Like most all other professional brewers, Mark started out as a home brewer in his garage looking for a creative and productive year-round hobby.
Brewing can be done solo and/or as part of a club.
Mark started out in 2007 with the encouragement and blessings of his youngest brother Jonathan.
He began with a “kit”, which was a pre-fabricated mixture of malt extract, grains, hops, yeast and instructions. Mark managed to make a decent first batch of oatmeal stout because he wanted to replicate a beer that Jon had introduced him to many years prior.
What really got Mark hooked on brewing was the look on people’s faces when they tried a fresh, homemade, handcrafted beer.
One of his baseball team mates once quipped “Ever think of doing it professionally?” Mark laughed–but a seed had been planted. He ended up seeking wise financial counsel to plot a course to turn a dream into reality.
Friends that were initially unwilling to try homebrew were soon making special requests for Mark’s craft beer for their parties and other special events.
A healthy hobby had turned into an obsession: Mark became completely focused on employing any technique he could to improve the quality of each batch and reproducibility of each successive batch. “Tweaks” were made to the recipes to improve their flavors. Bigger and better equipment was purchased. Mark outgrew his kitchen and moved into his garage.
Any time he was out and about, he couldn’t help thinking about setting a brewery up in every vacant building and store front he drove past.
Mark then met Jim at a mutual friend’s house and struck up a conversation over the craft beer Mark brought to the party. Mark shared his vision of starting a brewery in Fort Atkinson, WI. Jim and Mark quickly bonded and began to formulate a plan to make the vision real.
In 2014, they pulled the trigger and applied for their federal and state permits, filed business and partnership documents.
The original desire was to name the brewery “Defiance Brewing”, but another brewing company had formed with that name only a few months prior, so the brainstorm was on to come up with a different name. They decided on “Bent Kettle” based on a survey of friends and family because we were trying to come up with a name that was brewing related. Oddly enough, Insolence (the name of our first commercial release) was runner-up.
Mark and Jim began to look more closely at the name “Bent Kettle”. Kettle is fairly obvious: it’s a brewing vessel used to create beer. Bent takes on multiple meanings: dents for one, focus & determination for another, and not straight or true to form.
Bent more accurately describes the craft beer recipes Mark creates: non-conformist, irreverent, experimental and artisanal: using non-traditional ingredients in traditional beers, so “Bent Kettle” was born.
The ultimate vision is to be able to share their beers with the world and enjoy creating great craft beer, amazing memories and connecting with other craft beer fans along the way.