WESTLAND — Add another laurel wreath to the growing number of accolades enjoyed by Short’s Brewing Company. On April 4, the Bellaire brewery defeated Webberville’s Michigan Brewing Co. to capture the championship trophy in the first-ever Ashley’s Invitational Brewery Throwdown.
Ashley’s created the competition, which began in January with a bracket of eight breweries, in order to “get people talking more about craft beer,” according to co-owner Roy More.
“The event overall was a great success,” said More. “Sales of beers were way up over the typical Wednesday night, but more importantly, the buzz from the competition got more people thinking and talking about craft beer.”
Each competition began at 6 p.m. and went until close of the bar at midnight, with the brewery selling more pints being declared the winner. Four beers apiece were featured by breweries in the first round competitions, six beers in the semifinals, and eight beers in the final. Representatives from each brewery worked the crowds, talking up their beers and answering any questions. Short’s defeated Marshall’s Dark Horse Brewing and Saugatuck Brewing Co. to advance to the championship. Michigan bested Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania and Ann Arbor’s Wolverine State Brewing.
For the championship round, nearly 600 pints were sold between Michigan and Short’s. Short’s pursued a strategy of enticing customers with rare and experimental beer — four of the eight Short’s beers on tap were beers unavailable anywhere else outside of the taproom in Bellaire. These included Whiskey Sour, a Belgian-style sour aged with lime in whiskey barrels; Cinnamon Doppelbock, a spiced traditional bock; Bourbon Barrel Soaked Sustenance, a schwarzbier aged in oak; and Thundeur, an experimental black ale brewed with charred pine needles, cones and branches.
For its part, Michigan Brewing created a “ninth” beer by offering a mixture of their Celis Raspberry and Nut Brown Ale, dubbing it “Trail Mix” in a bid to increase sales, which were brisk for their flagships High Seas IPA and Wheatland Wheat as well as their Russian Imperial Stout, but ultimately they fell short by less than 60 pints.
The competition was fast and furious but friendly.
“We definitely enjoyed some good brews here tonight,” said Joe Carpenter of Michigan Brewing. “But what we really enjoyed about the Throwdown was the friendly competition. We know each other, we’re both craft breweries, we both have the same goal of educating people about good beer. Whether you chose Short’s or whether you choose Michigan, there’s some great, flavorful beers out there!”
“It was great to compete against our peers in a fun fashion like that and have another excuse to enjoy the camaraderie of craft beer lovers as well as our fellow craft brewers,” agreed Short’s “Beer Liberator” Jon Wojtowicz. Asked what Short’s was going to do with the trophy, he added, “We’ll put it on display in the pub and then it will eventually be retired to Joe Short’s office with other honors bestowed on us!”
More says Short’s will not participate in next year’s Invitational Throwdown, but will be part of an envisioned “champions’ round” pitting them vs. next year’s champion.
“Congratulations to all of the brewers in the tournament,” he said. “They’re all great and passionate about their craft and our guests. We can’t wait until next year’s competition!”