Each December we celebrate a very special birthday with the release of an extra special beer. Brewed in honor of the birth of Short’s CEO and Creative Engineer, Joe Short, The Liberator is a devilishly delicious, hop packed, double IPA that pairs perfectly with balloons and a big slice of birthday cake. Now brewed for the 8th year in a row, The Liberator is the stuff of fermentation legend. But how exactly did this piece of Short’s history come to be? Read on as we tell you the story of The Liberator.
It was the winter of 2008 and Joe Short was working day and night to open our Elk Rapids Production Facility and subsequently, spending less and less time at the brewhouse in Bellaire. Knowing Joe’s 30th birthday was just around the corner, Tony Hansen (now Short’s Head Brewer) and Steve “The Wizard” Ison, our Packaging and Warehouse Supervisor, saw this as an opportunity to celebrate Joe by brewing a super secret beer in his honor. Disguised as a batch of Stellar Ale, The Liberator was born!
First brewed 8 years ago this month, The Liberator (8.1 % ABV – 116 IBU) is a double IPA that employs a sizable malt bill and a crazy amount of hops added to the boil every 4 minutes, for 120 minutes (30 hop additions for Joe’s 30 years on planet earth). Fruity, floral, and piney hop flavors penetrate throughout the caramelized malt profile. The Liberator is a well-balanced, full bodied brew that has a bitter finish due to the post fermentation addition of lemon and orange zest.
Now, if you’ve ever met Joe, you know that keeping a secret from Short’s fearless CEO is no easy task. Especially when you take into consideration that due to the massive amount of hops added to this brew (over twice as many as are found in a batch of Huma Lupa Licious), The Liberator had to be transferred several times for conditioning. At one point, Steve recalls Joe standing right on top of a hose flowing with the hoppy beverage, The Liberator was literally right under Joe’s feet, yet Tony and Steve still managed to save the surprise.
The name, “The Liberator,” was proposed by Leah Short as a nod to Joe and Jon “Woj” Wojtowicz who worked to educate the masses about craft beer prior to the introduction of Short’s Liberation team. The inspiration for the beer? A meshing of two of Joe’s favorite brews – Huma Lupa Licious and Nicie, to make the “ultimate Joe beer.” Apparently, at one point Tony even considered adding peppercorns!
And with that, a legendary Short’s brew was born. To this day, we’re pretty sure no one has surprised Joe in such a beerffic way. These days, our friends at Hopcat Grand Rapids help us to celebrate Joe’s birthday with a “Beerthday Party” of epic proportions. Get in on the fun with a trip to Grand Rapids on December 15th or by simply enjoying a pint of The Liberator in the comfort of your own home this month. Unlike Cup A Joe or Sticky Icky Icky, we’re keeping this specialty brew in the mitten. Look for The Liberator on store shelves beginning this week.
Want to learn more about The Liberator? Check out this episode of Short’s Cast.