On Hallowed Ground: We Went To Shorts (Finally)

In Brewpub Review by Karl

KARL: It should come as no surprise that we like Shorts. Combine a minimalistic sensibility with an aptitude for amazing specialty brews and experimental fruit beers (paired with a little bit of demand from market limitation) and you’ve got a recipe for Shorts, and we like it. Despite being in Northern Michigan just a short drive up the road from Traverse City, a place I find myself semi-regularly, I’ve never found my way through the tree-lined state roads to Bellaire, Michigan. Until Friday night, that is.

As part of an 8-hour trip to the northeastern tip of the mitten, we went a good 90 minutes out of our way to find the wide spot in the road where the Shorts brewpub sat. Based on our tiny little bit of observation of the geography, Shorts appears to be the only game in town – and on Friday night with the sun going down over the woods, they were in full swing.

Each brewpub is a different animal, and at this beast you stand in a long, winding line through practically half the building to place your food and drink order. Menu-wise, Shorts has a nice selection of sandwiches, pizza and other items, much like Marshall’s Dark Horse, but the vibe is “log cabin lodge house” versus “biker garage.”

The main draw to Shorts was to get our grubby little hands on all those special taphouse only brews we’ve read about for years. As we still had another couple hours to go down the road, we couldn’t get too torn up, but then, that’s why they make samplers, isn’t it?

A half dozen short pours and a pint later (along with a sandwich and some mac n’ cheese) we were on our way with a deepened appreciation for what these guys are producing. I can only hope to create a Founders CBS like level of insanity by telling you: They don’t make much and it’s hard to get and you’ll probably never have any of it.

There. We should be seeing growlers on eBay for thousands any time now.

We drove hours for six little pours of beer and a pint.

Our rundown:

Key Lime Pie: Finally we have a draft example of this beer to compare it to the bottles we found last year! Guess what! I still don’t love it. We were a little confused by their win last year at the GABF in the experimental category, but since they gave it to the terrifying-sounding and potentially-trichinosis-tactic Pig Porter from Right Brain, we can only assume that no one knows what they’re doing with that category.

Imperial Porter: A win! A resounding win! Deep, silky, smoky and laced with espresso, this beer was worth the drive. Thick, hearty, worth it. Would go killer with chili.

Funkin Punkin: We’ve got a pumpkin roundup coming later, so I’ll just say that yes, of all the pumpkin beers I’ve had this year, this was definitely one of them.

Wiskey (or yeah, maybe whiskey depending on which spelling Shorts decided to use, we saw it both ways) Sour: Neither very whiskey-y or sour. Brewed with lime flavor as well, this was light and fruity but not much else. The miss of the evening.

Chocolate Wheat: Please, Shorts: Bottle this beer. Skip the Bloody Beer and the Plum Rye Bock and all that and put this out where we can get it. It’s not chocolatey like a big imperial stout or a porter – rather, take the sweetness from an American wheat beer (say, their Beach Wheat, perhaps) and add tons of chocolate malts and hints of cocoa. It kinda defies description, which makes it even better. It’s dark yet light – a perfectly perplexing beer I’d love to enjoy over the fall and winter when certain beers can be just too heavy.

Autumn Ale: We got a growler of this and it travelled great. If Shorts set out to brew their version of Lagunitas’ Hopstoopid, they succeeded. Huge malts and bright clear hop bitterness up front with the flavor of an afternoon raking leaves in the sun.

Bourbon Wizard: Holy shit. Holy shit, you guys. This was…this was…oh geez. Yeah. That good.

Barleywine plus bourbon barrel aging plus 12% abv plus Shorts wizardry came up with one amazing brew. I had just a few ounces and was blasted with flavor. Just brutalized. Put this up against Old Guardian and see what happens. Your brain might implode.  A bomber of this might be lethal, but I would pay good money if I saw this in a little 8oz. pony bottle. Shit, package it in a little airport liquor bottle and we’d still be in good shape. Mankind wasn’t meant to handle any more.

Finally, as you drive away in early October, you get skies like this to look at as you cruise away.

It was worth the trip. We’ll see Shorts again…shortly, we hope.

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, comes out in late 2017, and if you’re buying, he’s likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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