Our Founding Beer Maestro and Benevolent Dictator
A forester. A horticulturist. A pilot. An awning salesman. Mike Hale has done many things in his lifetime, but undoubtedly he’s best known as the founder of Hale’s Ales Brewery in Washington State, one of the pioneering craft breweries in the country. Mike was born and raised in the Bay area in California. His boyhood home in the Sonoma Valley was located adjacent to an airstrip, sparking a lifelong interest in aviation. Mike attended UC Berkley, graduating in 1965 with a major in forestry. His career as a forester was short-lived. “I got into forestry for my love of forests but the job of forester seemed to have more to do with cutting forests down.” Instead, Mike moved into horticulture, buying a business that grew grape vines for the booming Napa Valley wine industry. In 1976 Mike sold the business, packed up the family and moved to the idyllic small town of Colville in NE Washington State with semi-retirement on his mind. But retirement wasn’t in the cards for Mike. Mike’s interest in beer started in 1982 when he experienced a small revelation while touring England on a bicycle. The English beer he tasted in small villages across the country was different. It tasted great! It was brewed locally and tasted fresh and floral and quaffable. It was not the beer Mike had known in the states. As his appreciation for English ale deepened, Mike conceived the idea of returning home to Colville to open his own version of the small English village brewery. But, how? First, Mike wanted to learn the fundamentals of commercial brewing and, consequently, he arranged a brewing apprenticeship at Gales Ales Brewery in Horndean England. After about a year on the job, Mike headed home with a plan, the brewing know-how and even a centuries old brewing yeast strain to start building his own brewery. Back at home Mike gathered a small group of friends who pooled their labor and resources to build a small brewery. On July 4th 1983, Hale’s Ales Brewery in Colville, Washington, opened with the release of the brewery’s flagship, draught only beer, Hale’s Pale Ale American Ale. Mike’s dream of starting his own small brewery had come to fruition and, in a larger sense, the American craft brewing revolution was underway. Since its founding, Hale’s has operated breweries in Colville, Kirkland and Spokane Washington. However in 1996, Hale’s consolidated all production at its current, and remaining, location, a state-of-the-art 30 barrel brewery and pub in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle (center of the universe). Around this time Mike’s wife, Kathleen joined the enterprise as pub manager in Fremont. Today, Mike and Kathleen live on the Olympic peninsula and are still actively involved in the management of Hale’s Brewery. Mike is an avid pilot and takes to the skies whenever his schedule allows. His son, Sam, is a commercial pilot for Alaskan Airlines. With a little luck, a little inspiration and a lot of determination, Hale’s has become the longest running independently owned brewery in the NW. Cheers to many more years!
Since arriving in Seattle, Chris has now worked here at Hale’s for over 8 years. He’s had the opportunity to rise through the ranks from delivery driver and bottler, and everything in between, on up to head brewer. He cut his teeth in brewing early on with a sharp learning curve from the awesome pedigree of brewers located in and around Denver, and he brings that background with him in order to continue to push for better beer. Hailing from the northern suburbs of Chicago originally, Chris spent his entire life ever hopeful but ultimately never asking for too much in life. Attaining a head brewer’s position in a well regarded brewery became his second dream, and he worked hard in pursuit of realizing that. His first dream? Well, now that the Chicago Cubs have finally won the World Series—an event he views as a personal accomplishment, his renewed life goal is for the “Loveable Losers” to become a modest dynasty, one to last at minimum 9 or 512 years… just a small request. We have a fantastic staff of brewers at Hale’s. Our ultimate aspiration is to craft the kind beer we love to drink, even if that means that the brewery down the street, or across town, or across country makes a better example of a beer style than we currently do. We never relax, relent, and never settle on our latest offering; we’re always pushing to evolve our beers for better quality. Chris loves the enthusiasm and passion that is shared among the brewers here, and we hope those characteristics are reflected in the beers that we offer up to our patrons.
