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Friday, June 8, 2018

New Beer Friday, Country Roads Edition (June 8)

First fish on the fly
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Now that we’re semi-retired, my wife Barb and I have been spending a lot of time at our cottage, which means we’ve been spending a fair amount of time driving around on country roads. We take those roads to get to our fishing spots and we travel down them on our occasional trips to the stores, restaurants, bars and fly-fishing shops in the rural areas of Lake and Mason counties. Since there’s never much traffic on those roads, I see more vehicles on my five-minute drive to Siciliano’s than I do during a week’s worth of driving up north, and I’m better able to focus on the lovely country scenery. That’s not to say that you can completely zone out. You have to keep an eye out for the ubiquitous deer and for the flocks of oblivious turkeys.

While many of those roads are paved there’s still a good number that are not. I prefer unpaved roads despite the fact they're dusty when dry, muddy when wet and have the tendency to get terribly washboarded. There have been times I was driving down a gravel road at a pretty good clip when I hit a stretch of ripples that rattled the truck so hard that I feared the fillings were being dislodged from my teeth. But the scenery always seems to be better on those roads — the dilapidated barns, the pine-stump fences, the meadows of wildflowers, the rickety wooden bridges over the occasional creek.

Perhaps another reason I like gravel roads is that they usually lead you to the best fishing spots and lately we’ve been doing a fair amount of angling. Barb has been learning the intricacies of fly fishing and last week she caught her first brown while wading in the Little Manistee. She was lamenting the fact that the trout was a tad small until I relayed to her what the late Pete Hamlin said to Harry Winston and I one night at the Bear Creek Inn. “If you can catch a trout on a fly in the Little Manistee,” he told us, “you can catch a trout on a fly anywhere.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale, $1.89/12oz - "Accompanying a simple malt base, blueberry, raspberry and tart cherry play in perfect harmony to create a slightly tart ale that sings with ripe, bursting fruit flavor. Aromas of dark berries, citrus and melon open the show, bridging to zippy fruit flavors that meld into an easy-drinking summer beer worthy of an encore" (source).
  • Central State/Transient Haizon, $4.39/16oz - "Combination of a hazy dry-hopped beer and light, refreshing farmhouse ale. Malt bill of Indiana-malted Rye, Pilsner, and Wheat with Citra and Loral cryo hops" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $2.79/12oz - "In addition to fermentation with an ale yeast, Berliner Weisse is traditionally fermented with lactic cultures to produce its acidic (or green apple-like) character. Served as an apertif or summertime quencher, Festina is delicately hopped and has a pale straw color. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup" (source).
  • Eel River Emerald IPA, $2.59/12oz - "A bold, West Coast-style IPA bursting with pine and citrus notes supported by a solid malt backbone. Hopped and dry-hopped with Magnum, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe varieties" (source).
  • Eel River Organic Acia, $2.39/12oz - "A Certified Organic, delicate crystal wheat beer with a light, thirst-quenching body, balanced by the equally refreshing aroma of organic acai, pomegranate, and other mixed berries " (source).
  • Eel River Organic Blond, $2.39/12oz - "Our lightest beer . A great organic beer. With an exceptionally crisp palate, this ale balances the light malt palate with a subtle bitterness. This ale is an ideal beer for those unaccustomed to micro-brewed beers. Made with pale, wheat, carastan and carapils malts. Hopped with Cascade, Saaz and Tettnang hops. Made with pride and great taste from the worlds first certified organic brewery" (source).
  • Eel River Organic Tropical Sparkling Ale, $2.39/12oz - "An Organic Sparkling Ale, light in color, and effervescent in body with a clean finish. It lends itself perfectly to the tropical flavors of the Organic Passionfruit and Kiwi that are used to bring summer into the glass. The Organic Tropical Sparkling Ale is the perfect companion for any outdoor activity" (source).
  • Ellison You Can Get With That Juice, $3.29/16oz - "Are you ready for some hazy, NE Coast love? A double dry hop gives this IIPA an aroma that is packed citrus and fruit. It's sweet to start, with a succulent mouth feel that finishes smooth and dry" (source).
  • Marz Jungle Boogie, $4.69/12oz - "Jungle Boogie is an American Wheat beer with just enough complex malt character to balance the juicy Mosaic hops and rooibos tea flavors. Canned version brewed at Against the Grain" (source).
  • Odd Side El Dankerino, $2.79/12oz - "West Coast IIPA" (source).
  • Perrin Passion Fruit Gose, $2.09/12oz - "Passion Fruit Gose combines the tropical taste of ripe passion fruit with the distinct flavor of pink Hawaiian sea salt to balance the taste buds in a crisp, refreshing beer for summer thirst" (source).
  • Roak Ice Cream Man, $3.39/16oz - "Sour ale with aromas of orange and vanilla leading into a slightly sweet tartness that is balanced and refreshing. Brewed with orange zest, vanilla, lactose" (source).
  • Roak Zenyatta, $3.09/16oz - "This session IPA is hazy in appearance and brewed with lactose for added body and a pillowy mouthfeel. Dry hopped with Amarillo, Calypso, El Dorado, and Denali hops. Zenyatta has notes of citrus and tropical fruit that lead to a clean finish" (source).
  • Short's Power of Love, $2.19/12oz - "Power of Love is a truly unique pink-colored shandy created by blending local lemonade and a Wheat Ale brewed with raspberry and rosemary. Enticing sugary aromas intermix with appealing citrus and herb fragrances. Very sweet lemon flavors give way to a shock of tart raspberry before turning sharply dry, as if eating a piece of grapefruit" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Sidecar IPA, $1.79/12oz - "We pushed the complex and citrus-heavy flavors of hops to a new level with this orange-infused IPA. Combining bright and bold hops with real orange in the fermenter creates layers of citrus-crazy flavors, yet it maintains a balance and a crisp hop bite that make it the perfect aromatic IPA" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 7-4, $3.19/12oz - "For this version of Stone Enjoy By IPA we thought: “We don’t always have a filter, so why should our beer?” By skipping a step and letting this devastatingly fresh, golden-hued double IPA go un filtered, the beer takes on a hazy appearance and its peach and tropical fruit hop aroma are intensified. So though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep" (source).
  • White Flame Hardball IPA, $2.99/12oz - A 12.5% IPA from "Hudsonville's oldest brewery" (source).

