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“This is The Qualified Captain’s first major collaboration, and I don’t think we could have done it with a better company. Cape May Brewing Company is family-oriented and has a strong sense of community: exactly the type of people we could trust and build a relationship with.”

The Qualified Captain

Our collaboration with Instagram influencer and clothing company The Qualified Captain comes out next week, and we couldn’t be more excited.

A Helles lager called Boat Ramp Champ, it’s the ideal brew to crack open after a day on the open sea. Crisp, clean, refreshing, and light, Boat Ramp Champ is the perfect beverage to complement your fresh catch.

We’ve got a great day planned for the release of Boat Ramp Champ on Friday, April 2nd. We’ll be re-opening the Brewtanical Garden at 1pm that day, as well, and Animal House will be rocking the Brewtanical Garden from 2:30-6pm on Friday. 

And Aaron and Lauren Stasiak of The Qualified Captain will be in town to join in the fun! We caught up with them this week to get more information about The Qualified Captain.

Growing up in Burlington County, both Aaron and Lauren have always had a love of boating and the water.

“When I graduated from high school,” Aaron says, “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I almost joined the Air Force — I did ROTC all throughout high school –, and at the last minute, a few friends came down here to Wilmington, North Carolina, and they have a really good marine tech program here, and that’s really what brought me into the marine industry.”

Cape Fear Community College has a 135’ research vessel, the R/V Cape Hatteras, that they use as a platform for ocean research science. The marine tech students spend over a month training aboard the Cape Hatteras.

“When I saw that, I said, ‘That’s a no-brainer. That’s right up my alley,’” he says. “So, I already had a few friends down here, so it was a win-win.”

Lauren moved down only a few years later.

“After I graduated from Philadelphia University in 2019,” she says, “I decided to move to Wilmington. I figured it was a good time to try something new and to help my brother grow The Qualified Captain.”

Once Lauren graduated, Aaron says that it was perfect timing for her to come aboard at The Qualified Captain.

“This started kicking off, and she was a graphic design major,” he recalls. “So, I called her and asked her to come up with some sort of a design, because I thought we could really make a hit out of this.”

So, he tossed out some ideas, and Lauren came up with their classic, simple logo. The central image is that of a shipwreck symbol that one might find on a navigational chart, surrounded by the name of the company and a rope pattern.

“I was like, ‘This fits,’” Aaron says. “Simplicity is key in my mind.”

Since then, Lauren’s designed much of the graphics associated with The Qualified Captain, including many of their clothing designs, and helped design the website.

When Lauren moved down to North Carolina, their mother decided that it was time for her to move down, as well, and The Qualified Captain became a full-family business.

“She wanted to try something new,” Aaron says. “So, now she’s working full-time for me. She’s my bookkeeper and she fulfills all of our online orders. Without her, I’d be screwed. She helps big time.”

And they love the area.

“I’ve been down here ten years now,” Aaron says. “It’s crazy how much it’s grown. I love it here — I just bought a house. In April, it’ll be a year.”

Lauren loves the area as well, but “South Jersey will always be home.”

While working full-time at one of the marinas in the area and as a part-time Sea Tow captain, Aaron got the idea for The Qualified Captain.

“Aaron has a huge boating background and works full time at a marina so the idea blossomed from there after seeing common mistakes daily,” Lauren says. “The Instagram page started in 2016, and it’s truly incredible to see how much it has grown in that time.”

At the time, Aaron would work with customers at the marina or through Sea Tow, and he’d run into a few Boat Ramp Champs.

“I’d say, ‘Here’s a Sea Tow membership if you need to get towed,’ and they’d say, ‘Naah, we know what we’re doing.’ Well, clearly, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Then he’d watch as the same guy crashed into the dock. 

“A couple of my buddies at work started videotaping these things,” he says, “and I always watched that Instagram page Kook of the Day, and I thought it was just in line with that, but with a boating aspect.”

As time went by, they didn’t have to break out the camera at all — people were sliding into his DMs.

“People started sending me stuff,” he says. “My inbox is full with over a hundred messages a day.”

Aaron points out how easy it is to get on a boat, put on a hat, and call yourself captain. In many states, if you’re over a certain age, you don’t need any training or licensing at all — just hop on a boat and go.

“A lot of people don’t have a clue about rules of the road or anything like that,” he says. “And you see it all the time: people get seriously injured on boats every year.”

