short's fest

“Today is obviously a beautiful day,” said Eric Tranchell, Beer Liberator for Short’s Brewing Company.

August 5th was, in fact, a perfect day for the brewery’s annual Short’s Fest: blue skies, 70 degrees, and plenty of beer on tap. Held against the backdrop of the Elk Rapids production facility, it was a casual summer gathering compared to the spring rave of an anniversary that happens every April at the original pub and brewery in Bellaire.

short's fest

It had a different feel, first of all. It was still a celebration of Short’s beer, but everything was less frenzied, more contained and more intimate. It was like attending a neighbor’s backyard barbeque.

The production facility, more fondly known as the “pull barn,” has  become a spot for summer pit stops. Trying something new, Short’s opened its Elk Rapids grounds to patrons for casual evening eats, Short’s and Starcut Ciders beverages, and facility tours. It has been a great success and has bonded the company with the Elk Rapids community even further.

This more casual gathering was a breath of fresh air following the previous week’s announcement of Short’s new partnership with Lagunitas, which created quite a frenzy in the Michigan craft beer world.

The Short’s staff at the Elk Rapids celebration were generally excited and glad to be together for a night, serving beer and toasting another summer amidst local patrons.

“There are a lot of unknowns for Short’s right now, but Short’s has always been good with unknowns. It just means a lot of possibilities,” said Tranchell.

Owner Joe Short was spotted scaling one of the beer trucks, maybe to better take in the crowd and enjoy the festivities.

“We never imagined Short’s was going to be this big,” said Tranchell, “and now we have a big family to take care of—and I mean every Short’s employee. And Joe himself has told me that he is responsible for every person here. He wants to know everyone is taken care of, from top to bottom.”

That united front of Short’s staff—their family—was what made the atmosphere of Short’s Fest so relaxed and welcoming.

“Short’s Fest is the pinnacle of summer,” said Emily Sullivan, marketing communication associate for the company.

Short’s beers and Starcut Ciders flowed from multiple stations on the fest grounds. Favorites of the evening were Always on Vacation, a beautiful and simple session IPA, and Gose Good With Wood, a French oak passion fruit Gose that was a perfect blend of tart, salty, and fruity. Fest-goers also had the opportunity to purchase the specialty bomber release of She Uses Tangerine, a Belgian Strong Ale made with tangerines.

short's fest

Music for the night featured Red Herring, The Mark Lavengood Band, The Go Rounds, and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers.

Short’s Fest always takes place in conjunction with Elk Rapids Harbor Days, and tonight the last call for beer coincided with the town’s fireworks display over the harbor.

Short’s Brewing Company has lived by the mantra, “stay awesome hungry” over their 13 years of existence.

“Tonight,” Sullivan said, “I feel ‘awesome fed.’”


Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

beards brewery

The first time I ventured out to Beards, I nearly missed it driving through downtown Petoskey. The sign was relatively small on an easy-to-miss building. The brewery itself was tucked in the back of a building, down a stone path in what looked like an enclosed outdoor space. The taproom was small, cozy, full of board games, and a record player was playing in the background. It felt like a secret you only wanted your good friends to know about.

Fast-forward five years, and Beards has become a staple in the Petoskey community. Now on the corner of US-31 and Lake Street, the brewery resides in the former Whitecaps building and is one of the first things you encounter as you enter downtown.

beards brewery

And while the space is larger, feels more expansive, and has extraordinary views, it maintains a similar atmosphere as the original space.

“We wanted to keep as much of the old place as we could,” said Ben Slocum, Beards co-founder.

Upon entering, a stone path that pays tribute to the original guides you to the taproom surrounded in natural elements. And, if you look closely, you might be able to spot the original bar and large Beards logo.

At the same time, the new space on Lake Street feels more “grown-up” with intimate booths, more community tables, and a grand staircase. There’s also an opportunity to escape upstairs to a more intimate space, where the board games and vinyl records can still be found.

The move from a small, intimate space to a large, inviting one exemplifies Beards five-year journey. Starting on a one-barrel brewing system, Beards had a humble beginning. Word spread quickly about the excellent beer and atmosphere, and after just two years, a 4,000 square foot production facility was opened in Charlevoix. The production facility contains a 15-barrel system and has allowed Beards to expand its production and distribution.