Wendy came to Hale’s Ales as an amateur home brewer and retired beer slinger from the late Old Town Alehouse. Wendy earned her place in the brewery by frequently dropping in and spoiling the Hale’s Ales production team with her delicious and creative home brews. One that stands out in memory is her delectable habanero saison.
Wendy says that she does not have a favorite style of beer- she likes them all. If she had to choose a couple, they would be Orval and Hop Venom by Boneyard. She likes Orval because it is complex, balanced, and has a delicious Belgian yeast character. She finds Hop Venom dangerously easy-drinking at an ABV of 10% due to its richness as a malty double IPA, balanced with floral hops.
Outside of the brewery, Wendy enjoys sports including hockey (go Nucks!), baseball, football, and sweeping the leg Johnny!
Matilda joined the Hale’s team in July 2017. Before that she was a “traveling cellar rat”, working wine harvests in both California and South Australia. She has a dream of becoming an expert in all things fermented. Her interest began after making her first batch of delicious kombucha in her college dorm room, which opened her to the world of fermentable possibilities. Matilda’s favorite beer is one that is enjoyed with good company, preferably a fresh, local brew. Beyond the brewery, Matilda enjoys hiking and camping throughout the PNW, fermenting things, and hosting board game nights.
Kevin has lived across the street from the Hale’s Brewery in Seattle for over twenty years, and in May of 2016 decided he’d like to work there. The transition from bread to beer was a life changer, and with the guidance of the experienced brew crew at Hales, he happily finds himself up to his neck in grain and hops and water and yeast and bottles and cans and kegs!
The hoppier the better for Kevin, but he will taste any beer out there and appreciate the hard work that went into making it. Cheers!
Mission: To condition and package Hale’s beer to the highest quality. Carson loves a well balanced crisp pale, but he also enjoys a hoppy IPA. Working at Hale’s has opened his mind to stouts and porters as well. Carson likes to keep it simple, so he’s not enthusiastic about overcomplicated beers or triple IPAs. He’ll try anything though, he’s not a picky drinker. Carson came to Hale’s as a blank slate with amazement that they had given him an opportunity. Everyday he’s learning something new. And so far, he loves it. He’s surrounded by good beer everyday; How do you not love that?
Bill Preib came looking for work at Hale’s Ales way back in August of 1989. He interviewed with Mike Hale in a loft over a warehouse in Kirkland, WA where the desks and chairs were fashioned from plywood sheets and empty kegs. There was no internet, or emails, or texts or Google. There wasn’t even word processing really, only “t-y-p-e-w-r-i-t-e-r-s”. Mike gave Bill the keys to a van and said, “Go sell beer.” Very slowly, and then all at once, it was about 25 years later.
Bill will gladly relate stories about the early days of the craft beer industry in trade for house and/or yard work.
Brandon currently works as Hale’s sales representative in the North Seattle area. He started work as a bottler in 2005 after a few friends introduced him to the some of the crew at the brewery. An easy going, good natured and charming guy, Brandon soon found suitable work as the face of the brewery in the North Seattle area.
According to Brandon, at the time of his hire, he knew nothing about brewing and selling beer, but in his modest exclamation, “[He’s] since learned how to fake it!”
After a short stint in production, Brandon eventually landed in sales. He claims that it turned out that he was, “better at drinking beer and talking about beer, than actually making the stuff.”
What really first interested Brandon in working for Hale’s Ales, besides free beer, was the allure of working for a small, local business that manufactured its own creative product using local ingredients. In Brandon’s words, “That’s such a rarity in commerce these days, and did I mention it’s beer?!”
Brandon says that he feels honored to be able to interact on a daily basis with people in the beer and bar industry because he has ultimately been able to call many of them, including his coworkers, friends.
