VALPARAISO │ The mission of the Veteran Beer Co. has come to Northwest Indiana. The Chicago-based microbrewer was created by disabled veterans to provide meaningful employment opportunities to service members who face challenges in the job market.
The company, founded by former Navy pilot Paul Jenkins, launched on Veterans Day in the Illinois and Indianapolis markets.
Now, through a partnership with Indiana Beverage in Valparaiso, two of Veteran Beer Co.’s beers – The Veteran and The Blonde Bomber – will be available in the Northwest Indiana market.
“The focus this week is to have our sales team introduce the beer,” said Bob Jacobs, Indiana Beverage vice president of sales and marketing. “These guys have a very special mission. When we met with Paul and his team it was obvious they had the passion and the heart and a very clear mission to help veterans and that made it really special and unique and very interesting to us.”
Jacobs said the Indiana Beverage's newest partner offers a mainstream brand.
“It’s not specifically for veterans and it’s not a boutique brand,” he said. “That’s why they formulated the product to be very sessionable beers."
Jacobs said “hundreds of distributions” went out on day one.
“It’s been amazingly well-received,” he said.
Jenkins said Indiana Beverage has a reputation that makes it an envy of distributors nationwide.
“We couldn’t be happier to be partnered here,” he said. “We’re flattered they were willing to accept our products.”
Jenkins was also pleased Indiana Bevereage said it would have its own veterans hiring initiative.
“They made that commitment as well,” he said.
Veteran Beer Co. brews its product in Cold Spring, Minn., where Jenkins said is “some of the best water in America.”
Jenkins said his company's expansion plans are moving more rapidly than expected. The brewer also have two more beers coming out in May – an IPA and a black ale.
Brandon Jones owns 30 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in seven states. Of those, 19 are in Indiana, all of which will sell Veteran Beer Company’s product, including his Portage, Michigan City and LaPorte locations, where they are now available.
“I heard of the story of the brand and I called Indiana Beverage right away and before they even had distributing rights,” Jones said. “I said, ‘what’s the story on this brand? I want it.’”
Jones said he bought more than 100 cases the first opportunity he had and put it in all of his Indiana stores.
Indiana Beverage Delivery Route Supervisor and U.S. Army veteran Tim Stanley said even he, as a veteran, was shocked to read about the unemployment rates for service members and believes the new product will be a standout for them.
“Anytime you can combine jobs for veterans and brewing good beer, I think that’s a win-win situation,” he said.
John Herman, Veteran Beer Co. regional brand ambassador, is a U.S. Army veteran who served three tours in Iraq. The Valparaiso resident said he’s putting his Purdue North Central business degree to work in his new position.
“I can’t thank Paul enough for letting me be a part of this company,” Herman said. “It’s given me a mission again. It’s given me something to really be proud of.”