When the Marquette Brewing Cooperative (MBC) opens later this year, it will be the very first cooperatively-owned brewery in Michigan.
After spending years honing their craft, members of the Marquette Homebrewers Club were ready to share the incredible beers they had created on a larger scale.
“We began to ask ourselves, wouldn’t it be cool to open our own brewery?” said Dave Gill, president of MBC and the Marquette Homebrewers Club.
“At first it seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream. We all had jobs and abandoning our careers to become professional brewers wasn’t a realistic option.”
Then, one day David had an idea; the Homebrewers could use the cooperative business model to open a brewery. As a co-op, anyone could become a member-owner of the business.
“It’s a great model for a start-up brewery,” explains David. “It’ll allow us to become professional brewers without a full-time commitment. Now we can take what we’ve learned as homebrewers and share it with even more enthusiasts.”
The first step in creating the co-op was to assemble a board of directors to oversee the organization. Next, David secured grant funding to help with legal costs and was awarded $1,000 from the Marquette SmartPrize entrepreneur competition to help with start-up costs.
Final architectural plans for the brewery have been completed, and the brewery has raised enough capital to start the build-out. And, if all goes according to plan, craft beer with be flowing at 501 S. Lake Street in Marquette by this summer. When it’s up and running, the co-op plans to employ a full-time head brewer to oversee brewing operations, quality, and tap selection.
“We plan to have 10-12 beers on tap at all times,” said David. “And we’ll constantly rotate the selection, so every time you walk in, there’ll be something new on tap that you haven’t tried before.”
Being an owner of a brewery in Michigan has broad appeal. The MCB already has over 290 member-owners and interest continues to grow daily. Member-owners are entitled to all the benefits of ownership, including voting rights, a voice in how the co-op can meet their needs, and a share in patronage dividends.
“Our member-owners will have access to educational experiences in all aspects of craft beer through workshops, tastings, seminars, demonstrations, and ‘brew-your-own beer’ events,” said David. “Ultimately, every member will have an opportunity to become a brewer and have their beers served on the menu.”
David and the other co-op directors hope to double membership in time for their grand opening this summer. Lifetime individual memberships are available online at MarquetteBrewing.com for just $99, and a “preferred shares” program is available for those who would like to invest more.
“Craft beer is a passion for each of us,” David concludes. “We have a strong, dedicated core of competent brewers who are ready to serve the Marquette community with a diverse, holistic craft beer experience.”