Brewery Perspectives: 2019 Veterans Blend
Inspired by our own military Veteran employees, Yakima Chief Hops launched their annual community hop blend, the Veterans Blend, in 2018. Each year, a group of military Veteran employees from YCH along with military Veteran brewers representing multiple branches of the US Armed Forces gather together to choose a new hop blend and nonprofit organization. The blend is released and shipped in time for brewers to pour celebratory beers on Veterans Day. For every pound sold, $3 is donated to the chosen charity supporting United States Veterans. Brewers are encouraged to multiply the philanthropic efforts of YCH through their own events and promotions.
Last year, nearly $24,000 was donated to the Semper Fi Fund through the sale of the 2018 Veterans Blend, and breweries across the country participated in creating their own special beers in honor of our servicemen and women. Not only did this blend help to make a monetary impact on the Veteran community, but we also discovered an overwhelming number of military Veterans in the brewing industry.
Through this project, military Veterans from the hop community connected with those from the brewing community, all with the shared passion for supporting their fellow Veterans. The Veterans Blend quickly became about connecting heroes from field to pint while contributing to nonprofit organizations that are doing important work to help our Veterans. Read below to learn about how Kevin Ryan, CEO of Service Brewing, is involved with our Veterans Blend.
- What is your connection with the U.S. Armed Forces?
- I graduated from West Point June 1, 1996. I served for 8 years as an Infantry Officer, spending three years with the 1/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment at Ft. Richardson, AK and 4 years with the 3rd Brigade 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, CO where I commanded two companies in Iraq from 2003-2004. After returning from Iraq and relinquishing command, I opted to resign my commission and pursue opportunities outside of the military.
- Describe your experience/background in the brewing industry.
- My fiancé and co-owner of Service Brewing, Meredith, bought me a home brewing kit for Valentine’s Day in 2012. We started planning the brewery 7 months later and sold our first beer in July of 2014.
- What is the history behind Service Brewing?
- We are a Veteran owned and operated brewery. We have 24 investors and 20 of those investors are Veterans of the Army, Navy, and Marines. We try and employ Veterans whenever possible but not exclusively. The idea is to use our brewery as a way to honor those who serve their country and community. Additionally, we donate a portion of every pint sold to our selected charities. We choose a new charity every quarter and dedicate our tap rooms sales to that charity. We choose smaller charities that need our assistance in accomplishing their mission, but more importantly bring awareness in the community to their great work. Each charity selected donates at least $0.90 of every dollar donated to the people they serve.
- How did you become involved with the Veterans Blend?
- Knowing the mission of our brewery, Yakima Chief Hops reached out to us and asked if we wanted to participate in the blend. We had previously brewed charity focused beers with hops donated by Yakima Chief Hop, sending proceeds along to the Tiny House Project in Savannah, a project to build tiny homes for homeless Veterans in our area.
- We jumped at the opportunity to participate in the blend selection and the test batch brew in Yakima, and look forward to raising more awareness and greater fundraising opportunities for the blend in 2019.
- What was the selection process like for the Veterans Blend?
- The 2018 selection process was the first time I had participated in a hop selection process. The entire process was brand new to me, but the Yakima Chief Hops employees walked us through the process and were great teachers during the selection
- The 2019 selection process was even better. Having some experience, we had a much better idea of how to approach a selection. It was not only a great opportunity to be a part of this great fundraising effort, but a wonderful chance to meet other Veterans in the brewing community.
- Describe the beer(s) that you have brewed using the 2018 Veterans Blend.
- We brewed a Juicy IPA named “Armistice IPA.” The blend worked out perfectly for this style and we first brewed the blend to celebrate Veterans Day in 2018 and the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI….hence the name, Armistice. The blend had 5 hops representing the five branches of service and one of the hops was Centennial representing the 100th anniversary, so it was not only a great blend, but very symbolic as well.
- What style beer(s) do you plan to brew with the 2019 Veterans Blend?
- We have not developed the style yet. Once we receive the blend, we will assess the aromatics of the hops and determine the style from several small batches.
- What special events or celebrations have been inspired by the Veterans Blend at Service Brewing?
- We hope to celebrate Veteran’s Day with this blend every year. We host the Victory Moto Show at the brewery during that week and release the beer at that event, raising money for our selected charity at that time.
- We have also used the blend to raise money for our local American Legion, Post 135.
- Can you tell us more about the brew day you have planned with the Sergeant Major of the Army?
- The Outgoing Sergeant Major of the Army was my First Sergeant in Iraq in 2003. He and I have stayed in touch over the years. A couple years ago, I helped his wife with the purchase of a homebrew kit for him. He has taken on to brewing in a big way. He quickly built himself an amazing homebrew kit in his home. With his retirement coming up this summer, I wanted to brew a retirement beer with him and use that as an opportunity to spend time with him away from his official duties and to bring awareness to the blend and how easy it can be for homebrewers to utilize the blend as well.
- How do you see the Veterans Blend evolving over the next few years?
- I hope we can use this blend to provide substantial assistance to deserving charities, bring more Veterans in the brewing community together, and demonstrate how Veterans can succeed in Craft Beer.
- In your opinion, what impact does the Veterans Blend have?
- I think the blend reminds people that there are many ways they can help Veterans throughout the country. It is a ready to go package that makes it easy for someone to donate to a great cause, and simultaneously motivate them to go local in their year-round support of Veterans in their community that need their help.
The purchase the 2019 Veterans Blend:
Commercial brewers can submit an order form here.
For wholesale orders, distributors may contact [email protected]. Homebrew retailers can reach out to Country Malt Group – Homebrew and LD Carlson to stock their shelves.
Homebrew customers are invited to shop their local homebrew stores, or shop online at https://www.yakimachief.com/shop.