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Friday, July 3, 2015

New Beer Friday, Independence Day Edition (July 3)

Ben "Beer is Proof" Franklin
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The war between Great Britain and its American colonies had been going on for over a year when members of the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia to debate whether the colonies should declare themselves to be free and independent states. After the motion for independence passed, John Hancock allegedly told the assemblage that they had no choice now but to all hang together.

“Yes, we must indeed all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin supposedly replied. “Or most assuredly we will hang separately.”

While the story may be apocryphal, there’s certainly no doubt that Hancock, Franklin and the other fifty-four signees of the Declaration of Independence knew what their fate would be if the revolution failed.

Up to that point, the conflict was essentially an armed argument between Parliament and the colonies and most colonists were hopeful that King George would eventually intercede on their behalf. The document that was signed by the Founding Fathers on July 4th, 1776 was an announcement that they now believed that the corruption within the English government extended all the way up to the king. Since they were now considered to be English subjects waging war against the crown, they were guilty of high treason and in eighteenth century English law the penalty for high treason was death.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence marked the point of no return. It was a remarkable display of courage by a remarkable group of men. Ultimately it was the defining moment in the birth of a remarkable nation.

New and Returning Beer

  • Smuttynose Imperial Stout, $6.99/22oz - "Originally brewed in the early 19th century for export from Britain to the imperial court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, imperial stouts are characterized by their dark color & full body. This style features a rich, malty sweetness coupled with aggressive hopping (especially in American interpretations). Notes of dried fruit as well as roasted malt flavors are typically present" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Mackinac Island Fudge Stout, $2.29/12oz - "A roasty, dry stout made with real fudge for a subtle chocolate-fudge character without being sweet or heavy" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Siberian Night, $6.89/12oz (2 per) - "Creamy and full-bodied, with a complex character from generous amounts of roasted, toasted, and caramel malts. For those who demand flavor, this is the perfect libation. Bronze Medal winner 2003 GABF, Gold Medal winner 2005 GABF" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Rise of Mayan Dog, $3.59/12oz (1 per) - "Celebrate the new rise of civilization with this bittersweet, big, bold, black beer filled with old world and traditional Mayan spices, including honey and cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Short's Strawberry Shortscake, $2.39/12oz (6 per) - "Strawberry Short’s Cake is a golden ale. The addition of strawberries and milk sugar transform this beer into a rose colored nectar that has hints of cream and is pleasingly sweet. Biscuit flavors and aromas arise from the great amounts of Victory malt used in the brewing process" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz (4 per) - "Ale brewed with blueberries" (source).
  • Weyerbacher 20th Anniversary, $4.29/12oz - "Our 20th Anniversary brew is a Belgian-Style Dark Ale weighing in at 11% ABV. It’s malty with notes of caramel, raisins and berries, as well as subtle hints of coriander and star anise" (source).

Happy 4th, Everyone!


Cheers!

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Beer Friday, Problem Solver Edition (June 26)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“I’m hoping you can help me,” said the man who came into the store as soon as I unlocked the door last Saturday morning.

“I’ll try,” I said. “What’s up?”

He explained that he had purchased a keg of Newcastle for a party that he was having that afternoon and he needed a CO2 tank to dispense the beer.

“Do you have a regulator?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Do I need a regulator, too?”

“I’m afraid so,” I said. “What exactly do you have?”

“Just the thing that connects to the keg.”

“The coupler?” I asked.

“That’s right,” he said. “Something called an S coupler.”

“Is there a beer line and a faucet connected to the coupler?”

He shook his head. “A few days after I ordered the keg the store called and told me that Newcastle takes a special coupler. They didn’t have one so I ordered it online.”

“Ah,” I said. “Now I understand.” I proceeded to tell him how much it would cost for a CO2 tank, regulator, tail pieces, clamps, gas line, beer line and plastic cobra tap.

“That’s a lot of money for something I might never use again,” he said.

“It is,” I agreed.

“Well,” he said. “I guess I don’t have a choice.”

“If I had the right part I would be happy to take an air pump off one of my taps and hook it up to your coupler,” I said. “But I don’t have the right union. Do you have the coupler with you?” I asked after thinking for a few moments.

“No, but I can go get it.”

While the man was gone, I gathered some hardware, hoses, clamps and a faucet and removed an air pump for one of our picnic taps. He returned with the coupler thirty minutes later and while I assembled the make-shift tap he perused the store and brought a couple of bags of bulk tea up to the sales counter.

