Blues and Brews: Short’s Puts Northern Michigan on the Beer Destination Map  

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

If you’ve never been to Short’s Brewing Company, don’t expect to sample all the beers on tap in one sitting. That might take you a few days, as the beer list is robust. The giant chalkboard hung above the bar listing the day’s offerings is constantly changing – featuring mainstays such as Soft Parade and Huma Lupa Licious, but also incorporating many adventurous and experimental brews.
The entrepreneur behind the board is Joe Short. As a 22-year-old, he registered Short’s Brewing Company as a business in the state of Michigan and opened his brewery’s doors in 2004. His hunch that people would travel to the tiny town of Bellaire for beer that was bold, flavorful and extremely creative paid off. The pub has expanded, taking over adjacent buildings with recent additions including a “Brewtique” with Short’s merchandise for sale and an inviting biergarten. Production moved to Elk Rapids in 2009, allowing bottled beer distribution around the state. The sense of fun and whimsy that infuses the beer also filters down to a culture that celebrates the unique and independent lives of the employees who call Short’s home. “We hire these weird, quirky, unique people who make the experience what it is and it gives Short’s this weird, quirky, unique vibe,” said Mindy Theis, director of human resources. For the past six years, Short’s has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to provide health insurance to full- and part-time employees. Theis said the Blues’ variety of plans means the company can offer choice depending on the varying health needs of their staff. From a PPO plan with steady, predictable co-pays to a higher-deductible plan paired with a health savings account, Short’s is able to meet their employees where they’re at. “They can determine what’s most important for them in their lives,” Theis said. The network coverage available is unmatched in the area, another positive for employees, Theis explained. She’s also thankful for the one-on-one attention she’s received from Lynne Harvey, BCBSM senior account manager, who works out of the Traverse City office. “It’s nice to know that we have somebody close by that we can access if needed,” Theis said. “Short’s is very employee-centric,” Harvey said. “They care about their employees and are willing to go the extra mile to help them understand their benefit plan to make sure they’re happy.” As a prominent employer in Antrim County, Short’s gives back to the community by sponsoring local 5K and 10K road races, the Paddle Antrim Festival, and cross-country skiing and bike races. To foster health and wellness, employees are offered free entry into events the brewery sponsors. Another perk gives employees an annual allowance to invest in their health however they see fit, whether that’s new running shoes, skis or hiking gear. Living in the playground that is Northern Michigan, with the region’s ample trails, lakes and natural features, an active lifestyle is something many employees have in common, along with their love for Short’s. “We love what we do and we love where we live,” Theis said. Check out this video celebrating Short’s 10-year anniversary from 2014. Head on over to our sister site, A Healthier Michigan, for a tasty Soft Parade vinaigrette recipe courtesy of Short’s, and a hearty cucumber and strawberry salad perfectly suited for it from our dietitian Grace Derocha. Photos courtesy of Short's Brewing Company.
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association