This Veteran-Owned Washington Brewery Aims to ‘Close That Gap’ Between Military and Civilians

by Megan Molseed

There is a Washington Brewery that may seem to specifically focus on a military-focused clientele…but the owner of the establishment is quick to note that everyone is fully welcome within the breweries walls. In fact, the owner notes, this is the entire point of the operation.

Sitting just a few yards away from the DuPont Washington Military Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the veteran-owned Forward Operating Base Brewing Company (FOB Brewing Co.) specializes in products and brews that give a meaningful nod to all things military.

Featuring brew creations with names such as MH-6M Little Bird; M4 American Blonde; Chesty Porter, and Sua Sponte IPA, the FOB Brewing Company’s tap list is a salute to the military culture. And, notes the brewery’s owner Jared Wharton, each one of his brews names are fully intended to be a conversation starter. Closing the gap between civilians and those who live the military life.

“That separation between civilians and the military — I want to close that gap and make us part of the everyday conversation across the country,” Jared Wharton says in a recent discussion with Coffee or Die Magazine.

Veteran Operated Washington Brewery Is Home For Everyone

With a full-on military-themed look to the FOB Brewing Co., Wharton notes that sometimes people will step into the business and wonder if they are allowed in the establishment if the military isn’t part of their own daily lives. And, Wharton notes, the answer is always a resounding yes.

“We served for you,” Wharton says of his non-military customers. “This is home for you as well.”

Brewer Offers A Comfortable Place For Anyone To Come Together While Also Honoring Those Who Served

When a customer enters the FOB Brewing Co., they are first greeted by a unique sight – a tiny bowl filled with little toy soldiers that are free for the taking. These tiny soldiers are also placed tactically throughout the rest of the brewery’s taproom.

The taproom also features an honor wall on which Wharton recognizes the many people who served with him during his time in the Army; as well as those who supported him in the FOB Brewing Co. business venture. The brewery also features a variety of mementos from Wharton’s time serving the country.

Finding A Place Where Everyone Belongs

Jared Wharton’s journey to build the FOB Brewing Co. began while he was serving in the Army. Primarily during his two tours in Afghanistan with the 4-2 Stryker Brigade. Wharton explains that when he and his teammates would return from missions they would hang out in plywood shacks smoking cigars and drinking coffee. These moments were wholly important to Wharton and his fellow soldiers, and it was from there that the idea grew.

Wharton had long enjoyed making homebrews from time to time. The veteran had also noticed a marked absence of veteran-focused businesses such as these. So he began to wonder, is this a market he could break into?

“We wished there was a place for us,” Wharton explains.

“And I kind of looked around and saw that it didn’t exist,” the veteran adds. “For me, the only answer was to make it myself.”

And, says Wharton, the risk paid off. Even as he was finding his footing and mastering some of his now best-selling brews, the customers were eager to give the veteran’s unique establishment plenty of business.

“I’m so thankful for those customers,” Wharton says.

“Because I know my beer was not where I wanted it to be,” he continues. “But I knew it would get there.”