Video of the Week | Enjoy By 7-4-18

Available at Siciliano's while supplies last.


Friday, June 1, 2018

New Beer Friday, The Sixth of June Edition (June 1)

Fiction by Steve Siciliano

The clerk was sweeping cigarette butts up on the sidewalk in front of C’s when he spotted Joe Nelson across the street waiting for the traffic signal to turn. After dumping the butts into a metal trash container chained to a lamp post the clerk bought a newspaper from a kiosk chained to a stop sign. When he was back in the store he lit a Marlboro then sat down with the newspaper and didn’t look up when Joe Nelson leaned heavily against the sales counter. “Starting a little early today aren’t you, sport,” the clerk said.

The old man looked at the stubble on the young man’s chin, at his wisp of a mustache, at the stringy blond hair poking out from beneath the turned around baseball cap, at the dangling earrings and the thick, braided necklace. “Anything in the paper about the invasion,” Joe Nelson asked.

“What invasion?”

“You know what date today is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the clerk said.

“I said do you know what date it is.”

The clerk gave Joe Nelson a disgusted look then glanced at the date at the top of the sports page. “June 6,” he said. “What of it?”

“Nothing,” Joe Nelson said. He took six crumpled one dollar bills and a handful of change out of his pants pocket and laid them on the counter. “Give me a fifth of Old Crow,” he said.

“Since when do you drink Old Crow?”

“On June 6,” Joe Nelson said. “On June 6 I drink Old Crow.”

The clerk stubbed out his cigarette and rang up the bottle of bourbon. “You’re short nineteen cents, sport.”

Joe Nelson carefully recounted his money and then looked up at the clerk. “Last week when I asked Mary she told me it was eight twenty-nine.”

“Well guess what. It went up.”

“Front me the difference. I’ll pay you when I get my check.”

“No credit,” the clerk said.

Standing at the sales counter the old man looked around the store. “Is Mary working?”


Joe Nelson looked at the clerk then picked up the bills and coins and slowly walked out the door. Fifteen minutes later he slowly walked back in with two empty beer cans. “Here’s your nineteen cents,” he said. “Now give me that goddamn bottle.”

It took Joe Nelson an hour to walk the mile to Riverside Park and then another half hour to find a good spot along the river bank to sit. While walking down the hill through the run-down neighborhood, over the abandoned railroad tracks, past the warehouses and factories and then across the busy four-lane to the wide expanse of the park, he thought about Private Jack Carter. Jack Carter, big, strong country boy from Kentucky. Self-proclaimed expert squirrel hunter. Wise-cracking, gum-smacking, bourbon-loving, toughest son-of-a-bitch in the platoon. “We’re gonna get through this,” he told Joe the night before the invasion. “When this shit is over you and me gonna drink us some Kentucky hooch,” he told Joe while they were crossing the channel on the troop transport. “Let’s push them damn Huns back to Germany!” Jack Carter yelled over the noise of the engine while they were going in on the Higgens boat. When they hit a sandbar the coxswain lowered the ramp and the Germans opened up with the MG-42s. Private Jack Carter never made it off the ramp. He was twenty-two.

