LAKE VILLA, Ill. (STMW) — A north suburban beer distributor in Lake Villa will roll out the barrel for a veteran-owned and operated recent start-up aimed to become a preeminent beverage enterprise and to provide jobs for veterans.

Marc Blue of Wonder Lake, director of Illinois for Veterans Beer Co., said the partnership with Fred W. Losch Beverage Co. “gives us immediate credibility with both retailers and consumers.” Losch, which represents more than 30 breweries in the U.S. and abroad, will distribute the Veterans Beer Co. products exclusively in the Lake County market.

“This is a family-owned and independent distributor with a good reputation and the best benchmark in the business,” said Blue, an Army major who was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Indiana National Guard.

“What they try to do is truly a worthy cause. We’re proud to help them achieve their mission,” said Fred Losch Jr., sales and operations manager of Losch, pointing out that his late grandfather, who founded the family enterprise bearing his name, was a World War II veteran.

“He was wounded in Okinawa and received a Purple Heart,” he added with obvious reverence to the family patriarch who started the company in 1945 in Chicago after returning from the war. The company later moved to Waukegan. After it outgrew its space, it relocated to its 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Lake Villa in 2003. The company is headed by Fred Losch Sr., the founder’s son.

The Veterans Beer Co. was founded on July 4, 2012, by disabled veterans to produce “beers of superior quality and taste” and “to create meaningful post-service careers for military veterans. In its brochures, the company points to the alarmingly higher veteran jobless rate than the rest of the population with returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at 20 percent. For disabled veterans, the rate is 88 percent.

As a for-profit organization, the company said it will commit 10 percent of its profit to charities that support veteran causes.

The company, headquartered in Chicago, said it strives to employ veterans in every role, from the supply chain to brewing, bottling and packaging. So far, it has come up with two products: an amber lager called the Veterans and a blonde ale named Blonde Bomber. Made at a brewery in Cold Spring, Minn., they are being sold initially in Illinois and Indiana, and will be available in Minnesota later this month. A six-pack retails for about $8.99.

“We hope to go nationwide,” said Blue, adding the company plans to introduce more products.

“Consumers have a lot of choices when buying beer, and we want to provide them with a choice that makes a difference in their community,” he added.

Blue, 39, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Ball State University, found himself jobless after he returned from Afghanistan.

“I sent out resumes, but no one would hire me. I was unemployed for 1-and-a-half years until Veterans Beer hired me,” he said.

Losch Jr. lauded the products from Veterans Beer, saying, “The beer they have created is outstanding, and we fully embrace their mission of ending veteran unemployment in one generation.

“We’ll stock them in grocery stores, liquor stores, bars and restaurants or anybody that has a liquor license,” he said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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