Gene Muller of Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ

In New Jersey, October is a month for changing leaves, pumpkin patches and apple picking in crisp weather. It’s also synonymous with beer. To celebrate the season, The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey is collaborating with Flying Fish Brewing Co. in Somerdale to raise awareness about the important role that forests play for our water supply. We asked Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish, for his thoughts about the interconnected relationship of beer, water and forests.


Why are forests important to a brewer in New Jersey?

Gene Muller:

Grain, hops and yeast are basics of making beer, but above all else, brewing takes lots of clean water. The Flying Fish facility is located just few miles from our main water source, the Delaware River. But the quality of the Delaware’s water is reliant on forests way upstream in northwestern New Jersey and New York State. It’s all interdependent. Healthy forests mean better water, and that is definitely key for a brewer like me.


What does the water footprint for your production look like?

Gene Muller:

Beer is 90-95 percent water, but we also use water for such things as cleaning, sanitizing and steam for our processes. So many of the steps in our production involve water—we are really aware of the need to protect and care for it. Those forests upstream and even around the riverbanks in our area are critical for that. Right now, we’re paying homage to another one of New Jersey’s greatest forests with a seasonal brew that uses Pine Barrens pine needles!


This sounds like more than business to you…

Gene Muller:

Definitely. I’m born and bred New Jersey and really care about the community here. Our operations are built around sustainability, from solar power and recycling to high-efficiency equipment. We have a rain garden right outside our front door that soaks up water that would otherwise contribute to erosion in a nearby creek. The garden’s native plants attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I’ll be honest, it’s a great spot to sit and have a beer.


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