Pike Brewing Co-Founder Rose Ann Finkel Has Passed Away

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,029) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Big loss for the beer community. Rose Ann Finkel co-founded Merchant du Vin in the late 70s and Pike Brewing Co. in the late 80s. Along with Charles, she helped put some of the best beers in the world into our hands. Beers that would inspire many of us in those early days of better beer in America and still do this day.

    My thoughts go out to Charles, family, and the Pike Brewing team.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/taranu...etting-a-bone-marrow-transplant/#765cd9415521
     
  2. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,654) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    I can directly attribute Merchant du Vin as my biggest influence to discovering better beer back in the 80s. Not only by way of their great imports, but they also introduced me to August Schell -- long before the current craft beer community recognized them. Wish I had a pint of Sam Smith Imperial Stout to raise to Rose tonight.
     
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  3. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    That's a cool factoid.
    Are all of those claims accurate? @jesskidden it might be beyond your usual scope, but any ideas?
     
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  4. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,757) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    One of those unsung greats whose lasting influence on the American brewing community is immeasurable. A toast to her memory!
     
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  5. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,059) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I never had the pleasure of meeting this dynamic duo, but I was well aware of their historic presence many years ago. In the early nineties I sold the Merchant du Vin for a short period. The beers were well chosen and always in good condition. We had to desist selling anything above the 6% ABV cap. Shortly thereafter we started a new company and I began to build a very nice beer portfolio. The cap was raised in the early 00s. Merchant du Vin was light years ahead of everyone in beer marketing. I wish good fortune and offer my sincere condolences to Mr. Finkel. Rose Ann Finkel must have been a wonderful lady.
     
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  6. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I was surprised to read this in a previous BA thread about Merchant du Vin/Pike/The Finkels. (Damn, I'm still surprised - they sold MdV to Smith but let the public continue to think it was a separate company that imported Smith and other brands?)

    And, even more confusing is how they buy the Pike brewery back
    I guess the guy "in Yorkshire" is the Humphrey Smith, current owner of Samuel Smith? Kinda odd way to mention their former partner and the buyer of their company.

    Well, I'd say the "catch" in that claim is "the first importer to bring Belgian and independent English and German beers into America..." What's "independent" mean in that case?

    Certainly lots of German and English imports coming into the US pre-1978 - 1933-1939 saw an average of nearly half a million gallons of German beer and 200-300 thousand gallons of beer from the UK imported into the US (granted, things slowed down during WWII :astonished:).

    Hell, the same day the first Heineken was off-loaded at the docks in Hoboken, April 11, 1933 (so, only a few days after the legalization of 3.2 beer - something Van Munching often mentioned and Heineken USA still boast about) 59 cases of "Bass's light ale" also arrived on the White Star liner Majestic. Was Bass not "independent"?

    Lots of German and English beers sold in NJ in 1964.

    Belgium beers are a little more difficult to research. Up until the (IIRC) late 1970s or so, the US Import stats in the US Brewers Association's BREWERS ALMANAC did not even list "Belgium" - including their imports under "OTHER EUROPE". Post-WWII the Belgian brewers themselves had complained that their government had discouraged exports "...after liberation ... the home market must be supplied first" (likely missing out on a profitable sideline). But a few made it to these shores:
    [​IMG]

    (As you can tell, the topic's previously interested me.)
     
  7. TheIPAHunter

    TheIPAHunter Poo-Bah (2,594) Aug 12, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Rest in Peace, Rose. Thank you for your innumerable contributions. Cheers!
     
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  8. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,654) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    What do you suppose Ayinger called it before that? Can't believe it wasn't an -ator form.

    Maybe they didn't brew a Doppel? C'mon...
     
  9. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (134) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota

    There was at one time an Ayinger Winter Bock, which had/has the same ABV as Celebrator (and is reported by other places to be the same beer) This Italian drinker did a side-by-side and found them to be the same: http://unabirralgiorno.blogspot.com/2012/01/ayinger-celebrator-doppelbock-vs-winter.html

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/39/15750/
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    From the Merchant du Vin site:
     
  11. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,654) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    It's still on their Web Site* (if you can get to the German site) along with the Celebrator -- so do they bottle 2 different labels with the same beer? Or is Celebrator only exported to the U.S. -- if so, why is it on their German web site?

    *Actually, it's on the full listing page, but if you click for more info you get a Page Not Found error.
     
