You could argue beer runs in his blood. Before a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, a wife, 4 kids, and a successful business in Norfolk, Virginia – Michael was a little boy from Michigan who loved to help his grandpa and dad homebrew craft beer. A special project shared between generations, Michael could be found many days of his childhood holed up in his garage for hours at a time.
It won’t come as a surprise that his passion for crafting beer followed Michael into adulthood. That the smell of hops and yeast would always spark nostalgia for him. That one day he dreamed of opening a craft brewery. But, as it often happens, Michael had to put one dream on hold so he could chase another. Dreams of serving his country and starting a family would precede his dream of brewing beer, but it would remain for years in the back of Michael’s mind.
Unequivocally, going into the Navy was “always what [Michael] wanted to do.” He felt a calling early on, studying marine engineering and rising in the ranks to an accomplished leadership position he still holds today. Being active duty and starting a business certainly keeps Michael’s plate full, but he and his wife, Kerrie, argue it’s nothing they can’t handle. “Our lives are extremely busy, but we manage because we love it.”
Throughout his early days in the Navy, Michael experimented with home brewing on base and brewed special beers for his friends. He and Kerrie took note of craft beer’s rising popularity, and when the trend swept Virginia they knew that if “they didn’t act now they’d miss their window.” So, instead of waiting until Michael’s retirement as was originally planned, he and Kerrie doubled down.
“It took us three years to plan. For so long it was just our blood, sweat, and tears project,” but things began to take off when Michael was put in touch with The Jonas Project and were exposed to the community fostered by TJP. “The most important thing to us was just being surrounded by people who have done what we were doing,” they said. Apart from access to the supportive community now available to them, Michael and Kerrie took advantage of a special loan program from The Jonas Project reserved for NSW members, made possible by a grant from the Navy SEAL Foundation.
With their loan secure, the business that had so long existed only in their imagination began to take shape. “It takes money to make money so that initial help enabled us to build inventory, it helped us purchase a new tank, everything we needed.”
And November 17, 2015, their dream was realized. Bold Mariner opened its doors.
The continued support of The Jonas Project proved crucial in these first months as a new company. “The Jonas Project helped us create a new website and taught us how to use it,” Kerrie told us, “at every step, they went above and beyond.”
Now closing in on their second year of business, Bold Mariner has seen profit, growth and even won a few awards. The newest addition to the microbrewery is a canning line that Michael and Kerrie purchased in January, which is being put to work canning Bold Mariner brews available for purchase along Coastal Virginia, with their eye on expanding statewide, and maybe someday, across the country.
Bold Mariner is a passion project built on the work ethic instilled by the Navy, a shared devotion between husband and wife, and a nostalgia for craft beer that dates back generations. It’s an art passed down from Michael’s grandfather that he will one day leave his kids, a passion for transforming ingredients into craft beers that bring people together… long before it was trendy.