“This is a nice store.”

“Thank you," I said. “First time here?”

“Yes. I called a friend and told him my predicament and he suggested I come here.”

“The threads don’t match but I think this will be fine,” I said while trying the pump. “This will save you a few bucks. Let me know how it works.”

“More than a few,” he said after seeing the total rung up on the cash register. "Thank you.”

“Glad to help,” I said, and made a mental note to order a few of the unions.

A few days later I received the following email:
Hi, Steve 
Just wanted to let you know that your jury-rigged pump worked great. In fact it is still pumping brown nectar. So, thank you for saving the day and my wallet!
The tea is great and I am spreading the word about your fine establishment.

See you soon!
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune of dealing with countless people in countless businesses who were willing to go the extra mile to resolve a problem. It’s nice when an opportunity arises where I can do the same.

The makeshift Newcastle tap

New and Returning Beer

  • Victory Summer Love, $1.69/12oz can - "The brew has a vibrant and refreshing pale color derived from its lean and refreshing malt body. And the initially floral aroma of hops segues into a well integrated, refreshing hop dryness of European heritage" (source).
  • Great Lakes Rye of the Tiger, $1.69/12oz - "This kitty has claws. Named for its one-two punch of fierce hops and sharp rye content,our Rye of the Tiger India Pale Ale is a thrilling ale with bite, handcrafted for the fighter in all of us. Like tigers creeping through tall grass, hopheads will stalk this majestic golden brew, rising to the challenge of its bold flavor attack. Full-bodied and loaded with hops, our Rye of the Tiger IPA is brewed with rye malt, adding a spicy complexity to every sip. It’s an ale meant to inspire feats of strength and skill, a worthy contender in the bout against the flavorless. If you can step into the ring with this hopped-up cat, you’ve earned your stripes" (source).
  • Atwater Michelada, $1.99/16oz can - "Mix up some craft beer, pickle and lime juices, bloody mary spices and a dash of made-in-Detroit marketing mojo, and presto! — an all-new craft Michelada product is launching this week in Michigan, jointly created by two growing Detroit brands, McClure's and Atwater Brewery" (source).
  • Founder's Double Trouble, $3.09/12oz - "An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops have got you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front paired with a malt balanced backbone and a smooth bitter finish" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Beach Patrol, $3.39/16oz can - "A crushable cloudy wheat beer, accented with coriander and fermented with our farmhouse yeast. Perfect to pass around the bonfire after a long day of swimming laps or soaking up the sun" (source).
  • Unibrou Pear Ephemere, $7.59/750ml - "Mild ripe pears complemented by a distinctive wheat acidity. A feeling of freshness which is intensified by a spicy finish" (source).
  • New Belgium Shift, $1.59/12oz can-12oz - "New Belgium employee-owners work in shifts to brew to life world-class beers. Those efforts are rewarded daily with a shared end-of-shift beer. We’re passing that welcomed occasion onto consumers in this lightly-hopped Shift Pale Lager. From work to play, from bottle to can, from bold and heavy to refreshing and sessionable" (source).
  • New Belgium Snapshot, $1.59/12oz can - "Snap! You just captured an unfiltered wheat beer full of refreshment and a flash of tart at the finish. Smile-inducing aromas of citrus hops jump from the nose, accompanied by the sweetness of coriander and grains of paradise. Brewed with wheat and pale malt, SNAPSHOT BEER pours a hazy, lemon-yellow with bright-white lacing. But the real enticement is the snap of tart. New Belgium’s affinity for sour beers led to the in-process blending of lactobacillus to pucker up Snapshot’s base. An extra step to acidify and beautify and get this beer ready for its close up" (source).
  • New Belgium Slow Ride, $1.59/12oz can - "Kicking back and relaxing with a session beer requires little more than a couch, some free time, and a few pals. SLOW RIDE SESSION IPA is up for this easy-going challenge, starting with a pour of sheened gold and plenty of fluffy, white foam. A blend of eight hop varieties, led by exotic Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin, twist together brilliant tropical scents of melon, peach, lime and grapefruit for a vividly fruity aroma. The flavor mirrors the aroma, while balancing a malty-sweet yet clean start and hoppy bitterness in the back. Light bodied and extra quaffable, this sessionable India Pale Ale brings the finish line to you" (source).

