Torn Label Brewing to release ’31 Heroes’ beer to honor victims of Afghanistan attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- August 6 marks seven years since a helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 30 American military service members, including some hometown heroes, and a military K-9.

It was the single largest loss of U.S. life during the War on Afghanistan. They've since been known as the "31 Heroes."

Bryan Nichols of Hays, Kansas, was piloting the Chinook helicopter assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Regiment out of New Century, Kansas. The helicopter was carrying mostly Navy Seals, including Matthew Mason of Kansas City. Spc. Spencer Duncan of Olathe was also on board.

Nichols' widow Mary decided to partner with Torn Label Brewing to mark the 5th anniversary of the 31 heroes' deaths back in 2016.

It was only supposed to be a one-time event. But it was so well received, this weekend they will release the beer for a third time.

"We really approach this beer differently than all of our others. We knew people would be coming to get this not necessarily because they are beer geeks, but because the people this mission meant something different to them," Torn Label Brewing co-owner Rafi Chaudry said.

This year, for the first time, Mary Nichols got in on the brewing process.

"We pulled some grain, threw in some hops, and Friday we are coming in to help 31 Heroes package as well," she said.

They've tripled production this year to 45 barrels. Proceeds from sales will go to support TAPS, a Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which helps families grieving the loss of a member of the armed forces.

The 31 Heroes release party is Aug. 4 at Torn Label Brewing. Doors open at 12 p.m. The event will follow the 7th annual Spencer C. Duncan Make it Count 5K in New Century, Kansas, on Saturday at 7:30 a.m.