The first two specialty releases of 2012 have made it to store shelves around Michigan: Good Samaritan and Woodmaster. These two very unique beers will be pleasant surprises for the weary winter beer shopper. Each showcases local northern Michigan ingredients: one in a crisp and refreshing way, the other in rich, sustaining way.
Good Samaritan is a Belgian Amber Ale brewed with local apple cider and a specialty Belgian yeast strain. Sweet apple aromas and spicy esters of clove, nutmeg, and allspice entice the nose.
A pleasant crimson amber tone and slight haze give this beer an appearance similar to the cider it was made with, while malty hints of raisin and molasses balance the complex spiciness found throughout the profile. The finish is surprisingly clean.
The original batch of “Cider Ale” (the initial name listed in our 2006 brew log) was conceived thanks to a request for a charitable donation for the Bellaire Public Schools. Although, at the time, Short’s barely had enough money to stay in business, Joe wanted to honor the school’s request. He decided to brew a batch of a new beer specifically for the school district, which he personally hand bottled and sold, donating all proceeds.
The Good Samaritan label shows a man in a carriage pulling a Short’s Brewing Company beer cart. The cart has come to a stop, allowing school children to cross the road. The name Good Samaritan derives from our continued interest, as a company, in charitable giving and inspiring others to support their local communities.
The Woodmaster is another Short’s beer rich in history and meaning. It is a high gravity American brown ale fermented with Northern Michigan maple syrup and toasted pecans. This dark brown, full bodied ale is rich with sweet malt and syrup flavors which are complimented by the presence of hop aromas and a faint nuttiness. The palate delights with toasted qualities of caramelized malt and an earthy pecan laced finish.
The first batch of Woodmaster was brewed in Bellaire on March 20, 2007. It was the 289th batch of beer brewed at Shorts, and was part of the Imperial Beer Series (#7 of 13 to be exact). Joe added 6 gallons of late season maple syrup to the brew (as shown in the photo), as well as 30lbs of toasted pecans. Today’s production batches in Elk Rapids use 24 gallons of maple syrup and 120lbs of pecans. That’s approximately 3.5oz of maple syrup and 2oz of pecans for every gallon of beer!
The Imperial Woodmaster was hand bottled in May of 2007 and had an estimated ABV of 9.5%. Today’s 12oz bottles are slightly lower, coming in right around 8.0%. As with other Imperial Beers, each 750ml bottle came with a hand numbered and signed hang tag with a narrative about the beer and brewing process. The hang tag for Woodmaster was unique in that it only described why Joe dedicated this beer to his friend Bill Sohn. It read:
This is a beer I dedicate to one of the most respectable, integral humans I will ever know. Bill Sohn, known as the Woodmaster around Short’s Brewing Company, is responsible for making it possible for me to craft this fine ale. Without the support of Bill and Pat Sohn, this beer and Short’s Brewing Company would not exist. It was the fall of 2002. Inside the wood shop located on Pontius road, Bill and I shared a bottle of an Imperial Stout I had made. While enjoying that beer, I exclaimed my frustrations with my current brewing job and how I wanted to leave and build my own brewery. It was there in that wood shop that Bill offered to support my idea and help develop it into a business. To this day, Bill provides support and guidance to me and Short’s Brewing Company. When I first met Bill, he drank mass-produced American light lager beer. After exposing him to several of my home brews, Bill soon began to fancy the glorious malt complexity of the beer we know now as the Bellaire Brown. Over the course of my home brewing and soon into my professional brewing career, Bill and I grew together as we both enjoyed beer, wood working, and the excitement of building a brewery. Every step of the way, Bill nurtured and guided my spirit with his love, dedication and wisdom to see my dream come to fruition. Bill still actively participates in our events and continues to fill our everlasting wood shop orders. Along with our tap handles, nearly every piece of wood in our facility has been processed by the Woodmaster himself. The label on this bottle is a painting produced from an actual picture of Bill tapping a maple tree in his yard on Pontius road when he was about the same age as I am now (28). There are several elements connecting this beer, to the man, the label and the company. I used maple syrup and pecans as extra ingredients to the formula of the double brown ale. It was appropriate because they both come from trees, and brown was the “conversion” beer for Bill. The label is important because it connects the craftsman approach to the product, the maple syrup, and the integrity of the man. It also articulates the use of working with wood and raw materials, much like the raw material we used to build the pub with. It is with sincere gratitude and love I dedicate this fine ale as the crown jewel of the entire Imperial Beer Series of 2007 to Bill Sohn.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy these first specialty beer releases of the new year. May the Short’s be with you!
Jon Wojtowicz, Short’s Beer Liberator