Blank Space of the Week







Cheers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Beer Friday, Father's Day Edition (June 19)

By Steve Siciliano

I doubt that anyone needs to be reminded that this Sunday is a holiday. But in case you’re still trying to decide what gifts to give to those very special men in your life I’d be happy to offer a few suggestions.

If your father, stepfather or grandfather enjoys craft beer, a mixed six pack or twelve pack of hand-crafted brews hand-picked from one of Beer City USA’s best bottle shop is sure to put a smile on his face.

Perhaps the old man enjoys two fingers of good bourbon, rye or scotch with an occasional cigar. In that case you might consider picking up a unique offering from our ever-expanding inventory of quality spirits and a few hand-rolled, premium cigars from our walk-in humidor.

If pops is an aficionado of fine wines, you can choose a few nice bottles of cab, merlot, chardonnay or even Spanish rosé from our well stocked wine room. (Yes, real men drink rosés.)

If the patriarch has been thinking about delving into the hobbies of homebrewing or winemaking, this would be the perfect time to buy him a beer- or winemaking equipment kit. If he’s already taken the plunge into these life-enriching hobbies, you could pick him up some additional equipment or ingredients from the store that has the largest inventory of beer- and winemaking supplies in West Michigan.

And if you’re still having trouble deciding, a gift card from one of the area’s premier specialty stores is always a nice option.

On behalf of the entire staff at Siciliano’s Market I’d like to wish dads everywhere a happy Father’s Day.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Dubbelicious, $3.39/16oz - "Dark and Caramel malts and a high temperature fermentation produce a mahogany pour with aromas of plum and raisin and a rich nutty finish" (source).
  • Blackrocks Honey Lav, $1.79/12oz - "This is our summer seasonal beer. An American Wheat brewed with Michigan honey and full lavender flowers. A Fresh and flavorful ale with a great balance between the floral lavender and sweet honey. Available May-August" (source).
  • Tapistry Hansel Hefe, $7.19/22oz - "Hansel is a light German hefeweizen with a strong dose of wheat malt. Golden in color and completely sessionable, Hansel will lure you with its gorgeous head and sensational aroma. Subtle notes of banana can be detected. Pairs well with sunshine" (source).
  • Great Lakes Sharpshooter, $1.69/12oz - "Inspired by Ohio’s “little sure shot” Annie Oakley, our Session Wheat IPA is peppered with rounds of whole orange peel and fully loaded with Jarrylo hops" (source).
  • Short's Hopstache, $1.99/12oz - "Hopstach typifies the boldness that comes from American hop varieties. The aroma is dominated by fruity ale yeast esters and fragrant grapefruit tones. Initial malt sweetness is low, and citrus fruit and floral hop qualities overpower any other perceived flavors. Aided by the addition of grapefruit zest, the finish is a sharp hop shock that electrifies the mouth, but is not overly bitter" (source).
  • Laguinitas CitruSinensis, $2.19/12oz - "We took some fresh Sanguinello Blood oranges, juiced 'em, concentrated that juice (without heat) and threw it into a wheatier version of our New Dogtown Pale Ale. The end result? A refreshingly hopped pale-ish ale with a huge citrus burst" (source).
  • Not Your Father's Root Beer (ABV 5.9%), $1.99/12oz - "Silky, smooth and satisfying finish is unmatched in flavor. It appeals to craft beer aficionados as well as those who don't typically drink beer but crave something unique. ABV 5.9%" (source).
  • Destihl Abbey's Single, $1.99/12oz - "A Belgian-style abbey ale crafted like those that Trappist monks brew for their own session beer. It is light bodied, light in color and relatively lower in alcohol with spicy phenolics and complex fruity esters of cherries, nectarines, peaches and bubblegum with a characteristic slightly tart and dry finish from the Belgian yeast" (source).
  • Destihl Hoperation Overload, $2.99/12oz - "Our mission for this Imperial or ’Double’ India Pale Ale is to overload the beer with hops for an intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma while still being balanced by a big malt profile, resulting in a hoppy beer with more dimension. This beer is light copper in color with some hop haze from overloading with dry hops as well" (source).
  • Destihl Vertex, $2.29/12oz - "This West Coast/Rocky Mountain-style India Pale Ale is back-hopped for a more intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma without the balance of caramel malts like our Midwest-style Baldock IPA. It has medium-high alcohol content, high fruity, floral and citrus-like American-varietal hop character, deep golden color and medium maltiness" (source).
  • Destihl Here Gose Nothin, $2.89/12oz - "Our Leipzig-Style Gose undergoes a spontaneous fermentation, similar to Belgian-style gueuze/lambic beers, and exhibits a complexity of acidic, flavor and aroma contributed by wild yeasts and bacteria in the fermentation. A primary difference between Belgian Gueuze and German-style Gose is that Gose is served at a much younger age. Gose is pale gold in color, has a fuller mouthfeel from added oats, and its hop character and malt flavors & aromas are negligible. Lemony and other citrus-like qualities are present in aroma and on the palate as well as the spicy character of added coriander and some mineral-mouthfeel from added sea salt as is traditionally common in this style. The beer’s lactic acid character is evident as a sharp, refreshing sourness, and it is typically enjoyed fresh, carbonated and cloudy with yeast character" (source).
  • Atwater Hop-a-peel, $1.99/16oz - "A frontal assault on the American IPA style that features not only the classic American Cascade and Chinook hops, but two of the new “Super Cascade” varieties in both the kettle and in the dry hop. Dried and ground orange peel is added to the whirlpool to deliver a citric bittering that sets HopApeel apart from the masses" (source).

