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Friday, November 20, 2015

New Beer Friday, BBQ Edition (November 20)

Artwork on the walls of Main Street BBQ
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in the environs of Beer City USA and are passionate about barbecue you’ve got to be excited about the fact that there are now a number of restaurants in GR that are serving up authentic Q.

Slows, Two Scotts Barbecue, The Grilling Company and Horseshoe Smokehouse have opened their doors within the past year and are garnering rave reviews. With the recent opening of Main Street BBQ in Lowell, area barbecue aficionados now have another place to go to satisfy their smoked meat cravings.

Barb and I stopped at Main Street this past Monday after conducting a winemaking seminar at the Englehardt branch of the Kent District Library. Located in a building that once housed the Moose Lodge in the heart of Lowell’s historic downtown business district, the nicely appointed restaurant features wood floors, exposed wood ceilings and an open kitchen. The whimsical paintings of cows and pigs hanging on the brick walls lend a nice comedic touch. The restaurant has a good selection of liquors and wines and over twenty brews and hard ciders were on draught at the time of our visit.

Both Barb and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we both thought it was excellent. The extensive menu features seven sandwiches, ten full dinners and a good variety of sides and appetizers.

More art from the walls of Main Street BBQ

New and Returning Beer

  • Deschutes Chasin' Freshies, $6.69/22oz - "Like fresh powder, it’s a seize-the-moment thing. This year we’ve chased down Lemondrop hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington. At harvest, we rush the hops from the vine to our kettles to ensure we capture the purest, juiciest essence of the hop flower in every beer. Enjoy the bright, bold aroma and flavor that comes but once a year" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Higher Math, $10.19/12oz - "Higher Math has forward notes of cherries, pineapple and stewed fruit, with late notes of cocoa. It has a lingering sweetness and a notable warmth from the alcohol" (source).
  • Shorts Queen Bee, $2.39/12oz - "Queen Bee is an Imperial Amber Ale full of sweet fruity aromas from the skillful blending of malt, hops, and floral northern Michigan Star Thistle honey.  Crystal clear and bright in appearance, this beer is rich and full of flavors of honey and malt, which create a wonderful balance and a flavor reminiscent of hard candy.  Generous hop additions add to a perfectly timed dry and warming finish" (source).
  • Atwater Winter Bock, $1.79/12oz - "This malty, sweet, dark amber colored German-style bock beer is brewed with imported malt and hops. Its uncommon smoothness and impeccable taste make it the perfect companion for a cold night" (source).
  • Southern Tier Krampus, $7.79/22oz - "St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, is a magical figure, the bringer of gifts and an icon of holiday spirit. Forgotten by most is his evil side kick and enforcer of ‘the list’. European tradition says while St. Nick is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children. Dark malts and aromatic hops create the diabolical spirit of this brew. It is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days. This Imperial Helles Lager will warm even the darkest hearts. This season, replace the cookies with a bottle of Krampus. If he happens to pay a visit, toast to him with this devilish brew" (source).
  • Blackrocks Gnomas, $3.09/12oz - "Our Highest ABV beer to date! An English Style Barleywine coming in at 10%. The malt hits you up front with dark fruits and caramel, then balanced off with Topaz hops. Drink this guy around a fire. Store some in your cellar for the future, the Gnomas is great with some age" (source).
  • Dark Horse Thirsty Trout Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter.  Dark brown in color with medium to heavy body and hints of light roast.  Aromas of chocolate leave way to a full mouthfeel and somewhat sweet finish to make this porter a desirable companion" (source).
  • Saugatuck Snow Wizard, $1.79/12oz - "An Oak Aged Imperial Brown Ale with tons of oaky, woody flavors. The base brown malt profile provides a huge caramel, coffee and chocolate body with minimal hop bitterness match perfectly with the complex flavor profile of the oak chips" (source).
  • Stone Sorry Not Sorry, $9.49/22oz - "Stone Sorry Not Sorry is a part of the brewery’s ongoing collaboration series, brewed with St. Louis, Missouri’s 4 Hands Brewing and Yakima, Washington’s Bale Breaker. Sorry Not Sorry is an Imperial IPA brewed with peaches" (source).

Video of the Week | Bell's Christmas Ale

Bell's Christmas Ale is available now at Siciliano's ($1.89/12oz)


Friday, November 13, 2015

New Beer Friday, Windy City Edition (Nov 13)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Barb and I hadn’t done any traveling in a while so this past August when friends Pat and Marcie MacAuley asked if we’d like to accompany them on a fall trip to Chicago we promptly answered yes. The question was whether we could find the time.

September and October were going to be busy. There was the annual week long Customer Appreciation Sale followed by Saturday wine making demonstrations followed by a series of wine making seminars at various branches of the Kent District Library. After checking our calendar we found we had no free time until the first week in November and the prospect of visiting the Windy City with wintry blasts blowing off the Big Lake didn’t particularly appeal to any of us. We decided to make plans for a mid-week three day sojourn anyway.

Goose Island
As it turned out we had cloudless skies and temperatures in the low seventies during our visit—perfect weather for taking a Chicago Architecture River Cruise and for strolling around the excellent Lincoln Park Zoo.

