Short’s Spotlight: Aaron Smith

Every now and again, we will be taking advantage of this blog as an opportunity to showcase one of the good humans who makes up the Short’s Brewing Company team. You may not believe us, but a random selection process chose our first interview victim participant to be the first name alphabetically on our roster! Let’s have a little chat, shall we?

Aaron Smith DetroitWhat’s your name? What do people call you? What do you call yourself?
My name is Aaron Christopher Smith. Nicknames past and present include Smitty, Smithy, Smife, and A-ron or A-A-Ron. I simply call myself the man… the myth… the legend. O.K. that’s not true.

How long have you been with Short’s? Give us the short story of your life before your Short’s story began.
I have been working for Short’s for 3 and 1/4 years. Before coming to work at Short’s Brewing I attended college at Ferris State University and received a Bachelors Degree in Television and Digital Media Production (real applicable to brewing, right?). After college I moved to Northern Michigan and began working as a Photojournalist for a local news station where I traveled all over Northern Michigan for 4 years covering the news. During this time I fell in love with the area and the people, and I am happy to call this my home.

Being an avid home brewer, when the time came for a job change, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more than to try my hand at being a professional brewer. I reached out to Short’s and lo and behold they were willing to give me a chance and let me get my foot in the door. I started as a Pack line worker with big aspirations, I wanted to brew! Within about 6 months I had gone from Pack line, to Cellarman, to Brewer. My dream job was now a reality.

Bourbon SustyWhich Short’s brew best describes your personality?
The Short’s Brew that best describes my personality would have to be Bourbon Barrel-Aged Sustenance Black Beer. Much like my personality this beer, before going in the bourbon barrels, is smooth, mellow and easy going, but still full of intrigue. After it ages in the bourbon barrels it picks up a whole new level of interest. This question and answer really reminds me of a creepy dating profile question…

Which beer recipe(s) have you developed for Short’s? Which is your personal favorite?
I’ve had the chance to design a few recipes since Rye Not - sm.becoming a Brewer. These include Yer My Boy Blue (Blueberry Milk Stout), Sweet Taters (Brown Ale brewed with sweet potatoes, molasses, and brown sugar), and Rye Not? (American IPA with the addition of Malted Rye).

Out of all of the beers I have created, Rye Not? is my favorite to drink. This beer was an old home brew recipe that I had brewed a few times prior to working at Short’s. Shortly after starting my job here, I shared some of the home brew version with some co-workers and it was a big hit. After Joe and Tony tasted it, they too approved it was a Short’s worthy beer and I brewed the first batch of Rye Not? at the pub.

I have also collaborated with several other staff members to help creates the recipes for Black Chai, Beard of Zeus, Lil’ Wheezy, MMMKay, Goodnight JR, Schnozzleberry Griffin, and Second Wind Rudi.

Kind AleWhat’s your favorite beer to brew and why?
This is a tough question. With the variety of beers we make I have a hard time narrowing it down to one beer. If I had to choose just one it would have to be Kind Ale, but don’t hold me to this answer because it might be different next week. Kind Ale is an extremely labor intensive beer, but we only brew it once per year. Its a beer that I love to drink and I love to brew because it uses fresh hops picked right before we brew it. Using the fresh hops is a fun change of pace from our standard pelletized hops.

What jams do you listen to while brewing?
My brew jams are all over the place. It’s mostly rock music like Foo Fighters, Coheed and Cambria, or Rise Against. Every once in awhile I delve in to the Blues, and late at night after everyone else has gone home I might bust out a little Michael Bublé.

What did you order the last time you ate at the brewpub?
I don’t make it to the pub very often, so when I’m there there is one thing I must get, and that’s a flight of all the new beers I haven’t yet tried. This is exactly what I did on my last visit, along with ordering a mess of appetizers (I was with a group) and a Sketches of Winkle sandwich.

Flag of Bhutan

With no consideration to international politics, which country’s flag is the most appealing aesthetically to you (besides the Star Spangled Banner, of course)?
Definitely have to go with the flag of Bhutan. It has a giant crazy looking serpent on it!!!

How can we achieve world peace?
Simple, just continue brewing more beer. I know after a few beers I want to be everyone’s friend. I’m sure this would apply to everyone else, right?

Any words of wisdom for aspiring brewers?
My words of wisdom for any aspiring brewers are pretty straight forward. Learn as much as you can, homebrew, don’t be afraid to get crazy, and go for it. There is no better time than now.

What’s your favorite thing or idea right now?
My favorite thing right now is my family. I have a new niece I love to spoil. I have a new and exciting future that I’m planning with my fiancé. Between buying a new home and planning a wedding we are feeling blessed and excited about the new year. And finally, where would I be without my Short’s family? As we continue to grow I am beyond excited and honored to work with these truly amazing people. I look forward to many years of brewing the best beer you can find in Northern Michigan. Cheers!

Aaron Smith