Video of the Week | The Catch

Toss that man a beer. Amazing.

Cheers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Corsair: Rymageddon, Genever & Triple Smoke Review

Corsair Ryemageddon and Triple Smoke,
$49.96/750ml at Siciliano's
By John Barecki

Although I would like to claim that I've always been this big of a fan of spirits in my drinking career, I look back at my craft beer and homebrewing hobbies and I realize how much they helped develop my palette, allowing me to concentrate on the singular flavors from the grain, hops and yeast. My previous studies fueled my desire to see what other people have been able to concentrate from all of these aspects, and this is what I like about the two guys that started Corsair Distillery.

Darek Bell and Andrew Webber began like a lot of us—brewing their own beer and making their own wine at home. After a snag in making a biodiesel plant, Webber decided it would be interesting to try his hand at distilling. Starting with their whiskey, everything I have tasted from them has a character that reminds me of beer wort before the act of fermentation takes place. This is especially true in Ryemageddon, their high rye whiskey, which has an addition of chocolate rye in the mash bill.

Ryemageddon starts with a nose full of spice and mint from the rye grains with a fun roasted malt tone from the chocolate rye. There is also a bit of black berry coming through as well. On the palette it is chocolate-covered ginger with a malty backbone. A little sweeter than most rye whiskey, it is still well balanced. The finish is full of spice and mint with a little black pepper and a nice lingering herbal tone that ends in subtle oak and vanilla. This in my mind is a whiskey for dark beer drinkers—lots of malt and roast followed by a balanced split between spice and herbal characteristics. Ryemageddon is very fun on its own but could make a cool Manhattan using a chocolate bitters instead of the usual aromatic.

Triple Smoke is the second whiskey I tried for this review. To me this seems an homage to the smokey beasts that come from Islay in Scotland while including some tastes and smells of American barbecue. Most scotch drinkers will find that this whiskey might seem a little on the lighter side and in my opinion the only thing that would make this whiskey better would be heightening the alcohol percentage a bit more to 45% as opposed to 40%, creating a bigger mouthfeel. There is a nice peat on the nose with a little bit of green chilies and citrus peel flowing into a fruity malt and savory smoke. On the first sip it is peat smoke and caramel corn with a little bit of red currant, dark honey and a bit of spice. The savory cherry wood and beech wood smoke comes more in the middle and end and is reminiscent of good barbecue sauce but not overpowering. The finish is an ashy campfire with subtle malt and spice.

Corsair Genever, $39.99/750ml at Siciliano's
The Genever style is a precursor to modern day gin. It shares the botanical side and neutral grain spirit base but has a malt mash added that is similar to a whiskey, creating a bigger and sweeter texture in the mouth. It is predominantly enjoyed in the Netherlands as “Dutch Courage”.  When you first go to sample this libation you will get similar tones of juniper, but there is a malty part that does not sit the same as in gin. There is candied and dried citrus and berry, as well as slight mint tones. As you sip it there is citrus with flowery and herbal notes similar to rosemary and lavender, with a bit of rosewater thrown in. There is the sweet malt that flows underneath becoming more bitter citrus—think the pith or rind of the fruit on the finish, which is like sitting in an herb garden surrounded by flowers with nice malty tones that linger to the end. For whiskey drinkers looking for a different challenge, this is a great sipper. I think it would also do very well in a Tom Collins, a Pimm's Cup or a Negroni.

