Scranton Media Family Buys Flying Fish

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I somehow missed this news, which seems to have come out without too much fanfare a few days ago. Maybe we’re becoming desensitized to brewery M&A? Certainly Twitter wasn’t abuzz with the news. Flying Fish Brewing, one of New Jersey’s earliest small brewers, was bought by the Lynett and Haggerty families, who own Times-Shamrock Communications. They own a dozen newspapers and eleven radio stations. On April 8, they announced that they’d bought a controlling interest in the Somerdale, New Jersey brewery, though the deal was quietly done a month earlier, on March 11.

Flying Fish was founded in 1995 by Gene Muller. They started in Cherry Hill, but moved to larger quarters in Sommerville four years ago.

According to the Scranton Times-Tribune (one of the papers owned by the family), this is how it went down.

The family’s expertise in marketing, events and promotions will help the brewery continue to grow and expand its footprint, said Bobby Lynett, manager of L&H Brewing Partners, the entity that now holds a majority interest in Flying Fish. They declined to disclose the cost of their acquisition.

“Flying Fish is a nice brewery with good people and a great product,” said Mr. Lynett, a publisher of The Times-Tribune. “We want to help it grow.”

Flying Fish currently employs 33 people who produce about 24,000 barrels of beer each year.

Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish, said he began looking for new partners when some initial investors began to cash out on their investment in the company. He joked that the Scranton family emerged as a good fit “because they are Irish.”

Mr. Muller, 61, believes Flying Fish will benefit from events and other business interests of the Lynett-Haggerty families, whom he refers to as “The Scranton Guys.”

“There are obvious synergies,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to inject some enthusiasm into the company and take care of our initial investors. The Scranton Guys are part of a 100-year-old company. They understand the long-term horizon.”

The capital for L&H Brewing Partners came from some individual family members and Elk Lake Capital, set up by the family to invest in non-media companies to add diversity to the family’s holdings beyond Times-Shamrock’s media holdings of newspapers, radio stations and outdoor advertising. Elk Lake already owns a land-surveying company and water-testing company.

Toasting the Class of '96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam CalagioneAt a Philly Beer Week event celebrating the Class of '96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione.

Inside A Brewery Circa 1892

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If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that this year’s project is posting “Historic Beer Birthdays” with as much information as I can find about each person. It’s been a lot of fun, especially getting to know more about a lot of the early brewers and breweries that make up the history of our brewing industry. One especially fun find was this piece of breweriana which I found when looking into Frederick J. Poth (whose birthday was March 20, 1840). His father, Frederick A. Poth (born March 15, 1840) founded the F. A. Poth & Sons’ Brewery, and his other son Harry A. Poth (July 11, 1881) also worked for the family business. It was one of the largest breweries in Philadelphia in its heyday.

Around 1892, they had a local printer, Avil Printing Co., create a lavish Souvenir Album of 20 pages, with 26 illustrations done by A. M. J. Mueller. The prints are Chromolithographs, a popular process at the time. The booklet presumably would have been given to bars, wholesalers and maybe even consumers as a promotional item, but as these things go, this one is pretty awesome, and gives a great glimpse into the inner workings of a turn of the century American brewery.

Here’s its description from “The Library Company of Philadelphia,” founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731.

Album containing 26 lithographic illustrations documenting the Philadelphia brewing complex at the northwest corner of Thirty-first and Jefferson Streets, including exterior and interior views of individual buildings within the complex and detailed scenes of laborers operating equipment and transporting the finished product to and from railroad stations. Shows exterior and interior views of the office building, boiler house, stable, and malt house; exterior views only of pitching house, pitching yard, and shipping department; interior views of private offices, beer stube, refrigerating machines and engine room, brew house, fermenting room, beer storage, racking room, wash house, and kiln house; and modes of transport including a delivery wagon loaded with barrels of beer approaching the F.A. Poth depot at Trenton, New Jersey. Includes a “bottled by” list on the last page with names and addresses next to two F.A. Poth bottles of beer. Under the list: “100,836 barrels were sold between January 1, 1890 and January 1, 1891.”

Established in 1865 by Frederick August Poth at the northeast corner of Third and Green Streets, and moved to Thirty-first and Jefferson Streets in 1871. Incorporated in 1877, and later renamed F.A. Poth & Sons, Incorporated.

