DENVER -- There will be nearly 800 breweries on hand at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, but a handful of brewers will be representing a little more than just the beer they serve. Five small breweries will be serving from the same booth, as veteran-owned and operated.
“To showcase something we’re all super passionate about. Not just the military, but beer,” Todd Baldwin, owner of Red Leg Brewing in Colorado Springs, said.
Baldwin was a field artillery officer in the Army, serving for ten years and one deployment in Iraq. He now brews beer with a military theme for a living.
“I think there’s over 100 veteran-owned breweries in the country right now,” he said.
But Baldwin saw a need in that community. Many vets were coming out of their service, wanting to get into the beer business, but without the insight into how to do that. That’s when he founded the Veteran’s Beer Alliance.
“We worked together on the battlefield now let’s work together in the civilian sector as well,” he said.
The Alliance serves many roles, including pooling financial resources of the now-52 members to be able to buy ingredients, kegs, cans, and more in bulk and at a discounted rate.
“We’re able to get a discount that a regional or national brewery would get for a small brewery like most of our membership,” Baldwin explained.
The VBA also serves in mentoring veterans on where to start with a brewery, how to get funding, and the do’s and don’ts of the business. According to Baldwin, the Alliance has helped several breweries from “in the Army or Air Force, to I’m opening my doors.”
Five brewery members of the Veteran’s Beer Alliance will be in attendance at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, pouring their beers from their own specific booth. Those breweries are Red Leg, Tattered Flag, Service Brewing, Big Beach Brewing, and Black Forest Brewing.
“We just want to make great beer,” Baldwin said. “And you find out we’re vets behind that - that’s cool, too.”
For more information, or to join, head to http://www.veteransbeeralliance.org.