As the MittenBrew crew traveled to the U.P. Beer Festival, we scheduled a Short’s visit last Friday.
First up was a stop at the company’s production facility in Elk Rapids. The building, an old chain manufacturing facility, had a relatively new feeling. The stairs up to the offices used a chain from the factory as its handrail.
Perhaps it was the new brewing tanks the facility recently received that helped it double the production limits. The facility also is being outfitted for a specialty grain supply house to ease the production of their specialty batches such Huma Lupa Licious, which was brewing the day we toured.
Short’s Operations Manager Matt Drake gave us the special tour and indulged us with a lot of in-depth stories about the brewery.
Drake took us to the packaging side and Soft Parade was being bottled and kegged for shipping. The process, though one of the largest in Michigan, was still rather small compared to behemoths such as Founders Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery.
But Short’s is keeping up with demand and shipping out beer as fast as it can make it. The storage refrigerator was practically empty. Most of what occupied the space were specialty batches and a quality control supply.
There’s also a dry storage supply to make sure the company has every setting a beer could be in, so if a complaint comes in, they can test where it might have gone wrong.
Short’s also has started to do its own packaging and recently rebuilt a six-pack machine from Founders that uses suction cups to open up the case.
In the barn next door, Drake showed us the special collection of beers given to Short’s from breweries across the world. The barn also is where beer is served from their special events. The company is in talks of selling beer out of the barn to passerbys as a fun brewpub of sorts for Elk Rapids.
We left Elk Rapids and went on a 40-minute, scenic drive to Bellaire, the location of the brewery’s original brewpub.
It’s a great setup, but barely feels like a bar. The main attraction really is the sandwiches and pizzas, all made with in-house ingredients.
With 20 beers on tap, there’s a wide range of Short’s selections you can’t find anywhere else. Even the onsite brewing facility is used to brew specialty beers just for the pub.
The facilities are both excellent representatives for the company’s goal to support Northern Michigan living and foster a friendly work environment. Keep an eye out for more stories about Short’s sparked from the trip.