From a former U.S. Coast Guard making creamy ice cream to an army veteran distilling award-winning spirits, and ex-soldiers crafting beer, Lehigh Valley is home to several talented veterans who have opened innovative and inspirational businesses in the community. This Veterans Day, we highlight some veteran-owned businesses to support not just on the holiday, but throughout the year.
Seven Sirens Brewing, U.S. Navy & U.S. Army
327 Broadway St., Bethlehem, PA 18105
When Emmaus High School alumnus Jordan Serulneck returned home from six years in the U.S. Navy, he noticed something missing in Lehigh Valley: an indoor/outdoor beer garden-style brewery, a place marrying community, music, food, family and, of course, beer. In December 2016 he teamed up with home-brewer and Salisbury High School grad Josh Divers for what has become Seven Sirens Brewing Co. on SouthSide Bethlehem. Those two brought on Freedom High School alumnus Aaron Nelson, who was born and raised on SouthSide, after leaving the U.S. Army in a wheelchair, his back broken in four places in Afghanistan.
It's 'The beer that sings to you' as the "seven" in Seven Sirens refers to the brewery's offering of seven flagship beers, featuring a cream ale, saison, session, and New England-style IPAs, brown ale, porter, and imperial stout. "Sirens" pays homage to the mermaids of Greek mythology who would sing on rocky shoals and lure sailors to their doom, a nautical theme in keeping with Serulneck's time in the Navy.
Seven Sirens is among some 20 veteran-owned breweries who collaborated on a double IPA that was released for Memorial Day weekend, with proceeds benefiting a veterans assistance group.
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, U.S. Army
7189 Rt. 309, New Tripoli, PA 18066
Pennsylvania’s only veteran-owned, family-run, farm distillery creates award winning spirits with a focus on making the Lehigh Valley community a better place. One way Eight Oaks Farm Distillery does this is through partnerships with three nonprofit organizations: Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Farmer Veteran Coalition, and Parkland CARES Food Pantry, where a portion of every purchase goes directly to one of those three organizations. Grains and other ingredients are grown on-site or sourced locally from the farms of friends and neighbors to give a true seed to glass experience. The name also has some roots to it. For the "Oaks," it's the oak tree that was used for centuries to age spirits. The oak represents strength, nature, and longevity. The number 8 has always been significant to Founder and CEO, Chad Butters’ family. His grandfather lived in a time when people wrote letters. He often worked away from home, and his dad told him the story of when his father wrote these letters, he would sign off with a number 8. He told him that the 8 was representative of the 8 letters in "I Love You." When his dad wrote him letters as a kid, he continued the tradition, and Chad has carried that tradition on with his family.
Bank Street Creamery, U.S. Coast Guard
15 S. Bank St., Easton, PA 18042
Select from over 48 flavors, including seasonal favorites and grab an ice cream. After retiring from a 21-year career with the U.S. Coast Guard and then working in government service in the D.C. area, Brooks Minnick bought the Bank Street Creamery in Easton, honoring the many loved flavors the original owners founded. You can also find Bank Street Creamery's ice cream at Winter Mart, or on the dessert menus for Easton restaurants, including: 3rd & Ferry Fish Market, Mesa Modern Mexican, Ocean, Maxim's 22 Bistro & Brasserie, Two Rivers Brewing Co., and at Green Harvest Food Emporium.
Boser Geist Brewing Company, U.S. Navy
1250 Simon Blvd. K100, Easton, PA 18042
Located in the Easton Silk Mill, Böser Geist's ownership has deep roots in the U.S. Navy. Erik Thomasik of Nazareth and Mike Platt of Easton started home-brewing over a decade ago. The "Böser Geist" name is a German term for the devil or an evil spirit. With options for American IPA's, a Session IPA, Red Ale, Marzen, Hefewizen, Sours, and Imperial / Double New England / Hazy IPA's, you'll have many options for a flight or a pint or two while catching up with friends. They point to their reverse osmosis water purifying system to guarantee each beer starts with a blank slate. Once the beer is ready to be served, each variety goes to its own serving tank where the conditions can be meticulously controlled for that specific brew. The brewpub preserves the Silk Mill's historic character with a mix of modern and industrial design, such as hanging globe lamps and a bar of reclaimed wood and a zinc bar top. Along with their own beers, they have guest taps from Yuengling Brewery and local wine options.
Heritage Guild, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps
70 Hilton St., Easton, PA 18042
The Heritage Guild is a Firearms and Archery retail store with ranges, training, and special events in a modern, safe, and comfortable facility. From bachelor / bachelorette parties to fundraisers and corporate teambuilding events, The Heritage Guild offers a unique destination. The Training Academy (led by many armed forces retirees) can prepare anyone, from novices to seasoned gun and archery enthusiasts with comprehensive training and the ability to take your training to the next level. The flagship location in Easton houses an indoor archery range, indoor firearms ranges (total of 29 lanes), rental guns, full service gunsmithing, and bowsmithing.
Events to honor Veterans
Head to the SteelStacks on Friday, November 11, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for Coffee & Conversations: Reflections of Three Generations, presented by Embassy Bank and Phoebe Ministries. This free event will welcome retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel and head of Lehigh University’s Veterans Association, Frank Gunter, live from the ArtsQuest Center Frank Banko Ale House Cinemas. The Colonel will invite the audience to an intergenerational conversation and reflective discussion with veterans, Richard Schimmel, a Staff Sergeant with the U.S. Army, Richard Bealer, a Specialist 5 with the U.S. Army and Steve Ondrusek, a Chief Warrant Officer 4 with the U.S. Army, who will share their personal experiences of the World War II, Vietnam, and Middle East Conflicts. Following the free program, guests in attendance are invited to stay for a live screening of Christopher Nolan’s 2017 film, Dunkirk.
Across the way, the National Museum of Industrial History will honor those who served with a commemoration ceremony hosted by the Steelworkers Veteran’s Memorial Committee on the Museum’s plaza at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 11, 2022. The commemoration ceremony will include a performance by the Broughal Middle School Band as well as remarks from various speakers representing the Nam Knights of America Lehigh Valley Chapter, members of the Steelworkers Veteran’s Memorial Committee and government officials. Special keynote speakers will be Commander Sandra D. Thomas and Chief Warrant Officer Andrew T. Boyer (U.S. Navy Reserve). Veterans and their families receive free admission to the museum from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m..
The Allentown Band is proud to present Americans We Tribute to Veterans/Holiday Concert at Miller Symphony Hall on Sunday, November 20, 2022. The concert will honor all Veterans with special recognition to those who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict, and Vietnam. Joining the band this year with Patriotic and Holiday favorites will be Chet Brown and the popular Swing Time Dolls. Veterans will receive free admission!