Board chair, Founder & Owner
Charles Finkel is an artist, writer, designer and entrepreneur from Seattle. He and his wife, Rose Ann, founded Pike Brewing Company in 1989. Beer writer Stephen Beaumont calls Charles, “no less than a legend in American beer circles.” According to Washington’s second earliest micro-brewery founder, Paul Shipman, “Finkel was so far ahead of the curve in the alcoholic beverage business that even pioneers like me were astonished!”
Charles’ career started during college when he managed a liquor store. After completing his studies in design and marketing in 1965, he moved to New York to work for a wine importer. He was voted outstanding salesperson the following year. In 1969, Charles founded his own wine company, Bon Vin, the first to offer what Charles described as ‘boutique wines’ from small, independent wineries in Europe, California and Washington State. Among those was Ste. Michelle. As the exclusive agent, he became the de facto representative for all Washington wines nationally (there were only two vinifera table wines in the state at the time). In 1974 Finkel, and his wife Rose Ann, sold Bon Vin and moved to Seattle where he became VP of Sales and Marketing at Ste. Michelle. Charles design was selected for the chateau, which was opened in 1976.
A lover of beer as well as wine, Charles founded Merchant du Vin, now the world’s largest craft beer importer, in 1978. He was the first to offer craft beers; the first to offer beers from Belgium; the first to market fruit beers; and the innovator and revivalist of many brewing styles like Oatmeal Stout. As a designer, his labels adorn some of the world’s most famous beers. Madison Avenue Magazine described Finkel’s award winning graphic designs, “As stunning as anything from Klimt or Mucha.” The Italian magazine Il Mondo de la Birra (The world of beer) titled an article about him “Le art directore de la bierra” (The art director of beer).
In 1989, Charles and Rose Ann opened Pike Brewing in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market neighborhood. Charles has worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to guide and grow Pike Brewing. He received the Brewers’ Association Recognition Award in 1988 and was described by the French Canadian Biere Magazine as “as among a dozen principals responsible for the modern renaissance of beer.” In 2006, Draft Magazine listed him as one of the 10 Beer Innovators that had shaped the American Craft Beer renaissance. Charles was the arts curator for the Oxford Companion to Beer published by Oxford University Press in 2011. His articles and photos have appeared in a myriad of books and magazines. His beer reviews have been published in Beer Magazine monthly for more than 20 years. He has spoken on the history of American Craft Beer at the Smithsonian, been keynote speaker at the National Homebrewers Convention and American Craft Beer Wholesaler’s Guild and has appeared in many films and TV shows about beer.