Fate is defined as “the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.” We humans have been debating the nature of that supernatural power for thousands of years, but few would argue the existence of fate, and how it impacts our lives.
It was such fate that brought together two American warriors, Army Green Beret Special Operator LTC (RET) Mike Denehy and Army CPT (RET) Tyler Merritt.
Both men spent time at West Point, but never met.
Both men served in the Army Special Operations at about the same time — Tyler providing close air support as a Black Hawk pilot for fellow warriors — but they never met.
It wasn’t until after their retirement that the two warriors finally met, not as veterans, but as just your average Georgia business owners. Sort of.
In Savannah, Tyler was running Nine Line Apparel, which had quickly become one of the fastest growing online retailers in the nation. Veteran-owned and operated, Nine Line is at its core a give-back organization, supporting a multitude of charitable initiatives for those who have served and are in need.
A few hundred miles away in Columbus, Georgia, Mike and his wife were busy building Chattabrewchee, the only brewery in the U.S. owned by an active duty woman. Mike and his wife Kathy have 33 years of combined service and nine deployments and their brewery is 100 percent self-financed, and veteran owned and operated.
One day a representative from Nine Line contacted Mike offering to make a special t-shirt design for the brewery. Mike said he thought at the time, “Who doesn’t know Nine Line? We’d like to make beer for you. You’re a veteran-owned company. We’re a veteran-owned company. Sounds an awful lot like peanut butter and chocolate.”
Then the light bulb went off. Mike said, “We can just do t-shirts, but why not do more?”
It was the start of an amazing partnership, with both companies working on various charitable initiatives to support the veteran community.
But first, there was beer to be made.
Chattabrewchee’s chief brewer, Columbus native Doug Whitt, set out to design a special beer for Nine Line. Of course, it needed to revolve around the numeral nine with 9.9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), meaning of course it was going to be a very powerful, very hoppy Double IPA.
To get a higher ABV, you need more fermentable sugars, usually from malts. A Double IPA is a uniquely American style of beer that uses at least double the typical quantity of hops, plus more malts to balance the flavors. The result is a strong brew with hoppy highs, deep malty depths and a high ABV.
Chattabrewchee’s Nine Line Double IPA is so powerful, it’s sold only in 10-ounce glasses at the brewery.
And the beer is so great it’s become one of the top ten double IPAs in the state of Georgia, and the official beer of the National Infantry Association.
A portion of every sale of Chattabrewchee’s Nine Line Double IPA goes to support the Nine Line Foundation, and recently Chattabrewchee donated $2500 to Nine Line’s veterans’ village initiative.
The goal of the initiative is to turn around the lives of homeless veterans, both immediately and for the long term. Beyond providing a roof over the heads of veterans, it will provide them with the skills necessary to reintegrate into society and to learn and grow as individuals. Simply put, this initiative is about providing healing and support to those who have given so much to this great country.
Mike says, “Our partnership with Nine Line is by far the most gratifying and important business relationship we have.”
Mike and Tyler have retired from the military, but they’ve never stopped serving their fellow Americans. Now in their second careers as entrepreneurs and business owners, they’re continuing to put themselves on the front lines to make a difference.
Plus they’ve given us another great reason to drink more beer!
When you buy a bottle or a glass of Chattabrewchee’s Nine Line Double IPA, you’re helping homeless veterans. Which is a great reason to have a couple more.