With the bullets from the machine guns splatting around him Joe Nelson hoisted himself up and over the side of the Higgens boat. When he realized he couldn’t touch bottom he let go of his rifle and it was only after he released his pack and tore off his assault jacket that he was able to keep his head above water. He knew that the only way he would make it to shore was by floating in on the surf like a dead man. When he was finally able to stand he began running for cover towards a burning tank and it was then that he was hit. For Joe Nelson, the war was over.

When the bourbon was gone he stood and threw the bottle as far as he could into the fast moving current. “Another dead soldier,” he said to himself. On his way back through the park he came upon a baseball field. There were people sitting on metal bleachers behind each dugout, more people sitting on lawn chairs along the baselines and a man leaning by himself against the left field fence. Joe Nelson walked up and leaned next to him. “Whatssa score?” he asked him.

“Nine to one,” the man said.

“Who’s winning?”

“The blue team.”

“You got a kid out there?”

“Yes,” the man said. “The pitcher.”

Joe Nelson stopped leaning for a moment and brought his hands up to his mouth. “Throw the heater!” he yelled. “Throw the goddamn heater!”

The man moved a few feet further down the fence.

“Whatsa matter?” Joe Nelson asked him.


Joe Nelson decided to try again. “You know what date it is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the man said.

“Do you know what date it is?”

The man moved a little further down still, and was relieved when Joe Nelson finally turned and walked away from the ball field.

This story appeared previously on the The Buzz.

New and Returning Beer

  • Stone I'M Peach Double IPA, $3.19/12oz - "Who wants to kick fruit out of beer? Not us. When done right, adding orange or grapefruit or tangerine can contribute a deeper level of delicious complexity to the beer. In this case, peach was the perfect complement to enhance the substantial bill of hops in this double IPA. May its reign last more than a few terms" (source).
  • New Holland Honey Sour Inc Honey Ginger Ale, $3.49/12oz - "This is Sour Inc Honey Ginger Sour Ale and it is exactly what you think…a sour ale brewed with honey and ginger" (source).
  • Atwater Traverse City Wheat Wheat, $2.09/12oz - "The addition cherries from Traverse City, MI, prior to fermentation, Atwater’s Cherry Wheat brings a bright tartness together with the crispness of an American Wheat ale" (source).
  • Perrin & Cigar City North South IPA, $2.49/12oz - "To celebrate the launch of Cigar City Brewing to the Michigan & Chicago markets John Stewart of Perrin Brewing invited Wayne Wambles of Cigar City up to brew a collaboration IPA. Using Denali, Enigma, Galaxy and Citra Cryo-hops this North-South IPA beer takes all the aroma and hop flavor of an NE-IPA with less haze to create a more stable full hop flavored beer with delicious tropical and juicy hop aromatics" (source).
  • Founders Double Trouble, $3.39/12oz - "An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops will get you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front pair with a malt-balanced backbone and a smooth, bitter finish" (source).
  • Terrapin T-Time, $1.99/12oz/1.99 - "“T-Time” Berliner Weisse is a tart and thirst-quenching wheat beer made with fresh tea and lemon peel. This easy-to-drink summertime refresher will get you back into the swing of things both on and off the course" (source).
  • Ballast Point Fathom IPA, $1.89/12oz - "Fathom IPA highlights our favorite characteristics of the west-coast IPA style. This crisp and clean brew features a touch of malt on the surface with an ocean of zesty orange and piney hops below. The result is a refreshing, easy drinking IPA with just the right amount of depth" (source).

Video of the Week | Proper Glassware

Join the education team at Founders for a quick lesson in glassware.


Friday, May 25, 2018

New Beer Friday, Congrats Phil Pierce Edition (May 25)

To the victor go the spoils
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I am pleased to announce that Phil Pierce is the winner of Best of Show for the Fifteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. The president of the Brewsquitos homebrew club took the top honors with his wood-aged beer and was presented the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup last Saturday at the Fifteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party at Johnson Park. This is the first time that a Brewsquitos member has won the coveted award. Phil also received a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and will be brewing his winning recipe at the Mitten Brewing Company.

After being presented with The Cup, Phil carried on the tradition of drinking from the trophy and he quaffed the beer in one long uninterrupted gulp. It was an impressive performance.

