In the old days, there were barn-raising events where a group of neighbors came together to help one of their own improve their farms and, by proxy, the whole community.
The more modern concept in many ways is crowdfunding – the opportunity for friends, family and perfect strangers to pool their resources in the form of donations to a cause or business concept. Add some bikes, beer and sustainability, and you’ve got the Windmill Pointe Brewing Company and its “Pedal-Powered Beer Project.”
Two brothers, Shawn and Aaron Grose, have been brewing beer together for more than a decade. They’ve been involved in the Michigan craft-beer movement since 1995, and they want to put their passion for the foamy adult beverage together with their ideas for a business. Hence, Windmill Pointe Brewing Co. was born. The goal is to open a brewery in Detroit’s venerable Eastern Market area.
Well, that makes it sound kinda easy. And, to be honest, it wasn’t that easy. It took years of talking, cajoling and working on the business plan. Shawn took some time off of work; Aaron limited his hours. The family-owned business will be a labor of love in many ways.
“We gave each other an ultimatum,” Grose laughed. It was now or never.
And what better time than now, when Detroit is open for business in nearly every way? And what better time than this moment, when craft beer is becoming part of Michigan’s very DNA? And why not bring a touch of environmental action into the area, showing off how the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, profit) can be profitable as well as responsible?
“The beer is going to tell a story about the local area,” Grose said. “It will be a sustainable, barn-raising kind of brew.”
Shawn Grose compares their project to the layers of an onion, and it’s an apt description. If you start with the end result – the glorious beer – then you have the first delicious layer. There’s the love of cycling, which provides the second layer. The third is all about the brothers’ patent-pending pedal-powered brewing system. Rather than use traditional energy sources, the Grose brothers are using wind and solar technologies, giving patrons environmentally friendly beverages that are sustainable. Lotsa, lotsa layers.
In other words, patrons are rewarded for sharing their energy, Grose explained. It would be the nation’s first pedal-powered brewery. A bunch of stationary bikes would be set up on site, and the riders’ efforts would be collected, stored and recorded. That offsets the energy used for each brewing session.
And it won’t be all work. Riders can participate in challenging bike races, like the Tour de Beer. Winners there earn a “gold jersey” and their name on the Kilowatt Cup. For those who might not have that kind of energy, anyone who advances through multi-stage races can earn credits, which they can use in the brewery’s future tasting room and store.
To learn more, check out the Windmill Pointe website and Facebook page. To donate, go to its Indiegogo page. To try the beer, keep an eye out for upcoming events. (We’ll be among the first to try a bike when the grand opening happens!)