This week’s Craft Beer to Cross the Border For feature takes us to Michigan for a fall favorite from Short’s
For those of you that have crossed the border for a six-pack or two of Short’s, you’ve probably done so to snag their Strawberry Short’s Cake or Key Lime Pie. There’s no doubt Short’s does some really funky stuff — and they do it well — but sometimes they do an under-the-radar beer that doesn’t have off-the-wall ingredients or isn’t super-high in ABV. Those beers are subtle and unique and they’re a bit of a mind-bender because they shouldn’t be as good as they are — but they are. And Short’s Autumn Ale is one of those beers.
The Autumn Ale pours out a like a pile of multicolored leaves; a slightly scuffed apple red fills the middle of the glass while subtle orange hues stretch to the space closest to the edge of the glass. When I told Ben I was reviewing this beer he told me it smells like raking leaves — if such a smell exists — and I’ll be damned if I can’t think of a better description.
Perhaps, though, it’s not that the beer smells like something specifically Autumn but it certainly gives you a sense of Autumn — that sense of leaves crunching beneath your feet as you walk down a sidewalk wearing a thin fleece with the aroma of a smouldering fireplace in the air.
The taste is equally as autumnal. There are freshly picked apples steeped in pear juice, followed by a slight maple syrup sweetness and a warm smokiness — all with an undertone of unsweetened tea. Short’s Autumn Ale finishes dry with a mild, earthy — bordering on herbal — hoppiness.
Does Short’s brew better beers than the Autumn Ale? Sure. But this is more about the senses it conjures than the IBU’s or ABV. It’s a good beer in an under-appreciated category that is a great bridge beer between whatever you’ve been drinking this summer and whatever you will be drinking this fall.