We packed a lot of other activities into those three days—standing on the extended glass ledge of the Willis Tower (quite disconcerting for someone who is uncomfortable climbing a ladder), listening to the blues at the Kingston Mines (seedy but well worth the price of admission), watching improv comedy at the IO Theater  (nice venue and quite affordable) and enjoying an excellent Italian dinner at Trattoria Giani (great food, excellent wine and impeccable service).

Of course we also made time to hit up a couple breweries—a first visit to Half Acre and a return visit to Goose Island. All in all it was a nice trip. The unseasonably sunny and warm November weather made it even nicer.

Half Acre 

New and Returning Beer

  • Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast, $15.39/22oz - "For the fourth installment in our "Beast" series, Sir Walter Scott has tamed the irate monster. Sort of. Here you see the creature redirected as he attempts to incinerate a herd of innocent unicorns. To celebrate, we blended 1/3 Undead Party Crasher aged in bourbon barrels, 1/3 Blaecorn Unidragon aged in scotch barrels and 1/3 Billionaire aged in scotch barrels" (source).
  • He'brew Jewbelation 19, $13.79/22oz - "Over the last decade, Shmaltz Brewing has boldly elevated each year’s Jewbelation® with increased amounts of malts, hops, and ABV — in 2004, they debuted Miraculous Jewbelation® with 8 malts, 8 hops, 8% ABV and continued through 2013’s Jewbelation Reborn® (17 malts, 17 hops, 17% ABV). Similar to 2014’s Jewbelation 18®, this year’s Jewbelation 19® features the brand spankin’ new craft beer category, Black Session Barleywine. Brewed with 10 Malts and 9 Hops, and coming in at 10.9% ABV, Jewbelation 19® will begin to warm craft beer aficionados’ bellies (and will be available in alllll 37 states Shmaltz beers are distributed) starting just before Thanksgiving 2015" (source).
  • He'brew Kentucky Chanukah, $6.19/22oz - Dark ale aged in Jim Beam and Heaven Hill barrels (source).
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter, $8.49/22oz - "Known as “rauchbier” in Germany, smoke-flavored beers were virtually unknown in the U.S. until Alaskan Smoked Porter was developed in 1988" (source).
  • Founders Dirty Bastard, $18.89/12pk cans - "So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads" (source).
  • Green Flash Segal Ranch, $2.09/12oz - "Segal Ranch Session IPA features Tomahawk, Centennial and Cascade hops that were hand-selected by our Brewmaster exclusively from our friends at Segal Ranch in Yakima, Washington. The verdant pungency and citrus aromatics from Tomahawk hops serve as the perfect base layer to allow the flavors of bright floral and pine sap from Centennial hops to emerge on the palate. Notes of resinous citrus from Segal Ranch’s high-oil Cascade hops shine through the finish" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Three Scrooges, $2.19/16oz - "Brewed with honey, orange peel and spices, this winter ale is perfect for the season" (source).
  • New Holland Cabin Fever, $1.79/12oz - "Cabin Fever is a roasty brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long, mind-bending winters" (source).
  • Traveler Jolly Traveler, $1.69/12oz - "Jolly Traveler is a cheerful winter beer inspired by the senses of the season. A wheat beer made with real orange, pomegranate and holiday spices, this Traveler is a refreshing libation for the season of festivity" (source).
  • Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout, $7.19/22oz - "Thin mint cookie, meet John Niedermaier A stout made with organic locally-grown whole leaf mint. She’s just back from a stint in the cooler for being too naughty. She might have mellowed out but this stout is still naughty at heart" (source).
  • Petoskey Horny Monk, $2.39/16oz - "A deep reddish, malty, and complex Belgian style ale. Six different types of malted barley, Belgian candied syrup and Belgian yeast are combined to produce a very smooth, complex and slightly sweet ale" (source).
  • Petoskey Sparkle Lager, $2.39/16oz - "Our homage to the original “Petoskey Sparkle” brewed by Petoskey Brewing from 1898 until 1915.  Wheat and four special malts combine with three different types of hops to create a super clean, easy drinking lager" (source).
  • Petoskey Minds Eye PA, $2.39/16oz - "Burnt copper color and giant hop aroma come to the forefront in this traditional American IPA. Rich caramel malt and red wheat balance the dry bitter finish of this full-flavor craft brew" (source).
  • Atwater Cherry Stout, $2.9/12oz - "Cherry Stout is a blend of 6 malts combined with Montmorency Cherry concentrate from our home state of Michigan. A stout to be cherished" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, $1.99/12oz - "Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter" (source).
  • Destihl Dubbel, $8.69/500ml - "Our Belgian-style Dubbel Ale captivates with its dark brown color and dense, mousse-like head, then enraptures you with aromas of caramel malt & rich chocolate malt alongside ripe, banana-like fruity esters, and finally seizes your palate with its malt sweetness, chocolate-like flavors and a dry finish" (source).
  • Destihl Quad, $10.89/500ml - "Our classic, Belgian-style Quadrupel Abbey Ale greets you with a stunning chestnut-garnet color and rich aroma of figs followed by dark fruit-like flavors of currants, dates and black cherries which give way to toffee, molasses and hints of lightly roasted fruity coffee and then leaves you with its capstone, spicy dry finish" (source).
