Short’s Brewing’s Adjustment in its New Venture

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Leaving its home state of Michigan has meant some changes for Short’s Brewing.

Taking a harder look at branding and marketing has been on the mind of owner Joe Short since the Bellaire, Michigan brewery announced in January of 2016 that it was expanding its distribution footprint beyond the home state.

The first re-brand in Short’s new era will be the brewery’s summer seasonal as “Nicie Spicie” has been shortened to just “Nicie” while the label has been updated to include a mythological-looking woman holding a bow and arrow. This is to help avoid confusion with the word “Spicie,” which Short thinks has hamstrung the American Wheat Ale brewed with orange and lemon zest along with coriander and peppercorn.

“We felt it was important to remove “Spicie” all together because it can be interpreted so many different ways and it really wasn’t a great descriptor of the beer,” Short said. “How we wanted the consumer to perceive it. We didn’t want them to think It was a hot beer. We want them to realize it’s a summer beer that is refreshing and really, it does cannibalize itself when the word Spicie was there with it. It doesn’t give any thoughts of summer or refreshing.”

short's brewing

A pet project since the beer’s debut as a seasonal in 2009, Nicie’s sales could take off after the confusion is eliminated, Short said. He admitted that the brewery could probably sell “maybe even four times more,” of a different seasonal brand in its place. Yet Short isn’t giving up on it until he sees how it does with the singular name.

“I believe it’s a real contender for one of the most epic summer session and refreshing beers of all time,” he said. “So I haven’t given up on that because I don’t think we have communicated that enough.”

The beer will have two batch runs, with the first just wrapping up while a second batch will come in the summer as the beer will be available until mid-September. Short said the brewery will “cross that bridge when we get there” if the brand takes off and more batches are needed.

“We are still trying to improve our ability to forecast and brew and be flexible with situations,” he said. “As long as raw materials are available and the timing works out.”

This is the second re-branding of the product. Two years after the first run in 2009, the “Spicie” was made smaller on the label and slices of citrus replaced a spice cabinet. Now, Short hopes a clearer message will mean even better sales.

“We really want to identify something powerful and beautiful and elegant and refreshing about this product that will be more attractive to the consumer that is really unfamiliar with it,” he said.


Photo credit: Michael Murphy IV

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