We are pleased to announce the transition from our winter seasonal, Good Humans, to our spring selection, ControversiALE, plus the release of two specialty brews: Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout and the Golden Rule. Each of these are available in stores now, although Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout and the Golden Rule are limited in quantity.
ControversiALE is a tribute to Simcoe hops. Simcoe hops are extremely sought after and limited, so Short’s is excited to share this unique brew with Michigan craft beer lovers every spring. The earthy, citrus laced nose is instantly delectable. Large amounts of toasted grains and high alpha hops form a perfect union that creates the cool sensation of toasted sourdough covered with zesty grapefruit hop marmalade. In contrast to Huma Lupa Licious’ extremely complex aromatic and flavor profile owing to our use of many different kinds of hops in that beer, we developed ControversiALE’s enchantingly straightforward hop aroma, flavor, and overall intensity through ample additions of only Simcoe hops. While this beer is hopped like an IPA, it drinks like a pale ale. The light, refreshing qualities of this beer make it perfect for springtime.
ControversiALE was formerly known as Hangin Frank, but received a new brand name and image this year. What many people do not realize is that this particular beer is now on its third name. When Joe first opened Short’s he began making an exclusive beer, aptly named Stellar Ale, for the Trattoria Stella restaurant in Traverse City. Soon after, the City Park Grill approached Joe to see if he would consider making a beer for them, and he agreed, naming the beer City Park Pale. The beer was a hit, so the City Park decided to make it their house ale. As such, they wanted to add a bit of legend and lore to the brand, and changed the name to Hangin Frank in honor of a ghost said to haunt their basement. As an interesting aside, one of the most legendary Short’s Brews of all time is the Good Feller, an imperial double IPA created by blending an Imperial Stellar Ale with an Imperial Hangin’ Frank. Hopefully the Good Feller will make a return at some point in the future!
For years, Hangin Frank could be found only at the City Park Grill and occasionally on tap at Short’s pub in Bellaire. However, its enchanting hop aroma, flavor, and overall intensity caused it to quickly became one of our most sought after brews. As such, we decided to do a limited specialty bottle release in the spring of 2010. The bottled version was so well received that Hangin’ Frank was later chosen for our Spring seasonal release distributed from March through May.
Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout
Uncle Steve’s is Short’s version of the classic Irish Stout, complete with a dark color, soft head, and smooth full flavor typical of this lighter bodied style. A simple grist formula provides a base of roasted malt flavors while the infusion of nitrogen adds the creamy drinkability everyone loves. This straightforward Irish stout was first brewed on October 17, 2008, which happened to be during the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Completely worn out, Joe sent other Short’s staff to Denver in his place. All of the difficulties of operating the Bellaire pub in a remote part of Northern Michigan were beating him down, so he decided to seize upon the opportunity, with all of the staff gone to Denver, to return to the brewery and reconnect with the thing he loves most: making beer. Coincidentally, on the same night, our Operations Manager, Matt Drake, had travelled to our pub. Through a wonderful twist of fate catalyzed by Leah Short’s introduction, Matt not only met Joe, but ended up helping him brew the first batch of this beer until about 2:30 in the morning. All of their talking (and a few beers) did the trick for cheering Joe up, but then he accidentally lost count of the number of bags of malt he was adding to the mash tun, accidentally went way over on the amount of grain the recipe called for, and ended up with a stuck mash that took twice as long to brew with! By the end of that evening, after talking to Matt, Joe felt re-energized about his work, and a lifelong friendship was formed. And the beer turned out great!
All of this was around the time that we were starting the tradition of releasing a stout series every year. Short’s had experimented with a number of new stout concepts (Smugglin’ Plum Sweet Stout, Uber Goober, etc.), but Joe was looking for one more to help round out the series. As Tony, Steve-O, and Woj were all getting ready to head out to GABF, Steve-O suggested that Joe brew something classic, like a good old fashioned dry Irish Stout. Credited with the idea for this beer, Steve-O (Steve Ison), is paid homage in the weird label art, created by Fritz Hortsman, which actually depicts some relevant Short’s history. The man dressed like a leprechaun is supposed to be Steve-O. He is riding a black cat, which represents an old alley cat that lived behind the pub in Bellaire during the early days of Short’s. Having all grown up during the 80’s, we used to say that it was Steve-O’s sidekick cat, like He-Man in the Masters of the Universe.
The Golden Rule is an English style India Pale Ale made with 100% organic malt and hops. English ale yeast and a simple grist bill create this light golden colored brew and provide a template for the discernable hop characteristics of earthy, grassy, and even hay-like flavors that are detected before a bitter finale. The Golden Rule was first brewed under the name Organic IPA on January 11, 2006. The very first batch of Golden Rule used an exclusive organic hop variety from New Zealand called Pacific Gem hops. Today’s batches still use Pacific Gem hops, but also employ another organic variety, Challenger hops. The Golden Rule has always been loosely modeled after an English IPA, giving the beer a noticeably lighter body and malt flavor, allowing the unique flavor profiles of these organic hops (grassy and hay-like) to shine through. Even though the beer essentially uses all organic ingredients during the brewing process, we abandoned the “organic” portion in the title after the first year as a limited bottle release (2010), deciding it was not worth the hassle to have it USDA organically certified. Although the beer is simply referred to as a “Golden Pale Beer,” we have also described it as an “Organic Golden Ale with Thorough Earthy Hoppiness” and as “A Refreshing, Sufficiently Hopped Golden Ale.”
The name Golden Rule and tag line “Brew unto others, as you would have them brew unto you” is certainly one of the most unique among Short’s Brews. This year’s artwork depicts the figure of Confucius, although in years past the figure was decidedly Christ-like in appearance. Joe’s intention in naming this beer was to pay tribute to this historic guiding principle that he uses in life and in business: to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Though this rule is reflected throughout Joe’s life and throughout our company philosophies, here the message was transmitted through our product: beer. Joe felt that his new organic IPA, which he was extremely proud of, was ideal for the this branding. Tracing the history of the Golden Rule (this year, all the way back to Confucianism) has become a fun part of this brand, and is a rule of thumb that we take to heart each year. The Golden Rule has application to all people, regardless of religious or philosophic belief, whether beer drinkers or not.
Cheers to the early onset of spring, or at least the early release of Short’s spring beers!
– Jon Wojtowicz, Short’s Beer Liberator