  • Destihl Tripel, $10.09/500ml - "Our Belgian-style Abbey Tripel Ale approaches you with a pastoral, pale-colored serenity before unveiling its veracious labyrinth of mildly spicy, fruit-like and clove-like aromas & flavors, light-medium body and pleasantly sweet but well-attenuated finish" (source).
  • Destihl Bela Imperial Pilsner, $11.29/500ml - "Bela may sound like a sweet name, but she's actually quite bitter. We use generous amounts of Czech Saaz hops in this imperial Pilsner, showcasing the beautiful, spicy and earthy Noble hop aroma & flavor, with a hop bitterness that is balanced by a gentle warming, medium-body, oak tannins & residual malty sweetness that still finishes dry but is just enough to remind you that Bela might have a sweet side to cozy up to after all" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Noel, $15.39/750ml - "Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, flavors of figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Parcela, $15.39/750ml - "Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and gentle kiss of cacao to lighten the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Only available for a few short months. Not to be missed" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Fuego, $15.39/750ml - "To catch a bit of soft radiance in each bottle, we wait for fall colors to begin their bright and fleeting glow before brewing this wonderful ale under their autumn fire. Gentle amber malt blends smooth caramel notes, gently lapping against a distant shore of forgotten spice. A beer to sip, contemplate " (source).
  • Left Hand Bittersweet, $10.09/22oz - "The coffee’s dark cherry flavors and spicy undertones weave into the rich milky sweet stout like a chocolate-covered espresso bean melting on your tongue. Bitter then sweet. Sweet then bitter. It’s bittersweet" (source).
  • Shorts Cup of Joe, $2.39/12oz - "Cup A Joe Coffee Creme Stout uses Higher Grounds roasted fair trade espresso beans in every facet of the brewing process. Prominent aromatics of malt, espresso, and cocoa are abundant, and there are robust flavors of cream and coffee. This is the perfect morning night capper" (source).
  • North Coast Steller IPA, $6.49/22oz - "Like muscat, spruce tips, and pennyroyal, North Coast Steller IPA is redolent of resinous terpenes: myrcene, linalool, pinene, and geraniol. An unparalleled hop happening" (source).
  • Odd Side Java Mint, $2.29/12oz - "Craving ice cream? This stout will ease your taste buds. It the perfect marriage of mint-chocolate-chip-ice cream and roasted coffee" (source).
  • Finch's Fascist Pig, $2.69/16oz - "Fascist Pig is a deep red, malt-forward ale brewed with plenty of caramel malts and a touch of rye for a hint of spice. The beer won a bronze medal in the strong beer category at the 2014 International Beer Festival. This big American red ale is brewed and dry-hopped with palisade, an earthy and somewhat floral, mentholated American variety, and Zythos, an American blend" (source).
  • Finch's Hardcore Chimera, $2.69/16oz - "Hardcore Chimera is an American style imperial IPA brewed with Citra, Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade and Mosaic hops. The beer won a silver medal at the 2014 International Beer Festival in Rhode Island. Ringing in with over 80 IBUs Hardcore's intense aroma and flavor of passionfruit and citrus is balanced out against a hearty grain bill that lends to Hardcore's deceptively drinkable 9% ABV" (source).
  • Finch's Sobek and Set, $2.69/16oz - "Sobek & Set is named after the Egyptian gods representing a boar and a crocodile. The beer is dark with mahogany and burgundy highlights. This is achieved by using generous amounts of Briess Midnight Wheat for a dark color and smooth finish without the astringent, roasted qualities. Caramel malt is also present. This beer is balanced with earthy and citrus hops" (source).
  • Victory Winter Cheer, $1.79/12oz - "Winter weather may drive us indoors but cannot dampen our spirits when hearth, home and hops meet in jubilation. Hoisted high in its golden glory, Winter Cheers lives up to its name, fueling festive times and chasing winter’s chill. Glowing and glimmering, frothy and shimmering, our celebratory wheat ale features luscious fruity and spicy notes, making it a perfect brew to brighten spirits even on the deepest of nights" (source).
  • Big Sky Powder Hound, $1.69/12oz - "Two words describe Montana winters...cold, dark and snowy. And we wouldn't have it any other way, because it's the only time of year for Powder Hound, our northern Rockies strong ale. Rick malt and taste and an avalanche of hops will make you want to say these three words — 'I'll have another Powder Hound!'" (source).
  • Anchor Christmas, $1.79/12oz - "This is the forty-first annual Christmas Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale's recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew" (source).

Video of the Week | Anchor Christmas Ale

A closer look at one of best Christmas beers around.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

David Nicholson 1843 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

David Nicholson 1843, $19.99/750ml
Review by John Barecki

The recipe for David Nicholson 1843 has been passed down from distiller to distiller from its creation in 1843. This whiskey even flowed through the famous Julian ”Pappy” Van Winkle in 1893 at the Stitzle Weller distillery. Like most things that pass hand to hand there are always changes from the original, and that seems to be the case with this one as well. But while tastes change the heart of the idea is always present. This version does not have a distillery of origin but we at least know that it is made in Kentucky.

