Flying Fish Brewing was a digital marketing pioneer

Aug 29, 2019

The World Wide Web has been commercialized since the early ‘90s, but there are still many business owners who don’t understand or even fully see the value of marketing online.

Gene Muller was not one of those business owners. In fact, the founder of Flying Fish Brewing Co. – now the largest brewery in New Jersey – was a digital marketing pioneer.

When Muller wanted to start his brewery in 1995, he decided to first establish a presence on the web, creating what the company believed to be the world’s first “virtual microbrewery.” 

“We got the idea of getting on the Web not only to introduce our brewery, but to provide a look at what we’ve gone through – and are still going through – so people who are thinking about opening a brewery or who just love good beer can get a behind-the-taps view,” the website read in 1995.

Forgiving the patterned wallpaper that was a hallmark of early ‘90s websites, the idea was brilliant. It helped them steadily build an audience for their business, which we believe is a fundamental need for marketing online. Visitors could follow along with the process of creating a craft brewery, as well as help name beers, design T-shirts and volunteer to be taste testers.

That attention and those relationships helped the company get the investment it needed to start and grow. They opened the physical brewery in Cherry Hill in 1996. They’ve since moved to Somerdale, also in Camden County, tripled capacity and won tons of awards.

This may be the oldest, but also one of the best, digital marketing success stories from a small business in South Jersey. Many growing companies throw in internet promotion as an afterthought for getting attention. With Flying Fish, it was totally integral to their business, even when the web itself was still in its infancy.

The lesson for other growing companies is that digital marketing is far from an unproven or emerging technology – companies here have been succeeding online for decades. Cheers to Flying Fish for leading the way.