Why Shore is Excited to Showcase the ‘Newness’ of Pike

Pike Brewing Company staff on August 8, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Marcus R. Donner © 2022

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Leslie Shore, Head Brewer, Pike Brewing — Seattle

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
SHORE: Like many other folks do, by homebrewing. At that time, it was frustrating trying to find beers that I wanted to drink — flavor profiles, finishes, aromas — my husband got tired of me complaining about it and bought me a homebrew kit. That love of crafting recipes, learning and experiencing fermentation, alongside the marriage of the artistic and scientific sides of my brain connected pathways in a manner that was revelatory. It is the overall communal spirit that calcifies my love of this industry. As brewers, we don’t get out of our environments as much as we would like, but when we all congregate, that shared knowledge of what it is like to work within these constraints forms some of the strongest professional relationships. It’s refreshing to have that reciprocal lean on a peer across town or across the country — especially if it is to geek out over a new process or raw material.

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position since starting at Pike that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
SHORE: It definitely is twofold: Keeping the core recipes true to their spirit while bringing them more in line with style guidelines, while brewing on an older brewhouse rather than the more modern equipment to which I have grown accustomed. This has really utilized my technical and artistic skillset in bringing beers back towards style guidelines; brewing true to style but refined from where they had drifted over time. This brewery has a lot of surprises, and every day definitely is different, which I luckily find to be fun.
Fostering an inclusive workplace where it truly is, “People first, Beer second.” Luckily, every person here at Pike was already operating with that way of thinking — having this codified with our daily routines is a big part of the commitment we are making to our coworkers. The challenges of leadership are definitely learned but are also innate and require nuance with each interaction. Every single person on our crew has their own interests and lives outside of this space, but our common language is Pike and pride in our jobs.

BREWER: What strategic growth opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your brand and how are you working on capitalizing on it this year?
SHORE: Showcasing styles and ingredients that folks generally don’t associate with Pike. We actively have been implementing our seasonal rotations, our Third Story series, other one-offs, and our pilot system to bring a revitalized selection of beers. Working to also educate the front of the house to elevate the confidence in describing what we are producing literally underfoot in the brewery is also in the planning phase. The goal is to eliminate any gaps in service and knowledge for locals and tourists alike.

BREWER: How has the pilot program been integral to pushing Pike forward since you have joined the team? Why was it an important aspect to add to the business?
SHORE: Being able to take risks with an unknown agent or procedure is far less of a cost and labor risk at one barrel versus 30 or 60 barrels. This not only allows for some fun exploration in flavors and styles but also every single person in our production team has been able to become involved with recipes and brewing. All of these batches end up on our Pilot Tap in the pub, which provides another layer of interest for our guests. This tap generates excitement along with truly vital feedback.  

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
SHORE: Leaning into a more diversified production crew. We actively seek out folks that experience under-representation in this industry and would like to work in the brewing sector, but don’t have similar avenues of engagement.  Beer is for everyone, and each person should feel welcomed in all aspects of this industry, whether it is sales or production or even as a consumer.

Photo courtesy Marcus Donner

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