There has been a bit of an uproar lately in the whiskey industry about misinformation or flat out missing information on bottles with regard to where a product is made. I can understand it to a point but I also think that there is a lot of unneeded stigma around certain brand names. Fact is, just because you don’t know where a spirit has been distilled does not mean you will not like it, and there is a lot to like about David Nicholson 1843. First off, it is bottled at 100 proof, which promotes a higher flavor and aroma potential since it is not watered down before you buy it. I have been diligently trying to find whisky/ey that is at least 100 proof or higher for a lower price than most and, at only $19.99, this bourbon meets that requirement, something that is becoming increasingly harder to find in higher proof whiskeys. (My two cents, take it or leave it.)

The characteristics of this bourbon are pretty bold on the nose. You have earthy barley tones with black tea and menthol and a slight sour mash tinge. On the tongue the earth is even bolder surrounded by light caramel and vanilla creme and the finish is woodsy with more wet earth notes and charred oak, which goes to a lingering real cinnamon note that hangs on for a good while. This whiskey has a good frontal attack with a warm center that finishes with a cooling spice. My guess is that they use a higher barley and rye content along with the corn backbone. This is a good whiskey in my book. It might not be single barrel or cask strength but it meets my requirements of a good sipper.

Also, to those that would like to sample a good amount of whiskies, there is an event called Whiskey Business MI that will be happening at the Goei Center on November 20th. They are going to have some fun things to sample and at $40-70/ticket the cost to attend is not too bad. The website will have all the information for selections of products and where to buy tickets.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Beer Friday, Journey Jug Edition (Nov 6)

Sarah with Journey Jug
It's been two years since our pals at Fusionary introduced Journey Jug, a branded growler and online tracking system designed to help you keep a record of the beers you've had, where you've had them and with whom. Since the first Journey Jug shipped in December 2013, hundreds more have followed, some logging thousands of miles while being passed from friend to friend to friend.

Today we're helping Fusionary introduce a twist on the original Journey Jug concept — Journey Jug stickers. With these new stickers any growler can become a Journey Jug, complete with its own history of fill-ups, brewery visits, get-togethers, hand-offs (i.e., passing from one friend to another) or any other beer event you care to document. All it takes is applying two small stickers to your favorite growler — one a tracking number, the other a security code — and the journey can begin.

To mark the occasion, Siciliano's Market is giving away one FREE set of Journey Jug sticker to the first 10 people who stop in and ask for one. While the freebie stickers are available on a first-come first-serve basis, a few more will be available for purchase once the free ones are gone ($3.99/sticker). If you happen to miss out entirely, keep in mind the stickers will always be available on the Journey Jug website, where it just so happens the original Journey Jug is also for sale. Happy travels, everyone! #JourneyJug

