Nestled in the Mitten State’s wine country, Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire has a reputation for its off-the-wall creations, including a Bloody Mary beer and gin and tonic ale. The brewery’s berry-heavy flagship, Soft Parade, is for those who claim they don’t like beer. There’s no bitter complexity, just some balanced hops and a whole lot of fruit.
Soft Parade has been around since the brewery’s inception in 2004 and survived its infancy despite being expensive to make, especially as a year-round, according to owner Joe Short. Now, Soft Parade is at the forefront of the brewery’s sales as Short’s expanded into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin in 2016.
Soft Parade is named after The Doors’ fourth album and, like all other Short’s offerings, is adorned with original artwork. Artist Fritz Horstman designed the label depicting his girlfriend’s roommate in a folding chair, sleeping next to a beer. Sure enough, Soft Parade could be mistaken for Rosé with its medium-pink body thanks to its one pound of fruit per gallon, crowned by a crisp, white head.
There’s little, if any, beer characteristics that might be seen as a hangup, making it an out-of the-box brew to have on hand for a crowd.”
As soon as it's poured, berry medley jam wafts from the glass. Of the four different berries in this beer, I detected raspberry as the standout, followed by strawberry and blueberry.
Here is where Soft Parade’s fruit puree of quick-frozen berries comes to life, especially with it being a high-gravity beer. As far as the fruit power rankings of flavor, strawberry is the winner, followed by raspberry and blackberry on the finish. Strawberry seeds, oddly enough, are a prominent flavor. The beer is slightly syrupy, but not off-putting. Crisp? Not so much. But smooth? Indeed, and just sweet enough, which is balanced by a rye ale base.
Soft Parade can please a diverse crowd. A 12-pack recently was the drink of choice to split among my wife, who leans toward fruit-infused IPAs; father-in-law, who always has a Bell’s Two Hearted; brother-in-law, an IPA and sour drinker; and his soon-to-be fiancé, an out-of-stater who really wanted some Soft Parade. It’s more of an introductory beer than similar fruit beers, because there’s little, if any, beer characteristics that might be seen as a hangup, making it an out-of the-box brew to have on hand for a crowd.