“We sold more on July 2 than we did during all of our winter months combined,” said Slocum, referencing their continuous growth and expansion.

Beards is now canning and can now be found throughout Northern Michigan, the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids area, and throughout Wayne County. Recently, Beards released its first bomber: Gin Barrel Aged Luna.

beards brewery

And now that the brewery has taken over an old restaurant and has more space, it also features a full food menu. As much as possible is made in house, from brat buns to braised lamb shank, which compliments everything Beards has become known for.

“We craft beer, why not craft food?” said Slocum.

Beards will officially be celebrating its five years of success from August 17-19; the new taproom is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11a.m. to midnight.


Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elk Rapids, MI announces plans to partner with The Lagunitas Brewing Company based in Petaluma, CA, America’s ninth largest brewery.

The partnership stems from Short’s desire to successfully navigate the ever-evolving craft market while maintaining its creatively fearless identity. Lagunitas’ 19.99% equity stake in Short’s will be managed by Lagunitas U.S. Holdings — or LUSH. The founding principle of LUSH is to build relationships with, and support, regional breweries. In keeping with this, Short’s will maintain their individual brand image while gaining additional resources for continued opportunity to invest in Short’s staff, the Northern Michigan community, and opportunities to push the boundaries of creativity.

Joe Short stated, ”I never imagined Short’s would become such a successful regional brewery. The secret to that success has always been to surround myself with good people. The best people; who in many ways are smarter and more talented than myself. I’m confident all successful businesses would tell you a similar story. This partnership with Lagunitas is just another part of evolution in the cycle of our dynamic and growing business. I’ve grown so much personally and professionally during my time at the helm of Short’s Brewing Company that I understand now, more than ever – the continued success of Short’s and its people rely on me to make smart and strategic decisions. This is just one of them.”

When asked about the partnership between Short’s and Lagunitas, Lagunitas’ founder, Tony Magee, stated, “Having Joe and Scott and all their talented people joining up with the LUSH group is mostly cool but also kinda weird. Have you met those guys? I thought Bellaire was in Canada…”

The craft brewing community has always focused on relationships, and Short’s is excited for the opportunity to be a part of the LUSH community. “Pride, passion, and love of the work will always remain paramount. I’m super excited and proud because for the first time EVER, we’ll be operating without restriction, experiencing what true independence feels like,” stated Short. “I really admire Tony. His vision and level of understanding of the industry is fascinating to me. With his ability to share Lagunitas’ 24 years of experience, this partnership is going to bring some serious awesomeness to the people of Short’s.”

cheboygan brewing

“Today is a slammed day,” says Brian Lindsay, brewer at Cheboygan Brewing Company (CBC).

It’s packaging day at CBC, meaning hundreds of cases of empty cans have just been dropped off, filling the brewery from floor to ceiling. It’s a veritable maze of Blueberry Wheat, Lighthouse Amber, and of course, Blood Orange Honey.

These beers are well known on the Michigan craft market and are the primary bread-winners for the brewery who does the majority of their business in distribution. Established in 2011, CBC rocks out their beer recipes on 15 barrel and 30 barrel brew systems. Blood Orange Honey, their top seller, has its own corner in the brewery with two dedicated 30 barrel brite tanks.

“We have 600 cases going out every two weeks,” says Lindsay.

They have a small, but mighty production team whose primary responsibility is to keep churning out consistent and delicious distributed recipes.

cheboygan brewing

Mike Eme, Brian Lindsay, Doug Mehl and Phil Davey

But 2017 has seen new, exciting changes to the brewery team and their future aspirations. Mike Eme, head of brewery operations, has brought on Brian Lindsay and Doug Mehl to start shaking things up. While keeping to their majority distribution beers, the next era at CBC will also be concentrating on exploring new recipes and projects.

Kickstarting this new campaign, CBC has gotten their hands on a glorious little nano system. And already, recipe experimentation is happening!

“We have our core paycheck beers, but these experimental small batches are the beers that inspire the brewers,” says Eme.

