Around here, people call me the Dr. You can call me Matt.
Why “the Dr.”?
Because my initials are M.D. and I’m pretty good at fixing problems.
Interviewers always ask you a lot of questions about our brewing philosophy. So I want to hone in on that and ask you what you think best describes our philosophy when it comes to making beer.
Nothing sums it up better than our Brewer’s Creed as written by T$. Our Head Brewer Tony (aka T$) wrote the creed, and it’s an awesome explanation of the various goals that we set for ourselves as brewers at Short’s. A lot of people tend to focus on one aspect of our brewing prowess, such as our experimentation, but there is a lot more to it.
What stands out to you as setting Short’s apart from other breweries?
I think quality, variety, and creativity. And the fact that we use an immense amount of ingredients in our beers to make them deeply flavorful. And I think most breweries tend to be better if they are owned by the brewer who founded the company, such as Short’s, rather than by a bunch of businessmen who think owning a brewery would be cool.
Does it bother you that some people fixate on Short’s as being “crazy” or “extreme”?
Not at all! I just don’t think those descriptions tell the whole story. Our brewers are excellent at making all kinds of beer ranging from the traditional to the cutting edge. To us, it is really all the same except that coming up with our own recipes and ideas requires us to push our traditional brewing knowledge to the limits. And bear in mind that some traditional styles can be pushed to insane limits. And sometimes you have to push yourself to the limit to figure out how to make a traditional style really well.
What’s an example of how extreme and traditional co-exist?
Joe’s 2006-2007 Imperial Series contained experimental beers like Bloody Beer as well as Publican Porter. In Joe’s mind, putting both of those beers in the same “extreme” category made sense, although one is a new invention and one is relatively true to style. I think that same kind of philosophy has always been present in the huge variety of beers on tap in Bellaire. Even back in the olden days, some would be true to style, some would be experimental, and some would be outright crazy. It all seems to fit together just fine in the context of our huge array of tap handles.
You are one of the loudest voices behind our “Michigan only. Michigan forever.” commitment. But seriously, Short’s is going to start distributing outside of Michigan at some point in the future, right?
No way. We’re committed to remaining in Michigan.
The main reason is that we love Michigan and the people of Michigan. It’s never been part of our business model to grow beyond these borders. Relatedly, we want to continue to bottle and release dozens of awesome beers every year instead of being limited to only a few special releases other than our flagships. It takes an immense amount of tank space and planning to release so many specialty brews throughout the year. We would have to limit that and re-focus on our flagship beers if we started to cast our net over a broader territory. Doing so would limit the variety of beers available to our most loyal fans here in this state.
How do the pub and the production brewery operate together?
Both locations have a full time staff of awesome brewers. The Bellaire Brewers brew the beer on tap at our pub, and the production brewers make the beer that is distributed in bottles and kegs throughout Michigan. The pub serves as our pilot or test brewery, and the production brewery is used to replicate pub quality beer on a much larger scale.
You participate in almost every interview for employment positions at Short’s. What kind of people stand out to you as great candidates?
People who love Short’s and want to contribute by doing the job that is posted. We love candidates who are excited about the possibilities that life may hold. We are eternal optimists and we’re always going out on a limb. It’s annoying when people stand below us on the ground and say that we’re crazy and it isn’t going to work out. We like people who share our desire to live life to the fullest and push things beyond what is considered possible.
Over the past couple of years, we have been excited to support the building of a new trail in Bellaire called Glacial Hills. It’s one of the most fun mountain bike trails I’ve ever ridden and it’s within riding distance of our pub. This year we’re sponsoring a Tailwind Race on this trail that should be really cool. As an added bonus, it is taking place on Sunday, August 3rd, the morning after Short’s Fest. As part of our sponsorship we get a bunch of race entries, so I can’t wait to ride and race with my co-workers. I am also hoping to kayak another “epic” stretch of Lake Michigan to raise awareness for clean water and water trails. We paddled from Empire to Good Harbor in a single day last summer and it was an incredible experience.