Look for Journey Jug stickers at Siciliano's Market

New and Returning Beer

  • Rockford Brewing Unholy Belgian Tripel, $15.99/750ml (Siciliano's Exclusive) - "Our interpretation of a classic Belgian style ale, originally popularized by the Trappist monastery at Westmalle. Unholy is defined by an elegant malt profile with elements of orange blossom, vanilla and traces of clove. Expect a delicately layered body with a smooth finish. This annually brewed fall release is an unholy union of angelic complexity and a sinful dose of alcohol" (source).
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale, $2.39/12oz - "A Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey to keep you a-wassailing all season long" (source).
  • Big Lake Ryecoe IPA, $2.89/16oz - "Our signature rye IPA. This beer is brewed with over 25% rye malt, and complimented with a huge dose of Simcoe hops. Spicy Rye, and grapefruit have never gotten along so well" (source).
  • Big Lake Dark Star Stout, $2.89/16oz - "A full bodied stout measuring in at just over 8%. This creation is brewed using both Kona and Sumatra coffee then aged on cacao nibs" (source).
  • Big Lake Leroy Brown, $2.89/16oz - "Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not that mean. This is our northern English Brown ale. Four caramel malts, and chocolate create this clean easy drinking masterpiece" (source).
  • Big Lake Ramarillo, $2.89/16oz - "Our Rye IPA recipe using Amarillo hops. Slick rye notes, and plenty of flowery citrus notes from the best hops available on the market" (source).
  • Big Lake Citra Wheat, $2.89/16oz - "Mid Western Wheat malt, mixed with juicy Citra Hops. These ingredients meld together to create a light bodied, easy drinking wheat beer with a hop profile all of its own" (source).
  • Greenbush Remnant of Dragons, $3.49/12oz - "Imperial red IPA" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Duet, $8.19/22oz (2 per) - "Our original single IPA made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops in harmony" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Nelson, $8.99/22oz (2 per) - "An outstanding hop from New Zealand, Nelson Sauvin, is generously used throughout the brewing and dry-hopping of this unique beer. European rye is added for a smooth, malty addition to flavor" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Hoppy Birthday, $8.19/22oz (2 per) - "Hoppy Birthday is a Session IPA" (source).
  • Atwater Shaman Porter, $2.99/12oz - "A Porter traditionally brewed in the baltic region. We use the finest ingredients including Munich, Chocolate, and Black Malts along with German Hops to create the smoothest Porter you have ever tasted. Shaman's Porter will thwart any tricksters or evil spirits" (source).
  • Atwater Christmas Ale, $2.19/12oz - "A German holiday treat similar to gingerbread" (source).
  • Vandermill Besieged, $14.89/22oz - "A medley of delicious Michigan apples & local wildflower honey make up the precious liquid which is then carefully aged in Revolution Brewing Straight Jacket barrels producing the final result, victory in liquid form! A cyser bursting with ripe apple flavor & malt-like sweetness with a warm, spiced finish from it’s months spent in glorious wood" (source).
  • Alaskan Winter Ale, $1.59/12oz - "Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol" (source).
  • Bell's Christmas, $1.89/12oz - "The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. At 5.5% ABV, it stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them" (source).
  • Bell's Winter White, $1.79/12oz - "Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell's Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Bell's Winter White Ale is a beer for embracing winter" (source).
  • Bell's Java Stout, $2.79/12oz - "The satisfying elements of both stout and coffee come together in this full-bodied treat. A marriage of Sumatra's best with rich chocolate and roasted malt provides for a truly enlightening beer" (source).
  • New Holland Hopivore, $2.59/12oz - "Michigan-grown hops are the story in this seasonal harvest ale. Hopivore is wet-hopped, with hops added to the brew just hours after harvest, creating rare, fresh flavors" (source).
  • North Peak Blitzen, $1.89/12oz - "North Peak Blitzen is a Festivus Ale with raisin, current and berry notes attributed to Bramling Cross hops, 3 types of Crystal malts, Cara and Chocolate malt. A combination of citrus peel and citrus pith flavors are accented by the Hercules, Cascade and Pilgrim hops added throughout the boil. Riwakas’ subtle spiciness in combination with the crisp spiciness from the Rye malt liberates flavors reminiscent of savory holiday cakes. This is a well balanced, rich, Festivus Ale that will warm the palate and soul, awakening memories of holidays past. It is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Estate Harvest Ale, $8.69/750ml (1 per) - "From the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley comes our Estate Ale. It’s rich with the flavors of the valley—hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas, and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Enjoy this remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery in Chico, and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew" (source).
  • Stone Double Bastard, $9.49/22oz - "This is a lacerative muther of a beer. The evil big brother of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It is strongly suggested you stay far, far away from this beer. Those foolish enough to venture close enough to taste will experience a punishingly unforgiving assault on the palate" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders

What does Founders mean to you?


Friday, October 30, 2015

New Beer Friday, Happy Halloween Edition (Oct 30)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

In honor of Halloween, we're posting an excerpt from a blog post we published back on October 31, 2013. In it, Steve 'Bossman' Siciliano explored the origins of pumpkin ale while pondering its growing popularity, which, in the two years since first publication, has not appeared to waver. To read the complete post, please go here.

The use of pumpkins in the production of beer is uniquely American. Our colonial forefathers occasionally added pumpkins to their beer recipes, not because they wanted to but because they had to. Good quality, inexpensive malt was hard to acquire back then and the indigenous gourd, with its requisite starches and sugars, provided a viable alternative. As malt became more readily available, the use of pumpkins in the production of beer became an historical footnote. It might have remained there if not for William Owens.

Back in the mid 1980s, "Buffalo Bill" Owens, who was at the time the owner of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in Haywood, California, was researching historical beer recipes when he came across one, allegedly formulated by George Washington, which used pumpkin flesh in the mash. Owens also happened to be a gardener. He took one of his prize 500 pound pumpkins, chunked it, baked it and then threw the pieces into a mash for his standard amber ale. After he fermented and carbonated the beer, Owens was disappointed that it had no discernible pumpkin flavor. But then he had a brewing epiphany—why not use pumpkin pie spices to achieve the flavor profile that he thought would be achieved from using the baked pumpkin? He brewed another batch, this time without pumpkin, and dumped a can of pumpkin pie spices into the bright tank. The first modern “pumpkin” beer was born.

Obviously it’s these spices, used in differing proprietary amounts and combinations, which are the main reason as to why pumpkin beers today are so popular. People equate the spicy flavors and aromas of these brews to those of pumpkin pie. And who doesn’t like pumpkin pie? But maybe there are other, perhaps subliminal, factors that are contributing to the wild popularity of pumpkin beer.

I would guess that most adults have fond memories of donning costumes and traipsing through neighborhoods collecting overflowing bags of treats on Halloween. Perhaps drinking a beer that exalts the most cherished and ubiquitous symbol of Halloween helps rekindle those memories and allows for a somewhat vicarious participation in a decidedly childlike activity. Then again, maybe the popularity of these brews is due to the fact that the pumpkin is such a photogenic fruit and its image looks so appetizing on a beer label. Other fruits are used in beer and make equally delicious pies—apples, cherries peaches and blueberries for instance—but they haven’t lent their names to a craft beer phenomenon. Can this be because they don’t have the same visually appealing impact and marketing panache of the pumpkin?