Also, “the majority of the beer is going out the door, so it’s nice to have a small system to experiment with new recipes. We have a series coming up, all made with Centennial hops,” says Lindsay. “The first one is called Censible,” a solid Pale Ale that has gone over really well in the front of the house taproom. Already working on the next in the series, “Censeless” will literally be the big brother to Censible, coming in at a whopping 11%.

Another small batch brew, an IPA made with southern Australian hops called Constant Reminder, was inspired by the alarms set for frequent hop additions happening in five-minute increments (also it was Brian’s wedding beer, a constant reminder of his wife).

Lindsay teases other potential, upcoming recipes that have been inspired by his research into unique ingredients. He mentions a strawberry Saison, tropical Brown Ales, Sour Ales made with a souring honey, a margarita Gosé, and a mojito cocktail beer.

“When you have 31 gallons and it turns out to be god-awful, it’s not going to hurt you,” he says, laughing.

These new recipes are building up excitement across the board. In the taproom, locals and regular pub-goers who have loyally been drinking CBC’s standard recipes are intrigued with the new flavors and offerings. On the distribution side of things, these small batch offerings are garnering attention at events.  

Phil Davey, the head of sales and distribution for CBC, is excited for the growth. “We’re really stepping up our event game with pairing dinners and tastings.”

All around Michigan one can find CBC beers, and it’s really worth attending a special event. Not only will beer drinkers get to drink some of their traditional favorites, but usually it’s a great opportunity to try out a new recipe. Events are some of the best platforms for testing out new product. And if fans can’t make it up to the brewery in Cheboygan, events are great just because they reach everyone.

This summer though, it’s definitely worth checking out their original home in downtown Cheboygan. Patrons can enjoy a pint or two while watching the production staff work on the brew system connected to the pub. And it will be just in time for new happenings! The pub is doubling their taps from five to ten—an opportunity to offer both the familiar and the new to customers.

Also, they will be opening their outdoor beer garden for the summer, doubling their capacity and providing a neat space to better experience Cheboygan. And while they don’t offer food, plenty of local vendors share the space to ensure delicious offerings that pair well with the local brews.

cheboygan brewing

Summer is the high season for up north towns such as Cheboygan. They are destinations for breathtaking views, escapes into nature, small town hospitality, local food, and some of the best local beer.

“Their number one call in the summer is ‘where’s the brewery’ so I like to think we helped get more people coming through town,” says Eme, regarding tourism and the Chamber of Commerce.

Looking back, Eme is thoughtful on the evolution of Michigan breweries in relation to CBC.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And I think that’s why Michigan is doing so well in the industry.”

Indeed, their core beers have paved the way for market recognition, and now their small batches have whet our appetites. We’re going to stick around to see what comes next.


nomad ciderTraverse City, Mich— North Peak Brewing Company and Peninsula Cellars have joined forces to create a new joint venture on Old Mission Peninsula. Consistent with the quality and excellence these companies are known for, Nomad Cidery has launched a line of hard ciders in Northern Michigan. Located on Kroupa Farms, a certified Michigan Centennial Farm on Old Mission Peninsula, the cidery focuses on creating small batch ciders from regionally sourced ingredients.

“We’re fortunate to be able to source multiple apple varieties within 5 miles of our press and cidery,” shares John Kroupa, Nomad Cidery partner and sixth generation Old Mission Farmer. “We’re able to craft high quality cider made with all Northern Michigan ingredients. The local orchards and agricultural industry of Traverse City, allow us to create 100% pure cider, without having to rely on concentrates.”

You might recognize the name ‘Nomad’ as the cider first made an appearance in North Peak Brewing Company’s portfolio. The sister company to North Peak was launched to give the cider the dedicated attention the brand deserved. Initially the company will focus on producing distinctly dry ciders that will be available on draft only, with plans for 6-packs to be released at a later date.

Nomad’s premium ciders are available throughout Northern Michigan. Currently they can be found at North Peak, Jolly Pumpkin, and Blue Tractor in Traverse City. As well as at Peninsula Cellars on Old Mission Peninsula.


Beards Brewery, a brewery out of Petoskey in Northern Michigan, is making its way into the Grand Rapids market.

