link to review
I was in northern MI visiting family, and finally had the opportunity to visit Short's that I'd been wanting. Bellaire seems in the middle of nowhere, until you're there, then suddenly there's more going on than you would guess. Short's is unobtrusive from the street, and you'll probably have to park in the back. The back door to the pub still says "Hardware" from the previous shop, so that's a little confusing.
Once inside you'll see all of the elbow grease that Joe Short has used to convert salvaged barn lumber into a very modern yet historic flavored BP. Two dining rooms available, with a small stage at the rear of the far one. Reclaimed bricks from Boyne MI line the stage- cool for a history junkie and junk junkie like me.
Previous reviews mentioned few menu items; this has obviously changed a lot in the last year or two. Two to ten choices in each category of appet, soup, salad, entree, etc. I had the Sketches of Winkle sandwich, and it was very good. I had a long drive ahead of me, so I didn't want to 'load up' on beer, but since I live so far away, I really wanted to try them all. I asked a server if I could have a half sample of all of the beers, and the staff was happy to comply, without any trace of "wow is
this guys a pain in our a$$es". At the risk of starting an unwanted trend, they brought out one each of their 18 draft beers. Wow. A very diverse selection, each one made VERY well- NO observable flaws in ANY of them. How rare is that? No DMS,
no diacetyl, no oxidation, no nothing. A TINY bit (to such a small degree it was still WELL within the enjoyable range of astringency in the Chocolate Wheat- and it was one of my favorites! The service was attentive and sincere without hovering.
The pub was busy enough to show their popularity, without the service suffering for it.
A brief rundown of the beers on 7-12-2012:
Alter Spalter: SO close to the perfect session beer I've searched for for years.
GRAIN FLAVOR. Kinda like how awesome raw grain tastes when you're brewing your own.
Wizard: BIG, carmelly, sweet, bourbon, vanilla. And still TOTALLY drinkable, DL's baby brother.
MI Brewer's Guild 15th Anniv ale: same recipe that's being made all over MI now. I had another BP's version, and Short's TROUNCED it. Same recipe, same ingredients, different brewer, technique, skills, etc. Not too anything, just a damn good beer!
Rye Not: I'm not a big fan of rye, not a big hop-head, but wow, what an enjoyable beer! Maybe if you ARE both of the previous, you won't like it. Go there and find out!
Pontius Road Pilsner: Again, not a big pilsner lover. A great beer, and an INCREDIBLE pilsner, IMHO. Very pale, with a much bigger beer's nose. Very balanced, not weak or bitter.
(Pretty much ALL of their beers are very well balanced. I don't have Unbalanced in my notes anywhere. And no, I don't work for Short's!)
Spruce Pilsner: Spruce aroma, and very present flavor, but not over the top-I'm-gonna-hurl present). Light, crisp, sweet, almost reminiscent of craft root beer. Sort of medicinal, but not chlorophenol, just herbal.
Bellaire Brown: If you love a brown ale, GO to Short's. It's everything you've been looking for in a brown ale. I've had their Brown in bottles before, and I bought a six of it this time, but the bottled version does NOT compare to the draft. Kinda like seeing a video of your favorite singer, compared to standing 10 rows back at a concert.
Local's light: Yeah, their beer with training wheels. BUT, it's one of the best light beers you'll try. NOT weak, watery, bland; none of the stereotypes. A hint of lemon, with a sweet aroma. I would order this over a Sam Adam's any day.
Pandemonium Pale: Probably the most IPA-y beer they have, with a delicious grain flavor and a dry finish.
Strawberry Short's Cake: Wow. It is what it says, really. Real strawberries give their best in flavor and color (rosy pink). This isn't your girlfriend's "chick beer"... but it will be! There is also milk sugar in there, which lends it a creamy
sweetness, and the grain steps up with a biscuity finish, so it ends up actually tasting like a Strawberry cream cobbler. I usually dismiss fruit beers, but this one earns its keep.
Ok, I know by now you don't believe I'm not a shill, but this visit really made an impression on me. Bigger than my first visit to Founder's or Bell's. I'm really not coming up with a BP that I can recommend more. None of their beers were SUPER outlandish, just very well made beers, using well designed recipes, with a thorough understanding of good brewing practices.
My biggest complaint would have to be that the bottled versions don't share the same magic of the draft versions. Fix that, and they could give the bigger breweries a scare.
reviewed on: 2012-07-14 12:03:05