SOUTH RANGE — When it opened its doors in 2004 in downtown Houghton, Tom Dueks was Keweenaw Brewing Company’s only brewer.
“I learned the concept of brewing and wine making many years ago at home on the home brewing side of it. The opportunity to enter the commercial brewing just came about by chance. I had no idea that there would be a Keweenaw Brewing Company. I’m from the local area and it just kind of worked out that way where I got to meet Dick and Paul and they offered me a job. I said ‘Okay, let’s go for it!'” said Dueks, now the facility’s head brewer.
After three years, the company’s expansion required a larger facility to keep up with the demand and an increase in sales. The company moved its brewing main operation to a larger facility in South Range where it continues to operate.
“Today is batch 1,000 up in South Range. Its kind of a milestone day for us we’ve been producing beer up here since 2007,” said Dueks.
Now in its 14th year of operation, the brewer employees 10 full time employees and a hand full of part timers as it distributes throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. Each tank produces 200 half barrel kegs. Currently, the brewer manufactures 11 favors including four that are seasonal.
“There’s a lot of people involved. Obviously we rely heavily on our sources for raw ingredients. The barley, hops, water is important on the microbiological side of it,” Dueks added.
The company is also preparing for a busy summer season as it has recently signed a deal with Comerica Park, who will be serving flavors from the Keweenaw Brewing Company on tap for the 2018 baseball season.