It took 18 months for the under budget and over ambitious project to come to fruition. Joe and several friends and volunteers had gutted and restored the 100 year old hardware store to what it is today. All the craftsmanship was done by Short and crew, from the trim mold, to the bar, right down to the tile work in the bathrooms. The front mosaic took 4 people 3 straight days to complete. The brewing equipment was purchased used and slowly grew with other acquired tanks, kegs and mini expansions throughout the years. The original 7 barrel pub brewing system came with 5 fermenters and 5 serving tanks. The pub systems now employs 9 fermenters, 16 serving tanks, and 7 packaging tanks, along with an expanded cold storage warehouse.
Beer production in 2004 was 178 barrels and grew to 2000 barrels in 2008. The first years were nothing short of a struggle. In fact it would have appeared to not be able to re-open after the winter of 2005. All the beer was going sour, due to lack of attention to the brew house and with little financial resources to get the right tools for the right job, doom seemed imminent. The pub operation required attention, and so did the deli and the office. There was simply too much for any one person to do well. Fortunately with the encouragement and strategic planning from friends and industry colleagues they pulled through. Beer was borrowed from other breweries to pick up the slack, which helped sales and bought time to get new beers brewed.
Future CFO Scott Newman Bale helped allocate financing to cover winter expenses and the brewery prevailed another winter. In the summer of 2006, Joe’s future wife, Leah Hannan joined the pub staff with an exceptional level of professionalism and management ability and took over managing the business, the deli and the pub allowing Joe to devote all of his time to the marketing and brewing operations. Doing a lot with a little, brought SBC into a better financial situation to really make a break for it. Leah worked every single deli shift (am, and pm) that summer to absorb labor expenses and push thousands of sandwiches out of a tiny oven with immaculate consistency. She cleaned up all the books and financing while managing an inexperienced staff and not only demanding excellence, but demonstrating it. Sometime throughout all that craziness Joe and Leah became engaged.They continued to exceed an acceptable limit of hours worked to build a company that reeks of passion and dedication.
During the fall of 2006 Joe began to work on the Imperial Beer Series. These were beers, brewed with imperial strength and most involving nontraditional and unusual ingredients. Essentially it’s the beer project that spent all their money, prompted them to employ infrastructure and push the boundaries of what was again, something humanly impossible. Not only did they release 13 beers that spring, but they did it paired with food just after a special Huma Lupa Release and before the anniversary party in the spring of 2007. This was the dawn of the creative energy to flourish, and new beers to be born. The birth of the imperials slowly gained some attention on the beer web circuit, simultaneously directing the spot light on the pub and the uniqueness and quality of Short’s Brews. Over the next few years more and more crazy projects started developing and SBC was on the creative move. With in-house productions and new beers and no room to put anything, discussions of expansion started to surface. Soon Scott Newman Bale aka the Magician was on board and with the pub and finances under control more development on the brand could be focused. Thanks to the financial genius of the Magician, in January of 2008, Short’s bought a former manufacturing facility in Elk Rapids, just on the other side of Torch Lake from their pub in Bellaire. Thanks to the small crew taking over operation in Bellaire, Joe was able to dedicate and entire year to develop the new brewing operation. It took Joe and a handful of laborers to construct a workable brewery out of a dilapidated building, just as they had done 6 years earlier.
Almost a year to the day the building was purchased, the first batch was brewed and SBC is now in the business of distributing the long awaited 6 pack in addition to their draft. True to their form, the Short’s crew has been railing out truckloads of beer on a 4 head filler for an entire year and released their first seasonal of not one but 7 new beers! Joe and Leah continue to lead their team hands on, and grow with them. They finally found time to set a date, and were married on Torch Lake, where they had meet when they were 16, and tied the knot September 2009. Joe and Leah will have their first baby in January 2010.