After the festivities wrapped up, a few partiers joined Barb and I for Manhattans and Perdomo Craft Series cigars on our backyard deck. Among those in attendance were Jeremy Gavin and Ric Brown who were behind a practical joke involving a forehead and a Prime Time homebrew club sticker after the 2017 party. Needless to say I made damn sure that I didn’t doze off in my chair this year.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Cucumber Lime Gose, $3.19/12oz - "Cucumber Lime Gose is a beer designed for a hot summer’s day! It’s bright acidity complements additions of flaked sea salt, plenty of fresh lime peel and cucumber to bolster the naturally crisp, refreshing qualities of our German-style Gose. Enjoy poolside and let the day drift away" (source).
  • Bell's 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout, $4.19/12oz - "We brewed a version of Cherry Stout in 2001 using oak chips and cherry pits. This time around, we decided to brew with whole cherries and oak chips. Coming in at 9.0% alcohol by volume, this commemorative batch is a celebration of what Cherry Stout means to us" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Secret Rituals, $5.19/16oz - "A hazy, ripe, fresh delight. featuring Vic Secret, Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Zaison, $4.69/16oz - "Zaison takes its inspiration from the famous Saison style of beer made in the southern region of Belgium. Traditionally this beer is made in the coolness of the winter months to be enjoyed in the Spring and Summer. Our special Belgian yeast strain gives this beer a little funkiness and is accented with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel. Probably one of the strongest summertime beers you will encounter, we recommend using the buddy system, always drink with a friend" (source).
  • Coppercraft Michigan Mule, $3.99/12oz - "Just like its Russian cousin, except way more Midwest! Coppercraft put real, premium vodka and authentic Michigan hard ginger cider that placed it in a metal container that is designed for your active lifestyle. Every part of the Michigan Mule is copper-crafted. Take it everywhere" (source).
  • Decadent Citra, Citra, Citra, $5.69/16oz - "This is a triple dry hopped version of our all Citra DIPA, Citra Citra" (source).
  • Deschutes Twilight, $1.99/12oz - "Summer has its own rules. As luck would have it, it also has its own beer. This clever golden-hued ale pours remarkably crisp and clean. A distinctive malt body complements a refreshing hop profile led by a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops. Enjoy" (source).
  • Ellison Makin Memories Imperial Irish Coffee Stout, $4.39/16oz - "A creamy mouthfeel gives way to a light roasty flavor and finishes with subtle chocolate notes" (source).
  • Evil Twin Lost Souls, $5.19/16oz - "A 7 percent ABV IPA brewed with galaxy and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Evil Twin Once A Day, $3.89/16oz - "A double IPA brewed with lactose and vanilla" (source).
  • Evil Twin Saus Baus, $5.19/16oz - "India Pale Ale Brewed With Oat And Lactose With Vanilla, Tangerine Puree, And Yuzu Juice Added" (source).
  • Farmhaus Grapefruit Skinny Dip, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Farmhaus Skinny Skinny Dip, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Great Lakes Raspberry Holy Moses, $1.89/12oz - "In the spirit of Moses Cleaveland's thirst for discovery, our classic White Ale meets fresh, juicy raspberries to forge a pint worth planting a flag in (or an orange slice!)" (source).
  • Maui Waimea Red, $2.39/12oz - "American-style Red Ale brewed with Waimea and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Revolution Rosa, $1.99/12oz - "A highly drinkable Golden Ale steeped with hibiscus, resulting in a natural tartness and slight pink hue" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Juice Deuce Uncut, $3.89/12oz - "Even more abundant with citrusy, fruity loopy-like hop aroma and flavor, this idiosyncratic Double India Pale Ale is deep orange in color and presents with a pleasantly soft mouthfeel" (source).
  • Stillwater Dry Cry, $5.19/12oz - "Dry-Hopped Sour Ale Brewed With Riesling Grapes" (source).
  • Stillwater Tangerine Haze, $5.19/12oz - "Wild India Pale Ale with Tangerine" (source).

Video of the Week | Long Live Summer!

We thought this was a fitting video, it being Memorial Day weekend and all.


Friday, May 18, 2018

New Beer Friday, Fish Story Edition (May 18)

Like father
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Well I have to admit that I’m starting to like being semi-retired. Barb and I spent most of this week at our cottage Up North. We would probably still be there if not for the fact we’re hosting a small party this Saturday for a hundred or so of our loyal homebrewing customers. Just a reminder that the annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party has a new format this year. Go here for complete details.

Since I don’t have much to do at the store these days, I now have more time to while away on rivers. Barb thinks I’m obsessed with fly fishing and she’s probably right. But instead of trying to tamp down my enthusiasm for the sport she has decided to join me. She has taken a few fly-fishing classes through the local Orvis store and has already fished with me this spring on the Rogue, the Betsie and the Little Manistee. One evening this past week she caught a nice rock bass while fishing off our dock. I was fiddling around in the garage at the time and she ran up to show me her catch then raced back to return the fish to the lake. She might be hooked.

Like son
Last week my son Chris was able to break away from his job for a few days and we spent one of them fishing on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam. The temperature never got above fifty and at about two o’clock a sleety rain began falling and continued on and off until we got off the river two hours later. But we were dressed for the weather, our excellent guide Matt from D-Loop Outfitters got us on fish and we were able to hook into a few nice browns.

That evening back at the cottage I grilled a couple of steaks while Chris sautéed some morels that he had found the previous day. A pre-dinner Manhattan warmed us up and the nice Italian red we had with the meal warmed us up even more. While we ate we talked about the fish we landed and about the two big ones that broke our leaders and got away. It was a pretty good day.