Griffin Claw Screamin' Pumpkin, still available at Siciliano's ($2.19/16oz)

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale, $7.59/22oz - "Our latest Rough Draft Limited is a collaboration with Heritage Coffee -- a delicious beer we call Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale" (source).
  • Brooklyn Insulated Lager, $1.59/12oz - "Brooklyn Insulated Lager is your protection against biting wind and soggy weather. German Munich, roasted Carafa, and Pilsner malts create a nimble, racy body, while a helping of American black barley adds just a hint of roast coffee. A light dry hopping of American and German hops pitter-patters across the nose and dives into the dry, warming finish. Try it with dark breads, hearty meats, and sturdy cheddars. If you still feel the chill, just add another layer and enjoy your insulation" (source).
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, $2.29/12oz - "This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, our award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. We use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specialty roasted malts. We brew it every year for the winter season. It is delicious when newly bottled, but also ages beautifully for years" (source).
  • Founders Backwoods Bastard, $3.89/12oz - "Big and delicious for your ’perty mouth. Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts. A bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark cherries. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous, $4.79/22oz - "Mischievous presents flavors derived from its 100% brettanomyces fermentation. This wild yeast contributes earthiness, spice, mineral-character and slight tartness" (source).
  • Stone Coffee Milk Stout, $1.99/12oz - "From imperial stouts to IPAs, we’ve discovered the tantalizingly roasty lift that comes from adding coffee beans to just about any kind of beer. This English-style milk stout, originally a limited-edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, proved the perfect foil for beans from San Diego-based Ryan Bros Coffee. The bitterness of the coffee is balanced out brilliantly by the milk sugar we used to add a touch of sweetness and creaminess to the stout’s smooth, easy-drinking texture. Cheers to the coalescence of two highly artisanal (and delectable) mediums" (source).
  • New Belgium Ben and Jerry Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, $1.69/12oz - "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: To help Protect Our Winters combat climate change. When two foodie B Corps join forces for good, delicious ideas are created. Our Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer’s rich chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop. Reward yourself, and dig in" (source).
  • New Belgium Accumulation, $1.69/12oz - "This winter, IBUs start accumulating like snow in Colorado with our new ACCUMULATION WHITE IPA . Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter and WINTER SEASONAL BEERS . At least that’s what our rebellious brewer Grady Hull likes to claim as he shovels in plenty of new hop varietals and a bit of wheat for a smooth mouthfeel. Stack up a few cases of Accumulation White IPA to keep your long nights glowing blizzard white" (source).
  • Arcadia Nut Brown, $1.79/12oz - "This English-style brown ale has an alluring mahogany color capped by a rich foam head. It is brewed with six different varieties of premium malted barley, creating a robust body and delicious flavor profile featuring hints of chocolate, raisins, dates and almonds. Its ripe fruit notes and malty, sweet finish are counterbalanced by a subtle hop bitterness and aroma" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $1.69/12oz - "For many, our little town of Frankenmuth is known as Christmas Town. So, it's no wonder we created an ale to celebrate the Merry Season. Enjoy toasted sweet dark malts and American hops which combine with holiday flavors to create a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas" (source).
  • Blake's Beard Bender, $1.99/12oz - "Blake's Beard Bender is a 100% natural hard cider. It's funny when nothing's added you taste the true characteristics of the apple. Not for the faint of heart. Beard Bender packs a punch not expected from hard cider. Derived from a variety of Bittersweet and Bittersharp apples. Beard Bender is tart, crisp and amazingly drinkable. And, of course, 100% grown at Blake Farms in Armada, Michigan" (source).
  • Deschutes Foray IPA, $4.99/22oz - "Foray is all about the journey. Belgian yeast delivers hints of apple and pear which blend with the citrus hop aroma for a clean even finish. So no matter where you’re heading, this a trip worth taking" (source).
  • Deschutes Hop Trip, $1.99/12oz - "Part of the Bond Street Series. This Fresh Hop Pale Ale is all about celebrating the hop harvest in the fall. Fresh picked hops have to be added to the brew immediately and in abundance. Roughly 270 pounds of Crystal hops from Doug Weathers' farm outside Salem, Oregon will be added to the 50 barrel batch in addition to some dry kilned whole flower hops. That adds up to approximately 5.5 pounds of hops per barrel brewed" (source).
  • Shorts Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, $2.39/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a Double Belgian IPA brewed exclusively with Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons. It also has subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense, clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile, with little malt character to compete with. A fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish, alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
  • Great Lakes Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, $1.69/12oz - "Dark and roasty yet light and smooth as a fresh coat of snow, our Oatmeal Stout will kick your cabin fever and inspire you to toss another log on the fire" (source).
  • North Coast Grand Cru, $16.69/500ml - "Reminiscent of North Coast Brewing's Gold Medal-winning Twentieth Anniversary Ale, North Coast Grand Cru is brewed with pilsner malt and agave nectar, then aged in oak bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Southern Tier Choklat, $4.99/12oz - "Moving through centuries, the circular journey of cacao has been realized in our brewing house, encompassing the complexity of the darkest, bitter-sweet candy together with the original frothy cold beverage of the ancient Maya to bring to you our Blackwater Series Choklat Stout. We have combined the finest ingredients to tempt your senses & renew the power & interrelation of history in every bottle" (source).
  • Lagunitas Born Yesterday, $2.19/12oz - "Quite possibly the freshest Fresh Hop ale you'll get your paws on—Born Yesterday. How? Our farmer friends in Yakima, WA harvested and rushed straight-to-our-breweries the freshest virgin, un-kilned hops. Then a herculean effort involving Lagunitas folks from across all different departments commenced with a quickness … sorting and picking through the hops to remove twigs, twine and other stuff from farming. After all the lupulin glands are sufficiently tickled, the hops go into a proprietary Borning Process which allows us to take these whole-cone hops (not pellets or oils or other sorcery) and deliver their absolute essence and liquid likeness to you in bottles and kegs for an immaculate reception" (source).

