North Idaho

Army veterans trade in IEDs for IPAs

HAYDEN, Idaho - 21138688

A group of veterans who served in the Army as bomb disposal technicians are setting up shop in north Idaho, but instead of working with IEDs, they'll be working with IPAs.

For the past seven years, clearing IEDs has been Tom Applegate's job. But when he retired from the Army, he realized finding a new job was going to be tough.

"The problem is we're over specialized on the bomb squad, so you're not marketable when it comes down to anything," he said.

So along with several other guys in his unit, they decided to make the hop from bombs to beers.

"Initial success or total failure is the motto, so we traded all personal risk for the financial risk and just going out and doing something we are passionate about," Applegate explained.

So they picked a place and a name, but the Mad Bomber Brewing Company almost didn't make it off the ground after founding member Nick Reid was killed by an IED in December.

"That was pretty difficult," Applegate said. "It almost shot down the whole brewery plan right there."

But they decided to push on, finding a place in north Idaho to decorate with gear and pictures of the men and women who have served.

"We want all original pictures, taken by guys out there doing the work because we don't want to forget them," Applegate explained.

Applegate says they plan to brew two special beers once they get all the required paperwork from the state. A St. Nicholas Pale and a Fat Man IPA named for the two beer lovers who didn't make it home: Nick Reid and Kenneth Wade Bennet. He says he knows he wouldn't have made it this far without them.

"It's impossible to fail surrounded by such good people," said Applegate.

The Mad Bomber Brewing Company is expected to open for business some time in October.