  12. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    The page for their "Winter Bock" gives you that error page if you are in the English language version, but it can be viewed if you switch the language to German. The given stats and tasting notes are the same as Celebrator except the Winter Bock page also states this (translated to English):
    Regarding the original name for their Doppelbock: Fortunator. I heard of that original name before but didn't know the story behind it. Just doing a quick search now, it seems that they thought "Fortunator" was probably too clumsy for Americans. In a Michael Jackson book from 1997, he states that it was still called Fortunator in Germany... but I also saw a later source (perhaps a later Jackson book, I'm unsure) that claimed it was eventually changed to Celebrator in Germany too.
     
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  13. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    Well said. I have to imagine that many underestimate the impact of her efforts on beer brewing and appreciation.
     
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  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    While Belgian imported beers in the US were relatively rare, there was interest within both nations' breweries:
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,059) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Curiouser and curiouser.
     
  16. pudgym29

    pudgym29 Initiate (79) Mar 14, 2009 Illinois

    I'll state this as a fact whether anyone challenges me or not :crazy_face:: Merchant du Vin saved the Cold Spring and August Schell breweries. Production and national sales of Cold Spring Export and Schell's Wheat Beer in the early 1980s were the foundation that old-line regional breweries could produce a beer which would appeal to beer 'snobs' back then who felt no domestically-brewed beer could match the flavor of imports. :slight_smile::beers:
     
  17. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, there were a few other examples that pre-dated the 1984 August Schell-Finkel deal - F. X. Matt contract-brewing New Amsterdam Amber Beer, Hudepohl's all-malt Christian Moerlein (which even passed the German Reinheitsgebot), some of the products of Fred Koch after being purchased by the UK's Vaux, Koch's contract-brewed Ingram's First, etc. Depends on where one draws that line, too - still independent Blitz-Weinhard's Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve was a move in that direction as was Huber's Augsburger. Maybe even Falstaff's circa 1980 Ballantine Brewer's Gold Ale, which they called a "super-premium". But Merchant du Vin's distribution probably meant the CS and AS beers appeared in places the others never did.

    Finkel also acted as the master distributor of some Yuengling beers outside Yuengling's then tiny distribution area (altho' it's unclear if the below was all-malt like the beers he had brewed by Cold Spring and Schell or simply Yuengling's adjunct Premium).
    [​IMG]
    Supposedly Finkel's finding out that Yuengling Porter* was bottom-fermented was the impetus for him to approach Samuel Smith to brewed a top-fermented Porter for the US market.

    * Note that the "BREWED EXPRESSLY FOR HOTEL & FAMILY TRADE" line on the Pilsner label was taken from the then-current Porter label.
    [​IMG]

    Well, both Schell and Cold Spring were pretty small at the time (~30k bbl each) so I'd imagine the MdV deal helped. I wonder if the folks at Schell would characterize the deal as "saving" the brewery, tho'? @bergbrew :wink:

    Cold Spring has had a much more bumpy history since that time (even changing it's name to Gluek for a time), so they've been "saved" a few times since.
     
    #17 jesskidden, Jul 1, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  18. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,059) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    My mother in law was from Bethlehem and would always bring me a few cases of Yuengling Porter that she picked up in Pottsville. She was a nice lady! It was a fine beer.
     
  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,654) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    Loved the Schell stuff back then, Cold Spring was always in the same league as other regionals; Leinie's, Huber. I always tried the Cold Spring hoping I'd missed something previously, but no.
     
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I used to buy the other Pennsylvania porter, Stegmaier Porter by the case for the guy who never quite made it to becoming my father-in-law. He worked for Pabst in Newark and while the origin of those purchases are lost after ~50 years (How did he know I could get it at my local liquor store? I guess we talked beer at some point?) I do mark that arrangement as part of my great "beer awakening" - this brewery employee, who probably got free beer by union contract and maybe an employee discount on Andeker and Pabst Bock, would pay full price* for another brewer's product.:thinking_face:

    * Probably close to $5/cs - :dizzy_face: PLUS refundable deposit.

    The common wisdom at the time was that Steg Porter was "inauthentic" because of the heavy hand they used when adding brewer's licorice. I may have felt that way, too - decades later, I missed the licorice flavor (and given the sad state of flavored "craft" beer, it's kinda funny how the geekery's attitudes have changed).
     
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  21. Bluecrow

    Bluecrow Poo-Bah (1,620) Jul 16, 2012 New York
    Society

    -thankful for her efforts. -made a few visits during summer study at the UW
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,059) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It's true. I hardly recognize this beer world anymore. I loved Andeker, Encore, National Premium, Rheingold and can still taste Lowenbrau somewhere in my dim old brain. I'll likely not see another 20 years but I'd like to.
     
  23. short_pour_zan

    short_pour_zan Initiate (45) May 4, 2018 Washington

    Yes, that is an accurate and true fact.