Every fish story has a morel

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Melt My Brain, $2.19/12oz  - "Melt My Brain is an experimental Golden Ale brewed with coriander, juniper berries, limes and blended with Short’s made tonic water to create the tasting experience of drinking a gin and tonic cocktail. Delicate aromas of citrus and pine flow into bold bright flavors of sweet lime with a slightly sticky bitterness. Refreshing and clean, a tasty tonic effervescence provokes the palate for more" (source).
  • Odd Side Passion Juice, $2.39/12oz - "IPA with passion fruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Shadynasty, $2.59/12oz - "An American IPA with a ton of juicy American hops that include Denali, Citra, and Mosaic. A mouthful of resiny goodness and light malt with a semi dry body that hosts a well rounded bitterness. Pours hazy golden with a lacing white head. Classy! Limited small batch production runs" (source).
  • Lion Coffee Stout, $2.49/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Epic Big Bad Baptista, $16.59/22oz - "Big Bad Baptista is a combination of Vanilla, Cinnamon, Mexican coffee roasted by Blue Copper, and Solstice Chocolate cacao nibs. It’s luxurious to say the least, with a pleasant warming sensation generated by the cinnamon and alcohol. Enjoying the interplay of chocolate, malt, oak, and spice is the perfect way to spend a cool evening, with friends around a fire" (source).
  • Tallgrass German Chocolate, $1.89/12oz - "Stout with roasted coconut and cocoa nibs" (source).
  • North Coast Tart Cherry, $2.89/12oz - "North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse is made with the juice of Michigan Montmorency cherries, whose addition softens the lactic finish of the beer and gives it a springtime blush" (source).
  • Ciderboys Peach County, $1.79/12oz - "The ice chill of the bottle smiles at the heat of the day. Thirst quenching apple and ripe fuzzy peach collide in a fantasy blend. Crank up the piano keys. Dance if you want to. When summer breezes soar under the light of a crescent moon, this is your party" (source).
  • Ciderboys Pineapple Hula, $1.79/12oz - "Taste rides an unexpected wave.  Refreshing sweet tart flavor alive with the inspired pairing of apple and screaming yellow pineapple.  Big citrus taste born of a feeling the wave will never go flat.  You close your eyes at the peak moment a tremendous feeling rushes over you" (source).
  • Ciderboys First Press, $1.79/12oz - "Everything changes when you bite into a bottle of First Press Traditional Hard Apple Cider. Eyes of friends sparkle. Passion overflows with perhaps the best thing on earth ­ the anticipation of sweet, crisp and tart. Taste hard cider fireworks. Revel in its energy. Grin to the skies. Save an extra for yourself" (source).
  • Ridge Cider Berries, $2.09/12oz - "A tart and tangy blush of Michigan-grown strawberries and blueberries" (source).
  • Central State Oatsplosion, $4.09/16oz - "Brewed with an absurd amount of flaked oats of an equally silly amount of Citra and Mosaic hops, this IPA is bursting with juicy fruit flavors and silky smooth texture" (source).
  • Central State Table, $3.29/16oz - "Table is a rustic blonde ale fermented with our unique yeast strains and brewed in the style of French and Belgian style table beers" (source).
  • Central State Fall Kriek, $3.89/16oz - "No, this beer isn't named for the season of Fall. Rather, it's named after one of the waterways meandering through Indianapolis — Fall Creek. We brewed this sour ale with real cherries to be consumed any time of year. Optimally while enjoying the natural beauty all around us every day" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Passion Pool, $3.89/16oz - "Gose with Passion Fruit" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Brunch of Nuts, $6.99/16oz - "Imperial Stout brewed with Coffee, Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Nuts" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Staff Magician, $3.29/16oz - "New England style Pale Ale" (source).

Quote of the Week

"I’ve met SO many wonderful people over the years ... 
It’s one of the many cool things about running a store like this."

—Steve Siciliano

Go here to read Steve's full interview
with MittenBrew.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

2018 Big Brew Retrospective

By Steve Siciliano

Well I’m certainly glad that the high winds that tore through the environs of Beer City USA late last week died down before they could wreak havoc on Saturday’s Big Brew Day. The gusts were strong enough to topple an ornamental pear tree in our backyard so I can only imagine what would have happened to the tents and brewing equipment that were set up in Trail Point’s parking lot. The weather for Saturday’s festivities couldn’t have been much better for the twenty-eight brew teams and the approximate 275 guests who attended the event.

Except for one rather unfortunate incident, I’m pleased to report that the day went off without a hitch. I’ll spare the reader the odoriferous details but I will say that Barb and I were mortified by the repulsive behavior of our eleven-year-old golden retriever. It’s safe to say that Miss Lizzie has attended her last Big Brew Day.

