Jobs 'Brewing' for Disabled Veterans in Minn.

Updated: 05/23/2014 5:54 PM
Created: 05/22/2014 4:54 PM
By: Todd Wilson

Two new patriotic beers are now being brewed in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and the company behind the brews is on a mission to give veterans jobs.

Veterans Beer Company started in Illinois in 2013 and recently expanded to Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa.

The beers, called Blonde Bomber and The Veteran, not only come with distinctive tastes but also a mission.

"We only employ veterans and then 10 percent of our net profits go back to veteran charities," Josh Ray said after stacking case after case of Veteran beer at Top Valu Liquor in Columbia Heights.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, there were over 390,000 veterans in Minnesota in 2010. Of that number, over 62,000 received disability compensation.

Ray says with the loss of benefits for veterans they felt it was time to do something for their own. What better way to help vets than with jobs and beer.

"Eighty-eight percent of disabled veterans are currently unemployed. When you look at Minnesota for instance as another example, our veteran unemployment rate is currently double our traditional unemployment rate," Ray said.

Ray is a vet himself. He says in 2013 disabled veterans in Illinois started the company. They began selling beer in Indiana and Illinois. With such a strong stance on hiring he says no one gave them a chance.

"Initially everybody in the market told us that we would be lucky in the first year to sell 1,000 cases; and in four months we did over 10,000 cases," he said.

Top Valu Liquor in Columbia Heights is one of the stores that gave the beer a chance. Tracy Klein says her customers love it.

"A lot of it is with The Veteran; that's a big seller. And then when they actually taste the juice of it they come back for more," Klein said.

Upcoming Job Fair

The Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs is holding a veterans career fair July 9. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

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