Happy Birthday, Pike!

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Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Charles and Rose Ann Finkel opened their Pike Pub & Brewery. It’s such a fixture at the Market, you’d think it’s been there forever, but there was a time, not that long ago, when fewer than half a dozen national breweries supplied the market with lawnmower beer and half a dozen artisans and idealists thought were making craft beer. It was a classic struggle between industrial, bottom-fermented lagers and flavorful, top-fermented ales, between standardization and individuality. In the end, as we know, it was the consumers who won. Local artisan beers flourished, and some, like Red Hook, even formed an unholy alliance with the big boys to get national distribution.

In this fomenting vat of yeast and mash stepped the Finkels, who had decades of experience navigating the currents of beverage sales. Back in Oklahoma, Charles had been an early champion of Chateau Ste. Michelle wines and was hired to run the company’s national sales effort. (His business partner Paul Shipman came along to run Ste. Michelle’s marketing.) Later, Charles started a company called Merchant du Vin, which, despite its name, imported nothing but craft beer. (Shipman went on to run Red Hook.) Then the Finkels started a tiny craft brewery on Western Avenue, which over the years grew and grew to its current location, a multi-level, gravity flow, steam heated brewery and brew pub.

And now, after 30 years, Pike is still in the Market (they grew vertically, but since they’re not in (but adjacent to) a historically protected Market building, they didn’t have to jump through quite as many hoops. Washington’s beer industry has grown like a weed (pun intended). Georgetown Brewing is the biggest, with 88,000 barrels, followed by Elysian, Fremont, Mac & Jack. Yakima’s Bale Breaker is 5th; Pike is in 8th place with roughly 14,000 barrels.

How much is 14,000 barrels? A barrel is 31 gallons, or 250 pint-glasses of beer. So Pike is brewing some 3.5 million pints a year. All for you? Hah! You’d have to suck down a six-pack a day from now until the next century.