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Friday, September 26, 2014

New Beer Friday, Walter Mitty Edition (Sept 25)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I guess I have a touch of Walter Mitty in me because I often have fantasies about being something a bit more exciting than a fine wine and craft beer merchant. I’ve daydreamed about being a suave CIA spy operating in some steamy third world country, an expatriated writer living in Paris, a hard drinking Key West charter boat captain trying to forget his shady past and a world weary bar owner in Tangier who constantly gets enlisted to help mysterious and beautiful women get out of jams.

Besides those completely improbable imaginative soarings, I’ve also daydreamed about being a pipe smoking, tweed wearing college professor who orates brilliantly on the prose of Hemingway and Faulkner to classrooms full of adoring students. And so when I was asked to teach a series of Wine Making 101 classes in the Kent District Library system this fall, my dreams of being an erudite, somewhat eccentric pedagogue resurfaced and I enthusiastically agreed. So far I’ve taught five of these classes at five different KDL braches and have two more to go.

I must confess that I’m surprised by how many folks are still using libraries. I used them a lot too before Al Gore invented the internet. The fact that all the branches have been packed with patrons when I was there is an indication that the folks at KDL are doing what it takes to keep libraries relevant and are using our tax dollars wisely.

I’d like to thank those fine folks for giving me the opportunity to fulfill, albeit on a very small stage, one of my Walter Mittyesque fantasies.

Now if only the director of the CIA would give me a call.

* * *

Heath MacDonald, the owner of Morgan Vineyards in Coopersville, Michigan, has informed me that he has a good amount of DeChaunac and Frontenac grapes available for purchase at forty cents a pound.

Winemakers may pick these grapes on Saturday, September 27th and Sunday, September 28th between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Please note that you are required to pick the grapes yourself and you must supply your own containers.

Contact Heath at 616-638-9353 for more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Shorts White Falcon, $1.99/12oz - "White Falcon is a Belgian White Ale hopped assertively like an American India Pale Ale. Its pale yellow color is lightened further by an appropriate haze from the use of malted white wheat. An intense, fruit-filled nose comprised of notable hop aromas, distinctive yeast esters, and pronounced lemon and orange zest is prominent. Flavors of soft grain and earthy hops mingle with an overall fruitiness, amplified by coriander and other lively spice qualities. An agreeable bitterness heightens in the finish before turning unmistakably dry" (source).
  • Shorts Bonafide Legit, $1.69/12oz - "A light bodied American Pale Ale brewed entirely with Northern Michigan grown Summit hops.  An excellent sharp aroma of strong floral and fruity characteristics stings the senses with hop laced anticipation. A sticky hop filled mouthful of damp earthy pine with notable herbal accents coats the entire mouth, followed by a big resiny bitterness that lingers well into the finish, drying the palate and resonating boldly" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Oktoberfest Celebration Lager, $2.19/16oz - "A malty, German-style lager with low to moderate hop bitterness, featuring a medium body and brilliant amber color" (source).
  • Paw Paw Coconut Porter, $1.79/12oz - "Full bodied, smooth & creamy. Hand toasted coconut gives it that Almond Joy satisfaction" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Bernese Barley Wine Ale, $3.59/12oz - "Like Mr. Buck, the Bernese Mountain Dog on the label, this is a BIG beer. A complex, dry-hopped, and unfiltered barley wine ale that will only get better with age. The malt aroma, possible only in a barley wine ale, together with deep malty flavors melds perfectly with the hops for a truly unforgettable experience" (source).
  • New Holland Carhart Woodsman, $1.59/12oz - "Celebrates craftsmanship and hard work. Locally-grown Cascade hops bring a brightness to this barrel-aged American pale ale. Malt sweetness and toasted oak combine for a smooth, refreshing finish" (source).
  • Grizzly Peak Humongous, $3.39/12oz - "Just the way Paul Bunyan likes it: a huge-bodied beer with big flavor that's as smooth as his axe blade. Humongous follows its traditional imperial red-roots with multiple hop additions, adding complexity and layers of bursting hop flavors. Columbus, Citra, Michigan grown Cascade, and Michigan grown Chinook hops impart 69.9 IBUs that give Humongous balance and poise. A deep amber color, this 9.6% ABV brew could even knock Babe the Blue Ox on his butt with its smooth hoppy goodness" (source).
  • Founders Dark Penance, $3.09/12oz - "A heavy malt foundation includes Crystal malt for sweetness and just enough Midnight Wheat malt to push the color to black. The bitterness is huge, but balanced by malt sweetness and alcohol burn. The hop flavors and aromas range from citrus to floral to pine thanks to a delicious blend of hand-selected Chinook and Centennial hops" (source).
  • De Cam Oude Lambik, $45.09/750ml - "Aged in vats of more than 100 years old, De Cam's Oude Lambiek is a blend of unpasteurized 3 year old lambics specially selected by brewer/blender Karel Goddeau for their character and roundness. Still without a head, OUDE LAMBIEK should be chilled and enjoyed like a fine white wine but prized for the wondrful, rare, spontaneously fermented Belgian Ale that it is" (From the label).
  • Vanberg et Famille Lambikx Oak & Chestnut Barrel Aged, $30.09/750ml - "The first Kriek Lambic in our LAMBICKX line! This stunning ruby-colored lambic has a wonderful aroma of almonds, macaroon and cherry stones. It is dry, with an elegant fruit palate. Lightly sparkling to still" (source).
  • Vanberg et Famille Lambikx French Oak, $25.09/750ml - "The beer you hold in your hand reflects the specific conditions present when it was brewed and during its years of aging in cask. Those conditions cannot be replicated and this beer can never be made again. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience and is now all yours. Enjoy it!" (source).

