“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.
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.
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