After disappearing from Michigan store shelves following the brand’s shuttering in the fall of 2019, beloved former Michigan craft brewery Arcadia Brewing Co. will live once again, in a limited capacity. Some of the brewery’s beers will be revived by none other than Bellaire’s Short’s Brewing Co., which acquired the intellectual property and beer brands of Arcadia in the wake of its closure. And they’ll be starting with one of Arcadia’s most-missed beers, the wheat ale known as Witsun.
“There are very few brands that are historical enough that have a particular brand in Whitsun that resonates with consumers,” Short’s Brewing CEO Scott Newman-Bale said in an interview with MiBiz, calling Arcadia “one of the pioneers in the craft beer industry.” The brand will be relaunched as part of Short’s Superfluid Supply Co., an experimental Short’s offshoot, in time for the July 4 weekend.
Arcadia Brewing Co. was a major player in the rise of Michigan as a craft beer destination, alongside contemporaries such as Bell’s, Founders and Dark Horse. It was founded in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1996 and built a large expansion brewery and taproom in Michigan in 2014. As with so many other breweries of its era, though, this proved to be a bad time to take on additional debt, and Arcadia would eventually close the original Battle Creek location in 2017 following disputes with the building’s landlord. By 2018, production and sales had greatly declined, and the writing was more or less on the wall. The brand, which had once been distributed throughout the Midwest, effectively disappeared and the business was shuttered after Arcadia fell behind on mortgage payments, officially closing in September of 2019.
Short’s, meanwhile, sees the Arcadia brand as a potentially lucrative one, given the goodwill that still exists for classic Arcadia brands like Witsun and Angler’s Ale. Witsun in particular was a popular witbier seasonal, although it was likely overshadowed in the minds of some locals by the monolith of Bell’s Oberon. Still, Short’s reports a great deal of enthusiasm for the first reboot of Witsun, and expects to sell as much as 1,000 barrels of Witsun within the brand’s first six weeks.
Short’s is itself 20% owned by Lagunitas Brewing Co., itself owned by Heineken International. Its Superfluid Supply offshoot is also used to produce and brand several other Short’s products, including Starcut Ciders and Beaches Hard Seltzer. Short’s describes it simply as “a place to house ideas,” and says it could also be used to revive other fallen craft brands that might be made profitable once again.
“We don’t anticipate this changing our lives, but we wanted to start a division for helping other companies so that they may not have to close,” Newman-Bale said. “We want to learn some of how that plays within our company.”
Arcadia Witsun should be back on the shelves in Michigan within a few weeks. For the sake of the brewery’s fans, who supported it for decades, we hope it will stick around.