Michigan Tech alumni John Powers ’77 couldn’t be happier about going into business with his son Joe ’04.
The duo will make up the brewing team at HomeGrown, a microbrewery on the outskirts of Detroit. The new brewery is set to open in Oxford later this year, and the pair says their time in Houghton had a big influence in their career choices.
Since Joe introduced him to home-brewing over 10 years ago, John’s passion for creating craft beer has continued to grow, and he recently retired from working as a senior design engineer at General Motors to follow his dream.
“If you told me what field I would end up in when I was at college, I never would have believed it,” John says. “I always enjoyed the microbiology classes at Tech, and brewing is an extension of that.”
His son Joe has travelled the world since he graduated in 2004, working as an environmental engineer in the sunny shores of Perth, Australia, and the earthquake-plagued plains of Christchurch, New Zealand. Returning to Michigan, Joe says his hours in the chemistry lab at Tech are certainly paying off now.
“People often don’t realize how much of a science brewing is; sure it’s a creative process, but you have to really know your elements before you get to that stage,” Joe says.
Joe also wants to bring his environmental training to the beer scene. “I worked a lot in water resource management, and looking at more sustainable ways of brewing is definitely something we are investigating,” he says.
John explains that they want to tone down the exclusivity of the craft beer scene, while maintaining the creativity and craftsmanship found in successful small breweries, like the Keweenaw Brewing Company.
“We will absolutely be offering creative experimental seasonal brews but our flagship beers will really concentrate on the fundamentals of brewing a solid pint,” John says.
HomeGrown will be something of a family affair for the Powers clan. As well as the father-and-son team brewing, John’s wife Marie will be the culinary manager; Joe’s wife Kate (who attended Tech on an exchange program) will assist as a media consultant; Jeff Powers will head up sales and marketing and oversee the front-of-house; and the youngest sibling Katie Powers (who also attended Tech) will be leading the social media program.
“Between engineers, cooks, artists, managers, and journalists, we feel very lucky to have so much collective knowledge in the family, and we look forward to seeing that transform into a great business,” says Marie.
HomeGrown is estimated to generate 16 to 20 full-time and part-time jobs, and initially, host around 100 patrons.
Readers can follow the progress of the brewery on www.homegrownbrewco.com and on Facebook.