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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July Brew of the Month: Mark's Herbaceous Wheat Ales

By Mark Iacopelli and featuring Moondrop Herbals

Summer ales are booming! The warm weather came out of nowhere this year and I found myself without any brews for the season. In order to fill my taps for summer, I brewed a ten-gallon batch and split it to create two distinct beers. With many light summer beers a dash of herbs and spices add an extra layer of complexity to what would otherwise be a rather one-noted beer. For this month’s brew I wanted to showcase how the use of adjuncts and different yeasts can create two very different beers from the same malt and hop profile. This allows you to easily split batches and create a wide range of beers with only a few brew sessions.

MoonDrop Herbals Spotlight

At Siciliano’s Market we strive to always be a one-stop shop for homebrewers and we do carry a selection of herbs and spices for brewing and winemaking. However, sometimes when trying to create something new and unique a passionate brewer must look elsewhere for ingredients. This is where MoonDrop Herbals comes in.

MoonDrop Herbals features a wide array of ingredients from all over the world that can be used to spice up any homebrew. Conveniently, MoonDrop Herbals is located just a three-minute drive from our store west on Lake Michigan Drive.  I sat down with the owner Linda Snow to asked her a few questions.

How long has MoonDrop Herbals been around?

Moondrop Herbals Cottage of Natural Elements celebrated its fifth year as a brick and mortar business this past March. We are an aroma studio and retail space selling essential oils, herbs, teas and handmade skin and comfort care products. I've been studying the properties and uses of herbs and essential oils for the past twenty years and I am an advocate for the safe, informed and sustainable uses of Earth’s resources.

What are some of your favorite herbs and spices?

Since I stock over 150 dried herbs that have a multitude of uses and preparations, this is a tough question to answer! In terms of my experiences with flavorings for beverages in the form of tea, bitters or infused alcohol, here are a few of my favorites.

    • Floral - Lavender, roses, chamomile
    • Fruity – Lemon verbena, lemongrass, rosehips, dried berries
    • Herby – Sage, mint, rosemary, artemisia
    • Pungent – Black Pepper, Szechuan, Chili pepper
    • Spicy – cardamom, cacao nibs, cinnamon, ginger, star anise
    • Bitter – gentian root, orange peel, artichoke leaf
 . . . And don’t overlook teas for flavoring alcohol infusions - try Earl Grey, Jasmine green, or Rooibos!

Do you have any tips for trying new herbs and spices, or extracting their flavor?

Don’t be afraid to play with different combinations of flavors and lengths of time steeping the herbs. I like to mix cooling, floral herbs such as lavender with more warming or pungent herbs like Szechuan, cardamom or fennel, with maybe a lemony herb mixed in. Also – develop an appreciation for the taste of bitter herbs like gentian root, orange peel and lavender (lavender moves from floral, soft and light to very bitter the longer the steep) because they can really enhance and pull the other flavors together. In addition, studies have shown that bitter flavors improve digestion and increase metabolism of nutrients. For cooking – break down the ingredients in some of your favorite spice mixtures and try those spices or herbs separately to understand the individual flavors.

For these two beers elderberries, elderflowers, and sezchuan peppercorns were used. What are some other (non-beer related) uses for these ingredients?

    • Elderberry: (Sambucus nigra) Fresh elder berries are used to make jams, syrups and wine. Fresh and dried are used by herbalists to make syrups and elixirs for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
    • Elder flowers: The flowers of Sambucus nigra are sometimes lightly fried and eaten or tossed in salads, and have traditionally been used as a cooling remedy for fevers and respiratory conditions. It is often used in natural skin care recipes to treat certain skin conditions. It is also said to bleach freckles.
    • Szechuan Pepper: (Zanthoxylum bungeanum) Szechuan, a member of the citrus family, is the pod of the fruit. Contrary to popular belief, szechuan pepper is not hot but is often paired with hot spices. Its flavor is a complete journey for the palate, moving from salty to zesty to tingling numbness that finishes with salty-sweet-citrus.  It is said to prepare the palate for the heat of accompanying spices.