Photo of the Week | Apple Crushing

Remember folks! Our fruit crushers and basket presses
are free to use for the next two Saturdays.


Friday, September 19, 2014

New Beer Friday, Klein Cider Edition (Sept 19)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

On the next three Saturdays (starting tomorrow), we will be offering the free on-site use our fruit crushers and basket presses in the parking lot behind the store. It’s generally been a good fruit growing season here in West Michigan so in addition to home winemakers, I expect to see a number of cidermakers showing up with bushels of apples.

I admire the enthusiasm of these ultimate do-it-yourselfers because using our equipment to extract juice from apples is not easy. The fruit must be first sliced and diced with the manual crusher and this most definitely is a two person job. While one person holds the crusher steady the other cranks the handle and it isn’t long before the one doing the cranking is sweating. Depending on how many apples you have and how many breaks you take, the crushing could take a few hours.

After the apples are crushed they need to be pressed, and unless you’re using commercial equipment, apples are rather reluctant to give up their juice. And then there are the bees. They generally leave you alone because they’re after the sweet juice not you, but if you have the slightest tinge of apiphobia it is disconcerting to have them constantly buzzing around in your space.

It’s a good thing that there are a number of commercial apple mills in West Michigan who are willing to sell their juice to those of us home cidermakers who would rather have someone else do all the hard and tedious work.

This year Klein Cider Mill will be selling fresh squeezed juice in our back parking lot on Saturday, October 11, and Saturday, October 26, between the hours of 10 am and 1 pm. The price for Klein’s award-winning cider will be $3.50 per gallon and you must supply your own containers.

For a directory of apple orchards and cider mills in West Michigan check out this link.

New and Returning Beer

  • Shorts Wowee Zowee, $1.99/12oz - "Wowee Zowee is a refreshing golden ale infused with fresh mint and mango. An abundance of green mint and fruity aromas pour off of this light bodied ale, opening up the senses with a tingling cool freshness. The first taste offers a minty blast up front, followed by some pleasant, fruity, mango sweetness. The enjoyable balance of both flavors turns slightly tart and bitter as it resonates, but with ample carbonation, the overall finish is crisp and clean" (source).
  • Founders Breakfast Stout, $2.69/12oz - "The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever" (source).
  • North Peak Hooligan, $1.99/12oz - "With North Peak’s Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin Ale you will never have to choose between your favorite pumpkin beer and IPA again. Hooligan is brewed with real pumpkin and fresh spices to give you all the spicy pumpkin goodness you could ask for. And did we mention the hops? Hooligan is brimming with hops! It is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Dark Horse Scotty karate, $2.09/12oz - "For those of you who don’t know who 'Scotty Karate' is… He is a local one man band who plays an amazing slurry of honky tonk influenced, punk country songs. His voice is amazing as well as his high energy shows. (Check him out So, we decided to make a beer and name it in his honor. This beer is a big, full bodied Scottish ale. It is 9.75% alc. but it is very smooth and balanced. " (source).
  • Goose Island Rambler IPA, $1.59/12oz - "A bold ale with a mix of herbal, woody, and citrus aromas from Mt. Hood and Amarillo hops" (source).
  • Goose Island The Muddy, $3.19/12oz - "Brewed with molasses, brewer’s licorice, and Belgian dark rock candi sugar, The Muddy is an imperial stout with amplified sweetness for a taste as distinctive as the Chicago blues that inspired its creation" (source).
  • Bells Third Coast Old Ale, $2.79/12oz - "Third Coast Old Ale focuses on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Highway 128, $1.99/12oz - "The refreshing tartness in this divine, bright golden-colored ale gives way to earthy undertones and hints of citrus followed by a slight sea salt-like dryness and tangy, effervescent finish" (source).