Gary is the newest member of the sales team. While working as a manager for a local Seattle bar, he developed a friendship with long time Hale’s sales rep Brandon. Gary was seeking a new career that allowed him to pursue his passion for craft beer. In early 2017 Brandon helped facilitate the hiring of Gary as their delivery driver. From that point on, Gary has been eager to learn everything he can about the industry and spread the love of Hale’s. Gary began brewing for fun in the basement of his Kansas home in his early 20’s. He quickly discovered what a noble endeavor it is. He developed an appreciation for the time and effort it takes to make a great beer. Gary now utilizes the abundance of knowledge that he has accumulated throughout the years to enjoy and promote good beer. Gary believes Hale’s is a valuable part of the communities in and around Seattle and feels extremely fortunate to be a part of it. He is excited to help the business grow and to distribute such a quality product.
Brenda began exploring craft and imported beer with her husband, Larry, in the early eighties. The two would travel around the region tasting beers and visiting local breweries. Brenda remembers the first Portland Beer Festival they attended: nowhere as big as it is today! Around the same time, Brenda’s husband also began experimenting with his own home-brews, where she would help in the bottling process. In 1985, the couple joined a home-brew club, “Seattle Brews Brothers,” and Brenda would have a great time trying everyone’s various beers. Brenda still has fun getting to see some of their old crew from time to time. Brenda leans more towards the maltier ales– she has always loved Stouts, Porters and the darker Belgian Styles. She says designing a beer of her own would be a dream. In 1991, Larry Rock started working at Hale’s and continued working with the brewery until 2002. After giving birth to their first child, Preston, in 1989, she went back to work in 1990, working temporary for a few months, and finally landing a job at Mt Zion Baptist Church. Brenda worked there for a little over three years, and gave birth to their second son, Galen. Upon returning to work, she was starting to feel like she wanted to do something a little different… the brewery had an opening and Larry thought it would be a good fit! Brenda was open to the move, and although it was probably about as different a field as she could imagine, she decided to apply. Mike Hale was happy to have her on board and she started working at Hales in 1994. After taking a break from the beer festival scene due to raising their two boys, Preston and Galen, Brenda is now getting back out there touring Northwest breweries and brew pubs outside work. Brenda’s favorite recreational activities include gardening, cooking, golf on occasion, and playing a good game of corn hole or washers. Brenda just loves the support of the beer family and the fun they have when they get together—she says, “Cheers!” to all her fellow Haliens.
Special events manager
Dana Hurt is a recent transplant to Seattle from Ithaca, NY. Dana comes to Hale’s with sixteen years of experience in food and beverage and hospitality, including four years as a bartender and front of house manager at Bandwagon Brewpub, an award-winning craft brewery in the heart of the Finger Lakes, and two years in event sales and restaurant management at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. Dana is an avid sports fan with a deep appreciation for the beauty of baseball, and she believes nothing quite compares to America’s pasttime. Dana loves the water and is rarely happier than when she is at the beach. If she’s not taking in a sporting event on her day off, you can probably find her soaking up sunshine on a beach, book and beer in hand. Dana has a strong desire to make other people happy which lends itself to an enthusiastic pursuit of successful and memorable special events for her clients. Dana loves to laugh and even more so loves to make other people laugh. She believes the importance of a sense of humor can never be overstated and brings humor into every aspect of her life which makes the fun, festive, friendly environment of Hale’s Brewery the perfect fit!
