and reflects on the crafty transformation of the beer business
From a beer lover’s perspective, the last 20 years have been like “manna from heaven.” Pike was founded in 1989, only a decade after the first “micro” brewery in this century opened in the U.S. For the first time in more than 100 years, an increasing number of Americans were given a break from lager and were introduced to top fermented beers. Enthusiasts were now able to experience the pleasure of classic styles like Pale Ale, Porter, and Scotch Ale from the British Isles; Belgium beers like Trappists; oak aged sour beers; lambics; tripels and doubles; the marvel of Bavarian Weissbier and Westfalian Alt, along with the splendor of discovering a bottle-conditioned French Farmhouse Saisson with a cork. In 1978, a decade before Pike opened, Charles Finkel, a specialty beer importer, was the first to introduce many of the classic top fermented beer styles outside their local markets. He was the first to offer spontaneously fermented beer from Belgium. By 1982, a dozen microbreweries had opened around the state. They brewed a myriad of top fermented ales. Beer drinkers were well served-but they were about to witness an astounding transformation of beer as they knew it!
By the time Rose Ann and Charles opened their own brewery, they had the experience of working with some of the World’s greatest breweries including Samuel Smith, Ayinger, Orval, Pinkus, Lindemans, and Traquair House, which together, represented over 2000 years of brewing experience.
The Finkels identified the potential for a world class brewery in Seattle that was capable of brewing beer equal to, or even exceeding, the standards of the World’s classics. The first keg of Pike beer, Pike Pale Ale, was tapped by Ayinger owner and head brewer, Braü Franz Inselkammer. Franz, the president of the Bavarian Brewing Association, proclaimed the English style beer to be as “balanced, malty, and delicious; like fresh bread, ideal for the harvest season.” Over the ensuing 20 years, first in the original brewery on Western Avenue, and now in a beautiful multi-level, gravity flow, steam heated brewery and brew pub, Pike has introduced, what many describe as, classic ales including Pike XXXXX Extra Stout; 1989, Pike IPA in 1990 (Roger Protz’s choice of one of the 300 beers to try before you die); Pike Old Bawdy Barley Wine, 1991 and soon to be included in the revised edition of the same book; in 1992, Pike Kilt Lifter (N.W. Brewing News Reader’s Choice, Best Scotch Ale, 2006, 2007 and 2008); Cerveza Rosanna (named for Rose Ann Finkel) and Auld Aquaintence, in 1993; Pike Weisse in 1998; Naughty Nellie Golden in 1999; Pike Tandem Double in 2006; Monk’s Uncle Tripel in 2007; Pike Entire Wood Aged Stout, 2008; and now, as a special treat, just for our 20th birthday, Pike Tripel Kriek, a tripel that was fermented with Brettanomyces yeast, along with the addition of 60 pounds of local organic Bing cherries per cask that were added at the peak of Washington State cherry season in June 2009. Since then, the cuveé has been aging in Washington State Cabernet wine casks. XXX Kriek will be available on draft at the pub and at Brouwers Sour Beer Festival during Seattle Beer Week 2010.
In addition to our standard lineup (plus Tripel Kriek), Pike will also be releasing its other oak aged beer, Pike Entire 2009, in time for their anniversary. Entire is a blend of Pike XXXXX Extra Stout and a Pike imperial stout (high gravity) aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for 7 months.