What makes Beards special to the market is every can the brewery puts out is all due to machinery developed by Todd Vriesenga, the owner of Microcanner, a canning line company just north of Grand Rapids in Rockford.

Beards recently purchased this canning machine from the Michigan company due to it being affordable, easy to operate, and for the fact it acted as an easy to own canning solution.


Vriesenga’s background is as an engineer and while he has roots in Grand Rapids said, “I’ve traveled just about everywhere pineapples are grown.”

“My father was president of Dole during my younger years and I grew up on different arms all over the place. It was on these pineapple farms that I learned to weld and also to invent; I also learned I didn’t want to become a farmer but that I still wanted to use my engineering skills.”

Vriesenga explained that his firm, Perceptive Concepts, used to design automation for pharmaceutical companies, automotive, aerospace, and a variety of other industries and that as a contracted service company he kept busy.

“It was during this time three and a half years ago that my cousin, who owns a hard cider company, asked me about creating an automated canning machine that was scalable. My cousin had searched but the prices and products offered didn’t line up for him,” Vriesenga said.

Looking at it as a challenge, Vreiseng chose to take on the request to create a machine well built and priced that it would be perform beyond his cousin’s need.

“Twenty six canning machines later, the company has done exactly that. The contracting side of Perceptive Concepts has been shut down, the building has been outgrown, and now we only serve one company, Microcanner,” he said.

It was one year ago that the company came up with a production model. We now focus on one thing, creating the best canning machine out there. We do this by continuing to develop, produce, and evolve,” he said.

Having purchased a canning line in September and receiving it in October of last year, Peter Manthei, co-owner of Beards, said that he is thrilled to be canning Michigan made beer on Michigan made equipment.

“We are excited to be running a Michigan made canning line to compliment our Michigan made brew system and beer,” he said. “Ultimately, with micro canner, we feel we are running a better machine than the competition and we received excellent service and support to get it up and running smoothly while we learned it.”

Manthei also explained that cans are ideal for a Northern Michigan lifestyle.

“We love that fact. The can option is great for grabbing a couple beers and throwing them in your pack for a hike, a cooler for a picnic, a coozie for a ride on the boat, or you could enjoy them any number of other ways,” he said.

“Another plus, no glass bottle means no broken glass in the great outdoors. Cans really are a great way to go.”


crystal mountain

Memorial Day weekend: a weekend that boasts endless activities, events, and happenings under the hopeful curtain of a warm spring sun. Barbeques, boating, backyard hangouts, downtown strolls, outdoor festivals. So, how does one choose what to do?

The staff at Crystal Mountain think people shouldn’t have to choose—they’ll be there waiting with beer, brats, music, and a welcoming community that Saturday, May 27th, when their 12th annual Beer & Brat festival kicks off at four o’clock.



“What we found with our festival is that it’s a good time of day,” says Brian Lawson, Director of Public Relations.

“A lot of people might do an early BBQ or might be opening their cottage that morning, and by the time four o’clock rolls around, they’re ready for a little bit of fun. People can cap off their busy days with some fun and relaxation at our resort.”

The relaxation and fun are guaranteed! Crystal Mountain has hosted this event for going on 12 years, with attendance and activities growing every year. To make things extra special, the resort is celebrating their 60th anniversary. To the resort staff and surrounding community, this casts an even brighter light around everything in 2017.

The festival itself will offer its usual awesome array of Michigan craft—local brat vendors, breweries from all around the state, and local musicians.

Skarcasm, a power trio hailing Traverse City, will be returning this year with some original sounds and rock’n’roll covers. Joining them will be newcomers to the lineup, Lookin’ Back, a Bob Seger tribute band who consider themselves a forward-looking group united to perform Seger’s hits at their highest possible standard.

“This band makes it a point to invite Bob Seger to all of their gigs. And they play certain covers in the same key he would, so if he did happen to show up, there would be a smooth transition into him joining in,” says Lawson.

While enjoying the music, festival goers can enjoy the many smells and tastes offered under the food and beer tents. Honor Family Market, Buntings Cedar Market, Maxbauer Market, Ebel’s, Kaleva Meats, Sander’s Meats, and Mikowski’s Meat Market & Deli will be providing the traditional brat fare and sides, and all are local Michigan markets.