I’d like to thank the homebrewers for their generosity in sharing their handcrafted beer with the public. Special thanks to the folks at Trail Point for once again allowing us to take over their parking lot for this national celebration of the hobby of homebrewing.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New Beer Friday, Big Brew Day Edition (May 4)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you enjoy hand-crafted beer, if you like being around fun-loving people and if you're interested in learning about the process of homebrewing, we invite you to join a gathering of passionate homebrewers at Trail Point Brewing on Saturday, May 5, in a country-wide observance of National Homebrew Day.

In 1988 the United States Congress decreed that the hobby of brewing beer be added to the list of National Days. In that same year the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created The Big Brew Day as a way for homebrewers to gather together and celebrate the national recognition of their hobby. AHA Big Brews are held each year at hundreds of venues around the country on the first Saturday in May.

Five years ago Siciliano’s Market sponsored its first Big Brew Day and the event has since become one of West Michigan’s most popular public homebrewing celebrations. This year twenty-six teams of dedicated hobbyists will be brewing batches of Beer City Rye IPA in the brewery's back parking lot. Samples of hand-crafted, homemade beer will be available to those of legal drinking age and, of course, Trail Point's solid lineup of commercial offerings will be available for purchase in the pub.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "Summer Solstice® is a slightly sweet, malty session beer with a creamy mouth feel and clean finish.  With hints of caramel in the nose and a touch of spice, it’s become affectionately known as “cream soda for adults”. The unique flavors and superior drinkability make for the ultimate refreshment on a hot summer day" (source).
  • Bell's Pooltime, $2.09/12oz - "Pooltime Ale is a refreshing Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale with light clove notes. The truly distinguishing feature is the use of 100% Montmorency tart cherries grown in the Traverse City region of Michigan. These cherries add a subtle tartness and bright counterpoint to the other flavors, enhancing Pooltime’s fruity character and making it the perfect beer for all summer activities" (source).
  • Big Lake BBA Darkstar, $4.69/16oz (2 per) - "A breakfast style stout brewed with Kona and Sumatra coffee aged on cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Boulevard Hibuscus Gose, $1.89/12oz - "Our version of an unusual, yet resurgent, beer style. It pays tribute to the pleasantly sour, slightly salty wheat beers that originated in Goslar and became popular in Leipzig, Germany around the late 1800’s. A great introductory sour beer, Hibiscus Gose receives coriander and sea salt during boiling, then we steep dried hibiscus flowers at the end to create a vibrant pink hue (really, though, it’s pink!). The result is a tangy, sweet and sour ale with a refreshing citrus character" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Lost Minds, $3.79/16oz - "Tart IPA with Citra and Amarillo hops, Grapefruit, and Mint" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tropical Saison, $3.79/16oz - "Live the good life. Pair great beer with great food and enjoy it with friends and family. Tropical Saison is a summertime reverie, bringing together the best our Midwest sunshine has to offer. A slightly spicy character, light effervescence, and the addition of real pineapple & mango juice make this beer perfect for a Michigan summer. The hop presence lends a complexity to this brew" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Lighten Up Francis, $1.89/12oz - "Brewed with traditional Hallertauer hops and German Pils malt, Lighten Up Francis! has a light gold appearance, low bitterness, medium-carbonation and well-attenuated white head. The aroma of this American style Kölsch Ale delivers a pleasantly subtle and grainy-sweet undertone. Imbibers will enjoy a subdued hop presence, refreshing crispness and clean aftertaste" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Bubba Kolsch, $2.39/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Latitude Nectar of the Goddess, $2.49/16oz - "Nectar of the Goddess is our Unfiltered American Wheat with Blood Oranges, Passion Fruit and Locally Sourced Michigan Honey. When drinking Nectar of the Goddess you get a unique, unfiltered fruity and tart wheat ale flavor perfect for summer" (source).
  • New Belgium Hemperor, $2.69/12oz - "Get ready: an exciting new offering that’ll change the way you think about hoppy beers is coming your way. The brewers at New Belgium have created a new style of IPA: The Hemperor HPA. With the popularity of hoppy beers, our brewers are always on the lookout for different hop varieties and the complexities and flavors new strains can bring. That’s where hemp comes into the picture. Without getting too nerdy, we found a unique way to recreate hemp terpene flavors in a beer, which complement the inclusion of hop flavors and hemp hearts (seeds) in a brand new, delicious way—not to mention this beer is extremely dank! The flavors and aromas are so unique that it’s a style unto itself, hence HPA®" (source).
  • New Holland Taz, $1.99/12oz - "Inspired by and sourced from the wild world down under, Taz IPA is 'chockers' with some of the world's greatest hops. Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin hops from Australia and New Zealand combine to offer savage bitterness and a touch of fruitiness" (source).
  • Odd Side Grapefruit Wheat, $2.19/12oz - "A wheat beer brewed with grapefruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Tangerine of My Rye, $2.39/12oz - "Rye IPA with Tangerine Peel Added" (source).
  • Pux Kyoodle, $3.19/12oz  - "In 2012 the Schaefer family began planting heirloom and cider apples on the homesteaded family orchard.  At this same time, we started to create small batches of cider.  As the cider started to flow, so did our experience with and enthusiasm for these old cultivars. Currently, Pux Ciders benefit from close to 125 of our apple cultivars. These range from American dessert apples to French and English cider apples. We use these apples to create each unique batch of Pux crafted ciders. We also use other local Michigan products in our ciders, like tart cherries, pears and hops" (source).
  • Short's Anniversary, $2.59/12oz - "Anniversary Ale is a dry hopped, high-gravity, Wheat Wine Ale brewed with peppercorns, blood oranges, and orange zest. Flavors range from the spiciness of green peppercorns to the tang of blood orange zest. Aggressive dry hopping of Simcoe hops amplifies the citrus overtones and spiciness found throughout the beer. Anniversary Ale typifies Short’s Brewing Company by embodying all of the complexities that come along with another year of brewing" (source).
  • Short's BBA Huma, $13.19/22oz - "Bourbon Barrel Aged Huma Lupa Licious is our best-selling American India Pale Ale aged in bourbon barrels. Initial malt sweetness is replaced with flavors of charred oak and sweet vanilla, followed by the standard Huma hop punch to the palate. This new combination creates the sensation of sipping on a sweet Bourbon that finishes like a bitter hop theme park in your mouth" (source).
  • Southern Tier The Psychic Laser, $4.09/16oz - "The third release in our Science is the Art Collection stays with our double IPA theme, but with a twist. We’ve moved away from our house ale yeast in favor of saison’s estery, earthy and spicy notes. We love the way these essential saison characteristics meld with the tropical, fruity, piney and citrusy notes from some of our favorite hops: Mosaic, Equanot, and Simcoe" (source).
  • Witches hat Plum Cobbler Saison, $2.59/12oz - "Saison fermented and aged in freshly dumped port and red wine barrels with Cascara and fresh whole plums" (source).

