LIVERMORE -- From the outside, it resembles any other suite in a nondescript industrial park.
But inside, its shelves stocked with barrels of liquid gold bearing names like AWOL Pale Ale, Boot IPA, and Bazooka Brown, Uncle Sam's Misguided Brewery is clearly a twist on an age-old craft.
"We don't have loads of money,"said co-owner Josh Laine, a Marine sergeant who was "shot, stabbed and blown up" during two tours in Iraq. "It's such a small scale that we can be hands-on and give our beers that quality that people are looking for."
After years creating home-brewed concoctions, Laine and some military veteran beer-making buddies sold kegs at holiday parties to launch the USMB Tap House in March, the latest in a string of craft breweries and taprooms to open in Livermore.
An offshoot of the award-winning Valor Winery in Livermore -- which Laine started in a converted school bus with a fellow Marine in 2007 -- the veteran-owned and operated microbrewery is not only looking to hire veterans, but also donates a portion of profits to non-traditional rehabilitation programs for returned soldiers, like wilderness retreats, yoga, sailing, and equine therapy.
The main beneficiary is the Vets and Vines Foundation, a nonprofit Laine founded to teach viticulture and farming in the vineyards. Its cornerstone project is Valor Ranch, a 290-acre Manteca farm with grapevines, gardens, stables, housing and a wellness center to train veterans in sustainable living techniques. The project is in the first phase of planting.
According to co-owner Fara Barnes -- a former Defense Department contractor and veteran of the Air Force and Air National Guard -- in a "saturated" wine industry, Valor needed a new platform to create jobs and educate civilians on the stigma facing returning soldiers.
"We have faced prejudice being a veteran," Barnes said. "We have both gone through rehabilitation ourselves and we're both very passionate about helping our brothers and sisters. When you are that type of a person, it becomes very important to bring people on board and lift people up as you're lifting yourselves up."
The winery and brewery combined have hired nearly 60 veterans in full or part-time roles, Laine said. About 200 more have been assisted through vocational training or other resources. Uncle Sam's has a staff of 34 paid employees (full-time and independent contractors), 16 veteran and 10 civilian volunteers, and five intern brewers looking to be hired on when production increases.
Army veteran Gordon Yardy was in dire financial straits and struggling to find a home when he started working in the winery's warehouse, cleaning machinery and prepping bottles for filling.
"They helped me with getting my benefits," Yardy said. "Through my work with Valor I was able to get back on my feet."
Now in the construction business, Yardy continues to help out at the brewery when needed, appreciative of bonds he forged laboring alongside his brothers-in-arms.
"Its helped me tremendously," he said. "I made some good friends and met some good people."
According to VA Palo Alto Health Care System spokesman Michael Hill-Jackson, veteran-owned businesses like Valor and Uncle Sam's are vitally important to veterans attempting to readjust to society with "invisible discrimination" from employers.
"The hardest thing is to get (veterans) into jobs where that professional atmosphere doesn't suit them and that stigma is present," Hill-Jackson said. "It's good to be around people who have had similar experiences."
To further encourage a spirit of brotherhood, profits from the brewery and winery -- half of online wine sales go to the purchaser's program of choice -- support seven nonprofit and cause partners like Wounded Wear and Huts for Vets, a wilderness rehabilitation program based in the Colorado Rockies. This fall, Valor and Uncle Sam's will expand to offer rehabilitation kits and a hunting and fishing series on ranches in Northern California and Texas, the latter working with Wayne Kyle, whose son Chris, a former Navy SEAL and author of the bestseller "American Sniper," was shot and killed at a Texas gun range in 2013. An Iraq War veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Eddie Ray Routh, has been charged with Kyle's murder.
Wayne said he is "100 percent" behind the efforts of Laine and Barnes, in hopes they will create public awareness of veterans' issues, and educate wounded warriors in what resources are available.
"These programs like (Barnes) has are extremely important," Kyle said. "Our men and women voluntarily put themselves in harm's way. They sacrifice a lot, more than most people will even realize ... There are those who are suffer greatly internally where you can't see."
Over Memorial Day weekend, Uncle Sam's brewed a Valor Double IPA in Kyle's honor, with half the profits going to the Chris Kyle Memorial Roping and American Valor Foundation, organizations founded by the Kyle family.
Currently able to produce up to 288 barrels per month, Uncle Sam's is among the finalists for appearing on the ABC reality TV show "Shark Tank," and is on the hunt for investors to increase production, hire full-time employees and expand their beers into bars, retailers and restaurants.
"Every time people share our story and our mission, they truly do decrease the amount of time it takes for wounded warriors and veterans to rehabilitate," Barnes said.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.