Szechuan Pepper Saison

The saison that made up half of this batch turned out great. The beer pours a hazy golden color with a bright white head. On the nose light fruit, spice, biscuit come through from the malt and yeast. The peppers also imparted salty and citrus character in the aroma. The flavor of the beer reflects that of the aroma with some additional earthy character. The finish on the beer is dry but the wheat keeps it from being thin in body. By the end of a glass (or two) of this beer you start to get some of the numbing/tingling sensation from the peppers, as well as the palate altering effects. Pair this beer with any of your favorite dishes and it will change how they taste in interesting ways.

If this beer sounds interesting to you and you would like to try it before you brew it, you’re in luck. As part of the first annual Beer City Pro-Am this beer is currently on tap at Railtown Brewing Company for a limited time!

American Wheat with Elderflowers and Elderberries

The American wheat that made up the remaining wort is a great summer sipper for any fruit beer lover. The beer has a reddish hue from the elderberries. It has an rustic, slightly tart jammy character in the aroma that carries into the flavor. This beer also has a nice spicy wood and floral flavor from the elder flowers. This is all wrapped into a great cracker and biscuit malt profile. Despite a bold body on this beer it still finishes crisp and dry due to a warmer fermentation.

These beers were both an experiment for me. At first my only intention was to do a beer with elderberries and elderflowers because you rarely see anything that uses both. Then while talking to Linda I was amazed by the complexity of the Szechuan peppers she suggested I try, and I had to use them in a beer. At the end of the day I am happy with both beers. Either one of the beers is capable of being a summer staple. I think the American wheat would pair well with caramelized fruit off the grill and chicken. While the Szechuan Saison would pair with a tender steak rubbed in some slightly spicy herbs.

All Grain Malt Bill ($13.75/5 gallon)

    • 6 lb Briess Pilsner Malt
    • 3.5 lb Pilot White Wheat
    • .5 lb Caramunich I
    • 1 lb Rice Hulls

Extract 5 Gallon Malt Profile ($18.52/5 gallon)

    • 7.25 lb Wheat LME
    • 1 lb Caramunich I

Hops for 5 gallons ($4.87)

    • .5 oz (60 min) MI Super Cascade
    • .25 oz (30 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (15 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (10 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (10 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (5 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (0 min) Czech Saaz
    • If doing extract adjust hopping rates to account for top up water

Yeast/Additional Ingredients

    • Belle Saison (with the Szechuan Saison) ($4.99)
    • Safale US-05 ($3.49), 1056 ($7.99), or 001($7.99) (with the American Wheat)
    • Saison: 1 oz Szechuan Peppers steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 7 days)
    • American Wheat: 1 oz elderberries steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 14 days); 1 oz elderflowers in 8 oz hot or cold tea infusion (add liquid to taste)

Friday, July 21, 2017

New Beer Friday, Squirrel Nut Zipper Edition (July 21)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Every other week or so my wife Barb takes a trip to United Wholesale to pick up the supplies that we use in the day-to-day operations of Siciliano’s Market. In addition to such pertinent items as register tape, paper bags and replacement blades for box cutters, Barb always ensures that we have a good supply of the Smarties Double Lollies that we give to kids who accompany their parents into the store.

I love watching kids' faces light up when we offer them a lollipop. It's something that we've done for a number of years now. The small gesture always makes the children happy, usually make the parents happy and is, I think, one of the little things that helps to give our store that “mom & pop” ambience that our customers really seem to enjoy.

Barb was out of town a few weeks ago so I had to make the warehouse run. In addition to picking up a jar of suckers, I also picked up a jar of Squirrel Nut Zippers. I have fond memories of the little peanut-laced caramels from my childhood and I was sure the kids would, quite literally, eat them up.

I was wrong. So far not one kid has opted for a Squirrel Nut Zipper instead of a sucker. I wonder if it's the name.