Video of the Week | Here's to Homebrew!

What do you love about homebrewing?


Friday, April 27, 2018

New Beer Friday, Post Judging Edition (April 27)

The Judging
Preamble by Joseph P. Sprinklehead

When I got to the judging venue last Saturday all the entries in the Siciliano's 2018 Homebrew Competition had been assessed and scored and the volunteers were enjoying a post judging lunch. I walked up to the buffet and put three soft tacos on one plate, a heaping mound of tortilla chips on another, big scoops of salsa and bean dip on a third, grabbed a can of beer, stashed it in the pocket of my hoodie, stacked the plates on top of each other and then walked over to the table where Steve and Barb were sitting.

“Mind if I join you?” I asked.

“There’s no room,” Steve said without looking up from his work.

“Now Steve,” Barb said. “You promised you’d be nice to Joe.”

“Oh alright,” Steve said and sighed. “But don’t go asking the best-of-show judges any questions this year. I warned them about you.”

“Scout's honor.”

I sat down and cracked open the beer and then proceeded to demolish one of the tacos. “Good chow,” I said after a handful of chips and a long swig of PC Pils.

“It’s from the Adobe,” Barb said.

“I love the Adobe’s food,” I said and began working on the second taco. “I go to the one on Fulton three, maybe four times a week.

“That’s nice,” Steve said.

I usually get a burrito.”

“That’s nice.”

“I prefer the beef but once in a while I get the chicken.”

“That’s nice.”

Before starting on the third taco I grabbed the pencil from behind my ear and opened a small notepad. “So how’d it go today?”

“It went fine,” Barb said. “A few minor glitches but we worked through them.”

“Not so fast, Barb,” I said. “A few minor glitches but we worked through them,” I repeated aloud while I wrote. “How many entries?”

“One hundred thirty-two,” Steve said.

“Do you have a tally of the medal winners yet?”

“Twenty-nine gold, thirty-three silver, twenty-eight bronze.”

How many were in the best-of-show round?”


“Would you be willing to tell me who won?”


“Didn’t think so. Would you be willing to tell me what styles?”


“Would you be willing to tell me if the winner is male or female?”


“What would you be willing to tell me?”

“The best-of-show winner lives in West Michigan.”

“Grand Rapids area?”


Before I left I drank two more beers and demolished three more tacos. I sure do love the Adobe’s food.

The Best-of-Show winner for the 2018 Siciliano’s Home Brew Competition will be announced at the Fifteenth Annual Siciliano’s Home Brew Party on Saturday, May 19 at Johnson Park. Go here for complete details.

