Orlando Brewing offers free beer for servicemen and servicewomen on Veterans Day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Veterans looking to enjoy a cold brew for free can head to Orlando Brewing on Thursday.

The owner credits his military experience with helping keep his business going during the pandemic.

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He’s not alone. A Syracuse University study found 65% of veteran entrepreneurs believe their military experience helped them navigate the fallout of COVID-19.

Orlando Brewing president John Cheek is an Army veteran.

“I branch transferred from the infantry to the chemical core,” Cheek said. “And the chemical core has to do with biological, nuclear and chemical defense.”

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Years later, Cheek opened Orlando Brewing.

“I’m a people person, have a lot of friends,” Cheek said. “And, and of course, being a brewer helps a little bit.”

But in March 2020, no one could have expected what was on tap.

“We’re a production brewery, and 80% of our production really goes to the tourist industry,” Cheek said. “So, when all of that shut down, that’s really what hurt us. Because we still had tanks full beer.”

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The coronavirus didn’t just impact his business.

Cheek spent three weeks in the hospital with COVID-19.

But he and his business has bounced back.

Like others in the Syracuse study, Cheek credits his military background for helping to keep the beer flowing.

“I think that’s probably the biggest advantage that I had by actually being in military, being in charge of different things,” Cheek said. “And nothing like responsibility to grow you up very quickly.”

As a thank you to veterans, Orlando Brewing is offering a free beer to all servicemen and women throughout the evening.

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