This is one in a series of occasional 7 Sips interviews, where we sit down for a pint and seven questions with someone active in the local craft beer community. Today’s guest is Ben Lukes, who previously brewed at Big Sky in Missoula and opened Perry Street Brewing with his wife, Christy, in March in the hip, bustling South Perry District southeast of downtown Spokane.
Q: You’ve been open for almost nine months now. What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
A: How incredible the street’s been for us. The street was so receptive to us just popping in and becoming part of the norm down here. It’s just been shocking the support that we’ve had and the tremendous people we’ve met along the way. Also, the amount of work – it really does just feel like a month or two ago. Working in the back, working 40 to 60 hours a week, then coming up here and running the front and keeping that going – time has just been flying trying to do both parts. It’s been the greatest challenge I’ve ever had in my life and probably the best, the most rewarding.
Q: I know you looked at other locations in the beginning. Can you imagine not being here?
A: I think about that so much. I was so close to signing a lease in a part of downtown that I still think would have been great. But once we found this spot, this was the model we were trying to build all along, something where the neighborhood support was there. … Once we found the neighborhood it felt like Missoula, it felt like we just walked out of our house and went to Draught Works or Kettle House. I met Christy in Portland and I lived on Hawthorne and Mississippi, two small streets that just started exploding and taking on their own identity. The Perry district is the closest thing I’ve found to that in Spokane. It’s like taking the best from Portland and having it in a place that has sunshine, and snow in the winter and all that stuff.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing the local beer community?
A: I guess the biggest challenge is just keeping the quality as high as it should be. It’s about building the craft beer community and building our customer base together and all working toward the same goal, chipping away at domestics, and first and foremost quality has to be at the forefront of everything. Forget about advertising, forget about two-foot-tall tap handles, forget about all that other stuff, you have to put out a quality product so that when people discover a brewery on the Ale Trail and they want to move around and see all these places that are trying to do the same thing, they taste a quality product, they taste something that excites them, that makes them say, oh, this is something new and I need to get after it. There’s a lot of people with the same dream I have. As long as all of us are working together to put out the best product we can, we’re going to see nothing but success.
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