New and Returning Beer

  • Atwater Coconut Vanilla Java Porter, $1.99/12oz - Coconut vanilla java porter from Atwater.
  • Big Lake Hazy, $2.99/16oz - "A juicy New England IPA made with loads of Citra and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Big Lake Shandy, $2.79/16oz - "A lemon shandy with a tart finish, perfect for a warm summer day" (source).
  • Copper Can Moscow Mule, $4.39/12oz - "The Copper Can gives you easy access to the world famous cocktail in stylish fashion. So please, sit back, relax, and enjoy responsibly" (source).
  • Destihl Lynnbrook, $2.99/12oz - "Lynnbrook, named after our founder’s family farm, is a wild Berliner-Style Weisse with raspberries added, resulting in a very refreshing beer presenting with fuchsia color and an aroma reminiscent of picking tart red raspberries growing next to an old, abandoned barn, with the raspberry-lemon aroma giving way to hints of brie and barnyard funkiness. The flavor is absent of any hops or bitterness and instead has initial impression of subtle lemon and yogurt supported by tart, fresh raspberries and underlying lactic sourness. The beer’s dry finish helps cut through some sweetness from the fruit" (source).
  • Founders Dank Wood, $3.79/12oz & $11.99/750ml - "What do you get when a big, bold imperial red IPA meets an oak bourbon barrel? A palate stunner that’ll send your senses spinning or, as we like to call it, Dankwood. Rich caramel notes emerge from the depths of the IPA, highlighting strong malt character while the bourbon barrel-aging develops the complexity. A dank, sticky and slightly sweet sipper, Dankwood is the perfect alchemy of wood and hops" (source).
  • Founders Green Zebra, $1.99/12oz - "The soft mouthfeel and dry finish comes courtesy of the addition of sea salt, a traditional gose ingredient" (source).
  • Golden Road Wolf Pup, $2.09/12oz - "Hoppy and refreshing, Wolf Pup is our riff on a Session IPA. Highly drinkable with a wildly aromatic tropical and citrus character, it’s the perfect companion to keep on sippin’ for those long, sunny days. Brewed & Canned in Los Angeles & Fairfield, CA" (source).
  • Goose Island Cooper Project #4, $4.79/12oz (2 per) - No commercial description.
  • Lagunitas Waldos' Special Ale, $2.29/12oz - "In 1971, the Waldos met one afternoon at 4:20 in the front courtyard of their school near the statue of Louis Pasteur. They set out in a '66 Impala armed with a "treasure map" on a journey to find a secret garden near Point Reyes. They met there at the same time every day and continued their quest. They never found the secret garden....But they keep lookin'. The dankest and hoppiest beer ever brewed at Lagunitas was made with help of the Waldos for all treasure hunters" (source).
  • Odd Side Beerjito, $2.19/12oz  - "Blonde ale brewed with lime and mint. Hand crafted to remove gluten" (source).
  • Odd Side Diggity Dank, $2.39/12oz - "Our india pale ale with el dorado, amarillo, sincoe & denali hops" (source).
  • Odd Side Lolly Catcher, $2.19/12oz - "A carefully crafted, comforting concoction of creamy cohesiveness" (source).
  • Odd Side Mosiac Dank, $2.39/12oz - "Aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, and berries give way to a smooth, hazy beer with citrus flavors with a hint of pine" (source).
  • Odd Side Tangy Dank, $2.59/12oz - "The original juicy Dank IPA blended with an oak-aged sour" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Otra Vez, $1.79/12oz - "We combined the classic flavors of lime and blue agave nectar in a tart gose-style beer for the ultimate answer to the heavy heat of the day. The bright lime flavor helps wake up the palate while the mild sweetness of the agave rounds out the tangy zip of the citrus fruit. Light and refreshing, this all-new Otra Vez will have you calling for another round" (source).
  • Southern Tier Barrel House Series BBA Oat, $11.99/16.9oz - "Our classic imperial oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Southern Tier Peach Gose, $4.09/12oz - "Limited release brewed with peaches, chamomile, cardamom and coriander" (source).
  • Tallgrass Half Pipe, $1.89/12oz - "Half-Pipe is a tart, citrusy and totally rad American pale, perfect for the bright, sunny days of spring and summer. It’s kettle-soured with lactobacillus and generously dry-hopped to balance the tartness with bright hop character and aroma. This beer is inspired by the rad individuals who get air and grind — on rails and curbs — in alleys and ‘burbs. It’s a shout-out to all of the fearless extreme sports athletes. The world is your playground" (source).
  • Weihenstephaner/Sierra Nevada Braupack, $2.29/12oz - "Ausgeprägt fruchtig-hopfiges Hefeweißbier mit der Hopfensorte Hallertauer Tradition sowie den amerikanischen Aromahopfensorten Amarillo und Chinook" (source).

Video of the Week | The Waldos

Now available at Siciliano's!