A Tribute to Our Heroes: 1700 Brewing’s Kevin Mead
May 28, 2022
As the kickoff to the 2022 Hops for Heroes campaign approaches, we sat down with Kevin Mead, one of five veterans who co-founded 1700 Brewing in Newport News, Virginia, which is participating in Hops for Heroes for the first time.
In this “A Tribute to our Heroes” video, we talk with Kevin about the brewery’s support of the military-connected community, how his military background prepared him for transition to brewing, and what 1700 Brewing has in store for its Homefront IPA release party on June 4.
View his video interview below and check out all the breweries participating in this year’s Hops for Heroes campaign at soldiersangels.org/hopsforheroes.
Video interview with Kevin Mead
Q. The Hops for Heroes program invites craft breweries of all sizes to brew a collaborative beer – Homefront IPA – and donate the proceeds to fund Soldiers’ Angels’ support efforts. What does 1700 Brewing have in store for its release party?
Kevin: We have a big release party planed for the fourth of June. We have our party tent up in the back now, which basically doubled our space so we can hold some concerts and things over the summer. We have three bands that are coming out for the fourth of June. We have the Homefront IPA release and five other beers to release that day. It’s really our kind of tribute to the in the military. We always did 101 critical days of summer safety campaign. So this is our 101 Thirsty Days of Summer campaign. It should be fun.
Q. I love your beer names. Maverick. I saw Mayday was one. Oh Dark Thirty. So you guys have really embraced the military theme there. What can you tell us about where the name 1700 comes from?
Kevin: So 1700 has been an operating name for one of our owners for a little while now. He is an Air Force veteran, retired Master Sargent. This was always part of his plan. And we partnered up, we just kind of took on the name just because we loved what he was doing with the logo and everything. So 1700 is just five o’clock military time. It’s just there’s nothing fancy. There’s nothing deep about it. It’s just time for a beer. People ask us all the time, what happened in the year 1700? I’m sure a lot of cool stuff happened that year. But for us, it’s just time to drink.
Q. We keep running into veterans who found their way into craft brewing. Why do you think veterans are drawn to the craft brewing industry?
Kevin: I think it’s one of those things that we all bond over a beer pretty often. So that starts the love of it. And when we serve in all these places around the world – for me, it was living in Germany for a few years, and discovering all these different styles. Driving to Belgium, it was 20 minutes away, and living in Germany and drinking all these different varieties of beer and different styles and seeing the culture of beer around the world. It just kind of draws you into it. And I think the veterans get that experience by living everywhere. A lot of folks don’t get that, necessarily. So it’s easier for us to kind of lean into that stuff. And then most of us [veterans] are very self-starting. Everyone has a passion to do something and wants to work for ourselves. So starting a business being an entrepreneur is always on the radar, I think for a lot of veterans. And then you combine that with a love of beer and different cultures and just makes sense.
Q. It seems like craft breweries have become focal points for a lot of communities. Do you feel that way in Newport News as well?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a ton of breweries here in the Hampton Roads area, right. So between Newport News and Norfolk, down to Virginia Beach, there are easily 15 breweries and new ones popping up all the time. But we view that as a good thing, right? It says in the craft scene isn’t a cannibalistic market, right? We can have a brewery, literally right next door to another, and both be successful. But also because this community is so heavily military. People walk in off the street, and nine out of 10 are either in the military have a family member that’s in the military or know someone who served.
Q. What about your service in the military helped you prepare for running a brewery?
Kevin: Well, for us, we brew on such a small scale that it is manual labor – all day, every day, it is in the trenches doing stuff. It’s not very automated, what we do here. We have a nano setup so we brew two barrels at a time. It’s a lot of work. It’s getting up early in the morning, being at the brewery. I have a regular job working as a contractor. So having basically two full time jobs is just a lot of work. And you got to be sort of prepared for that kind of thing. And military teaches you that. You don’t leave until the mission is done. You don’t have work hours; you have responsibilities. So you take care of the responsibilities, no matter how long it takes. And for us, all the owners in our brewery, that’s just ingrained in us. We’ve all served 20-plus years. You don’t lose that the day you retire, it just kind of continues on.
Q. Thanks again for supporting the military connected community by joining the Hops for Heroes program. We’re really excited about your release party on June 4.
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. It’s literally our pleasure. It was our mission from the get-go: to give back to the veteran community. So this Hops for Heroes campaign is perfect for us. It just it makes sense in every way. We’re honored to be part of it.
From all of us here at Soldiers’ Angels, we want to thank Kevin, his partners at 1700 Brewing, and all the breweries participating in Hops for Heroes this year. For more information, visit soldiersangels.org/hopsforheroes and be sure to check out 1700 Brewing if you’re ever in the Newport News, Virginia, area.
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