A new brewery in Central Oregon provides a way to support veterans every day of the year, all by drinking beer. Braveheart Brewing makes beer for a mission, a purpose, a cause — and provides a way for each of us to get involved with something bigger simply by ordering a pint.
Launched in July, Braveheart has four main beers in its portfolio: A pilsner, wheat, red and an IPA. A portion of the proceeds will go to the National League of POW-MIA Families, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, SEAL Family Foundation and 03XX Foundation.
“We wanted to make beer and have a good time, but we also want it to have substance to it,” said owner Heather Wales. “This is a way that we can give back to those in need.”
Founder Bob Sofsky originally thought of the idea on a trip to the grocery store. Looking at the rows of beer, he realized there was little that set each one apart other than marketing. Working with veteran nonprofits for a decade, Sofsky wondered how he could share a message and help people through beer.
“It’s my goal to not only bring awareness to these great organizations and raise funds for them,” said Sofsky, “but this is a way we can raise money while people are enjoying beer.”
Sofsky contacted his colleague, Ashley Wales, now Braveheart’s vice president of business development and sales. Wales connected Sofsky to her brother and sister-in-law, Greg and Heather Wales, who were expecting to open a brewery in Redmond. With Greg Wales having served in the Army and Sofsky in the Air Force, the stars simply aligned for the partnership to unfold.
Brewing on a 4 1/2-barrel system, Greg Wales invested much thought into the Braveheart recipes. Previously the owner of Copper Canyon Brewing Company in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., he chose brews that would each appeal to different genres of drinkers and connect to a spectrum of tastes.
As a vet, Greg Wales feels humbled in being entrusted as brewmaster with this project.
“It touches me to a point that I can’t explain,” he said. “We are trying to give back any way we can to make somebody’s life better and easier.”
Braveheart is currently served in several locations in and around Bend.
“Beer is great and we all love beer, especially in Central Oregon,” said Caleb Trowbridge, owner of a food cart called The Podski, “but it’s really cool to have that other side to it. Doing good while drinking beer is really fantastic.”
Future plans for Braveheart include national expansion and contract brewing across the country. They will also start canning with labels featuring descriptions of the nonprofits. Beer is currently produced at Geist Beerworks in Redmond, also owned by the Wales, which serves product from both breweries. Eventually, they’ll install an Honor Wall to tell the stories of veterans.
The name “Braveheart” was chosen for its representation of individuals who volunteer for service. Its meaning connects on a personal level, recognizing the brave hearts of those in service.
“No matter what side people fall on politically,” said Ashley Wales, “they always fall on the side of the person who is serving.”
The Waleses are amazed by support from the Central Oregon beer community and the camaraderie between those in the industry. It’s important for the Wales to brew great beer, in support of the mission, embodying the brewery’s unofficial slogan of “Taste Good, Does Good.”
“Things happen for a reason,” said Heather about Braveheart, “and I’m so glad they have.” •