On Nov. 13, Pittsburghers can raise a glass to support veterans.
First Sip Brew Box, a Pittsburgh-based subscription service for craft beer enthusiasts, is organizing a festival called Hops with Heroes that will feature veteran-owned breweries from across the country. More details about the event will flow in the next month or so.
In the meantime, you can soak up military-inspired suds and get some swag to match. First Sip owners Dennis and Samantha Guy have joined forces with Stone Bridge Brewing Company in Johnstown to create Hidden Message, a lemon IPA (invisible ink made from lemon juice was a standard supply for spies during the American Revolution all the way up through World War II).
The beer will be available at various spots throughout the Pittsburgh region, including Two Daughters Beer and Wine Market in Mt. Lebanon, Mike’s Beer Bar on the North Shore and Galli Beer Distributing Co. in New Kensington.
For veterans Dennis Guy and Stone Bridge Founder Jeremy Shearer, the beer is a liquid salute to their fellow service members. Although Guy grew up in New Kensington, his military unit was based in Johnstown.
In addition to the beer, First Sip is selling veteran-themed Brew Boxes with a percentage of the proceeds going to Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled military members.
Although no alcohol is included in the packages, the Brew Box will be filled with patriotic apparel, glassware, coasters, stickers and other branded merchandise … even Folds of Honor barbecue sauce.
Guy says he plans to collaborate with a veteran-owned brewery every year.
Guy spent his high school years as a member of the Army ROTC program and, with his mother’s signature, joined the Pennsylvania National Guard when he was 17. He celebrated his 18th birthday in a foxhole at a basic training facility in Fort Benning, Ga.
“It gave me a good foundation for the rest of my life,” Guy says of his military service. “I want to give back.”
First Sip recently moved its operations from the Guys’ home to a storefront at 212 Brownsville Road in Mt. Oliver.
There, Dennis and Samantha plan to host educational seminars on the history of craft beer. Through First Sip Studios, the technological branch of their company, the couple will offer affordable video and photography services to local organizations, breweries and other small businesses. A soft opening is scheduled for Aug. 13 and 14 for those interested in boosting their online presence.
Social media, after all, is a battlefield.