Like the Michigan craft industry in general, Crystal Mountain increases in number of breweries represented every year. And for this 12th year, the event boasts the highest number of first-time-in-attendance breweries, including: Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, Creston Brewery, Big Lake Brewing, Tapistry Brewing, Oddside Ales, Roak Brewing, and Latitude 42 Brewing Company.

“The combination of music, breweries, and the brats are a great way to start the summer. Having it all focused on Michigan makes it special, too,” says Lawson.

And what makes this event unique? It’s perhaps the small details that actually have a huge impact on atmosphere.

“We have a cool venue at the base of the mountain, which I guess is kind of obvious. But as a resort, we tend towards a different atmosphere than most. We’re very family friendly and are surrounded by a tight knit community that has grown up here alongside us. The sense of community—it feels very inclusive here. You can just kind of feel it,” says Lawson.

The event offers a child care camp if parents want to slip away for a bit and set up a blanket on the lawn with beers and brats in hand.

The annual Tesla car show will also happen again this year, but event attendees will now have the opportunity to talk to Tesla and Chevy representatives while test driving on-site the morning before the event.

And although the event happens Saturday, Crystal Mountain will extend the fun into Sunday this year. For the first time, the resort will be hosting Micros on Mountaintop, a Sunday afternoon mini-beerfest at the top of the mountain. The event caters to the 400+ North Mitten Race runners who will be completing their 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances early that morning—but anyone is welcome to buy admission to attend later that afternoon. Local brews, food, and music will greet attendees as soon as they step off the chairlift!

Memorial Day weekend traditionally launches all of the resort’s summer offerings. Mountain biking, golfing, rock climbing, archery (new!), chairlift rides, local craft tours to Iron Fish Distillery and St. Ambrose Cellars, guided rides on the Betsie Valley Trail into Frankfurt—where one can stop at Stormcloud Brewing Company—these are just some of the options available to resort guests.

When visiting, be sure to check out the newest addition to the resort—a brand new section dedicated not only to more rooms for guests, but also a market and restaurant.

“You won’t be able to miss it, [the new building], says Lawson. “It’s the new centerpiece of the village.”

The addition won’t be open for guest use until later in the summer, with the market and restaurant following in the fall, but Lawson says the plan is to have the Grand Opening coincide with their 60th Anniversary celebrations, a true culmination to a great year filled with new things.

In the meantime, kick off the summer in true Michigan style, by heading up north for barbeque, beer, and family at the Beer & Brat festival.

Tickets available on the Crystal Mountain website.


Sponsored by Crystal Mountain Resort


prolonged enjoyment shorts

prolonged enjoyment shorts

It’s certainly not the clearest looking IPA I’ve encountered, but great lacing with a medium-sized frothy head begs me closer. The beer is almost a muddied amber color, and looks great in the glass. I am being invited to take another slug from this “Prolonged Enjoyment” Session India Pale Ale from Short’s Brewing.

It’s a staple nowadays, these session IPA’s, as we leap into the freshness of the spring season and allow ourselves more of the quaffable beers out there to combat the newfound warmth and sweat that comes with preparing everything for the hot days ahead.

In Prolonged Enjoyment, a mildly fruity smell, almost grape and strawberry-like, wafts up and balances alongside the sesame seed and cracker notes of the malt. It’s a bit bready as well, with a deep, danker, greener note mixed in coming from those hops. The aroma entangles itself with these characteristics and leave you presented with a mild but pleasant smell. It reminds me of the scent I get when walking past a brewery in production.

prolonged enjoyment shortsThe beer is unpretentious and certainly quaffable. The flavor dissolves into a plethora of green character with a touch of spiciness from the hops. It’s the kind of flavor that, when exhaling, you feel like your mouth smells like hops are being ripped open inside of it. The mild breadiness of the malt and the casual overall spiciness breezes by the in background, and the brew leaves you feeling a dry finish and a snappy bitter bite. All I can do is say, “Ahhhhhhhhhh” and reach back for another pull from the glass.

Drink up responsibly and enjoy these relaxing days ahead with this beer in hand for those moments when you just want to refresh yourself in an unhurried manner. Prolonged Enjoyment will then be able to live up to its name for you.