Video of the Week | Brewery Vivant, WABF


Friday, September 12, 2014

New Beer Friday, The Big Sale Continues Edition (Sept 12)

By Steve Siciliano

I’d like to remind everyone that our annual homebrew and winemaking Customer Appreciation Sale is currently in full swing and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 14.

If you're already a homebrewer or winemaker, you're going to want to take advantage of the 15% discount on most equipment and supplies and check out the items on the deeply discounted list. If you're thinking about taking the plunge into these life-enriching hobbies, now's the time to do it as the beer and winemaking equipment kits are both heavily discounted.

Don't forget that we will be offering free German wieners, sauerkraut and draft root beer to all our great customers on Saturday, September 13. In the meantime, check out this week’s list of the new and returning beers that we have managed to squeeze onto the shelves of our still jam-packed store.

New and Returning Beers

  • Brewery Vivant Tree Bucket, $4.39/16oz - "Somewhere there is a Belgian Monk who’s head is spinning. A Belgian brewer would never put this much hop into a beer. However, we are not Belgian are we? We can do whatever we want. This is an unconventional beer. Belgian candy sugar, classic Belgian yeast, and a boat load of hops, plus some dry hopping in top of that. A very unique take on a Double IPA that will make it stand out in a crowd" (source).
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead, $1.79/12oz - "Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor" (source).
  • Founders Mosaic Promise, $1.79/12oz - "Mosaic Promise showcases a single malt—Golden Promise—and a single hop—Mosaic. The traditional barley’s depth of flavor and the versatility of the hops’ bittering, flavor and aroma characteristics are the strong pillars that comprise the structure of this clean, rich, golden beer. We can brew complex beers with the best of them, but we recognize that there’s also beauty in simplicity. The beer clocks in at 5.5% ABV and 50 IBUs" (source).
  • Right Brain Smooth Operator Cream Ale, $2.59/16oz - "Made with crystal clear water from Lake Michigan, but never watered down. We’ve searched around the world and have yet to find a beer quite like this. A brilliant straw-colored ale, with a crisp and clean body, subtle malty profile, and satisfying finish reminiscent of a honey-dipped biscuit" (source).
  • Dogfishhead Punkin' Ale, $2.59/12oz - "Punkin' Ale is a full-bodied, spiced brown ale brewed with baked pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale is named after the annual Punkin' Chunkin Festival held near Lewes, Delaware the weekend after Halloween" (source).
  • Motor City Brewing Works Pumpkin Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Motor City Pumpkin Ale is a special combination of oven roasted Detroit grown pumpkins and spices, along with a traditional Belgium yeast for a wonderful rich, earth and spicy undertone" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale, $2.19/12oz - "With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices (with just a hint of hops) that ends in a smooth, round finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Tier De Garde, $9.09/22oz - "Tier de Garde is a Belgian Style India Pale Ale brewed with grapefruit peel. It is the third in our acclaimed Belgian Style Series. Tier de Garde is akin to a Belgian Tripel crossed with an American IPA. Deep copper in color with a thick, rocket white head and persistent lacing. It is noticeably hazy with yeast and sediment visible. Carefully pour it into your favorite glass. Citrusy, hoppy and spicy with some sweetness in the aroma, while being dry and effervescent on the tongue. The flavor is bitter and spicy, peppery and grapefruit zest is apparent. Also expect floral and apricot/pear notes" (source).

Video of the Week | Advice for Homebrewers

Just beginning your homebrew career? Your pals at Founders have some advice.


Friday, September 5, 2014

New Beer Friday, Est! Est! Est! Edition (September 5)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

When Barb and I were in Italy last October we visited Montefiascone, a town fifty-nine miles north of Rome located on a high hill overlooking Lake Bolsena. You won’t see many tourists in Montefiascone. The town has no ancient Roman ruins, famous buildings, grand fountains or amazing museums. But my grandmother was born there, and that was reason enough for us to take a day off from our exploration of the Tuscan hill towns.