These products are just the tip of the iceberg for Corsair Distillery. Their other products include a quinoa whiskey, pumpkin spiced white whiskey and a red absinthe made with hibiscus flowers, just to name a few. If anything, they are worth a try just to see what intricacies their spirits offer. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

New Beer Friday, More Help Wanted Edition (June 12)

Job listing by Steve Siciliano

Are you passionate about craft beer, fine wine and quality spirits? Siciliano’s Market, one of West Michigan’s premier specialty stores, is looking for a friendly, hardworking individual to join our elite sales team. Candidates must be willing to work nights and weekends and knowledge of homebrewing and winemaking is definitely a plus. Please send cover letters and resumes to steve@sicilianosmkt.com.

C'mon, who wouldn't want to work with these guys?

New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Oberon, 19.39/12pk cans - "Bell's Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell's signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer" (source).
  • Latitude 42 10 Degrees of Separation, $1.79/12oz - "Brown ale with rich malt aromas with toffee highlights that give way to round, warming flavors while the addition of molasses provide a touch of sweetness in the finish. Collaboration ale with California brewery, Coronado Brewing Company" (source).
  • Coronado Brewing 10 Degrees of Separation, $8.29/22oz - See above.
  • Coronado Senor Saison, $8.29/22oz (1 per) - "Just south of our brewery, Baja California's burgeoning spirit of craft brewing reminds us a lot of our own with Mexican brewers looking to make a name for their region. We've enjoyed keeping an eye on the exciting new beers coming out of Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe, and celebrate the rise of craft beer south of the border with this reimagined farmhouse ale. Brewed with agave nectar and jalapeño peppers, it combines a touch of spice with fruity esters derived from Belgian yeast. Like the brews of our cross-border amigos, this cerveza takes craft to new and interesting places" (source).
  • North Peak Ballyhoo, $1.89/12oz - "Made with traditional Bavarian yeast strains, this Hefeweizen has a huge banana nose with hints of spice and clove" (source).
  • White Birch Raspberry Berliner Weisse, $7.39/22oz - "Our Raspberry Berliner Weisse is fermented with a great raspberry puree. This approach brings a refreshing raspberry flavor and aroma to a German classic. We feel our approach creates an authentic interpretation of the traditional “mit syrup” or with syrup method of serving this classic summer refresher. We hope you enjoy this unique year round beer" (source).
  • White Birch Hop Session, $1.99/12oz can - "Hop Session is in. Starting with a blend of west coast hops for a balanced, bitter effect. We close the session out by late hopping the beer for a nice resiny mouth feel" (source).
  • Meckley's Bushwhacker Cider, $3.29/16oz can - "Bushwhacker is a blend of our hand crafted hard cider and just the right amount of the finest blueberry juice. Made in small batches and only available for a limited time, when this is gone, it’s gone like summer sunsets it won’t last long. Enjoy this lightly carbonated brew thoroughly chilled, with friends and often" (source).
  • Meckley's Cherry Bomb Cider, $3.29/16oz - "A blend of our award winning hard cider, made with Michigan tart cherries and lemon to create a refreshing adult cherry lemonade" (source).
  • Meckley's Summer Sweat, $3.29/16oz - Commercial description not yet available.
  • Maeloc Original Cider, $2.19/12oz - "A different way to enjoy cider. cider lovers will find this to be a much more refreshing drink. People who have yet to discover dry cider will encounter a light, flavoursome drink, which is original and perfect for a variety of accassions on your way through life" (source).
  • Maeloc Blackberry Cider, $2.19/12oz - "Who has never been blackberry picking? A touch of blackberry to reming you of those trips to the countryside" (source).
  • Maeloc Pear Cider, $2.19/12oz - "The most natural combination. The perfect balance of the taste of pear and dry apple cider" (source).
  • Maeloc Strawberry Cider, $2.19/12oz - "If you are an inconditional of strawberries you wil love this cider. Dry cider with an intense strawberry flavour" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Boont Barl, $10.79/22oz (1 per)  - "What began with our flagship Boont Amber Ale and a passion for experimentation has become a unique addition to our Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Barl Series. The six month aging process in third-use Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels imparts flavors of coconut and vanilla and subtle bourbon aromas that are enhanced by a noticeable oak character in the finish. A great accompaniment to fine meals or to be enjoyed on its own, Boont Barl is a truly sessionable barrel-aged beer with finesse" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Huge Arker, $16.09/22oz (1 per) - "True to its Boontling moniker, “Huge Arker” is a massive force of nature that detonates on your tongue. After primary fermentation, the beer is aged in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels until it fully matures. The deep mahogany color is evocative of the opulence to follow. Dark luscious aromas of burnished oak mingle with candy sugar, bourbon and hearth-baked bread. The luxurious flavors redolent of honey and molasses are intertwined with the richness of dark chocolate and the ardent warmth of alcohol, underpinned with hints of coffee, vanilla and dark fruits" (source).
  • Greenbush Yogi Borealis, $1.99/12oz - "Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Take our single-malt, single-hop pale ale, Yogi Borealis. A simple recipe of Pilsen malt and Apollo hops yields a light-bodied, yet fully flavored, hoppy brew" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 7/4/15, $8.99/22oz & $2.99/12oz (1 per) - "You have in your hands a devastatingly independent double IPA. Freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, hoppy IPAs – but we've taken it further, a lot further, with this one. We brewed this IPA specifically NOT to last. We've gone to extensive lengths to ensure you get your hands on this beer within an extraordinarily short window, and we've sent a very clear message in the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right NOW to enjoy this IPA" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy After 7/4/16, $14.19/750ml (1 per) - "This IPA is spiked at bottling with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that, over time, brings about charmingly unpredictable complexities of spice, funk, acidity and more. The operative words in our beer-cellaring thesis are “over time.” For those of you who are impatient or like to experiment, the earliest we recommend sampling this beer is 07.04.15. The beer won’t be fully carbonated until that date. Ideally, you’ll want to cellar the beer up to—or beyond—the Enjoy After date to help it reach its full evolutionary potential. At that point, some facets of the Brett characteristics will have mellowed, while others will have become more profound; it all matures into a fascinating and delicious culmination. Individual results will vary…and that’s both the beauty and the intent behind this beer" (source).

