Young Veterans Brewing Company

Beers from Young Veterans Brewing CompanyTom Wilder and Neil McCanon believe in serving their country. They enlisted into the U.S. Army and U.S. National Guard, respectively — each of them spending time overseas during Operation Freedom — Wilder for a year in Iraq, and McCanon in Germany and Iraq.

Although the two were friends in high school, it was the bond of serving in the military that brought them together after they returned to the states — serving, and their combined love for beer and brewing.

“We’re a small brewery out of Virginia Beach, Va.,” said Wilder. “We’re just looking to make a living for ourselves, grow the company and everything, but take manageable steps.”

young veterans brewing companyWilder and McCanon have spent six years trying to open the Young Veterans Brewing Company (YVBC) and be operational. “I’d say the last two years of that has been fundraising,” explained Wilder. “The last few years have been figuring out where to start and writing a business plan.

“Neil and I did a tour in the Army, each of us are Army veterans. We joined the Army separately and did our tours. After we returned we had a newfound respect for one another, started brewing beer for fun, and slowly but surely realized that we are good at it and it’s something we really enjoy. It could be the thing we were looking for all along — something we can do for ourselves.”

At the time, there were two older breweries in Wilder and McCanon’s region. However, by the time YVBC opened, there were three other breweries opened in Virginia Beach.

“There is a lot of camaraderie among the brewers in this area,” said Wilder. “There aren’t a lot of us, so everyone is really easy to get a hold of and we’re always looking ways to help each other out. We are the smallest brewery in the area and a lot of the bigger ones have been really helpful as we kind of open up. In the past couple of years, they were very forthcoming when we were doing our market research.”

Although the Army didn’t directly prepare Wilder and McCanon for opening up their own brewery, they believe they have pulled resources from their time in the military that have helped their entrepreneurism.

“I feel like most people, when they go into the Army, they go into basic training one person, and come out someone else,” said Wilder. “Usually that’s for the better, and for us it was that way. We went in, came out adults. We retained our sense of humor and our goofy attitudes, but we were equipped with the determination it takes to overcome major obstacles. I’d say without the military we would’ve never done this. We probably would we working in the workforce with just some job we could find and stand. I think the military instilled in both of us a work ethic.”

Each beer at YVBC has been named after certain aspects they experienced in the military. “Our favorite beer we having going on right now is the Night Vision American Stout,” said Wilder. “The best seller is the Pineapple Grinade Heferfeizen, the next, that has the most hype built around it is our Jet Noise IPA, which has won two awards among local brewers in our area.”

Currently distribution is restricted to their local brewery and taproom, but they are receiving contacts from consumers all over the U.S. searching for their beers. Wilder said he’s received messages from people in Michigan looking for their beers in their local grocery store. The beers they do bottle and release in their taproom move extremely quickly. Wilder said that as soon as each new beer is released, they are sold out within 45 minutes.

In addition to the Pineable Grinade, Night Vision and Jet Noise, some of the other names include the New Recruit Honey Blonde Ale, Sember FI PA Citrus Hopped IPA and the Big Red Eye India Pale Ale. Wilder and McCanon’s passion for serving has transferred into the brewing industry. Although they aren’t technically protecting the country anymore, they are continuing to do their part in lifting the spirits through their creative brews coming out of Virginia Beach. If you’re in the area, make sure you look them up and enjoy a little Jet Noise.

young veterans brewing company

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