On the drive from Tuscany to Montefiascone I talked about Felicita Fulvi. I told Barb about my grandmother’s delicious gnocchi, about the Italian cookies she made every Christmas and how she crocheted afghans upon the arrival of each new grandchild. I related how in the summers she would send visitors home with overflowing bags of home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and zucchini. I told Barb about the early summer evening shortly before my grandmother died when I saw a golden ray of light fall on her smiling face while she was watching her grandsons picking raspberries in her garden.

While we were walking through Montefiascone’s narrow, cobblestone streets we came upon the cathedral of Santa Magherita. Walking down the aisles in the quiet church, it felt good to know that a young Felicita had most certainly been there many years before.

Outside another church was a stone crypt with the words Est! Est! Est! above the carved image of a cleric. I knew the story: a German bishop traveling to Rome sent his attendant ahead with the instructions to write Est! (Latin for “It is”) on the doors of inns that served respectable wine. The attendant thought the wine in a Montefiascone inn was so good that he tripled the cryptic message. Apparently the bishop agreed. According to the legend, he never made it to Rome and lived the rest of his life in Montefiascone.

The story most likely is apocryphal, but the fact that it supposedly occurred in my grandmother’s home town was a pleasant and serendipitous surprise.

* * *

This year there will again be specific days and times when we offer the free use of our wine- and cider-making equipment in the parking lot behind the store. On three consecutive Saturdays beginning September 20, our motorized crusher/de-stemmer, manual apple crusher and fruit presses will be available for free on-site use. Siciliano’s staff members will also be demonstrating basic wine- and cider-making techniques on those days and will aid in sugar and acid adjustments.

Anyone wishing to use the on-site equipment on days other than the three Saturdays (September 20, September 27 and October 4) may do so for a nominal fee. Call the store at 616-453-9674 for more details.

New and Returning Beer

  • Hacker-Pschorr Superior Festbier, $3.09/500ml - A limited edition golden Octoberfest lager (source).
  • Short's Noble Chaos, $1.49/12oz - "Noble Chaos is an Oktoberfest/Marzen (German-style amber lager) with a subtle hop bouquet and toasted caramel malt flavors. It is a well-balanced beer that finishes fresh and clean. With a pleasant nose and medium body, this brew is a taste of the fall season" (source).
  • Schlenkerla Helles, $4.70/17oz - "Brewed with fine Bavarian aroma hops from the area around the city of Nürnberg. It’s lagered in century old caves underneath the historic Schlenkerla brewery and maltings. Schlenkerla Helles is boiled in the same copper kettles and bottom fermented by the same yeast as the historic Schlenkerla Smokebeer. Its subtle smokiness without using smoke malt makes “Helles Schlenkerla Lager” a unique representative of the classic lager beer style “Bavarian Helles”. Editor’s note: Since this is not intended as a smoked beer, and is not billed as such, it has been classed here as a Helles, despite some samples having residual smoke character" (source).
  • Arbor Violin Monster, $2.29/12oz - "A geographical approach to the werewolf legends results in the identification of a major werewolf area stretching from mid-Germany into the Netherlands and Belgium. With this in mind, we have created a strong, dark, spiced using ingredients from those regions. Brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar, the Violin Monster is black as night and packs a punch at 9.3%" (source).
  • Summit Extra Pale Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Summit Extra Pale Ale is not a beer brewed only for beer snobs. Just the opposite. It’s a beer for everyone to enjoy: construction workers, stock brokers, farmers, sales people, clerks, teachers, lawyers, doctors, even other brewers. Its light bronze color and distinctly hoppy flavor have made it a favorite in St. Paul, Minneapolis and the rest of the Upper Midwest ever since we first brewed it back in 1986" (source).
  • Saugatuck Pumpkin Chai, $1.89/12oz - New fall seasonal from Saugatuck Brewing Company.
  • Weinstephaner Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor" (source).
  • Bell's Best Brown, $1.99/16oz cans - "A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops" (source).

Cartoon of the Week | Headcheese

Find more Headcheese on Facebook.


Friday, August 29, 2014

New Beer Friday, Learn to Make Wine Edition (August 29)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The summer after my father died I paid a visit to one of his old up north drinking buddies at his cabin on the Little Manistee west of Irons, Michigan.

Tony Mitchell was fond of my father’s homemade wine and I brought him a case of Cabernet that my father had made the previous fall. We drank a bottle of the Cab while Tony tied flies at his kitchen table.

“Your father was a good man,” Tony said while inspecting a #10 Adams under a magnifying glass.

“Yes he was,” I agreed.

“He sure as hell wasn’t much of a trout fisherman, but he made some damn fine wine.”

“Yes he did,” I agreed again.

Tony sat back, lit a Lucky Strike and looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke.

