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CWU Students Partner with Ellensburg Brewing to Create Veterans-Inspired Beer

Three Veterans Brew Day participants with a keg

CWU Veterans Center Director Ruben Cardenas, left, helped organize a Veterans Brew Day on November 11 at Ellensburg Brewing Co. (Photo by Joel Thurston)


Local beer aficionados are invited to drop by Ellensburg Brewing Co. this winter to sample a pint of Red, White and Brew, a specialty concoction brewed on Veterans Day with the help of CWU student veterans and craft brewing students.

Ten Central students partnered with Brewmaster (and former CWU instructor) Eric Foss for the all-day event, which produced 15 kegs of the India Pale Ale. The new variety was expected to be on tap December 13 at the brewery and a handful of other restaurants in town.

About a half-dozen veterans from the community also stopped by to observe the hours-long process, while everyone who participated signed their name on a keg to commemorate the occasion.

“This is the second year we’ve partnered with a brewery to have a Veteran Brew Day, which brings together student veterans, craft brewing students, and brewers who want to recognize veterans for their service,” said CWU Veterans Center Director Ruben Cardenas, himself a program graduate.

Cardenas thanked the team at Ellensburg Brewing, including owner Jim Rowe, brewer Alex Shores, and Foss for hosting the group and curating this exclusive beer in honor of Veterans Day.

“Having a craft brewing program at CWU helps us make this collaboration possible, and it also brings awareness to our student veterans,” he added. “We hope to continue this tradition in the coming years.”

Ellensburg Brewing Co. equipment on November 11 (Photo by Joel Thurston)

Yakima Chief Hops contributed its Veterans Blend of hops and Bale Breaker Brewing Co. in Yakima provided the yeast for the 5.5% alcohol by volume IPA. Ellensburg Brewing Co. will donate $50 of every keg sold to local veterans’ families or a veterans charity.

Craft Brewing program student Joe Bach said he and his classmates learned a lot by attending the November 11th event, and he can’t think of anywhere he would’ve rather been.

“Brewing beer is very technical and it’s interesting to see everything that goes into the process from start to finish,” said Bach, CWU’s director of housing facilities who also owns a barbecue catering business. “We had a lot of fun, and it was nice to bring the whole community together to celebrate our veterans.”

Senior Craft Brewing major Jon Hughes also took part in the event, which provided him and his peers with a behind-the-scenes look at how craft beer is made—not to mention an extra sense of pride for the veterans in attendance.

A local veteran signs a keg of Red, White and Brew (Photo by Joel Thurston)“Sometimes it feels like we get overlooked, so it really means a lot that CWU and the Veterans Center try to include the veterans community whenever possible,” said Hughes, who served in the Army from 2016-19 and already has a job at Ten Pin Brewing Co. in Moses Lake. “It feels good to be recognized.”

Hughes noted that hands-on opportunities like the Veterans Brew Day and pop-up brews on campus give craft brewing students a valuable look at the inner workings of the industry. He said he couldn’t be happier with the degree path he chose after completing his military service.

“I really enjoy the brewing process, and the CWU program has been a great fit for me,” Hughes said, adding that he plans to stay at Ten Pin for at least a couple years before exploring some new locales.

Bach noted that there is no shortage of opportunities in the Northwest craft brewing arena, whether it’s working in a brewhouse, on the business side, or as a hops researcher, like a number of recent CWU alums are doing at companies like Yakima Chief Hops and John I. Haas.

“There are a lot of different roads you can go down with a craft brewing degree, and there are tons of jobs out there to choose from,” he said.

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, David.Leder@cwu.edu, 509-963-1518