The Green Flash as we know it has vanished.
In an e-mail to shareholders last night, Green Flash CEO Mike Hinkley reported that the company’s senior lender, Comerica Bank, “has foreclosed on its loans and sold the assets of the Company (other than the Virginia Beach brewery) to WC IPA LLC.” Comerica is selling the Virginia Beach brewery through a separate process.
In a Facebook post this morning, Alpine Beer Co co-founder Patrick McIlhenney stated that “GFBC Inc is no more. All creditors and shareholders are stiffed. The CEO, or whatever his new title will be, of WC IPA LLC held a meeting yesterday to let the employees know what’s going on. New employment papers needed to be filled out. Alpine Beer Company Inc. is no more. Still operating, but under WC IPA LLC.”
Alpine was acquired by Green Flash in November of 2014 in a “handshake agreement” between the co-founders.
According to an ABC filing, the president and manager of WC IPA LLC is Richard Lobo, a managing partner at private equity firm Muirlands Capital LLC. WC IPA LLC manager Joshua Yelsey previously worked as head of finance for craft breweries bought by Anheuser-Busch, as well as a manager in the mergers and acquisitions department, according to his LinkedIn page. Mike Hinkley stays on as VP and manager.
This news comes on the heels of the closing of the Cellar 3 barrel aging facility in Poway, as well as the Virginia Beach brewery just last week.
According to a press release, the Green Flash Brewhouse & Eatery in Lincoln, Nebraska, will open in April.
This post was updated with the shareholder email mention, WC IPA LLC details, updated Nebraska information, plus the information below.
We reached out to Mike Hinkley about the discrepancy between a press release saying he “will lead the company” and the title of vice president on the new ABC listing. Here was his response:
“Green Flash Brewing Company and Alpine Beer Company were sold to a group of individual investors, led by a local San Diego businessman, that want to see the companies continue and thrive. That group of investors, which does not include me, formed WC IPA LLC. They named me Vice President of their entity so that I could help with a smooth transition and prevent a disruption of the business and the lives of over 150 employees. All of which retain their jobs, compensation and benefits. My exact role in the company going forward is yet to be determined.”
Hinkley also said that “your article is incorrect about Green Flash vanishing.” He added this statement:
“Green Flash continues on and so does Alpine. The beer is being brewed, packaged and delivered to retailers today. The tasting rooms are open for business. It is true that the companies have new ownership and that the company has refocused on being local and regional, verses national. And it is also true that the investments of it’s previous owners, including myself, are now gone. I am very, very sorry about that.
“I am trying to focus on the positives. Green Flash and Alpine, and all of the folks that brew the beer, prepare the food, drive the forklifts, wait the tables, tend the bars, and work in sales, marketing and accounting all have jobs today. Good paying jobs with real healthcare coverage. That was not a sure thing, not too long ago. I worked very hard to get this transaction accomplished with them in mind.
“I apologize to Pat and Val McIlhenney because this is not how they or I would ever have wished things would turn out. I am glad they took the most of their money out of the company by now. I wish they would have gotten it all out. I wish things turned out exactly as they hoped when they sold Alpine Beer Company four years ago.
“I also 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.
“I am very optimistic about the future of Green Flash and Alpine who emerge from very challenging times with a stable financial position and streamlined operations. The breweries will continue to make amazing beer and enjoy them with their fans.”
Shareholder Joseph Cooke of San Diego wondered, “Why was there not attempt to restructure through bankruptcy? I am not a big loser compared to others but $68K isn’t chicken feed either.” We asked Hinkley about this possible course of action, and he responded, “I don’t know how to answer #3. Sorry”
Additionally, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that “McIlhenney and his wife — Val McIlhenney, who was vice president of Green Flash’s Alpine Beer division — will have no role in the new company. Their son, Shawn McIlhenney, remains under contract as a Green Flash brewer.”
Correction: The original post stated that “Alpine was acquired by Green Flash in November of 2014 in a ‘handshake agreement’ between the co-founders.” The handshake agreement was for contract brewing Alpine beer at Green Flash in November of 2013; the purchase of Alpine Beer Co. came one year later.