New and Returning Beer

  • Ridge Cider Raspberry, $1.99/12oz - " Sweetened with raspberries to show you our sweeter side.  When it comes to Michigan made cider, there’s no place like home" (source).
  • Elk Brewing PB& Jaley, $1.79/12oz - "Blonde ale flavored with grape juice and peanut butter" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Lupa Luau, $2.59/12oz - "The story of Lupu-Luau began when Sam was hanging outside with coworkers during an overly-sunny day. One present coworker in particular was lacking heavily in the melanin department, to put it lightly. A friendly joke about a total tan aversion led to this legendary comment, “You can say it, Sam, I’m pale as f**k.” The brewer in Sam thought that would make a cool name for a super pale beer. From there the wheels started turning and the iterative R&D process began. Sam set out to make a hazy, overly pale, beer but the test batches weren’t quite there yet. However, during that process, he found out how great coconuts work in an IPA and decided that the new goal was to make an IPA using as much coconut as possible. We started with a combination of Pils malt with flaked barley, rolled oats, and malted and raw wheat to get it all hazy. Then we introduced coconuts three ways by adding toasted coconut, dehydrated coconut water and an experimental hop variety that provides a unique coconut & woody aroma. The result? A lupulin-loaded, coconut-centric ale. Our Lupu-Luau IPA" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Overnight Sensation, $2.19/16oz - "Fruity and lightly tart" (source).
  • Odd Side Instagator, $2.19/12oz - "An inclusive immoral ale with an impulsive ignorant hop bite" (source).
  • Abita Cypress Kriek, $4.69/22oz - "Cypress Kriek, a sour cherry ale by Abita Brewing Co. is a Lousiana take on the Belgian style. The hallmark of a traditional kriek is the secondary fermentation with sour cherries added to a spontaneously fermented lambic base. For Abita’s version, the beer is brewed with pale and wheat malts. Next, cherries were added and allowed to ferment slowly before the beer is aged. Cypress Kriek will feature 6 percent ABV in 22-ounce bottles according to a label submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau" (source).
  • Abita Strawgator, $4.69/22oz - "Abita Strawgator™ is the fusion of Strawberry Harvest Lager sweetness with the bite of Andygator. This golden lager is made with malted barley and wheat. It is hopped with German Perle hops for a delicate hop flavor. After filtration, generous amounts of fresh Louisiana strawberry juice are added, giving the beer a pleasant sweet taste and aroma, as well as a rich golden color and slight cloudiness. Strawgator is a great dessert beer. It pairs well with fruit, dessert or sorberts. It is also excellent with chocolate dishes and cheeses such as St. Andre, Mascarpone and Brie" (source).
  • B. Nectar Stupid Man Suit, $7.99/500ml - "Crisp apple and cherry forward. The sides of the tongue garner the tartness of dry apple and unripened berries while a mild sweetness rounds and balances. Medium body with a dry, refreshing finish" (source).
  • Big Lake Brewing Triple Hopped Ryecoe, $7.99/22oz - "A decidedly hoppy and bitter ale with a light grainy spicy character and lingering dryness" (source).
  • Evil Twin Westbrook Imperial Mexican Biscotti Break, $15.99/22oz - "Evil Twin Brewing in collaboration with Westbrook Brewing Co. Ale with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and habanero peppers added" (source).
  • Farmhaus Crushable, $3.29/16oz - "You know that feeling when you jump in the water on a hot, sunny day? That's this cider. Cool, crisp and refreshing, it's like a poolside afternoon for your taste buds. Freshly picked cucumbers straight from our garden combined with all local apples create an easy-drinking cider that will quench your thirst and leave you craving that next sip. Enjoy it straight or use it as a mixer. Try and savor it if you can, but be warned: this cider is completely crushable" (source).
  • Short's Slurm Lord, $2.39/12oz - "Slurm Lord is a double New England style India Pale Ale brewed with oats and a blend of Citra, Azacca, Amarillo, Galazy, and Mosaic hops. We’re excited to say that the brewing of Slurm Lord employs the largest dry hop to date in SBC history! Deep orange in color with a permanent haze and a minimal head, a glass of Slurm Lord resembles a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Aromas of dank passion fruit, mango, and pineapple are accompanied by bold flavors of citrus. This medium-bodied India Pale Ale is incredibly juicy from start to finish. A final sip leads into a slight, warming bitterness" (source).
  • Tall Grass Blueberry Jam, $1.69/12oz - "After a successful solo tour, we decided to put a band together with our Jam Series! Jam out with this refreshingly tart, German-style wheat ale brewed with blueberries" (source).

