Clean Water Makes Better Beer

“Clean water makes better beer.” It’s a simple statement, but it rings true for members of the Northern Michigan brewing community. With breweries and taprooms cropping up in every corner of our state, water is a resource on everyone’s mind.

Nestled along Northern Michigan’s Chain O’ Lakes, 75 miles of inland lakes and waterways that flow into East Grand Traverse Bay, sits both the Short’s Brewing Company pub (Bellaire) and production facility (Elk Rapids). Michigan’s third largest brewery and a strong regional brand, Short’s has built a business on brewing experimental beers and Starcut Ciders using the highest quality ingredients. But arguably the most important ingredient, pristine freshwater, is in jeopardy.

Beneath the Straits of Mackinac lies Line 5, a 63 year old oil pipeline. With a lifespan of 50 years, this pipeline is cause for concern not only to those in the immediate vicinity of the pipe, but all those connected to the Great Lakes. By all estimates, an oil spill at the Straits of Mackinac would have a catastrophic impact on our businesses, residents, and our environment for years to come.

According to Short’s Director of Quality and sustainability guru, Tyler Glaze “The pipeline in the straights poses an avoidable risk that can be easily mitigated. Why risk dumping so much oil into so much clean water? It doesn’t make sense. The environmental quality from Chicago to Detroit, on all the coasts of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, could be drastically reduced if this aging pipe ever ruptures.”   

So what’s a brewery to do? As a company, we’ve worked to implement policies and new technologies to lessen the impact our business has on our environment. From rooftop solar panels to the building of our own wastewater pretreatment facility, we strive to be stewards of our environment at our pub and production facility. And as a company, we’re proud to announce that we’ve joined the Great Lakes Business Network, “a network of business leaders committed to protecting the Great Lakes—people who believe that the risks posed by Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac are greater than the benefits.” Alongside our friends Cherry Republic, Higher Grounds Trading Coffee, Barfly Ventures, and many others, we’re taking a stand for what is right for our employees, our company, and our environment.

As stated by Short’s founder and CEO, Joe Short, “Fresh, clean water is a privilege. We’re really lucky to live in a place with such abundant fresh and clean water. All of us are responsible for the continued health and safety of our water systems. Water is our greatest natural resource. Nothing has more value.”

In brewing, there’s no substitute for water, and in Michigan, there’s no substitute for the Great Lakes. As residents of the mitten, it’s imperative that we do our part to advocate on behalf of and protect the world’s largest surface freshwater system.

We’re taking a stand today and we hope you will too! Visit to learn more about the Great Lakes Business Network and how you can support efforts to decommission Line 5.