Video of the Week | Killer Beer

We posted this last year on Halloween. It's too good to only post once.
Happy Halloween, everyone!


Friday, October 23, 2015

New Beer Friday, Expanded Liquor Edition (Oct 23)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you have been in Siciliano's Market over the past few weeks you may have noticed that we have done some rearranging behind the sales counter and we managed to find an additional twenty-four feet of shelf space that can be dedicated to our ever expanding liquor selection.

It certainly didn't take long for liquor buyer John Barecki to fill every inch of that space with a lineup of new and interesting rums, ryes, bourbons, single malt scotches and high end tequilas.

If you're a fan of fine liquors make sure you take a few minutes to check out the new arrangement the next time you're in the store.

Liquor buyer John Barecki (right) stands with Smiling Matt in front of
24 newly added feet of shelf space for spirits.

New and Returning Beer

  • 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." (source).
  • North Peak Dubious Black Chocolate Stout, $1.79/12oz - "North Peak Dubious is a Dark Chocolate Stout that has the perfect combination of chocolate, roast and black malts resulting in a smooth rich beer. Judicious use of hops bring out a complex, yet subtle bittering finished off with a big Goldings nose. This swirl of aroma, flavor and body is underscored by the rich chocolate that is added at the end of the boil. This medium bodied beer is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • North Peak HooDoo Wet Hop IPA, $2.79/12oz - "North Peak Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA is the first of it’s kind. Brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for exceptional flavor. Hoodoo is hops from start to finish with a little malt in the middle, just enough to keep Hoodoo from going Voodoo on you. not to worry - pretty much nothing but hops" (source).
  • Victory Harvest Ale, $2.59/12oz - "Three hop varieties have added tremendous zest to this Pale Ale. After a soft and full floral nose, those juicy hops saturate the middle of this amber ale with more flowery fullness. The malt body punctuates the lingering hop richness of this one-of-a-kind ale" (source).
  • Victory Vital IPA, $1.79/12oz - "The IPA style can be a powerhouse of flavors and impressions. But what is vital to you? What commands your taste and attention? We packed our Vital IPA full of fresh, crisp and fruity notes driven by whole flower American hops and robust German malts. You’ll find it bright, delightfully aromatic and complex, leaving you with dry, spicy satisfaction. Taste Victory in these flavors Vital to your senses" (source).
  • Victory Saison Du Buff, $2.59/12oz - "In June of 2003, armed with a manifesto on freedom and flavor in beer, Sam (Dogfish Head), Greg (Stone) and Bill hosted a highly unsuccessful retail sampling in Boston. Undaunted, they vowed to prove that they were indeed Brewers United for the Freedom of Flavor (BUFF). With the unlikely help of fresh parsley, lemon thyme, sage and rosemary, they proved it in this refreshing saison recipe" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2xMass, $1.99/12oz - "Double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg" (source).
  • Abita Bad Mother Shucker, $4.69/22oz - "Deep in the oyster beds of Louisiana surfaces one Bad Mother Shucker - Abita's Oyster Stout. Brewed with pale, caramel, roasted and chocolate malts, this Mother Shucker is hopped up with Willamette hops and balanced out with the sweet and full flavors of oats. Fresh Louisiana Oysters are added to the boil in the final stages, infusing a slight taste of sea salt that offsets the sharpness of the stout" (source).
  • Oddside Merry Elf, $1.99/12oz - "Dark ale with candi sugar and orange peel" (source).
  • Left Hand Fade to Black Vol 1, $2.09/12oz - "That time of year when the day seems to fade away. Drifting further into the darkness with each passing day. Volume 1 – Foreign Stout – Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes that give way to a feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships" (source).
  • Short's Black Cherry, $2.69/12oz - "Black Cherry Porter is made using local Northern Michigan sweet black cherries and eight different malts. The combination of ingredients provides the deep radiant flavor profile and creates a dark opaque color. The beer leaves a slight purple lace from the fruit puree and finishes with flavors of roasted chocolate and pleasurable black cherry" (source).
  • Ommegang Lovely Deep and Dark, $2.89/12oz - "Deep with roasty aromas, coffee with cream and chocolate notes. Ommegang house yeast imparts light fruit and spice character" (source).
  • Vander Mill Nunica Pine, $2.99/16oz - "Opposites attract in this limited release seasonal specialty. Our Hard Apple cider provides a base of unmatched fruit and acidity, while Columbus hops unveil an earthy bitterness no other cider can match. Gluten free" (source).
  • B. Nectar Devil's Juice, $8.19/375ml - "So many dare to speak of me, run with me, to dance with me, advocate for me..Where are those who dare to drink with me? I am B. Nektar and I am here to do B. Nektar's work. To tempt the world and spread the sin of the B. It is but a small sacrifice to uncork this bottle and indulge in it's succulent pineapple and honey sweetness. Savor the smoke of hell as that jalapeno, serrano, habanero and ghost peppers delicately sear your tongue. The initiation begins" (source).
  • Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, $12.09/22oz (1 per) - "One Big Bad Imperial Stout with Cocoa nibs and Coffee beans. Each season's release uses a different dark roasted coffee" (source).