Video of the Week | GVSU Alumni in Craft Beer

GVSU alumni contributing to Michigan's vibrant craft beer scene.

Cheers!

Friday, June 5, 2015

New Beer Friday, A Bird in These Woods Edition (June 5)

Story by Steve Siciliano

Luther’s only streetlight had flickered on as Harry Winston was parking his pickup at the curb in front of Delaney’s Irish Tavern. While Harry sat on the tailgate and scraped the mud off the soles of his boots with a flat head screwdriver I pulled a heavy wool sweater over my red flannel shirt.

“Think we should lock the birds in the truck with the guns?” I asked Harry.

“They’ll be okay in the bed.”

“It’s getting cold.”

“A couple of scotches will warm you up.”

Inside the tavern two old men wearing bib overalls were sitting at a table drinking PBR’s out of long neck bottles and another old man wearing a red tie and a red sweater vest under a grey tweed jacket was sitting in a booth reading a book. He looked up from the book and swirled his brandy snifter when we walked past him.

The Scotch selection at Siciliano's Market
“What’ll it be fellas,” the bartender asked when we sat down at the worn wooden bar.

“We heard you have some nice single malts,” Harry said.

“You heard right,” the bartender said and stepped aside so we could see the row of bottles sitting on the top shelf of the back bar.

“Pretty impressive selection for a small town bar in northern Michigan,” I said.

“Mr. Delaney likes his scotch,” said the bartender.

“I’ll take a Dalmore 18,” Harry said after scanning the bottles for a few moments.

“Make mine the Old Pulteney,” I said.

“How do you want them?”

“Couple of ice cubes, water on the side,” I told the bartender.

“Same here,” said Harry.

“What you fellas been up to?” the bartender asked after setting the drinks on the bar.

“Bird hunting down by Kings Corners,” Harry said.

“Do any good?”

“Seven between us,” I said. “We would have limited out but we couldn’t find three more after we knocked them down.”

“You don’t hunt with dogs?”

“No dogs,” said Harry.

“Too much cover this time of year to be hunting without dogs.” The bartender looked over to the well-dressed man sitting at the booth. “Ain’t that right, professor?”

The man got up and walked the bar. “I’ll take another one, Hank. He’s right, boys. You shouldn’t be hunting birds this time of year without dogs.”

“We still did okay,” I said.

“Sir, you miss the point.” The man watched while the bartender poured him another glass of cognac. “Don’t be stingy with that, Hank.” He cupped his hands around the full glass and stared down into the amber liquid. “Maybe a poem will help.”

