Bob Brenlin loves to talk about beer. He has spent nearly three decades in the business of selling suds as a co-owner of three pubs in Seattle, including 15th Ave East’s Hopvine, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015.
When he opened the Hopvine in September 1995, he had already been running the Latona Pub in Green Lake since 1987 (the third pub is the Fiddler’s Inn in Wedgwood), so he had time to get the business model down. When he opened, he said he hoped to accomplish two goals.
“We wanted to be part of a local community, a nice neighborhood, and introduce them to interesting craft beer,” he said.
Brenlin has no sense of how many different beers he’s been able to introduce to the neighborhood over the years, but with 12 ever-rotating taps multiplied by 20 years, the number is well into the thousands. In particular, all of his pubs feature what he called “creative, hop-forward” beers, particularly IPAs which he called the perennial best sellers from all of the craft breweries.
Brenlin always tried to focus on breweries from Washington and Oregon, he said, and it has been fun watching the number of small breweries grow. When the Hopvine opened, there were around 12 craft breweries in the state, now there’s more than 200 with more added regularly, he said. And when one of his bartenders pours one of those beers, Brenlin said they have one goal.
“Try and get the best pint as possible. Try to pour a beer as close to what the brewer intended as possible,” he said. Continue reading