Sarasota veterans find their place as brewmasters

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Beer and pizza are two things that naturally seem to go together. Another good pairing is a local restaurant chain, Oak & Stone, teaming up with a non-profit, Vets 2 Success, who are dedicated to helping veterans get jobs in the food industry.  

Earlier this year, Oak & Stone launched a new craft beer -- brewed by and in support of veterans. The Charlie Sierra Mike Stout was a collaboration with Naughty Monk Brewery

“We produced it for our university location and it very quickly sold out,” said Oak & Stone co-founder Brett Decklever. “We sold out in less than a week.” 

Part of the sales of the beer went back to Vets 2 Success, a program created by Navy veteran Bryan Jacobs, that helps at-risk and homeless veterans find careers in the culinary—and now brewing—arts.  

“Veterans, we like to do two things: Eat and drink,” said Jacobs. “That’s what we do with our brothers. We break bread and we drink beers. If we can give veterans the opportunity to do something they love, where they can get knowledge and have a foundation, maybe even go in business for themselves.” 

The craft beer is the beginning of a new partnership between Oak & Stone and Vets 2 Success. Soon graduates of the culinary program will be welcomed in the chain’s kitchens. 

“There’s a sense of brotherhood, even if you haven’t worked together, even if you were in different branches of the service,” said Oak & Stone kitchen manager and Army veteran, Joseph Syed. “There’s just a different level of connecting with someone once they were in the military.” 

Oak & Stone has already donated $3,000 to Vets 2 Success from beer sales and a grand opening fundraiser. 

“Without partners like this in the community, we don’t get to do what we do. We can’t change lives,” added Jacobs. 

Oak & Stone also uses locally-grown produce from the Vets 2 Success hydroponic farm. They’re working to produce another batch of the beer—more of it—that will be available in all the chain’s locations.  

For more information:

LINK: Vets 2 Success 

LINK: Oak & Stone

LINK: Naughty Monk Brewery