Dog Tag Brewing serves up a message with a brew

2014-07-04T00:45:00Z 2014-07-07T06:49:06Z Dog Tag Brewing serves up a message with a brewBy JACI WEBB jwebb@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Promoter Mark Hedin is breaking his ultimate rule next weekend.

For his fourth annual Montana Brews & BBQs, Hedin will allow (gasp) canned beer. The beer festival is Saturday, July 12, at the pond at MetraPark.

Dog Tag Brewing is no ordinary canned beer. In fact, the can itself is as important as what’s inside. That’s why the brother-and-sister brewers, Emily and Seth Jordan, aren’t selling their beer in kegs.

Each can honors a fallen soldier killed in the war in Iraq, with a photo and a brief biography of the soldier. More information on the soldiers, including videos and photographs, is available at www.dogtagbrewing.com. There are 12 soldiers featured now and another 12 will be profiled in coming months.

While the first batch of Dog Tag Brewing’s two beers, an IPA and a lager, was just canned and shipped in May, the roots of the beer go back to 2001.

Seth was living and working in national TV ad sales for ESPN in New York in September 2001. His apartment was a block away from the twin towers and he worked near the towers.

“I was there when it happened,” Seth said.

He walked away from his dream job and enlisted in officer’s candidate school for the Marine Corps. He served as an officer and a helicopter pilot from 2004 to 2014. When Seth re-entered civilian life, he thought a lot about the men he served with, especially those who died.

“We started around Memorial Day,” Seth said. “Our message with Dog Tag Brewing is every day is Memorial Day. All of us should be patriotic. It shouldn’t happen one long weekend during a barbecue but every day.”

The demand for Dog Tag beer, even the empty cans, is so great that an empty six-pack turned up for sale on eBay for $28, plus $8 in shipping.

“Some guy in Arizona had collected all of the different cans with the different stories and was selling the collection. I think it’s great, that people like the idea this much,” Emily said.

The beer is available throughout Montana, including Town Pump stores and Albertsons.

A Rhode Island native, Seth fell for Montana’s wild places. In addition to serving as the president of Dog Tag Brewing, Seth serves as director of the Warriors in Quiet Waters project, a Bozeman-based nonprofit that takes wounded veterans fly fishing in Montana. Last week, Seth took seven veterans fishing and over the course of the year, he will take 100 veterans out to fly fish.

Seth said he’s trying to create positive energy with this project.

“The families like the project and they want to be part of it,” Seth said. “We don’t exploit these families. All of the information is provided by the families and it is approved by them. We’re providing a forum for the family to talk directly to the consumer.”

The beer is brewed and shipped from Wisconsin, but the marketing and sales are headquartered in Bozeman. The recipes used are Seth’s, and later this year there are plans to introduce another one of Seth’s favorite beers, a Scotch ale. Things are happening fast, far exceeding the Jordans’ expectations.

“Our first run in May, we were brewing close to 1,000 barrels in one month. We’ve had a lot of demand and since then, we’ve doubled our order sizes,” Seth said. “This isn’t about me and it isn’t about Emily; it’s about those guys who gave their lives for their country. It’s a way for me to continue to serve and give back.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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