Lauren is taking her experiences at The Qualified Captain to heart and doing it the right way.

“A goal of mine this summer is to get my boaters’ license because I really love being out on the water. I’m sure as soon as I do I’ll find my way onto The Qualified Captain’s page,” she laughs.

Aaron, on the other hand, owns a 23-foot Sea Spray.

“Me and my buddy split it and rebuilt the whole thing,” he says. “It’s like a 1964 hull. We re-fiberglassed the whole thing, and, knock on wood, it’s been running great for the past six years.”

However, Aaron admits to having done one or two things throughout his career that would have landed him on The Qualified Captain.

“There’s an island down here called Masonboro Island that’s a really good surf break,” he says. “We were surfing, and we were all out on the water. My dad wanted to come, but it was pouring down rain, so he stayed on the boat.”

At some point, Aaron’s father moved the boat, dropping anchor right on top of a sandbar.

“We came back at low tide, and the boat was high and dry,” he laughs. “I had to call Sea Tow — my boss –, and they came out. They were all cracking up — everyone was taking pictures. I had one kid come up and tell me that I was going to end up on The Qualified Captain.”

And, Aaron admits, that’s far from the only mistake he’s made on the water.

“Look, you’re gonna make a mistake on a boat,” he says. “That’s why I hope people don’t take it personally if you end up on the page.”

Lauren and Aaron are both looking forward to the collaboration. Lauren, in particular, loves the synergies between the two brands.

“I think CMBC is a great fit for a collaboration with The Qualified Captain,” she says. “We’re both based out of the East Coast and heavily influenced by the marine lifestyle. Aaron and I also loved that CMBC is based out of South Jersey where we’re both from.”

Aaron had wanted to do a collaboration beer for a while, and he’s thrilled that it’s with Cape May.

“Obviously, Cape May is a huge boating town,” he says. “You guys are on the water and a lot of your beers have marine branding. I know a lot of captains in the area and they love your beer. So, I just think that everything about the collaboration — your logo, everything — I think it’s really going to stand out and draw the attention of a lot of people on the water.”

He’d spilled the beans to a few friends of his in New Jersey, and they were all “pretty stoked” about it.

“I’ve got a few friends who have owned bars and restaurants,” he says, “and they’re all really excited about this.”

Lauren’s excited as well.

“This is The Qualified Captain’s first major collaboration,” she says, “and I don’t think we could have done it with a better company. Cape May Brewing Company is family-oriented and has a strong sense of community: exactly the type of people we could trust and build a relationship with.”

Ryan and Marketing Director Alicia Grasso traveled to North Carolina to visit with the Stasiaks about a month ago to iron out the final details with the collaboration.

“I was so stoked to have Ryan come down,” Aaron says. “He’s an awesome guy. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous for him to come down, but he was the nicest guy. He took me and showed me his airplane; we hung out like good friends. We text all the time, he gave me some advice, he gave me a book to read. So, right away, we’ve got a great relationship. He got to meet my mom and my sister — and in the middle of a pandemic. The fact that he came down here and met me in person meant a lot.”

And, while Aaron is firmly a boatsman, Ryan can convince just about anyone that they need to get their pilot’s license and buy an airplane.

“He was showing me everything, and I was thinking, ‘Man, I want to do this!’” Aaron says. “Like I said, I did Air Force ROTC in high school and learned on a bunch of simulators, and I’d like to go back and do all of that.”

But, for now, Aaron is firmly on water and looking forward to joining us for the Tasting Room release of Boat Ramp Champ on Friday, April 2nd, from 1-6pm. 

And we’ve got a great day planned! Not only will we be kicking off the release of Boat Ramp Champ, but we’re also re-opening the Brewtanical Garden that day for the season!

Brewery favorites Animal House will be rocking the Brewtanical Garden from 2:30-6pm on Friday. This powerhouse five-piece has played up and down the east coast, from Killington, Vermont, to Key West, Florida, turning out classic covers in party rock, reggae, calypso, dance, funk, hip-hop, and alternative music. You’ll be on your feet and dancing all day long!

And Aaron and Lauren will be in town to join in the fun! They’ll be set up in the Brewtanical Garden, and, in our Brewtique, you’ll be able to get your first pick of exclusive merchandise for Boat Ramp Champ!

Boat Ramp Champ goes out for distribution throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania on Monday, April 5th, with Delaware to follow on April 12th.

Don’t miss out!