Brewing a Passion for Beer
It all started, improbably enough, with a failed attempt to make “raisin almond beer.”
Although raisin almond beer sounds like a dubious (ok, horrible) idea today, back in 1991 it was the “ah-ha” moment for Confluence Brewing Head Brewer John Martin. Then a high school student and farm boy from rural Imogene, Iowa, John grew up fascinated with how many things could be made using Iowa’s bountiful grain crops. Grain … alcohol … beer.
John and his high school buddy, Sean McClain, failed to make a drinkable raisin almond beer — but the attempt altered the trajectory of his professional life. This interest lay dormant until John’s Senior year of college, when his beer fascination grew and he started researching how to make drinkable beer. This wasn’t the average college boy’s focus on beer primarily for its alcohol content. John fell in love with the craftsmanship and creativity involved in making beer.
Even John’s wife, Katie, understood his passion and played beer enabler — the newlywed couple picked up supplies for home brewing while on their honeymoon in 1995.
John’s first, quality home-brewed beer was an Octoberfest, which remains his favorite variety today. After years of hobby brewing and in increasingly ardent interest in brewing as a profession — including countless brewery tours and immersion in local and online brewing interest groups — John and fellow home brewer and co-founder Ken Broadhead launched Confluence Brewing in 2012. John left his construction management day-job to pursue Confluence and his passion for beer making full time.
The brewery is itself a confluence of John and Ken’s love for Iowa and craft beer. The result is a microbrewery that shares Iowa’s attributes of honesty, humility, hard work and a sense of humor. Confluence also has Iowa’s knack for being a delightful surprise to those who actually experience it.
Confluence cares about the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into making excellent beer, and knows that excellent beer can bring good friends together.
Diverse Talents Make for a Strong Team
Members of our team use their diverse talents and shared love for the power of beer to make Confluence Brewing a great and growing enterprise.
President, Founder & Head Brewer
Farm boy and applied physics major turned beer artist. Native of Imogene, Iowa. Married to Katie, father of SEVEN. Family man loves the outdoors, including fishing and hiking (when he has time!) and of course open-air home brewing. In high school, when not wrestling or conspiring to brew raisin almond beer, he dreamed of restoring a vintage 1967 Chevy Camaro with a 327 cubic inch V8 engine that was in his uncle’s barn. The beer thing took root … the car restoration thing not so much.Close
The oldest of five children, Ken (who’s real first name is James … long story) grew up in Wichita, Kansas where he lived until November 2003. He played the World Sport (soccer) in high school and college and worked for the Wichita Wings Soccer Club (until they went bankrupt … which had nothing to do with Ken). Graduate of Southeast High in Wichita (home of the Golden Buffaloes) and Wichita State University (home of the Shockers … another long story). Married to Julie, has two girls, one boy and two crazy cats. Loves beer, soccer, hiking (not necessarily together) and dreams of an all-expenses-paid, full-immersion, Munich Oktoberfest experience.Close
Native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and proud graduate of Central High School where she played volleyball and basketball (big vertical leap!). Married to head brewer John and shares his physics geek propensity. Mother of seven children and alpha female to one German shepherd. Hobbies include doing laundry, cleaning house, grocery shopping (in bulk), hoping for no home brew-related explosions. Katie brings administrative sanity to a company full of beer lovers who tend to preface questionable ideas with, “You know what would be cool? …”.Close
An IPA guy through and through, Mark fell in love with the stuff when he began working at Confluence right after the doors to the brewery opened. Always looking for a new IPA to taste, Mark would love if John could brew a whole fleet of IPAs…and maybe nothing else. In his spare time, you can find him collecting new beer or trying fresh brews at el Bait Shop. Mark is the life of the party, inside and outside of the taproom, which is a great trait for our newly promoted Taproom Manager.Close
Designer at 818 - a tiny design empire and known for a relentless quest for “awesomeness.” Beer enthusiast with fondness for IPAs (bring on the bitter!), so working with Confluence is the “sweet spot.” Grew up in small town Iowa (Stratford). Admitted fetish for color and texture. Married to Adam and has one dogchild, Riley. Enjoys volleyball, biking, running, anything outdoorsy. Dreams of muscle cars … so if John ever restores that 1967 Chevy Camaro, Melissa will be ready to barter.Close
Public Relations Consultant
Public relations pro for more than two decades and beer fan for at least that long. Native of Early, Iowa (never late!), graduate of Buena Vista University (home of the fighting Beavers) and 1989 Iowa State Fair Queen (for real). Known to be constantly enmeshed in communications devices, frequenter of coffee shops and bleachers at her kids' sporting events. Favorite beer is COLD, but tends to prefer wheats and IPAs. Also can be swayed by a clever label or intriguing beer back story. Married to Mike, mother of three, alpha female to two happy dogs and one homicidal cat.Close
A retired Air National Guardsman, Greg spends his free time hunting deer and riding motorcycles. He and his wife Gail have traveled the world in search of the perfect beer, but his hunt may have ended when John created the Eastside Attitude Red Lager, which Greg so aptly named after his eastside roots. He now works for part-time for John on a multitude of brewing tasks, his favorite being “quality control.”Close
Social Media & Bartender
A recent college graduate, and “baby” of the Confluence family. Becca studied journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University and a Cyclone (and St. Louis Cardinal) fanatic for life! She discovered her interest for craft beer (and got the job at Confluence!) while writing a feature article for a local publication, and the rest, they say, is history. The ghostwriter behind our Facebook posts, Tweets, blog and newsletter, but she also has her hand in another cookie jar, (or should we say brew kettle), helping John, Greg and Kent fill in the brewery. She admits obsessions with cats, plants and wildflowers, which might be close cousins of the hop. Maybe that explains her growing love for craft beer?Close