“Is it hard?” he asked.

“Is what hard, Tony?”

“Making wine.”

I took another sip of the Cab before I answered. “You know, Tony,” I said. “Making wine is lot like fishing. Fishing is pretty damn easy when you’re sitting in a row boat going after bluegills with a cane pole. But when you’re fly fishing for trout on a river like the Little Manistee it gets a bit more complicated.” I looked out the screen door at the fast flowing river twenty yards away and smiled. “I guess it just depends on how far you want to take a hobby. My dad was like that person fishing with a cane pole, but he made some pretty good wine.”

Later while sitting on Tony’s front porch, I watched him hook into a hard-fighting brown after placing the Adams on the edge of an undercut with a perfect roll cast.

* * *

The Kent District Library (KDL) has announced the launch of KDL Uncorked, a program of free winemaking classes and wine tastings to be held this year in September and October at various Kent County library branches. In addition to the free wine-related events, the KDL Uncorked program is also giving folks the opportunity to sign up for a tour and tasting at Cascade Winery in Grand Rapids and wine, cider and cheese tastings at Kayla Rae Cellars in Rockford at discounted rates.

I will be conducting the program’s free winemaking classes at seven different KDL branches. Dates, times and venues for the Winemaking 101 classes are as follows:

    • KDL Gaines/Cutlerville Branch, Thursday, 9/4/14—6:00 pm
    • KDL Byron Branch, Tuesday, 9/16/14—6:30 pm
    • KDL Grandville Branch, Wednesday, 9/17/14—6:30 pm
    • KDL Kentwood Branch, Thursday, 9/18/14—6:30 pm
    • KDL Plainfield Branch, Wednesday, 9/24/14—6:30 pm
    • KDL Englehardt/Lowell Branch, Wednesday, 10/8/14—6:30 pm
    • KDL Wyoming Branch, Wednesday, 10/22/14—6:30 pm
Again, these classes are free of charge and no registration is required. Go here for a complete schedule of events for the KDL Uncorked program.

New and Returning Beer

  • Sierra Nevada Narwhall Imperial Stout, $2.59/12oz - "Narwhal Imperial Stout is the latest beer in Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude Series. This malt-forward monster is bold – with notes of baker’s cocoa, molasses, and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex, rich, and intense and will develop in the bottle for years to come" (source).
  • Sprecher Hard Ginger, $1.49/12oz - "Cool lime, piquant ginger and a dry finish give Sprecher's Hard Ginger Beer a crisp, refreshing drinkability that is perfect on its own or as a mixer in cocktails. Unlike most ginger beers, which are non-alcoholic, Sprecher's contains 4.7 percent alcohol by volume" (source).
  • Lakefront Pumpkin, $1.49/12oz - "Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Lager is one of the only pumpkin lager available in the world; nearly all other pumpkin beers are ales. Using real pumpkin and a proprietary blend of spices made here in Milwaukee for us by the acclaimed Spice House, our brewers lager this beer for 4 full weeks. This extra time gives the Lakefront Pumpkin Lager a deep, smooth richness that no ale can match. A frothy entry leads to an off-dry medium-to-full body of intense cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and candied yam flavor on a nutty wheat toast palate. Finishes with a drier spice and light toffee fade. Caramel and Munich malts reinforce this beer's mouthfeel and lend to the malty sweetness. A nicely balanced spice beer for those cool fall nights" (source).
  • Lakefront Oktoberfest, $1.49/12oz - "A malty and full bodied amber lager brewed to celebrate a successful harvest" (source).
  • New Belgium Pumpkick, $1.69/12oz - "What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your tastebuds sailing" (source).
  • Great Lakes Nosferatu, $3.29/12oz - "Often referred to as Burning River Pale Ale’s big brother, this stock ale is remarkably balanced for such a highly hopped beer. A rich deep blood red color makes this beer scary enough to be served every Halloween and a few other times of the year" (source).
  • Vivant Agent a Deux, $3.59/16oz - "<<Agent a Deux>> has infiltrated Brewery Vivant. The 'double agent' is a dark Belgian-style ale brewed with black currants, vanilla beans and rose petals. A classic French trio" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Scottish Porter, $2.79/12oz - "This beer takes its inspiration from the history books. As well as using flavour-packed chocolate and crystal malt, we also added treacle (molasses) which gives the beer its rich, bittersweet character. 100 years ago in Scotland, treacle was used by brewers to create depth and sweetness and to give beers a richer mouthfeel and more rounded finish" (source).
  • Saugatuk Continuum, $2.59/12oz - "A continuously hopped Imperial American IPA brewed with Centennial, Cascade, Nugget,and Summit hops. Experience the beauty of bitter and the serious of citrus" (source).

