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Veterans satisfy South Sound's thirst

Veteran-owned & operated businesses earn their place among local craft breweries & distilleries

Old Soldier Distillery brews authentic corn whiskey using a traditional recipe handed down from a distant relative who served in the Civil War. Photo credit: Old Soldier Distillery

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With the presence of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a growing reputation for fine craft beers and spirits, it seems fitting that so many distilleries in Tacoma would be veteran-owned.

Started by retired Army Sgt. Andrew Fairchok and former airman Rodney Kaeding, the Old Soldier Distillery brews what their website describes as first-rate whiskey and bourbon using a "traditional corn whiskey recipe" passed down from a "distant relative" who served during the Civil War. Among Old Soldier Distillery's current offerings are Old Soldier Traditional Whiskey, Old Soldier Bourbon, Old Soldier White Whiskey and Old Soldier Butterscotch Whiskey. Drop by the distillery, located in Tacoma, to purchase a bottle or two, or call ahead to schedule a private tour to see how first-class spirits come to be.

Old Soldier Distillery, 4-8 p.m., Friday; noon-8 p.m., Saturday; closed Sunday-Thursday, 309 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.223.4306,

Dr. (Capt.) John Hotchkiss and Dr. (Maj.) Owen McGrave -- both active-duty physicians at Madigan Army Medical Center -- and Army National Guard Sgt. Pablo Monroy, as well as their friends, Derrick Peacock and Teresa Smith, had a unique idea for a craft brewery in an area famous for its craft breweries.

As Hotchkiss tells it, "We were an unlikely group of people doing something original. We liked that we were different. We wanted to have fun."

Thus, the Odd Otter Brewery was born. Located in the heart of Tacoma, the brewery produces excellent craft beers while striving to be "part of the fabric of Tacoma," Hotchkiss said. "We take beer seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously."

Drop by for some conversation and a glass of Winter Warmer Beer, Cranberry Cider, or any one of the many tasty offerings currently on tap.

Odd Otter Brewing Company, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday-Sunday, 716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.327.1680,

Located in DuPont, Forward Operating Base Brewing Company is unique. Along with "crafting beers as bold, courageous and honorable as the men and women of our military" (, this unusual brewery, started by retired Army Sgt. Jared Wharton, boasts a family friendly taproom decorated to look like a typical military forward operating base.

Amid photos, memorabilia, sandbags and military surplus, servers dressed in tactical clothing offer tasty craft beers, including seasonal offerings like Christmas Truce Ale. Forward Operating Base Brewing Company is veteran-owned and veteran-operated and actively supports a variety of veteran-related nonprofit organizations.

Forward Operating Base Brewing Company, 3-9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday, 2750 Williamson Pl. #100, DuPont, 253.507.4667,

Started by retired Navy Machinist Mate 1st Class Adam Smith, Smitty's Brewing Company brews "great beer for a great cause" out of a private residence in Bremerton. Veteran-owned and veteran-operated, Smitty's donates five percent of all sales to nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting homeless veterans.

"Honor, courage and commitment are words we live by even after uniformed service to our country. We are those who suffered in harm's way, those who volunteered to step up and defend, and those who gave all. We are veterans, proud through and through, constantly striving for excellence, forever in service of our countrymen" (

Smitty's quality craft beers are available at specialty shops, restaurants and bars throughout Kitsap County and at the Local Boys Taproom in Gig Harbor.

Local Boys Taproom, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily, 6702 Tyee Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.858.5355,

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