San Diego's fourth largest brewery, Green Flash Brewing, is in the process of being dissolved, and with it Alpine Beer Company, the cult beer favorite Green Flash acquired in 2014.
6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa
That’s the reporting coming out of several dedicated beer outlets today. TheFullPint.com published an April 2nd letter from Green Flash CEO Mike Hinkley to shareholders, reading in part, “I am truly sorry to report that the Company’s senior lender, Comerica Bank, has foreclosed on its loans and sold the assets of the Company… While the Green Flash and Alpine brands will continue, they will do so under new ownership — and GFBC, Inc. and Alpine Beer Company, Inc. will be wound down and dissolved.”
2351 Alpine Boulevard, Alpine
Read the entire letter here.
A Michigan risk management company called WCIPA, LLC acquired the business via foreclosure sale March 30th, after Green Flash defaulted on its debts early in 2018. WCIPA appears to be a new entity.
While Green Flash and Alpine Beer as business entities will cease to exist, at the moment it appears their respective beer production and sales will continue. ABC records show the respective beer licenses of Green Flash and Alpine Beer were transferred to WC IPA on March 29, with temporary permits issued March 30th.
The records named Richard Lobo as president of the new entity, with Hinkley named as vice president. Lobo has a 25 year career in financial management, most recently as managing partner of private equity firm Muirlands Capital. It appears most of his career has been based in Chicago, though according to his LinkedIn profile, “I have relocated to Southern California and am exploring opportunities to invest in lower middle-market, growth-oriented businesses across industry sectors.” The profile indicates he has been on the Green Flash board of directors since April, 2017.
Green Flash has laid off dozens of employees in the past 15 months, both in San Diego and in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where it opened a $20 million brewing facility in 2016. That brewery was closed and offered for sale as a turnkey brewery last week, and a few days later the same fate came down on its Poway wild fermentation brewery, Cellar 3.
Meanwhile, an April 2nd press release characterized the transaction as a “sale of its West Coast brewing operations” to an investor group “with extensive experience in both the craft beer and food and beverage industries… committed to maintaining Green Flash’s status as an iconic independent craft-brewing interest.” It describes a reshuffling of management positions, including the departure of Chris Ross, who served as Green Flash president the past two years; and the eight year vice president of sales, Jim Kenney, who is being replaced by former Ballast Point Brewing sales officer Dave Mills.
It goes on to state that Green Flash and Alpine beer will continue to be distributed to eight mostly southwestern states, and that a planned Green Flash brewpub in Lincoln, Nebraska will open in April.
Neither Green Flash nor WCIPA, LLC could be reached for comment.
Former Green Flash CEO Mike Hinkley issued a response to West Coaster Magazine that the beer businesses "were sold to a group of individual investors, led by a local San Diego businessman" (presumably Lobo), that want to see the companies continue and thrive." He highlighted that more than 150 remaining employees will "retain their jobs, compensation and benefits.” Hinkley will be vice president of the new business business entity to provide "continuity" at the leadership level.
Hinkley used the statement to issue a public mea culpa: “I apologize to the rest of the GFBC, Inc. shareholders who lost their investments. I was the largest cash investor, never sold a share and continually reinvested. I suppose it is appropriate that I lost all of my investment and I will come to grips with that. But it will be much harder for me to get over other people losing their investments."
Hinkley's full six paragraph statement can be read here.