Video of the Week | M-22

In the mood for a road trip this weekend?
Check out all M-22 has to offer.


Friday, October 16, 2015

New Beer Friday, Learn to Homebrew Edition (October 16)

Come one, come all!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

On Saturday, November 7, Siciliano’s Market and Elk Brewing are teaming up to host an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Learn to Homebrew Day. This free event is open to the public and will be held on the brewery’s outdoor patio at 700 Wealthy St. SE in Grand Rapids from 11 AM to 5 PM.

The AHA’s Learn to Homebrew Day is an international event held annually on the first Saturday of November. Since its inception in 1999, thousands of homebrewers have gathered at locations throughout the world to celebrate and demonstrate the basic techniques of this life enriching hobby.

For more information on the Learn to Homebrew event at Elk Brewing, please contact

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Pepper in the Rye, $3.39/16oz - "Great friends. Great food. Great beer. Relaxing at a meal together is the best part of our day. This beer is made for enhancing that experience. The flaked rye lends an earthy spiciness and the addition of green peppercorns into the boil kettle give a ping of peppery notes that will turn up the flavor of whatever dish you sit down to at your table. Add a friend or two and you’ve got yourself a memorable evening" (source).
  • Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale, $1.69/12oz - "With the onset of winter, the brewer’s mind turns to providing warmth. For our winter seasonal, Southern Tier offers Old Man Winter Ale, a rich and complex amalgam of hops and barley that will put the feeling back in your toes and lift your spirits above the snow. Old Man Winter throws a deep and inviting hue with a thickness that clings to the glass and the warmth of an open flame. Because of its high alcohol content, Old Man Winter is a heady brew that encourages sipping and pondering its essential richness. Drink it fresh now, or cellar some bottles to see how this old man becomes wiser with age" (source).
  • OddSide Ales How Now Brown Cow, $1.99/12oz - "A brown ale" (source).
  • Perrin Hotbox Brown Ale, $1.89/12oz - "We've taken Hotbox Roasters' finest beans and woven them into our cult classic Nut Brown Ale. Encompassing subtle hints of melted caramel and toffee, toasted almonds, light chocolate, and a fresh brewed coffee aroma. This brew was born for shaking', baking', and day breaking" (source).
  • Bell's 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).
  • Stone 24 Carrot Golden Ale, $9.49/22oz - "As the name implies, this beer is richly aromatic and envelopes the palate with decadent flavors of cream cheese frosting, cinnamon, vanilla, carrots and raisins plus subtle malt sweetness, ending with a medium-dry finish. It’s nothing short of brilliant and well deserving of the 24 karat (carrot?) golden opportunity to be brewed by Stone and distributed across the country" (source).
  • Smuttynose Cherry Short Weisse, $8.59/22oz - "Berliner-style wheat ale brewed with tart cherries" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz - Ale brewed with blueberries.
  • Guinness Nitro IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Supremely smooth, unmistakably Guiness" (source).
  • Smuttynose Scotch Ale, $6.99/22oz - "Dark brown in color. Candy sugar in used when brewing this beer" (source).
  • Roak Roaka Cadabra, $1.69/12oz - "Spiced apple Belgian-style brown ale" (source).
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, $18.79/12pk - "A robust Porter made with chocolate malt. This malt Beverage is brewed with coffee beans with natural flavor added, and we balance it with U.S. Golding hops" (source).
  • Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout, $2.09/12oz - "A full bodied stout made with all malted barley and blueberry. Flavors of chocolate, roast malt and light blueberry make up the palate with lots of fruity blueberry aroma" (source).
  • Black Rocks Nordskye, $2.09/12oz - "We brewed/tweaked this beer at the pub for a couple years under a different name until it was can worthy. Galaxy hops bring out big tropical/fruity aromas and flavors, the low ABV and easy body make it easy to justify grabbing 'one more.'" (source).

New Spirits

  • Long Road Gin, $34.99/750ml - "This is our take on a traditional favorite—generous in flavor and bold in character. In true British style, our hallmark Gin is juniper-forward, complemented with a robust blend of botanicals—some familiar and some unexpected" (source).
  • Long Road Vodka, $29.99/750ml - "This is vodka. Made by people who do things only one way—the right way. The signature taste comes from our Red Winter Wheat, grown by a local farmer we know by name. It was milled in house, fermented carefully, distilled properly, and filtered honestly" (source).

Video of the Week | Brewsader

Anyone have the inside scoop on what this is?