Charles Finkel has a great wife (Rosanna) that finishes his sentences and allows him to speak freely. Charles loves beer. He has been the longest crab beer salesman in Seattle, having sold it for over thirty years.
Interview: How To Start a Brewery
So if you could just give us a quick introduction of what your name and position is in this lovely place.
Alright. Well, how about we do this together. I can’t operate without her. It’s a combination of loving my job and loving my wife. But not in that order (laughs).
My name is Charels Finkle. This is my wife Rosanne. We are the owners of the Pike Brewing Company in Seattle, Washington.
And how long have you owned this fine establishment.
CF: We started it in 1989.
RF: But not in this location. In ’89 we were a block west and a block north. We’ve been in this location since 1996.
And this is pretty prime real estate you got here. This is a pretty serious investment for you.
RF: No question about it (laughs).
CF: That’s the part about the mental health. We won’t talk about that (laughs).
I want to hear about why you love your job. Not just because you own the place, right?
CF: No, it has nothing to do with the ownership. I’d love it just as much if I was working for someone here. We love our job because we’re associated with a product that gives great pleasure, as well as nutrition, to the people. And that’s beer. Our business is beer, and business is also hospitality. By being able to supply both of those things, it’s pretty hard to beat.
RF: So we take care of you at home, as well as in the pub.
I appreciate that.
CF: And when I say beer, ‘food’ is really the broader sense. We regard the beer as food. And then food that goes along with the beer is what we specialize in here at Pike.
And you said ‘healthy.’ Not that I disagree, but how do you equate the beer with healthy?
CF: Well, it is. It’s cereal beverage. It’s liquid bread. How do you not equate it with health?
I’m just curious. I love beer. I was just wondering if two glasses a day is totally healthy.
CF: It’s only been in America since prohibition. I’ve been here in Washington since 1868 til 1933 that we’ve been taught alcohol or anything that has alcohol in it is bad for you. The reality is not that.
What would you be doing if you were not doing this?
CF: I’d be a college professor at a girls school on the east coast (Laughs). Or painting bare breasted women on the beaches of Tahiti.
I like both of those. Were you into beer before you started the brewery?
Yeah. Definitely. One better not start brewing without being into beer.
But you weren’t a restaurateur necessarily. You were just into beer.
CF: I was a beer merchant. I started selling beer in 1978. Which makes me the person that’s been selling crab beer…
RF: Longer than anyone else.
CF: The main thing is the beer. Everything else comes second.
You brew the beer here?
I’ve taken a couple tours, but I can’t say that I’m all that familiar with the brewing process.
CF: You guys want to take a little tour?
Yeah! That’d be awesome.
CF: I tend to like beers that are dryer. This is not sweet beer by any means. But our IPA, our Stout, our Pale Ale. Dark and dry is the way I like it. Because I like to drink it with food. I’m looking for beers that are compatible.
Do you ever drink other beer besides your own?
CF: I never drink other beers besides my own.
Oh really. So that’s why you bought the place.
RF: Our beers are actually all in that beer review magazine. It’s like a beer of the month club.
Wow. A beer reviewer? How do you get that job?
RF: You have to be at the right place at the right time.
CF: You have to drink longer than anyone else.
That is awesome.
CF: So you want to take that tour?
Let’s do it. Cheers.