“Help what?” Harry asked.

“Help get the point across,” and while staring into the snifter of cognac he recited a poem:

There’s a bird in these woods,
It’s bones by now, to the
South of that stand of dead trees.
I shot it this fall when the ferns were still tall
And ‘fore the oaks began dropping their leaves.
My young brother was there,
You know him I’d guess, no
The older one’s Mark.
The fields were still light when it burst into flight
But these woods see a premature dark.
We never found it you know,
Though we saw where it fell,
And we looked all the way to that rill.
Oh, I know it’s just game but more than bones should remain
When a young boy is taught how to kill.

After the man was done reciting the poem he picked up his drink, walked back to the table and went back to reading his book. Harry looked at me, then he looked at the bartender and then he turned in the bar stool and looked at the man.

“Mister,” Harry said after a few moments, “I’d sure like to buy you that drink.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Magic Hat Electric Peel, $1.69/12oz - "An electric shock. A sweet scent in the air. A tantalizing tingle. Fresh directions are explored and big ideas are formed. Revealed is a creation peeled from formulas of hops and tang-touched fruit. Electric Peel arrives as a new way to IPA. Strip away the notions, find another motion and plug in to reveal the power of the peel" (source).
  • Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Deschutes is taking you into the next beer frontier. Brewed with wheat and pilsner malt; this IPA displays beautiful citrus aromas from Cascade and Centennial hops that meld with the esters of Belgian yeast. Think thirst quenching hopped-up wit beer with enough IBUs to warrant the IPA name" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Euchre Pils, $1.89/12oz - "Euchre is a true Pilsner style beer – medium-light bodied and crisp yet bursting with noble hop flavor perfectly balanced by a pale malt base.  Authentic German-style pilsners are not bland or watery and ours pushes the category boundaries just a tad at 5.7% ABV and 47 IBUs" (source).
  • Founders Devil Dancer, $5.29/12oz - "Founders most complex, most innovative, most feared and yet most revered ale produced. Massive in complexity the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alpha’s used to create this monster. More IBU’s than any brewery has documented, more than you would believe and dry-hopped for twenty-six days straight with a combination of 10 hop varieties. Dangerously drinkable and deliciously evil. We dare you to dance with the Devil" (source).
  • New Holland Michigan Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "This beer celebrates community, collaboration & local agriculture. Cascade hops from the Leelanau Peninsula provide bright citrusy counterpoint to the delicious and earthy malt notes from Michigan barley. Thanks to our collaborators, Michigan Awesome" (source).
  • New Holland Tasmanian Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Galaxy Hopped Hatter" (source).
  • New Holland Imperial Hatter, $2.59/12oz - "Assertive dry-hopping provides an aromatic telltale nose, indicative of the robust, bitter symphony to follow. Bold hop character with lively grapefruit and citrus notes" (source).
  • White Birch Berliner Weisse, $1.99/12oz - "Napoleon’s troops referred to Berliner Weisse as the “Champagne of the North” due to its lively and elegant character. Today this style is described by some as the most refreshing beer in the world. We feel our approach creates an authentic interpretation of a classic summer refresher. Enjoy when it’s warm or year round" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $2.59/12oz - "In Festina Peche, since the natural peach sugars are eaten by the yeast, the fruit complexity is woven into both the aroma and the taste of the beer so there is no need to doctor it with woodruff or raspberry syrup. Just open and enjoy" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout, $10.79/22oz (1 per) - "Aged for three months in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels, this luxurious stout has a deep ebony hue and a beautiful mahogany head. The woody, vanilla-like notes imparted by the barrels mingle with aromas of fresh baked bread, toffee, and espresso and envelop the rich chocolate and roasted barley flavors with a fine bourbon character." (source).
  • B Nektar There Will Be Blood Orange, $13.79/500ml $13.79 (1 per) - "Mead with blood orange, Thai basil & five-spice. Cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, ginger, star anise added" (source).

Video of the Week | The Sovengard

Visit the Sovengard website for more information.

Cheers!

Friday, May 29, 2015

New Beer Friday, Whiskey and Wisdom Edition (May 29)

W.L. Weller Special Reserve,
$19.99/750ml at Siciliano's Market
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I was about to make the turn onto Bass Lake Road when I saw Joe Parker stacking a load of firewood into the woodshed next to his pole barn. I glanced at my watch then pulled into Joe’s gravel driveway and parked next to a flatbed trailer that was hitched behind an old Farmall tractor. “Morning,” I yelled through the truck’s open window. “Looks like you’ve got some work ahead of you.”

