Tom Martinez went to bed one night in December 2016 thinking about a doctor’s appointment he had in the morning.
He had been having headaches, and his wife was having him see a specialist.
When he woke up the next morning, he was completely blind.
“There is no cause, there is no medical reason for it,” Martinez said. “Since it’s been so long, there’s no expectation for it to return.”
It was an unexpected turn in Martinez’s life, a father of five. He and his business partner, Ken Klispie, had been searching for places to build and open a brewery. They had both enjoyed home brewing and were ready to open their dream brewery.
“Tom lost his sight, and with the risk of trying to open a brewery, it was hard,” Klispie said.
While trying to figure out what was going on with Martinez’s vision, the two never lost sight of opening their brewery.
“Staying the course, staying committed and not wavering, not letting fear creep in and get you to quit,” Klispie said.
When the already-established DeSteeg Brewing came on the market, the two decided instead of building, they would be buying. They kept DeSteeg running and started brewing under a second name as well, Blind Faith Brewing.
“Embracing the fact that I am totally blind, but still people are believing in me, they still have faith in me, and I have faith in other people,” Martinez said. “We also have a strong spiritual faith we rely on.”
The two men and their wives started their business venture in October 2017. They both work the taproom of the tiny brewery, but Tom said he wants more. A homebrewer for 12 years, he said he would like to brew again in his own brewery.
“I am reassured by the people that support me that anything I want to do in this taproom, in this brewery, I can do,” Martinez said.
Colorado’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has been helped him work toward that goal. Tom works with instructors in the Personal Adjustment Training Program. They do everything from helping him navigate public transportation to learning how to use a computer without his vision.
“He knows what he wants, and this whole blindness thing is a little roadblock—it’s a minor detour in his life,” said Jim Pilkington, one of his instructors. “Tom’s a rockstar.”
Opening up a brewery in beer-soaked Colorado already comes with built-in risks, but Tom said he is ready to face them because he has faith.
“Even if I can’t see it, the opportunities are still right there in front of me, and the goodness in the world is still right there to be encountered,” Martinez said.
To learn more about Blind Faith Brewing, go to their website