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      Beer business boom spurs brewery expansion plan

      Short's Brewing Company is banking on the brew boom to continue. The company is unveiling a significant expansion plan in Antrim County.

      The brewery is buying the property next to its current facility in the Elk Rapids Industrial Park which ensures space for future growth.

      Popularity of local brewed beer spurred a 3-million-dollar investment on a new filler/packaging line in Elk Rapids last year, along with the installation of a wastewater pre-treatment system. Along with the growth in Elk Rapids, Short's Brewery also announced expansion of its pub in Bellaire in 2012.

      Short's has experienced a more than 30-percent yearly growth in production volumes over the past five years. Anticipating continued growth, the signed purchase agreement of the land next to its production facility will help with development plans.

      The redevelopment of the two-acre plot of land could take place with the first phase of construction this summer.

      "This expansion is the ideal situation for the production side of short's in the upcoming years," explained Short's Brewery Operations manager, Tyler Glaze. "It'll open up so many more options for what we're able to do in terms of boosting production, getting even more creative in our brewing, bumping up quality of the product we're distributing, and staying in the Elk Rapids community where many Short's employees call home."

      Michigan lawmakers are also tuned in to the microbrew business. The Michigan Farm to Glass bill introduced this month would encourage beer producers to buy local products and benefit from tax breaks.

      The plan is to give tax credit to brewers if 20-percent of the hops used in their beer are grown in Michigan. Other alcoholic beverage producers will get the credit if 40-percent of crops from Michigan are used.

      The Michigan Farm to Glass bill still needs to go through the House and Senate, but representatives hope the bill will pass by the end of this year.

      According to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Michigan's brewing industry contributes more than $133 million to the economy.