Michigan Bottle Opener

Now available at Siciliano's


Friday, August 22, 2014

New Beer Friday, Little Manistee Edition (August 22)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Literally the perfect beer for a day
on a Michigan river.
Sometimes when I’m feeling a tad claustrophobic I’ll get myself lost on the gravel roads in the northwest section of Lake County. “Lost” is a relative term here. I might not know exactly where I’m at all the time but those washboard rutted roads always lead to a paved highway and eventually I’ll find my way back to the cottage. If I happen to come across a country tavern along the way it’s a bonus.

While I’m “lost” there’s always plenty to look at—lots of trees, abandoned farmhouses and dilapidated barns, deer grazing in the fields, small streams and the occasional undeveloped lake.

If I drive around those roads long enough I’ll come to one of the wooden pylon bridges that cross over the Little Manistee and because I’m in an unhurried state, I get out of my truck to look at the river. If I’m lucky I’ll see a fly fisherman working his way upstream or a trout holding steady in the current.

It’s my decidedly humble opinion that the Little Manistee is one of the Lower Peninsula’s most delightful rivers. It rises just east of Luther and winds fifty-five miles through the hardwood forests of Lake, Mason and Manistee counties before emptying into Manistee Lake. When I was young my uncle had a cabin a few miles outside of Luther and I have wonderful memories of fishing for browns and brookies in the pond formed by the old logging mill dam that was built back in the 1800’s.

Many years later my brother-in-law and I went skinny dipping in one the Little Manistee’s icy cold pools after a day of drinking Stroh’s at my father’s cabin near Irons. The swim was quite refreshing, but the memory of that experience is tempered by the fact that a few days later I got a bad case of poison ivy in the sensitive regions below my waist.

Last Saturday Barb and I kayaked the stretch of the Little Manistee between Fox Bridge and Bear Track Campground with friends John and Pam Matson. Kayaking the Little Manistee is definitely a challenge. Because John and Pam have kayaked this part of the river over twenty times, they are very adept at maneuvering the twists, turns, obstructions and eddies while enjoying a beer. I, however, quickly found out that I wasn’t.

Ten minutes into our excursion I cracked open a 16 ounce can of Two Hearted and the first two sips tasted wonderful. While I was taking the third sip the current pushed my kayak sideways against a submerged log and the remainder of that world class IPA ended up with me in the river. Fortunately I was able to retrieve my paddle, my flip flops and the empty beer can.

