Sunday, August 7, 2011

2nd Annual Short's Fest

For craft beer connoisseurs, summer is a fantastic time to be in Michigan. From the largest beer festival of the year in Ypsilanti to the plethora of smaller events going on every weekend, there is always something fun going on to keep us entertained.

Elk Rapids' Harbor Days celebration has been a popular event in northern Michigan for over 50 years. People of all ages can enjoy the abundant activities provided throughout the 4-day event. Of course, the one that we at Michigan Beer Blog are most interested in has only been a part of the celebration for two years now: Short's Fest.

In case you aren't familiar with the town, Elk Rapids, located on the east arm of the Grand Traverse Bay, is a a very small town, unique in charm and ambiance. It also happens to be home to Short's Brewing Company's production facility since 2008, and is the perfect setting for an outdoor beer festival to showcase Joe Short's latest and greatest brews.

There was an actual rainbow that appeared to be beaming out of Elk Rapids on our drive in.  See what I mean about it being cute?

Maybe it's a little too perfect. This weekend’s second annual Short's Fest so surpassed expected attendance forecasts that about an hour and a half into the fest, Matt Drake, Operations Manager for Short's, informed us that they were already at the total attendance level from the previous year. With four and a half hours to go and the lines showing no signs of dwindling, Joe Short wasted no time coming up with a solution to get beer in his thirsty patrons' hands – he brought out cases of bottled beer and created a third line where he started handing the beer out himself, and from that point on, the lines were very short (no pun intended).
The lines to get beer around 6:45 pm.

Joe Short handing out bottles of beer.

The weather ended up being great for everyone to rub elbows with fellow beer geeks and Short's staff members. Some rain was falling right at the beginning of the fest at 6 o'clock, but within about 45 minutes, the drizzle had largely stopped, leaving the rest of the fest with perhaps the best kind of beer-fest weather, overcast with temperatures around 80. No unwanted sunburn this year.

If you've ever been to their pub in downtown Bellaire or even just a beer festival that has Short's beer, you know that their selection never disappoints; Short's Fest was no exception, offering 23 different beers on tap. From lighter, fruitier beers such as the Strawberry Short's Cake or Agave Peach Wheat, to pale ales like the Pandemonium or Prolonged Enjoyment session pale ale, to the more experimental brews such as the Captain Fantasy saison, the Spruce Pilsner, and one of their latest collaborations with Dogfish Head the Cornholio baltic porter – there really was a beer for everyones tastes.

Tours were available at the beginning of the evening to allow Short's fans to experience the creative beer-making process that has produced some of the most innovative beers in the United States, including 2010's Gold Medal Winner in the experimental category at the Great American Beer Festival, Key Lime Pie. Live music was provided by the band Valentiger throughout the evening, which could be enjoyed while eating some food from The Blue Pelican, or while playing ladder ball, big birdie golf, or corn hole, or maybe just while taking a leisurely stroll around the property to admire the new beer festival truck, the S.S. Honeybadger. Beer not really your thing? Joe also had some of his homemade, alcohol-free sodas available throughout the evening. During our time there, we also caught wind that Short's may soon be jumping on the canning band wagon by starting to can some of their beers. Only rumor at this point, but we think that's pretty great!


S.S. Honeybadger

The ladder ball/big birdie golf/corn hole area.

Soaking up the last summer moments before they're over is a must, and the people, small town charm, and gorgeous lakes of Elk Rapids can't be beat (the fact that such delicious beer is produced there is a given). So, what else is there to say, but that we’re already looking forward to next year’s fest!

Us with Joe Short

True Short's fans -- these guys drove all the way from Chicago!

Curt, one of the brewers at Short's and Matt, Operations Manager at Short's taking a little break from pouring beer.

To view more photos from this event, visit our Facebook page.

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