The idea to open a brewery first came to the Downeys back in 2013. Brothers Daniel and John presented their grandfather, Dennis Downey with a PowerPoint proposal, asking him to let them use part of the building that housed his paper die cutting business, KDG Finishers Co., located in east Dearborn. Dennis agreed to rent some of the building’s unused space to them for $1 a year. Within a day of that meeting, John had already purchased their first two pieces of brewing equipment from a seller in Minneapolis. It was former dairy machinery that they would use as a mash tun and a hot liquor tank for his family’s future brewhouse.
The Downeys spent nearly three years getting the brewery up and running, conducting extensive research to determine what type of brewery would work best for them and their location. They continued to renovate the building and develop their beer, wine, and hard cider recipes.
On March 25, 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of bills that expanded Michigan’s craft beer industry, allowing micro-brewers to self distribute up to 1,000 barrels per year. This change in Michigan law benefited the Downeys by allowing them to ship beer and hard cider locally and forgo the added costs associated with using distributors.
In the summer of 2014, the Downeys launched a successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter that generated $25,000. The family then used the money to purchase additional brewery equipment, and on Nov. 5, 2016, Downey Brewing Co., officially opened its doors to the public.
Downey Brewing is truly a family affair. Dean Downey — Daniel and John’s father — has been home brewing since the early 1990s and had been working with his father Dennis on the operations side of KDG Finishers. John started to take an interest in home brewing while he was in college at Michigan State University. Post graduation, he worked at Adventures in Home Brewing, a small brew shop in Taylor and eventually started working for a local accounting firm. Daniel also graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Dean’s wife and mother to John and Daniel, Lynette, has a day job in sales. Each member of the family leverages their professional skills to run the brewery. Dean brews the beer, Daniel focuses on marketing and sales, John manages the books, and Lynette also helps Daniel with sales. Even Jager, the family dog, is involved in the brewery. The amiable German Shorthaired Pointer greets guests as they walk into the taproom.
“We wanted to create a brewery that was like sitting in your best friend’s garage,” Lynette says. With a spacious and relaxed interior, Downey Brewing suceeds in creating a fun-loving community of local beer fans. When you come to Downey Brewing, come ready to enjoy some great locally made beer, wine, and hard cider. They don’t offer food but are food-friendly. Many local restaurants will deliver to patrons looking to enjoy bites of food between sips of beer.
Visit downeybrewingcompany.com for more information.