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Green Flash Brewing to Distribute in Europe, Expand to Poway

San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co. is the latest expanding beer-maker to extend the reach of its popular brews well beyond U.S. borders.

San Diego County’s fourth-largest craft brewer by volume recently announced an arrangement under which Belgium-based Brewery St-Feuillien is now brewing, bottling and shipping Green Flash’s West Coast IPA throughout Europe.

Meanwhile, local commercial brokers recently reported that the Mira Mesa-headquartered brewer has signed a lease to expand operations to a second industrial facility in Poway, although Green Flash co-founder and CEO Mike Hinkley declined to discuss details.

Privately held Green Flash Brewing, established in 2002 by Hinkley and his wife Lisa, posted revenue of about $17.5 million in 2013 as it brewed 57,000 barrels. The company now employs about 100 people, including 70 in San Diego, Mike Hinkley said.

Green Flash has had distribution and other short-term bottling arrangements with Brewery St-Feuillien over the years, but this latest arrangement marks the first time that Green Flash is actually being produced and distributed in Europe, the CEO said.

Due to shorter shipping requirements with beer produced locally, Green Flash is now available in draft form as well as bottles in Europe, with product being shipped throughout Belgium and 10 other countries, including the U.K., Germany, France and Italy.

“It’s two-day shipping throughout Europe,” Hinkley said. “It doesn’t have to go through customs and all those other processes, so it arrives as much fresher beer for our customers.”

Distribution Deal Sought for a While

Green Flash officials said its product is being shipped to a “hand-selected network” of distributors and importers within Europe, for sale in stores, bars, restaurants and other venues. Officials did not disclose financial or other terms of the new production arrangements with the Belgian brewer, which is headquartered in the city of Le Roeulx and has a history dating back to 1873.

Hinkley said Green Flash had been pursuing European distribution of its West Coast IPA for some time, but had to surmount numerous challenges of delivering fresh product to the region. From a standpoint of quality and consumer taste, production within Europe was deemed a more viable long-term option than attempting to ship the beer across the ocean in large quantities.

Talks on the production deal were initiated about a year ago with Brewery St-Feuillien CEO Dominique Friart, whose family has run the company for several generations.

Expanding in Poway

Green Flash Brewing recently signed a 10-year, $1.28 million lease for a 12,275-square-foot industrial building at 12260 Crosthwaite Circle in Poway, according to brokerage company Cassidy Turley. The new Poway location will be used to expand production capacity and will feature a small tasting room and tours of the facility, according to the brokerage firm.

Green Flash’s European announcement came as rival Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, the local region’s largest craft brewer and 10th-largest nationally, announced plans to invest $25 million to convert a Berlin industrial facility for its first European brewing and restaurant operations. The Stone facilities are expected to be operating by late 2015 or early 2016.

The local companies are capitalizing on the recent globalization of popularity for Western-style craft beers, especially within Europe. According to the Brewers Association, a nationwide industry group, American craft exports rose 46 percent from 2012 to 2013, topping 82,000 barrels.

The growth in exports from 2011 to 2012 was just 5.6 percent, according to the association.

GREEN FLASH BREWING CO.

CEO: Mike Hinkley

Revenue: $17.5 million in 2013

No. of local employees: 70

Headquarters: Mira Mesa

Year founded: 2002

Company description: Craft beer brewer and distributor

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