Joe took off his dirty John Deere cap and while walking over to my pickup he wiped his brow with a red bandana. “A couple of hours’ worth maybe. Where you off to so early?”

“Dublin,” I said. “How was the winter? Go south again?”

Joe took a pipe out of his back pocket, a box of wooden matches out of his shirt pocket and after lighting the pipe he blew the match out and pinched the burnt end between his fingers. “I did,” he said. “It’s not the same without Marie. I’ll be spending my winters up here from now on.”

“Might make for some long winters,” I said.

“I’ll get by,” Joe said. “I’ll keep myself busy in the pole barn.”

“I think there’s more tools in that pole barn than there is at the hardware store in Dublin.”

“Like I told you. Any time you want to use any of them.”

“Thanks, Joe,” I said. I grabbed my own pipe and relit it with a Bic lighter. “I was sure sorry to hear about Cal.”

Joe put his hat back on and looked at the “For Sale” sign stuck in the grass between the dirt road and his neighbor’s split rail fence. “I’m going to miss that old boy,” he said. “Last time I saw him we sat on my deck listening to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Killed a fifth of bourbon that night. We talked about refinishing the hull on his ’63 Thompson this spring.” He looked down and kicked at the gravel with his steel toed boot. “I’m sure going to miss that old boy,” he said again.

A few minutes later when I walked into the cottage my wife looked up from her crossword.

“I thought you were going to the hardware store.”

“I stopped to talk to Joe Parker,” I told her. “He’s coming over this afternoon to help me fix the mower.”

My wife smiled and took a sip of coffee. “What happened to wanting to try fixing things on your own?”

“Oh there’s still plenty of things around here that need fixing.”

That night after Joe and I finished with the mower we sat on my deck and talked about fly fishing on the east branch of the Au Sable while listening to his Frank Sinatra collection and drinking a couple of tumblers of W.L. Weller Special Reserve.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Ales Cheap Date Session Ale, $1.79/12oz - "There are times when the sun is at it’s highest, the days at their longest, and the bright embrace of summer squeezes every last drop of our reserves, like so much water from a stone. There are times when every hop head needs a break from the tongue distressingly bitter creations roaming the world. There are yet more times when a brightly bold, yet exuberantly playful pint is of the highest appeal. Cheap Date is for all those times and more, with a soft malty, biscuity body, supporting a wildly fruity hop flavor and aroma. Roundly capped-off with gentle lemon aromatics, this is a beer to provide sweet succor for the wounded, fulfillment for the unfulfilled, and delight for the delightful" (source).
  • Vander Mill Apple Raspberry Cider, $2.99/16oz - "Hard apple cider blended with Michigan Raspberries" (source).
  • Short's Alien Einstein, $1.99/12oz - "Alien Einstein is a light bodied India Style Pale Lager with a dull golden color and an inviting aroma of tangy grapefruit juice. A bright burst of fruity and earthy hop flavors immediately hits the palate. This beer exemplifies the well-rounded versatility of the American Mosaic hops used exclusively in this beer" (source).
  • Dogfish Head American Beauty, $14.39/750ml (1 per) - See video below.
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, $1.99/16oz - "A robust Porter made with chocolate malt. This malt Beverage is brewed with coffee beans with Natural Flavor added (Vanilla Extract), and we balance it with U.S. Golding Hops. Our award winning brew is sure to please! Open it" (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Project Hifi+LoFi, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "A beer that pays homage to a centuries-old tradition of combining new beer with aged “stock ales.” Freshly brewed beers of the day often were very smoky and bitter tasting, and were blended with older beer that had mellowed with age to produce more drinkable libations. This modern brew will showcase our brewers’ talents by blending a stock ale aged more than three months in oak foudres (large wooden fermentation vessels) with a fresh version of the same beer to create a perfect harmony spanning end to end on the taste spectrum" (source).
  • Victory Sour Monkey, $10.19/750ml (1 per) - "This electrifying transformation of our famed Golden Monkey may just blow your mind. Tastefully twisted to offer nuances of sweet fruit and a sharp tang of tartness, this exhilarating combination of flavors makes this brew a Monkey all its own" (source).

Video of the Week | American Beauty


Cheers!