My ego was slightly bruised, but a bruised ego is a relatively small price to pay for another Little Manistee memory.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Holland Ichabod, $1.79/12oz - "Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite desserts" (source).
  • Alaskan Pumpkin Porter, $1.59/12oz - "A native plant of North America, pumpkins were first used in beer in colonial America as a substitute for hard-to-find malt, and none other than the father of our country George Washington had a highly touted recipe. This imperial porter pumpkin beer combines the robust, full-bodied style of a porter with a, frankly, crazy amount of pumpkin" (source).
  • Bell's Best Brown, $1.69/12oz - "A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops" (source).
  • Shorts Autumn Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Autumn Ale is a true-to-style London Extra Special Bitter (ESB). It has a medium body, amber color, and full flavor. This beer exhibits a wonderful balance of malty sweetness and floral hop bitterness. The result is an ideal bridge between malty and hoppy beer styles. Autumn Ale is a silver medal winner from the 2006 Great American Beer Festival" (source).
  • Cheboygan Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "The beer, created by the brewery’s operation manager and brewmaster Tim Perry, who was inspired by the 1976 Späten Oktoberfest bier from Munich, Germany, is orange in hue with a pronounced malt presence" (source).
  • Shorts Vintage Premium Lager, $1.49/12oz - "Short’s Vintage Premium Lager is the perfect replica of today’s mainstream American Pale Lagers, complete with a wort that’s 50% blended rice syrup and hot water. A small amount of 2 row malted barley contributes to its bright yellow color and delicate malt flavors. Crystal clear and boldly effervescent, this beer has yeast aromas that lead into flavors of lightly toasted white bread with a very low residual sweetness. The super light body aids in the ultimate refreshment providing a thirst quenching finish that’s super crisp and clean" (source).
  • Smuttynose Bouncy House IPA, $1.69/12oz - "What is Bouncy House? It’s the next step in our quest to brew the perfect low-alcohol, high-flavor, hoppy American ale. We learned a few things from brewing ParadoX earlier this year, like lowering the alcohol content and avoiding the terms "session" and "IPA." When you taste Bouncy House, you’ll taste a modest malt bill of North American 2-row, British pale ale malt, C-60 and Aromatic malt mashed for a refreshingly light body that leaves plenty of spotlight for a melange of Warrior, Calypso, El Dorado and Citra hops" (source).
  • Leinenkugel UberOktoberfest, $2.99/12oz - "A bolder, toastier take on an Oktoberfestbier that can only be described as “Über.” With a tawny orange hue, toasted malts and spicy hops, our Big Eddy Über-Oktoberfest is then dry-hopped for added hop complexity" (source).
  • Sam Adams Fat Jack, $7.19/22oz - "This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28Ibs of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color. Classic pumpkin pie spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice ignite a warmth and spark that’s deepened by an undercurrent of roasty smoked malts. The result is a delectable brew full of enveloping layers of flavor and spice. At Samuel Adams we love experimenting. This series of limited edition brews represents some of our favorite small batch creations" (source).
  • Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin, $1.69/12oz - "A perennial favorite at our Brewery Halloween party, this reddish amber ale is perfect for fall. Real pumpkin adds a full body and sweetness, while deep roasted malts lend a toasty finish to this subtly spiced brew" (source).
  • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "This beer is available each autumn in celebration of the great Bavarian festival season. Brewed in late spring and cellared throughout the summer, our Oktoberfest is produced through traditional methods as it has been for centuries in Germany, This copper-hued lager owes its rich malt flavor to a generous combination of select Vienna and Munich malts. Cool, open-fermentation develops a subtle elegance and drinkability suited to any festive occasion" (source).
  • Big Sky Slow Elk, $1.69/12oz - "Malty and creamy, and very smooth. Very Drinkable and a quite well made. "Slow Elk" is the nickname for a cow, which are sometimes mistaken for Elk?" (source).
  • Erdinger Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Erdinger is brewed all-naturally, using traditional bottle-fermentation, never pasteurized" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Boohai Red Ale, $1.79/12oz - "We bring in the hops for this brew from New Zealand, where locals use the term “Boohai” to describe being thoroughly lost in a remote or non-existant place far from civilization. To us, that sounded like a pretty good place to be. These unique hops present a noticeable aroma of blackberries, Sauvignon Blanc grapes and pine which come together nicely with a complex blend of Belgian malts to make a deep, yet sublimely pleasant beer" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Hookiebob IPA, $4.99/22oz - "In the 1960s, before Vail Village was paved and closed to vehicles, "hookiebobbing" referred to those committed fools who, while on skis, grabbed onto the bumper of passing cars to tow them up to the lifts. Our IPA is a Colorado approach to the American take of an English classic. Three aggressive yet floral American hops and one hop from Down Under team together to make a bright, citrusy and floral India Pale Ale. A deep caramel malt helps to balance the bitterness of the hops and lets the complex hop bill shine" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, $4.49/22oz - "When our brewmaster was first learning to brew beer, he mentioned to his instructor that he hoped his batch would turn out close to the way it was supposed to taste. The instructor told him, "Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades." Our American ESB showcases a complex maltiness and unique hop character. Chinook and Amarillo hops coupled with 5 different types of malt make this beer one-of-a-kind" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Old Soul Belgian Strong Ale, $4.489/22oz - "Our version of a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. A healthy amount of wheat gives this beer a very smooth mouthfeel that is accompanied by a fruity yeast character. Dark Belgian Candy is added to the boil which contributes to this beer’s light body and complex flavor. European hops team up with Juniper berries added late in the boil to offer a soft, subtle spiciness" (source).
  • Fort Collins Oktoberfest, $2.39/12oz - "Our Oktoberfest was brewed as a tribute to one of our most cherished recipes using old world German techniques and ingredients. A single decoction mash unleashes the complexity and depth of the Vienna, Munich and Caramel malts that create this beer’s distinct aroma and flavor. German noble hops balance this rich and malty lager with a delicate herbal and spicy bouquet of aromas" (source).
  • William Tell Hard Cider, $8.59/22oz - "This premium hard cider was handcrafted from apple juice and natural flavors for a refreshingly elegant taste" (source).
  • William Tell Pinot Grigio Hard Cider, $8.59/22oz - "Our signature cider is a unique blend of freshly fermented Hard Apple Cider and premium California Pinot Grigio. We start with fresh juice from five types of apples and ferment it in three lots, each with different yeast to add flavor complexity. Then comes the creative touch: we add 15% of our Pinot Grigio and then Frost Ferment the blend to concentrate the fresh apple and wine character and enhance the flavors. If Frost Fermentation doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because we invented this technique to create our Pinot Grigio cider" (source).
  • Sietsemas Lemongrass Hard Cider, $16.49/22oz - "For those with a taste for brightness. A bold blend of refreshing local Lemon Grass combined with our the crisp apple zest taste of our cider creates a unique taste of citrusy, zesty, sweet fruitiness" (source).

