Short’s Fest is the best kind of combination parking lot & lawn party—it’s fun and laid-back, and bonus, the beer is fabulous.
It’s just a pure, simple gathering of family, friends, and community. It coincides with Elk Rapids’ Annual Harbor Days, embracing the town where Short’s outside production began.
The weather is prime, the hot temperatures cooling down a bit later in the evening as fest-goers happily catch the breeze off the water. It creates the perfect atmosphere for listening to the great tunes offered, Short’s beer in hand.
Vox Vidorra kicks things off, welcoming everyone with Motown beats and indie style. Up next is Billy Strings, who with his band, amps up the crowd with bluegrass originals that build into peaks of instrumental energy one can’t help but jam out to. And as the sun fades away, AOK is there to set the mood, allowing people to disappear right into the electro-pop feel of the night.
Without the pomp and circumstance of the Anniversary party, Joe Short himself blends in with everyone, and he uses that to flit from one group to the next. Popping in on production facility tours, sitting down on the lawn and listening to the music, and even to jumping on the taps and slinging beers alongside his staff family.
He even makes time to sneak around his production facility to give MittenBrew.com a personal tour (meaning, we get to see all of the gorgeous equipment while Short goads us into taking goofy pictures with him.) We climb up and down the catwalk, pose like Charlie’s Angels, all the while talking about the lighter things about summer—like the Short’s staff regular, early-morning water skiing runs.
On the other hand, it must be noted that it has been a crazy year for Short’s Brewing Company, especially with the move into multi-state distribution. So much growth and change—everyone has had to adjust to the new venture. But with time, comes routine.
“You know, we’re starting to see a slow-down. Everything is smoothing out,” says Short.
In talking with Pauline Knighton, Sales Coordinator, she gave more detail into how the new distribution project has significantly improved.
“One huge change, which has been very beneficial, is that we have two out-of-state reps working the market. It’s a complete game-changer. Now we have point people and we’re able to physically build relationships that I wasn’t capable of doing, but that all of the new accounts deserve.”
It’s a lot to adjust to, but the Short’s staff has been working hard to make all of these changes beneficial to everyone. And if the result is increasing the reach of Short’s beer, then everyone wins.
And the beer and cider is always surprising, creative, and delicious. Mainlines like Nicie and Huma Lupa Licious were joined by newer pub pours and gourmets. Anduril, a dry-hopped sour, seemed to be the crowd favorite, with attendees loving the tartness combined with the citrusy aroma. On the gourmet end, Nectar de La Vida offered an extra punch to its key lime and agave nectar notes with a tequila barrel-aged gravity.
Whatever one’s tastes, there was a dynamic portfolio of Short’s beers to choose from and salute the season.
And fall is on its way already, with Bellaire Brown hitting the shelves and Autumn Ale arriving soon after. Next year’s master brew schedule is in the works, and according to Short, “It’s already been changed seven times.”
But in the meantime, in a year of new adventures and new happenings, it was nice to have the tradition of Short’s Fest to mark the beginning of the end of summer.
Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman