to change with it. Don’t abandon everything you’ve done and what has gotten you here but if you want to move forward get with the program! Keep the beers that matter most, “West Coast IPA”, “Le Freak” and like one other one and then start messing with some of the new stuff, get people excited to come out and get your new beers. If not I wouldn’t be surprised if they just continued to shrink and eventually just fall off completely.