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Jason Parker

Co-founder & President, Copperworks Distilling

Growing up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Jason was a "back-to-the-land" kind of teenager who read Mother Earth News. One day he saw an ad that told him he could brew his own beer for .13 cents. This led to him and his friends forming Cripple Creek Brewing in his bedroom closet. He was hooked.

He moved to Washington and attended Evergreen College. While studying he learned about CAMRA, Campaign for Real Ales. In England, big breweries were buying up small breweries that had pubs. They would buy them and close the breweries, then sell their mass-produced beer in the pubs. In 1972, there was a consumer movement to save small breweries. The early microbrew scene began in the Northwest. Jason went to England, studied CAMRA, and met brewers.

Back in Seattle, he was in the University of Washington bookstore where he met a guy in a bow tie who asked him if he was a brewer and acknowledged that he "was involved in it." It turned out to be Charles Finkel. Jason was thrilled - Charles imported some of his favorite beers through is company Merchant du Vin. Charles introduced Jason to his wife Rose Ann who was working with a small brewery in Scotland, Traquair House. Jason pulled up his sweatshirt to reveal his Traquair House t-shirt. "There were three people who knew of Traquair House, and we were all in the bookstore at the same time," Jason laughs.

Charles asked Jason if he's like to interview for the brewer position at his new brewery at Pike Place Market. He did and was hired. He spent two years there until they had maxed out capacity. While they were building capacity, Jason returned to Evergreen to study microbiology and chemistry. When he graduated, they weren't ready, so he got a job at Fish Tale Ales in Olympia, training their first brewers. When he was done, Pike had filled all their positions, so he took a job at Redhook in Fremont. "It was eye opening; I had worked at small breweries and this was huge-like the second or third largest craft breweries. I took lots of ideas from them, but it wasn't for me. It was too big and not focused on new beers, mainly on mass production."

Hart Brewing had just taken a long lease at a location across from the Kingdome. This later became Pyramid Brewing Co. He spent seven years there as brew master, building it from the ground up. It was an empty shell when he started. Around 2000, Pyramid became publicly traded and in Jason's opinion, their mission changed from making the best beer they could to making shareholders wealthy. He was no longer consulted on making beer. His boss was let go and he reported to the guy who ran warehousing.

Jason had been exposed to use of software at Pyramid and was interested in IT. He left Pyramid and the brewing industry for seven years at ChemPoint, an outsourcing sales company as a business analyst. "I would help IT understand workers' needs and build solutions for them.

He decided to get his master's degree in IT Management at the University of Washington and was told that when in the program it wasn't a good idea to make major changes - don't get married, don't buy a house. So he did it all. He met his partner, and they bought a house. After graduating, he took a job at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he stayed seven years.

At this point, he'd been away from brewing for 14 years. In 2008, Washington State began allowing craft distilling. "I looked at who was opening distilleries and they didn't have any experience in any facet of the process. They were Boeing engineers and hobbyists. I knew they'd build scrappy, small distilleries and grow in stages over years. I wasn't first, but I thought I could leap the line starting bigger quickly. I raised the money and found our waterfront location, leasing it in April of 2012.

In 2021, they began work on expansion to Kenmore (pub/restaurant, tasting room, production facility) and planning for a Seattle expansion next door to their current location for a restaurant and event space.

Copperworks Distilling Co.
1250 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101

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