It’s an interesting philosophy: Limit your distribution and create demand by being rare and exclusive. Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont is a perfect example. The highly acclaimed craft brewery has an international reputation, but it has purposefully limited quantity and distribution (last time we checked you could basically purchase its beer at the brewery itself and a handful of Vermont bars). The result has been sort of a divinization of the brand, making the Greensboro, Vt., brewery a pilgrimage for craft beer fans.
We felt that Short’s Brewing Co. of Bellaire, Mich., had also embraced a similar philosophy. The brewery’s motto of “Michigan Only, Michigan Forever” created the idea of limiting its crafts to only Michigan residents and gave the brand a privileged quality. Well, soon, more of us will have that same privilege. Short’s Brewing just announced plans to distribute its beer and Starcut Ciders outside of Michigan. It was a big decision, so Founder Joe Short has written a letter you can read on the company’s main site.
“My role is to ensure that we continue to thrive as a business and take care of our staff,” Short said. “Over the past couple of years, we have built a dream team of staff and infrastructure needed to produce our hand-crafted beer on a scale that ensures a constant supply to the state of Michigan. We currently have both the capacity and the personnel to sell more beer and cider than just the Michigan market, without compromising the quality of service to our home state.”
In the press release, Short said the decision had a lot to do with local competition. With the Michigan craft beer scene thriving and shelf space getting tighter, Short’s decided to implement a plan that would allow for sustained growth amid the increasingly crowded market. The company’s also rapidly growing. In 2015, Short’s increased its distribution in Michigan by 24.2 percent. Short’s brewed more than 1 million gallons of beer in 2014 (our latest numbers). That’s a 51 percent leap in sales. Much of Short’s growth can be attributed to the continued success of its flagship and seasonal beers — specifically Soft Parade, Huma Lupa Licious, Local’s and Short’s Seasonal Variety Pack.
Out of state distribution will begin Feb. 5 to Pennsylvania and Illinois.