Hale’s Ales Pub manager
Kathleen Hale, a Kitsap County native born in Bremerton, obtained her BS in Education at SIU and began working at Hale’s Ales in 1995. Three years later, in 1998, Kathleen took over management of Hale’s Ales Pub and Hale’s Alehouse in Silverdale. Prior to working for Hale’s, Kathleen worked as Chief of Operations for Kitsap Transit. Kathleen’s very first transit job was with Metro Transit in 1972 as one out of only 10 female drivers. In total, Kathleen worked in transit for 18 years. Kathleen first met Mike Hale through their mutual friends Brenda and Tom Sheimo in 1985, at which time Tom was working for Mike. It would be a year before Kathleen and Mike would meet again… The next time the two would encounter each other would be amidst a crowd of 5,000 or so at the St. Paddy’s Day 5K race. Unbeknownst to the future couple, they were standing side by side waiting for their friends to finish. Kathleen eventually noticed that Mike was standing close by after looking around at the crowd, which prompted an intrigued, “I know you.” Mike responded with recognition and as they say, the rest is history. Kathleen and Mike were married 6 months later in September of 1986 and eventually made their home on Bainbridge Island, where they lived for over 20 years. The couple recently built a home of their own design, where they currently enjoy living with one of the best views in Kitsap County with their wonder dog, Bodie. While Kathleen delights in seeing Mt. Rainer and The Brothers, remembering the view from the summit, she also now enjoys lounging on the couch with a good book, gardening, biking or hiking the local trails with the family dog, walking along the beach, riding her ’98 Virago 1100, learning to fly planes (she considers herself a perpetual student), or spending time with family and friends while drinking one of her favorites Hale’s brews. Currently she finds that Hale’s Pale Ale or Mongoose IPA always seems to hit the spot, but she admits candidly, “I haven’t found a Hale’s I don’t like.”
Sarah first became interested in working in the craft beer industry right around a big microbrewery boom in Northern California in the late ‘90’s. She wanted to work where she could make some money, but also be able to enjoy the product, so she began working in a local brewery. One adventure that inspired Sarah to continue to pursue the noble profession of craft beer slinging, was traveling across the Western states for 5 months on a 20,000 mile journey with her sister, Christina, who was working towards her PhD in forestry. Sarah accompanied her sister as a research assistant and the two girls quickly decided that they would do some “other” research on the side: beer! During that epic forestry and ale research adventure, Sarah, her sister and their dog, who accompanied them throughout the whole trip, visited 21 breweries in the NW. Amongst the breweries that really stand out in her memory are Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, where she remembers seeing cans, which were rare at the time, Squatters in Utah, where she says there was good food and good beer, and Salmon River Brewery in McCall, ID, which was the size of a house and included an ale named, “You-Da-Ho Gold.” A funny coincidence that tied Sarah to Hale’s Ales prior to starting work at the brewery, was that Christina had completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, like Mike Hale. She once wore her Hale’s Ales hat to forestry camp and was actually mistaken for Mike! Sarah first moved up to Seattle from Eureka, CA in February of 2010 in order to get a change of pace and also be closer to her little sister. Sarah dropped off a resume at Hale’s Ales in March of 2011 while picking up a keg of Red Menace Amber Ale for her brother-in-law’s kegerator and soon found herself working at the brewery. While she began serving at the Moisture Festival, an annual show held in the Hale’s Palladium adjacent to the brewery, she also did back-up bar work, and quickly moved to serving. Sarah now works primarily as a Hale’s bartender. Sarah has a fun, fiery nature. In fact, Sarah’s friends and family call her, “Am Drexel,” which she was dubbed due to her alter ego, which comes out with a serious power every once in awhile. This side to Sarah is wonderful- it’s all of Sarah’s best qualities amplified. This is perhaps one reason why she has become so popular with the Hale’s Ales Pub regulars. Sarah’s favorite beer at Hale’s is the Pale Ale because, “it is not overly floral, but definitely has some hops to it. Also, it is not ‘too pale.’” A favorite beer she has outside the brewery is an ale called, “Red Seal,” which is from North Coast in Mendocino County.
Rick is currently works as Hale’s sales representative in the Bremerton and the South Sound area. He started work as a driver in 2015 after 20 years of teaching computer applications and coaching high school basketball in the Bremerton area. Looking to find something to do in his retirement, he found a position delivery kegs and managing the Barrelhouse Tasting Room in Bremerton. Rick has known the Hale’s since the beginning in 1983. “I have always admired the way Mike and Kathleen have grown Hale’s Ales brand with hard work, integrity and charity. They are not only into selling the best tasting and freshest beer in the Northwest, but also to benefit and serve the community where they live.”