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News | Aug. 27, 2021

Brewing up a retirement plan: a recipe for future success

By Christian Deluca DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Mary Martin, the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Future Operations division chief and Army retiree with 14 years of federal civilian employment, is planning her next retirement. Like many people, she has plans for that milestone. But hers involve a lot of beer.

Martin’s next step, as she plans her own future operations, is to brew beer for others to enjoy. For the past year and a half she has been hard at work learning how, she said.

“I became interested in craft brewing through my nephew, who is a home brewer. We would talk about different craft beers and possibly, one day, opening up a brewery,” Martin said.  ”I said I will go to school and become a brew master and see what it’s about and we would go from there.”

Martin made good on her word to nephew to learn more about brewing and signed up for a Brewing Science Certificate program through the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The 18-credit program, which includes a three-week internship, took her about a year and a half to complete. She receives her certificate August 27.

“I had some of my GI Bill left and I wanted to do something fun. I drink beer, but I’ve never brewed beer. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. It was much harder than I thought it was going to be,” she said.

Classes focused on the chemistry and microbiology of brewing were real eye-openers for Martin with respect to the time, effort and knowledge it takes to brew a quality beer.

“Last time I was in a chemistry class, and I’m dating myself here, was probably 1979,” she said. “Going back to school and learning the periodic table and chemical interactions and cell division was very difficult to say the least.”

Martin did her three-week internship at Iron Hill Brewery in Exton, Pennsylvania, a local craft brewery chain. During her internship, she saw the knowledge she had gained applied with the passion and dedication of the working brew masters.

“The internship was my favorite part of the course, and that was because of the people,” she said. “Being around people who were so passionate about brewing, seeing how hard they worked and the amount of effort that goes into getting everything consistently up to the standards of the brewery and what their customers expect, was awe inspiring.”

During her internship, Martin dove head-first into the multi-step brewing process, from pulling bags of grain to mill all the way to adding yeast for the final fermentation process. While working, she found a lot of similarities between what went on in the brewery and what she has experienced in her careers.

“It’s like a military operation,” she said. “There’s so much precision required to get the beer right [at every phase] … it’s all about the planning. You have to decide what to brew when so there’s proper space in the fermenters … make sure the storage areas are ready … [and] coordinate everything so it runs smooth and the right products end up in the right destinations. There’s a lot of logistics involved.”

One of Martin’s final projects was to create a craft beer recipe and marketing plan, and then brew the beer and present it to her instructors. To do this, Martin went back to her military roots.

“We named our operation DD214 Brewery and developed a pineapple-coconut hazy India pale ale called ‘Rest and Recuperation Hazy IPA,’” she said. “Our marketing plan targeted the military, veterans, first responders and others who work hard and could use a little ‘R&R’ at the end of the day.”

Martin said that whether it’s partnering with her nephew, who is working on his master’s degree in business, or working for another brewery, beer making is going to be in her future.

“Being in the beer community is so much fun,” she said. “It’s like being in the military in the fact that it’s like being with family. So brewing is something I’d like to do in the future. I’ve retired from the military. I’ll retire from the federal government. And then, for as long as I’m able, I’ll go around and make some beer for people to enjoy.”