Video of the Week | Michigin

Congrats to our friends at Long Road, makers of the "Best Gin in the World".


Friday, July 14, 2017

New Beer Friday, Relationship with Rum Edition (July 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I've had love affairs with various distilled spirits over the years but it was only recently that I entered into a relationship with rum. It began last January in Nicaragua when I was introduced to an aged Flor de Cana and was smitten by its seductive flavors of nougat, almonds and molasses.

I keep a bottle or two of rum in my liquor cabinet now. Over the last six months I've gotten to know some lovely Dominicans, Jamaicans and Venezuelans and I've got my eye on some beauties from Brazil, Trinidad, Guyana and Haiti.

Siciliano’s stocks a wide array of this captivating liquor. If you have an affinity for quality spirits but have yet to discover the seductive pleasures of a fine aged rum perhaps it’s time you give one a try.

New and Returning Beer

  • Founders DKML, $11.99/750ml, $3.99/12oz - "Here you have what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Typically a slighted style, we thought we would class it up with a stay in the wood and a healthy dose of dry-hopping. A huge hit of corn gives this one a smooth sweetness while its time spent aging in bourbon barrels will give you reason to share. Be warned: this one’s a pry-off, not a twist-off" (source).
  • Stone Wootstout, $9.49/22oz - "From the most unlikely yet intensely imaginative trio that is actor and uber-geek champion Wil Wheaton, alternative news website creator Drew Curtis and Stone CEO/Co-founder Greg Koch, comes an imperial stout unlike any ever made. Brewed with rye, wheat malt and pecans and partially aged in Bourbon whiskey barrels, this viscous yet silken brew erupts with an oaky, nutty bouquet and rich flavors of vanilla, toast and bitter chocolate. Enjoy now or cellar this celebration of nth degree passion and geekery applied most gracefully to the craft of brewing and collaboration-Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout" (source).
  • Evil Twin Modern IPA, $2.09/12oz - "This is a tasty tribute to a beloved and iconic beer style - the India Pale Ale. The style goes 200 years back - has been through every spectrum of the flavor palette and had it’s ups and downs on the IBU scale. This time around we re-created a contemporary style IPA - basically the taste of the perfect IPA right now. Understated hop flavors, fruity and crisp. The future is now" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego California Dream, $2.99/16oz - "Hoppy Pilsener" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Raspberry Blush, $2.99/16oz - "Berliner Weisse with raspberry and coffee" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Waves, $2.99/16oz - "Notes of mosaic and citra, lots of dank tropical fruit, white wine, peach, and light malt. A very good rendition of a west coast IPA" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Space Cake #7, $4.29/16oz - "Why are Miracle Mike and his dog, Bionic, being chased by many evil laser beam shooting cupackes and two giant layer cake mother ships?  Because we’re straight up lunatic fools?  Well, maybe, but with a few brain cells remaining we managed to craft Space Cake double IPA, utilizing citrusy Mosaic hops and an immaculate West Coast style malt backbone.  Dude… chill out.  Enjoy some Space Cake" (source).
  • Clown Shoes La Pinguina En Fuego, $15.39/22oz - "People have been asking us to make a truly spicy chile beer, so we finally complied. Aged in rum barrels with habaneros, this version of chocolate sombrero is on a mission from God (to ingnite your palate)" (source).
  • Ommegang Bigger and Bretter, $16.09/750ml - "This is Bigger And Bretter and it is a Biere de Garde ale refermented with brettanomyces" (source).
  • Boulevard Foeder #2, $17.99/750ml - "The base beer for Foeder Project #2 is best categorized as a Flanders-style Red. Following primary fermentation with our house Belgian yeast strain, the beer was transferred into the foeder where lactobacillus brevis and brettanomyces had already taken up residence. No additional microbes or yeast strains were pitched to begin secondary fermentation. Over the course of several months, the beer evolved and developed beautiful flavors of tart peach/apricot and notes of under ripe berries and rhubarb with a borderline bracing acidity resulting in a refreshing, zippy finish" (source).
  • Rodenbach Fruitage, $1.89/8oz - "RODENBACH Fruitage gets its name from aged-old brewing techniques, combined with fruit infusions.  It's an instant classic – comprised of 25% authentically aged RODENBACH (2-year matured beer from oak standing Foeders) blended with 75% young RODENBACH ale, with added fruit of cherries and elderberries.  With an ABV of 4.2%, RODENBACH Fruitage is light and refreshing, perfect for easy drinking and to be enjoyed year-round" (source).
  • Oddside Hoplicated, $2.19/12oz - "Imperial Citra Red" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders Fest Recap

