By Rachel Tringali Marston

It started gradually. My husband would grab a variety craft beer pack here and there from places we would travel, noticing that the selection was a little different based on where we were. There is something exciting about finding a new craft brewery you haven’t seen before and trying something new.

I think it was the novelty that got my husband completely hooked with trying out craft beers from around the country. It really depended on where you are located to experience particular craft beers.

Our trip to Seattle and Alaska was the tipping point, I think, because we were able to sample beers that were unique to the area at local taprooms. It took buying craft beer in bottles up a notch as we would fill growlers with unique brews.

After that, we ventured to our first beer festival in Northern Virginia.

We scoured tens of different breweries that were located in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. I knew the types that would interest my palate and tasted those, ditto for my husband. Then, we reached one that said “Veteran Owned.”

How awesome is that?!

According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries doubled in number from 2011 to 2015, from 2,033 to 4,144! And veterans are now tapping into the craft beer scene, knowing it is a lucrative market. Americans are loving and appreciating the different flavors being created by craft brewers. My husband isn’t the only one with a craft beer obsession.

From coast-to-coast, you’ll find a number of veteran owned breweries to sample and luckily, they are a stone’s throw to a military installation. We’ve lucked out in the DC area. And with Beer Lover’s Day around the corner, it makes sense to raise a pint for those veteran owned breweries! Here are some that have made it under our radar:

Honor Brewing Company– Each brew by Honor Brewing Company is made as a tribute to those that have or are currently serving in the military. They were actually the first veteran owned brewing company we came across! Their logo with combat boots and dog tags definitely standout to the military community. The three man partnership includes a 26 year Army veteran and two individuals with extremely close ties to the military, one is a Gold Star son.

If you’re in the DC area, check their website to see where they will be next or see where you can grab a brew, if you’re not local.

Young Veterans Brewing Company– Two Army veterans took Virginia Beach by storm! If you’re in the area, they have a taproom to visit and offer brewery tours as well. Their output of beer has tripled since the recent renovation and are tapping at several bars in the Hampton Roads area and nearby locations. Go to their bar list on their website.

Veterans United Craft Brewery– Currently tapping in the Jacksonville, Florida area, Veterans United is the brewery of a former Naval Flight Officer, where his love for craft brewing was started after receiving a home brewing kit from his wife. They have a handful of different brews that are available at their taproom and by keg, if you’re interested in sharing the wealth. Their website has a full list of what’s currently available.

Railhouse Brewery– Owned by Army, Navy, and Air Force veterans (talk about joint services!), Railhouse Brewery brews are distributed in the Carolinas, Georgia and even South Korea. You’re able to taste what’s currently tap at their pub located in Aberdeen, North Carolina. They also have live music and bar games for patrons to enjoy. Find out what’s there now on their website.

Fair Winds Brewing Company– Literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia, this former Coastie’s brewery offers tours and a taproom for sampling, where food trucks park on the weekend for beer pairing. You’re also welcome to bring your own grub. They also provide a wonderful platform for current home brewers to enter their recipes to compete to brew on a larger scale.

Seriously, if you’re a home brewer in the DC area, I encourage you to check them out and really, if you like beer, check them out, too.

Full Tilt Brewing– Full Tilt Brewing is co-owned by a Navy veteran and former DoD worker, who happens to both be cousins as well. They started home brewing in 2008 and then set up shop in Baltimore, where they are on tap at several bars in the area. Find out where you can get bottles on their website as well.

Red Leg Brewing Company– Red Leg has a meaning of its own. During the Civil War, artillerymen would wear a red stripe on their leg, so others can differentiate them from the other service members. Located in Colorado Springs, patrons can enjoy brews in the taproom or find a location to grab a six-pack. The brewery also has an upstairs you can rent out for gatherings.

Heritage Brewing Company– Offering brewery tours and tasty brews at their Manassas hub, Heritage Brewing Company also distributes throughout the Northern Virginia area. What’s great about Heritage Brewing Company is that they have pledged to contribute 1 percent of their sales to go towards their own nonprofit organization that gives back to the veteran community.

14th Star Brewing Company– According to 14th Star Brewing Company owner, his idea of starting up a brewery began as a daydream during deployment. With his dream now a reality in St. Albans, Vermont, visitors could get a free brewery tour and sample the latest brews on tap.

Service Brewing Company– Brewing in Savannah, Georgia, Service Brewing Company was co-founded by a West Point grad that got into home brewing after separating from the Army. My husband and I have yet to sample this southern grown brewery, but if we are ever stationed in Georgia, which could be a possibility! To find their brews locally, visit their website.

I’m sure I missed some. Do you know of any to add to this list? 

Rachel Tringali Marston is an Army spouse and daughter to an Air Force retiree. Rachel’s family settled in Texas and that’s where she calls home. Before getting married, she lived in New York City for almost 10 years and considers that her second home. Rachel enjoys learning and exploring the area around her husband’s duty station and is embracing life in the military. In her spare time, she shares her adventures on her personal blog called The Professional Army Wife.