Do things happen for a reason?
In 2011 Josh Pfriem was well on his path to becoming a master brewer, but that path veered dramatically the day he was introduced to Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner at a child’s birthday party. The three went on to form the brain trust that would eventually create pFriem.
They shared a deep love of family, the Columbia River Gorge and of course, great beer — but more importantly, each brought his own unique skill set to the table, creating the means and vision to not only make great beer, but to operate a great business. A year-and-a-half and hours of hard work later, the brewery opened its doors for the first time, and the three founders realized the beginning of their unique dream.
pFriem Family Brewers has since become a household name in the Pacific Northwest, but with rapid growth, came new business challenges and increased demand to bring more of the best possible beer in the world to beer lovers. The executive team needed a new partner with the skills and experience to take the helm of pFriem’s finances and steer it towards a glorious future. As fate would have it, Rudy Kellner had spent six years prior to pFriem working with just such a person. He knew that Sonya White’s skills and history of solid financial leadership made her an excellent choice, but it was their shared values and trust-based working relationship that sealed the deal.
If things do happen for a reason, then what better reason than to champion family, community and create one of the world’s best premium craft beers to be enjoyed by all who love them? We can’t think of one, so here’s to fate. Op uw gezondheid!
Josh Pfriem grew up in Seattle, WA., where mountains, water and beer dominate the landscape. It should come as no surprise then, that Josh developed a deep appreciation of all three, leading him to post-college stints as a brewer at Utah Brewers Cooperative, and Will Kemper’s Chuckanut Brewery before landing at Full Sail in Hood River, OR. It was a bike trip through Belgium, knocking on the doors of some of Europe’s greatest brewers, however, that cemented Josh’s ambition to meld European and Northwestern brewing traditions to create his own signature brand. When not obsessing over pFriem Family Brewers’ 100-plus concoctions, Josh expresses gratitude for his friends, family, adopted home of Hood River, and the mountains, water, and beer that have given him the opportunity to be a part of something great.
Although born in the Switzerland of America (Colorado), Ken developed his affinity for well-balanced beer and time-honored brewing traditions while living and traveling in Germany and Austria. With degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, Ken has done just about everything, but his happiest professional moments have come from helping to build pFriem Family Brewers while remaining true to the vision that started it all. He contends that there is only one thing better than cracking open an amazing beer, surrounded by people you love and that’s doing it in the midst of the Columbia River Gorge. Ken and his two children spend their free time exploring the Gorge on their skis, mountain bikes, and kiteboards.
Being born in the former Czechoslovakia, Rudy was no stranger to the kind of mountains, lakes and rivers (and crisp beers) that are plentiful in his adopted home in the Columbia River Gorge. Armed with a technical degree and an MBA, Rudy has felt fortunate to enjoy a successful career in business, but nothing has been as rewarding to him as helping build pFriem Family Brewers from the ground up and being around so many talented people who are passionate about what they’re crafting. When he’s not at the brewery, Rudy enjoys hanging out with his wife and two boys catching trout in the beautiful lakes that surround Mt. Hood.
Sonya spent most of her childhood in North Carolina but the mountains, rivers, food and especially the beer of the Pacific Northwest have won her over in a big way. Those passions are right outside her office and in the case of the beer, inside, now that she’s joined the team at pFriem Family Brewers. With a bachelor's degree in economics, a masters degree in accounting and an ability to scale businesses, improve processes and provide solid financial leadership, Sonya brings a lot to the table. She loves being at a place where she can make a difference and help shape the next generation of leaders, (not to mention her two children), and enjoy everything the Northwest has to offer with her family.
After over a decade of award-winning experience in the Northwest Craft Brewing Community, I finally achieved a life-long dream of opening my own artisanal brewery in Hood River, Oregon. This dream never could have come to fruition without the help of my two esteemed friends and business partners, Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner, and the loving support of our respective families.
Our goals for the brewery are modest ones— to build a business that was tightly integrated with our family lives, to honor the place we call home and love so dearly, and to create a warm, friendly space where others could experience our creations. Our goals for the creations themselves are anything but modest.”
- Josh Pfriem