A look back at one of the area's most popular parties.


Friday, July 7, 2017

New Beer Friday, Perdomo Habano Edition (July 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The environs of Beer City USA have been blessed with some great summer weather lately and according to the forecasters there is more of the same on the way. Conditions should be ideal this weekend for one of my favorite warm weather pastimes — evening backyard deck sitting with a cold beverage and a good cigar. This summer I've been mixing my G&Ts primarily with excellent Junipero gin  ($29.99/750ml), and lately my evening smoke of choice has been a Perdomo Habano Sun Grown Churchill.

This medium-bodied, hour-long smoke features rich earthy flavors and subtle hints of spice. The Nicaraguan leaf wrappers in Perdomo's Habano series are aged for six years before being placed in bourbon barrels for an additional fourteen months of maturing. While the barrels impart no flavors or aromas of whiskey to the leaf, they do provide an excellent environment for aging tobacco and allow the wrappers to acquire a distinctly aromatic taste.

The Perdomo Habano series is also offered in Connecticut and Maduro wrappers and is available at Siciliano's in the following sizes and prices.

    • Robusto, 5 x 54, $6.59
    • Epicure, 6 x 54, $6.99
    • Torpedo,  6 ½ x 54, $7.19
    • Churchill, 7 x 54, $7.39

New and Returning Beer

  • Rockford Brewing Hoplust IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Hoplust is a profoundly hoppy and craft-style West Coast IPA! An intense bouquet of fresh hops will greet you on the nose.  Bursting tropical, citrus and piney flavors then explode on your palette.  Our approach to this IPA focuses more toward satisfying your craving for hop flavor than ramping up the bitterness. Using a proprietary blend of six hop varieties results in a unique, hoppy, flavor experience" (source).
  • Alesmith Speedway Stout, $8.59/16oz - "A HUGE Imperial Stout with coffee added for a little extra kick, jet black with a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavor" (source).
  • Alesmith Orange X Pale, $2.39/12oz - "Extra pale ale with oranges" (source).
  • Alesmith Spezial Pils, $2.39/12oz - "Inspired by classic European lagers, our entire Brewing Team got together to create this truly collaborative beer that captures the essence of European tradition. The result, Spezial Pils, is our take on a German-style pilsner with a pleasant balance between light, grainy malt and spicy, floral hops. We lager it at freezing temperatures for an extended period to round out its delicate flavors and improve drinkability. The finish is crisp and clean with a pleasant dryness and subtle bitterness" (source).
  • Short's Power of Love, $2.39/12oz - "Power of Love is a truly unique pink-colored Shandy created by blending Northwoods Soda & Syrup Co. Gourmet Lemonade and a Wheat Ale brewed with raspberry and rosemary. Enticing sugary aromas intermix with appealing citrus and herb fragrances. Very sweet lemon flavors give way to a shock of tart raspberry before turning sharply dry, as if eating a piece of grapefruit" (source).
  • Arbor Cucumber Lime Gose, $2.89/12oz - "A Gose with cucumber and lime peel" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Toonilla, $4.49/12oz - "Cream stout brewed with coffee from Dark Street Roasting Company and vanilla beans aged in bourbon barrels" (source).

