Pike Brewing Company Cofounder Rose Ann Finkel Leaves Behind Pioneering Legacy as Seattle Food-scene Entrepreneur

couple smiling enthusiastically
Rose Ann Finkel with her husband, Charles.

By: Becky Garrison

After the July/August issue of Beverage Master Magazine featuring an article highlighting the 30th anniversary of The Pike Brewing Company went to press, news broke of the death of Cofounder Rose Ann  Finkel. She died on Tuesday June 16, 2020 at the age of 73 from Myelodysplastic syndrome blood cancer.

“We have had a wonderful experience for almost 52 years,” Charles says of Rose Ann. “She had a lot of friends, a lot of people who loved her. She made a really great impression on everyone she met. I miss her, obviously. But I’m very happy she died in peace surrounded by people who loved her.” (Forbes, June 17, 2020).

As reported by the Seattle Times, It’s impossible to talk about Seattle brewery history without mentioning Rose Ann Finkel. From her arrival in Seattle in the mid ‘70s, she helped shape the way this city ate, thought about beer and how the two best complemented each other.

Jason Parker, Co-Founder/President Copperworks Distilling Co., who served as Pike Brewing Company’s first head brewer, reflected on Rose Ann’s legacy.

Rose Ann was the perfect dance partner to Charles in life, love, and in business, which for the Finkels, were one in the same. Though frequently in the spotlight with Charles, Rose Ann also worked behind the scenes to pull deals together and lead the business of their endeavors, from importing containers of malt to picking out tee shirts for the staff. Transcending her contributions to helping the company succeed was her influence on folks, and especially women, in the industry, who looked at Rose Ann as a role model for enjoying life, getting things done, and encouraging others, all at the same time. 

After finding Merchant du Vin in 1978, the Finkels became known in international beer circles due to their success introducing Americans to specialty beers brewed by family-run breweries from England, Germany, and Belgium, as well as other places throughout the world including the United States. Along with this commitment to craft culture, Rose Ann championed community causes through events such as Pike’s Women In Beer. This annual cerebration of craft beverages, local foods, and the women who make them, benefits the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest & Hawaiian Islands.

When asked how Women in Beer tied in to Pike’s company philosophy, Rose Ann offered this response.

Pike’s community mission is focused on being good and doing good. Whereas brewing great beer is in itself a laudable goal, it is our mission is to provide employees with a happy, artistically driven, and soul satisfying experience. To build a team of diverse employees who share our vision to be good community citizens, supporting non-profits whose mission is in concert with ours.

As an example of the Finkels’ commitment to building a better world, the aforementioned Forbes article noted how Charles concluded a phone call. “He didn’t elaborate on how he wants to get back to work at the agency (he does) or lament that COVID is keeping his family from holding a proper funeral for his wife (he hopes a memorial service will happen at some point in their home garden) but enumerated more than half a dozen civil rights movies he recommends. There may not be a more illustrative example of the Finkel spirit: forward-looking, optimistic, pragmatic, gracious and genuinely working for the betterment of the community – not just their own but everyone’s.”

People have inquired about her favorite charities. They include The Weizmann Institute of Science, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, Planned Parenthood, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and College Success Foundation

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