Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Best of NM 2012 · Best Michigan Product
. . . .

Best Michigan Product

- March 26th, 2012  

Short’s Brewing Company

When Short’s Brewing Company produced those first 178 barrels of beer in 2004, they must have known they were on to something special. Since then, production at their Bellaire brewpub and now the Elk Rapids brewery has grown exponentially, along with the popularity of the brand.

Now, Short’s Brewing Company beers, on tap or in bottles, are a common sight throughout Northern Michigan. So popular are they that readers of Northern Express voted the beer Michigan’s Best Product.

The Express talked to brewery founder Joe Short about beer, art and business.

Northern Express: Before you got into making beer, before there was a lot of craft beer for sale in Northern Michigan stores, what kind of beer did you like to drink? What do you think about that kind of beer now?

Joe Short: Back when I became interested in craft beer, there were very few kinds being sold in Antrim County. I liked Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I was always looking for Pale Ales and IPAs to purchase. When I could find Bell’s Two Hearted or Bell’s Pale Ale, I’d buy as much as I could get my hands on. I still love those beers today.

NE: Tell us about those wonderful Short’s labels. I understand many of them are made by an old college friend of yours, Fritz Horstman, who is a successful artist in his own right. How did you two get started working together?

Short: I met Fritz through a friend at Western Michigan University. I used the name “Short’s Brew” on all of my old home brews, and Fritz came up with the dancing Short’s logo way before I opened the brewery. We’ve been working together ever since. When we need a new label, I’ll describe it to Fritz and he’ll send a few test drawings. When we land on one we like, he’ll finish it.

NE: What beer are you most proud of creating?

Short: It is hard to choose, but I would have to start with my favorite, Huma Lupa Licious. As someone who loves American IPAs, Huma Lupa Licious is my conception of what an ideal IPA should taste like. That’s why Huma is my favorite beer and, I’m proud to say, our best selling beer. I am also tremendously proud of the Imperial Beer Series of 2007, which included Bloody Beer, Spruce Pilsner, Black Licorice Lager, Woodmaster, Peaches & Crème, Abnormal Genius, Publican Porter, Imperial Soft Parade, Aorta Ale, Black Cherry Porter, the Good Feller, and Ginger in the Rye. Over the past year, we have begun seasonally releasing many of these beers in 12 oz. bottles and that has been very rewarding.

NE: What is the most unusual ingredient you have used in a beer?

Short: Probably horseradish for the Bloody Beer. However, I am also proud of the way we used Rooibos and Lapsang Souchong tea leaves to mimic the flavors of smoke and tobacco in the Gambler, which was an experimental IPA designed to replicate the experience of drinking bourbon and smoking a cigar at the same time. The Gambler was recently chosen by Draft Magazine as one of the top 25 beers in America in 2011.

NE: When do your ideas for beers come to you?

Short: Typically at 10:45 pm on clear, full moon nights. Just kidding. Really, there is no defined answer here because you can’t schedule inspiration. Trust me, I’ve tried. Ideas are born from a lot of things like books, movies, food, taking hikes & walks, long drives and dreams. My creative direction with beer is consistently evolving. I also give a lot of credit to Tony Hansen, our Director of Brewing Operations, and other staff members. Short’s employees are always coming up with really cool ideas. We have a policy that no idea is a bad idea. Some ideas are just harder to pull off than others.

NE: What’s your favorite compliment you’ve gotten on a beer?

Short: “I never appreciated beer until I tried yours, and now I love beer!” Or, “I don’t know how you guys do it, but this stuff is amazing!” One of my main goals is to change people’s minds about beer. It is a difficult task, because everyone has different tastes. That is why we have 20 different kinds of beer on tap every day at our pub. Oh, and I also like when people ask if we could put a Short’s Brewery in their town, because it means that they enjoy our beer and our pub.

NE: How often to you come up with an unusual idea for a beer, make a batch, and decide you have to go back to the drawing board?

Short: We are getting really good at hitting the mark on our first try, but there are occasions when we try something and are not satisfied with the result. I brewed Carrot Cake three times because I was convinced that there was room for improvement, but then ended up deciding I liked the first batch the best. If we don’t hit the mark, you wouldn’t know about it because we wouldn’t release it. Given that our beer is so expensive to make, and therefore really painful to dump out, we put a ton of research into every new beer before we brew. We have a method that we use for developing recipes and we spend lots of time mixing ingredients beforehand to get an idea of what the final product will taste like. It is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Creating new beers is one of our favorite things to do, and I enjoy the challenge of continuing to be creative while also managing our company’s growth. It keeps everything new and exciting.

NE: What advice would you have for young people who want to become entrepreneurs in Northern Michigan?

Short: Entrepreneurs are folks who love what they do, and as a result they do whatever it takes to bring their ideas to fruition. Even if I didn’t work at Short’s, I’d be making beer and bottling it to give it to my friends, the way I did in the beginning. So first of all, choose something that you love to do and are naturally good at. After that, my best advice is to be tenacious and passionate. In the beginning, I had to work around the clock to keep my business alive. Finally, I believe than an emphasis on quality is extremely important. When I opened my business in Bellaire, I knew we would need to be able to draw people based on the quality of our beer alone. If we didn’t make good beer, people wouldn’t travel out of their way to get it.

NE: I see from your website that Short’s staff takes questions from home brewers about the craft via email. What do you enjoy about helping people who want to make beer on their own? Do you get a lot of questions? What kind of questions do you get?

Short: At this point in my brewing career, it’s really easy for me to answer questions because I’ve had experience with everything these folks are encountering. It doesn’t take much time to answer a few questions that might save someone a lot of agony and get them on the right track. I’m a helper by nature. I like to solve problems and think about potential solutions. That’s largely what I do now anyway, just on a really big scale. I like putting my knowledge and experience to work. I really enjoy talking about beer and helping other brewers find joy in the craft of brewing.

Unfortunately, more and more, we have more people asking specifically about the processes or formulations that we use to make certain brews. For obvious reasons, we have to keep many of those secrets to ourselves. It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell if someone who asks us a question is a homebrewer or someone who wants to start a brewery and brew like Short’s. Still, it never hurts to ask us a question, and we make an effort to respond to every email that we receive.

NE: What’s going on with the proposal to open a Short’s Brewpub on the harbor in Elk Rapids?

Short: We proposed an idea for the redevelopment of the former Bech’s Mustard Factory on Dexter Street. It doesn’t sound like the Village is going to sell us the property, but we’re discussing a lease. At this time we’re exploring all options. We do want to develop an Elk Rapids brewpub of some sort, because that is where our production brewery is located, but we’re just not sure how it’s going to happen at this time. We are currently in the process of renovating the inside of our production brewery and preparing for the arrival of 16 new tanks, so, as always, I seem to have a million things happening at the same time.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5