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From Flight Deck to Brew Deck: Veterans United Craft Brewery Celebrates Three Years

If you've ever been on a brewery tour at Veterans United Craft Brewery in Jacksonville, you know the story about the "pilot" system that Ron Gamble used to begin his journey into craft beer when his wife Sheryl purchased the starter equipment some years ago. The homebrewing hobby morphed into technical brewing education and positions as a professional brewer in New England. A former Naval Flight Officer, Ron formed Veterans United Craft Brewery in 2013, along with other veterans, and opened the military-themed brewery in August 2014, trading a flight deck for a brew deck on a 20-barrel brewhouse. 






The brewery crew celebrates its Third Anniversary, the "End of the Block Block Party," on Saturday, August 19, beginning at 1pm. The event features a number of small-batch beers brewed especially for the occasion, such as Passion Fruit IPA, Maple Tap Amber Ale, Cacao to Cacao Chocolate Ale, Grapefruit HopBanshee IPA, Blood Orange IPA, Blueberry Blonde Ale, Wild Strawberry Wheat Ale, Blood Orange IPA, and Orange is the New B. In addition, the brewery will re-release a few fan favorites, including Cup O'Joe Oatmeal Espresso Stout and Flying Squirrel Nut Brown Ale. Music will be provided by Shane Myers and The Snacks Blues Band. Mission BBQ Food Truck will be on site. Guests can purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a growler gift box, with the winner being announced around 5pm. The brewery has obtained a special permit to allow beer outside of the tap room for the day.  


When Veterans United opened, it did so with large-scale production in mind. Backing up the 20-barrel brewhouse are five 40-barrel fermenters and a 40-barrel brite tank. It started canning two of its core beers, the Raging Blonde Ale and HopBanshee IPA, within the first year, with retail distribution around the Jax area. A few months ago, the brewery released its Scout Dog 44 Amber Ale in cans, and those will be available on Publix shelves soon, says Ron Gamble. Currently, Veterans United beers are distributed in Tallahassee, Gainesville, Ocala and as far south as The Villages. Ron adds that plans are already underway for additional expansion into the western Florida Panhandle, and the brewery is looking at distribution into the Daytona area also. Coming online in the brewhouse within the next week or so is the brewery's sixth fermenter. 


KONGS for K-9s at Veterans United
in September. The dog is Atos,
Atos and his handler are stationed at
Moody AFB in Valdosta GA
(flyer from Veterans United Craft Brewery)
The military-themed tap room is captivating to many visitors, and Veterans United regularly holds charitable events to benefit veterans and military service organizations. One of those is the "Kongs for K-9's" program, in collaboration with the Military Working Dog Team Support Association, held every September. For each "Kong" dog toy collected, the Kong Company donates a matching toy. Last year, the count reached 80 Kongs, with 160 being sent to troops in the field. The tap room offers beer specials during the Kong toy drive to promote the event. In addition to military causes, the brewery has also worked with several Humane Societies in connection with sponsored pet adoptions. "In addition to the great reception that we have received for our beers and the brewery, our involvement with charities has been very rewarding," Ron adds. In addition to the onsite tap room, an event space is available for private meetings and functions. 

From flying jets on aircraft carriers and missions in the first Gulf War to several startup companies to boots in the brewhouse, Ron has navigated a varied course over the years. He also holds an MBA, a Master Brewers Diploma in Brewing Technology from the Siebel Institute (Chicago) / Doemens Academy (Gräfelfing, Germany), and a certificate in Brewery Packaging Technology from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. The brewery has earned several medals, including three at the 2016 Best Florida Beer Championships: Silver, Paratrooper Porter (porter category); Bronze, Raging Blonde (golden blonde ale category); and Bronze, Scout Dog 44 Amber Ale (Euro lager/ale category). 


Veterans United Craft Brewery is located at the end of an industrial complex, at 8999 Western Way #104 in the Southside area of Jacksonville. (The reason for the "End of the Block" Block Party name.) Many of the staff are military veterans or members of the Service. The tap room is open four days a week: Wednesday/Thursday: 3-10pm; Friday: 3-11pm; and Saturday, 1-11pm. Brewery tours take place hourly on Saturday afternoons from 1:30 to 4:30pm. 

Congratulations to Veterans United Craft Brewery! 











Thanks for reading .... 

Cheers!
Til next time,




Linda




Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®


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