This is the hardbound cover.
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Opening the book, you’re greeted by the title page.
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General View of [the] Plant.
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Office Building & Beer Strube.
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Main Office.
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Private Offices.
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Boiler House & Interior.
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Refrigerating Machines & Engine Room.
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Interior Brew House.

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Fermenting Room.
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Beer Storage.
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Beer Storage.
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Racking Room & Wash House.
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Pitching House & Pitching Yard.

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Shipping House & Refrigerator Car.

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Stable & Interior.

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Malt House.
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Interior Malt House.
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Kiln House.

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Depot at Trenton, N.J.
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Beer In Ads #1867: Facts Versus Fallacies #67


Thursday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 67 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “67,” and is about how in every state that already had a prohibition in alcohol, it was failing miserably, and was impossible to enforce. In Alabama, in one city alone — Birmingham — it was estimated that 500 packages of alcohol were delivered every single day to residents who’d ordered them from out of state. So yeah, that worked.

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Beer In Ads #1866: Facts Versus Fallacies #61


Wednesday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 61 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “61,” and is about a canard that’s still used as propaganda by prohibitionists today, which is that people who drink alcohol are criminals and that one leads to the other. But even statistics at that time (as today) did not support that claim, and in fact a majority of incarcerated people were not alcoholics. They go on citing several experts of the day, all with he same opinion, that drinking alcohol does not cause someone to become a criminal, despite the ludicrous cries of the anti-alcohol wingnuts.

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Beer In Ads #1865: Facts Versus Fallacies #57


Tuesday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 57 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “57,” and is about yet another false claim by the Anti-Saloon League at their annual convention in Atlantic City, when they claimed that a report offered showed that thousands of people in Pennsylvania were giving up drinking. Sadly, this still happens frequently today, and the report showed no causation and was shown out of context. Statistics from another source, the I.R.S., contradicts their claim, of course.

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Beer In Ads #1864: Facts Versus Fallacies #55


Monday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 55 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “55,” and is again about Maine and especially how Massachusetts is accused of supplying alcohol to them, demonstrating more evidence that the local option — which is really a “local prohibition” — cannot work and should be abandoned. And that’s from people within the Anti-Saloon League at one of their own meetings, causing some amount of embarrassment to the prohibitionist position.

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Beer In Ads #1863: Facts Versus Fallacies #54


Sunday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 54 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “54,” and is about how Maine has fared with their 50-year prohibition, which began in 1846. Apparently, a prohibitionist group complained to the sitting governor that he should enforce the law, but he responded that he did not have the authority to do so, that only the legislature could do something, and that they had even impeached several sheriffs for not doing their jobs, only to have their replacements do even less to stop prohibition. So it would appear that Maine’s efforts at stopping people from drinking was an abject failure, and yet still prohibitionists continued agitating for a national ban on alcohol, knowing full well it was unlikely to do any good whatsoever.

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Beer In Ads #1862: Facts Versus Fallacies #50


Saturday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 50 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “50,” and in this one the message is simple. Pass legislation for a prohibition and thousands will lose their jobs, entire industries will be decimated, governments will lose large sums of tax revenue and, after all that, it won’t even stop people from drinking alcohol. So yeah, that sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

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Beer In Ads #1861: Facts Versus Fallacies #49


Friday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 49 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “49,” and this is another weird one, equating workmen’s compensation cases, which at the time was new law, to drinking. One of the prohibitionist’s arguments was that drinking in the workplace was a dangerous problem, but statistics show that in federal workmen’s comp cases only one involved intoxication, and that one was thrown out. Statistics from other states show similar results, with very few cases involving alcohol, taking the wind out of the propaganda sails for prohibition.

Facts-v-Fallacies-49-1915

Beer In Ads #1860: Facts Versus Fallacies #48


Thursday’s ad is another one for the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association, from 1915, No. 48 in series they did from 1915-17 called “Facts Versus Fallacies.” I have no idea how many were done but some of the them are numbered into low triple digits, suggesting there were a lot of them, all in an effort to stop Prohibition from happening and win over support for beer. This ad, marked “48,” and this is another weird one, equating personal wealth with whether or not a state is wet or dry. Statistics at the time suggested that in wet states, people’s personal per capita wealth was much greater than people in dry states. I’m not sure about the causation question, or other factors, but it’s certainly an interesting strategy.

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