PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Sunday marked National Beer Day, and while there’s no shortage of options in West Michigan, one brewery offers something special for veterans year-round.
With beer names like Oatbama — an oatmeal stout — and a hefeweizen called Thomas Hefferson, it doesn’t take long for new customers to pick up on the patriotic theme at Presidential Brewing Company on Portage Road in Portage.
The USA-rooted energy led the owners, Kayleigh and Jake Lohse, to an idea that gives veterans recognition and a free beer.
For $4.75, anyone can purchase a special brown tag, write a message to the brave men and women who’ve served this country, and hang it on the veteran wall. Veterans can then pick a tag off the wall and exchange it for a free beer.
“We found that people really want to say thank you. They want to have a way to express their gratitude, but sometimes it’s hard to find ways to do that,” Kayleigh Lohse said.
Staff Sgt. Chad Waller is still active duty with the U.S. Air Force. He’s usually working on massive military transport aircraft, but enjoyed a free brew on Sunday.
“You can pick through it and find one that’s unique to you,” Waller told 24 Hour News 8.
He’s been deployed overseas and is currently stationed in South Carolina, but he was in Michigan on Sunday enjoying his one week of leave time.
For Waller, the tags are an encouraging display of thoughtfulness.
“It’s definitely more personal than a military discount. That’s great and all, but when you can get on a one-on-one basis and relate to that person, I think that’s awesome,” he said.
The messages on each tag are all different.
“The coolest thing that we’ve seen so far is every time a veteran comes in to redeem a beer, they buy at least one more to put back on the wall to give back to their brothers and sisters that have also served,” Kayleigh Lohse said.
Some of the tags have messages written in different languages, but they are all dangling on the wall as a thank you.
“We would welcome any veteran to come in because we’ve got a wall of over 100 tags right now that are waiting to be redeemed,” Kayleigh Lohse said. “These are beers that have already been paid for from people who want to show their gratitude.”
One dollar of each tag purchase goes to Zero Day, a Southwest Michgian organization that serves veterans in a variety of ways.