Kennay Farms and Hops for Heroes: ‘We want to help as much as we can’

The COVID-19 pandemic put the Hops for Heroes initiative of military support nonprofit Soldiers’ Angels on hold for two years. The program, which sees craft breweries across the United States brew its custom recipe, Homefront IPA™, to raise funds to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families, will be put to use locally in Rochelle in the coming months at Kennay Farms Distilling.

100 percent of proceeds will go to military members

ROCHELLE — The COVID-19 pandemic put the Hops for Heroes initiative of military support nonprofit Soldiers’ Angels on hold for two years.

The program, which sees craft breweries across the United States brew its custom recipe, Homefront IPA™, to raise funds to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families, will be put to use locally in Rochelle in the coming months at Kennay Farms Distilling. 

Aubrey Quinn, who handles marketing at the distillery, said it sees no shortage of other organizations inquiring about partnerships. This particular cause stood out to her and the Kennay family. 

“It was just an email from them looking for breweries to make the beer,” Quinn said. “They do it every year. They were looking to make a big statement this year after COVID-19 didn’t let them do it for the past couple of years. We get a lot of requests for donations and things, but this one really caught my eye due to how passionate our family is about the military and supporting veterans and those in active duty. We responded to them and here we are.”

Soldiers’ Angels was established in 2003 by a relative of General George S. Patton. Patti Patton-Bader founded Soldiers’ Angels when her oldest son, Staff Sergeant Brandon Varn, was deployed in Iraq.

For its first 10 years, Soldiers’ Angels focused on supporting deployed service members. It now supports veterans and their families as well, Amy Palmer, Soldiers’ Angels president and CEO, said. 

“For deployed service members, we do a lot of care packages as well as focus on the more specialized service members in the field,” Palmer said. “We also do a lot of work at VA hospitals including transportation for medical appointments. We give out food vouchers for the VA cafeteria. We do mobile food distribution and give out hygiene kits.”

The Hops for Heroes program has been going on for 10 years, Palmer said. It was started originally by former Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Ray before it was turned over to Soldiers’ Angels. 

“It’s grown a lot,” Palmer said. “We’ll have about 12 breweries and distilleries participating this year.”

Quinn said the distillery is waiting on delivery of the ingredients and hops for Homefront IPA, which is supplied by Soldiers’ Angels. Those will likely be received in the next couple of weeks. The two barrels of beer will be brewed by Kennay Farms Head Brewer Don Klatt and will take 30 days. 

“We’re shooting for some time around June or July,” Quinn said. “Around the 4th of July would be a perfect time, and that’s kind of what we’re shooting for. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.”

All net proceeds from sales of Homefront IPA will be donated to Soldiers’ Angels (soldiersangels.org) to support its service programs, which provided assistance to more than 982,000 service members, veterans, wounded heroes and their families in 2021 alone.

“One of the reasons I love craft beer is they’re usually made by small businesses and they do it from the heart,” Palmer said. “The people who make it are engaged and excited about serving something good.”

Producing the beer in partnership with Soldiers’ Angels will be new territory for Kennay Farms, Quinn said. The cause is near and dear to the Kennay family’s hearts.  

“I think right now we’re in a very tumultuous time with what’s happening overseas and soldiers need support now more than ever,” Quinn said. “We have a long history of family ties to the military. We want to help as much as we can.”

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