The Craft Suds Connection

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For the record, Michelob Ultra, that ubiquitous, flavorless malt beverage so often found in the hands of dedicated performance-boat enthusiasts when they’re off the water, isn’t beer. It’s a wretched excuse for beer, even of the low-calorie-and-carbohydrate kind.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people drink it. The stuff goes down like water, which it mostly is, and doesn’t weigh you down. And like Miller Lite, its evil cousin, Michelob Ultra has a 4.2-percent alcohol content, which is on the low side for alcoholic beverages.

Featuring more than 60 craft beers, the upcoming Brew Ha-Ha event has backing from Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats.

But I also understand why people eat fried pork rinds. And my understanding of that nastiness doesn’t translate to personal consumption, either. (Have you ever made the mistake of smelling fried pork rinds?)

That doesn’t mean, of course, that high-performance powerboating’s connection to the beer world only exists on the light and mass-produced suds side. There are at least two popular craft-brew operations with direct links to the go-fast boating world.

Based in Saratoga, Wyoming-based, Snowy Mountain Brewery is a craft-beer outfit owned by well-known performance-boating community member, former offshore racer and spinal surgeon Michael “Doc” Janssen. Janssen even ran a 29-foot Outerlimits offshore raceboat under the Snowy Mountain Brewery umbrella.

And then there is J Wakefield Brewing in Miami’s ultra-hip Wynwood neighborhood. Johnathon Wakefield, the founder of the nationally renowned craft brewhouse, is the stepson of TNT Custom Marine co-owner/founder and offshore racing world champion John Tomlinson. Tomlinson has been instrumental in helping Wakefield build his thriving business.

In case you’re wondering where I’m going with this—and you probably should be—Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats of Fort Myers, Fla., has signed on as the title sponsor for the eighth annual Brew-Ha-Ha Craft Beer Festival. Set for Saturday, October 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the event will feature 60-plus craft beers from around the country. Advance tickets can be purchased for $35—at-the-door admission is $40.

From where I sit as a sworn enemy of crappy light beer (meaning all light beer), I see Nor-Tech’s backing of the event as smart cross-marketing at the local level, as Brew-Ha-Ha is in Nor-Tech’s neighborhood. Nor-Tech doesn’t mass-produce mediocre, low-calorie center consoles, V-bottom sportboats and catamarans. It handcrafts (key word) their exceptional, robust custom counterparts. Backing a craft-beer festival makes perfect sense for the company.

Drink what you like, and if that means Michelob Ultra or some equally vile beer-like beverage, power to you. Though I may not support your choice, I absolutely support your right to choose.

But it’s not beer.

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