Picture of the Week | People's Cider Co.

Sampling the People's Cider at Fulton St. Farmers Market


Friday, August 15, 2014

New Beer Friday, Big Sale Edition (August 15)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2014 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Monday, September 8, and continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 14.

Our annual customer appreciation week sale is a great time for beer and wine making hobbyists to stock up on supplies and upgrade equipment. For those who have been considering taking up these life-enriching hobbies, this is the perfect time to do so.

During the week-long sale, most equipment, supplies and ingredients will be 15% off the retail price. Items that are already discounted—carboys, 50/55 lb. bags of grain, Blichmann Engineering products—will not be eligible for additional discounts nor will the 15% be combined with other existing discounts (like club discounts). We will honor the discount that is greater. Equipment and supplies on the following list are discounted deeper than 15%:

    • WORT AERATION SYSTEM: Regular $25.39, Sale $19.99
    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $105.00, Sale $85.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $95.00, Sale $79.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $135.00, Sale $120.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $231.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $189.00
    • ESCALI TASO DIGITAL SCALE: Regular $39.95, Sale $32.00
    • BUEN VINO MINI-JET FILTER: Regular $199.00, Sale $169.00
    • 50 FT. IMMERSION COPPER WORT CHILLER: Regular $123.00, Sale $97.00
    • 25 FT. IMMERSION COPPER WORT CHILLER: Regular $63.00, Sale $56.00
    • DIGITAL REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $115.49, Sale $78.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $75.00, Sale $57.00
    • MASH/LAUTER TUN: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • 30 QT. STAINLESS STEEL BREW POT: Regular $77.89, Sale $61.00
    • 42 QT. STAINLESS STEEL BREW POT: Regular $89.00, Sale $71.00
    • 60 QT. STAINLESS STEEL BREWPOT: Regular $118.99, Sale $93.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $143.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $64.00, Sale $50.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Regular $80.00, Sale $64.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Regular $49.00, Sale $39.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 13, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Ayinger Oktoberfest, $3.89/500ml - "Ayinger Oktober Fest Märzen has a deep golden color tinted with amber. It is lightly sweet with a malty nose balanced with floral hops. Its medium to big body and alcohol is not overpowering. The soft dryness comes from long maturation" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Flipside Red IPA is a rebuttal to the mild-mannered beers of summer. Tropical fruit and citrus hop flavors from the use of whole-cone Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops are the perfect notes for this in-between season" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA, $5.69/22oz - "At 8.5% alcohol-by-volume, a light malt body and dry finish complement West Coast Double IPA’s bold hop profile" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Nitro Old Chub, $2.69/16oz - "Old Chub is a Scottish style ale brewed with copious amounts of crystal and chocolate malts, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malts. While Dale's Pale Ale ('the best-tasting canned beer I've ever had,' according to many brewers and beer experts) is a showcase of both hops and pale malts, Old Chub is a celebration of malts. The cola-colored beer features a dense, tawny head, a creamy mouthful and flavors of caramel, chocolate and lightly roasted malt. Complex and rich, it finishes with a whisper of smokiness that calls to mind a fine single malt scotch. Old Chub weighs in at 8 % alcohol by volume" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.89/12oz - "Blueberry Cobbler is deceptively complex outing that features bready malts the dryness of fermented blueberries, light vanilla and blueberry aromatics. Strong, yet the flavors play well together" (source).
  • Buffalo Bills Pumpkin Ale, $1.69/12oz - "An amber style ale, originally brewed by George Washington, brewed with fresh roasted pumpkins, malted barley. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are added. Bottled form is brewed under contract by Portland Brewing Co." (source).
  • B. Nektar Zombies Take Manhattan, $17.09/500ml (1 bottle/person) - "Imperial Zombie Killer. Apple honey wine with cherries added, aged in rye whiskey barrels" (source).

Mittenbrew Podcast: Jacob & Sarah Derylo

Beer City siblings Jacob and Sarah Derylo talked recently with MittenBrew's
Pat Evans about—what else?—beer and family. Enjoy the show.