Bikes and beer are each pretty great on their own, but they're even better together. At least that's the mindset of the owners of a planned sustainable nanobrewery that's powered, in part, by biking.
Brothers Shawn and Aaron Grose want to open Windmill Pointe Brewing Company, a "pedal-powered" brewery, in Detroit's Eastern Market neighborhood, though they have not yet secured a location. They're trying to raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign that's currently brought in $6,000 in donations on their IndieGoGo page, with a week until the campaign ends.
"I really haven't met too many people who don't like bikes and beer," Grose told The Huffington Post. "We want people to be healthy and happy."
Grose estimates that Windmill Pointe would be powered by about 50 percent solar energy, 25 percent wind power and 25 percent biking. Their system, which uses a patent-pending computer program, captures energy from people riding stationary bikes -- which would be installed at the brewery -- in a combiner box. The wattage then moves into a battery and an inverter switches it from direct to alternating currents so it can be used to heat water for the brewing process.
Windmill Pointe's tap room will have several stationary bikes that patrons can ride -- if they so choose -- to generate power for the beer they're drinking, as well as a separate set of bikes for teams and cycling classes. Riders will be able to see exactly how much beer they're producing with their pedaling; reaching certain milestones will earn them free pints.
They brothers have demonstrated the bike-to-brewing process at events in the city beginning last year, and once they open, plan to be transparent with customers about exactly how much of the brewing process they're offsetting with energy they've captured.
"Our big, long-term goal is if we can be 100 percent off-grid, then we can be a model for sustainable brewing," Shawn Grose said.
They're also considering sustainability when it comes to other parts of the brewing process, like looking at ways to reduce their impact on the water supply and using locally-grown hops and other materials.That's part of why they chose Eastern Market, a historic district that serves as a open-air public market and distribution center for many of the state's farmers.
"If we want strawberries in wheat beer, we can just walk into the market and get local strawberries," Grose said. "There's also a historical brewing culture there... [We want to] help bring back that brewing tradition that Detroit had."
The Groses, both in their 40s and living in suburbs of Detroit, have been mountain biking and homebrewing together for years. Shawn has worked as a science teacher and Aaron has worked at a local brewery; Windpointe lets them combine their interests and would be a family affair.
"We want to be the brewers who are out there making beer and hanging out," Grose said. He sees community involvement as an essential part of the brewery.
In fact, Windpointe's first beer will be a Pewabic Porter, and a portion of its proceeds will go to educational programs at local ceramics studio Pewabic Pottery.
"It's like beer with a purpose," Grose said. "We want to be more than a brewery."
Grose said that if they don't reach their fundraising goal, they still plan to open, though it would likely take longer than their current goal of late next year.
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