Weekly Video | How to Make a Gin & Tonic

A solid tutorial on making gin & tonics, just in case.


Friday, June 30, 2017

New Beer Friday, John Palmer Edition (June 30)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I'm excited to announce that we are bringing noted homebrewing author John Palmer to Grand Rapids during the second week of August. John recently released the fourth edition of How to Brew and we are setting up a number of meet & greets, book signings and presentations during his four-day visit to Beer City USA. We will post specific information on John's itinerary in future issues of The Buzz.

In other homebrewing related news, I received an email this past week from a casting producer at Viceland, Vice Media's television network. Tina Logie informed me that she is currently working on  the second season of Beerland, a series that focuses on homebrewing communities across the United States.

Tina apprised me that they will be filming the next episode in Michigan and asked if I knew of any homebrewers who would like to appear on the show. Those interested should send the following information to Tina at

    • Name, Age and Photo
    • Years brewing
    • Who you brew with
    • Where you brew
    • Any “specialty” brews
    • Where you DRINK your brew
    • Homebrew events/club involvement
    • What makes you/your brew unique

New and Returning Beer

  • Evil Twin Tropical Itch, $3.89/12oz - "Berliner style weisse ale with passionfruit added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Even More Coco Jesus, $3.89/16oz - "Imperial Stout with maple syrup & coconut added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Lemonade IPA, $3.89/12oz - "A refreshing drink often associated with childhood nostalgia to others a pop-cultural symbol of emancipation. Whatever the association we teamed up with good old Swedes, Henok and Karl of the fashionable Omnipollo to squeeze out a tasty, tempting and deceivingly well balanced IPA with sweet and sour notes of old-fashioned memories. Perhaps you can taste the dishonesty, it's all over your breath -it's Lemonade" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Woodward Milkshake Stout, $2.39/16oz - "Rochester Mills Beer Co. & Production Brewery announce the 2017 release of Woodward Bold, a Coffee flavored Milkshake Stout brewed with locally roasted Detroit Bold Coffee Co.’s Woodward Ave. Blend coffee" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Raspberry Radler, $2.19/16oz - "Blends even parts Razz Mills Pills and house made lemonade that then has a higher level of carbonation added to create a sparkling and very refreshing" (source).
  • Petoskey Juicy, $3.09/16oz - "Bursting with rich, mouthwatering citrus and tropical hop aromas, this New England style IPA is a melange of juicy flavors" (source).
  • Odd Side Chicka Chicka Yeah, $1.99/12oz - "A Belgian summer wheat ale with chamomile, orange peel, lemon peel and peppercorn. Finishes light and citrusy" (source).
  • Odd Side Lolly Catcher, $1.99/12oz - "A carefully crafted, comforting concoction of creamy cohesiveness" (source).
  • Odd Side Havanna Lima, $1.99/12oz - "Ale with habanero and lime" (source).
  • Epic Oak and Orchard, $13.59/375ml - "Epic's cellar contains many curiosities and one of kind beers. These extremely limited sour releases are fruited and aged in oak for months until our brewmaster decides they're at their peak. Each release is unique and range from light to dark with a large variety of fruit. Check the release notes for specifics" (source).
  • Epic Sour Peaches, $13.79/375ml - "The intense and complex sour character of this beer is developed in oak Foeders containing select cultures of Lactobacillus, Pidiococcus and wild yeast. The process is slow and delicate, regularly taking a year or more. Once our brewers have decided it’s ready, we blend the soured beer into hand-selected oak barrels with fresh peach puree, where it undergoes additional sour fermentation and aging" (source).
  • Epic Blizzard Conditions, $8.59/22oz - "New England style IPA" (source).
  • Avery Hog heaven, $3.29/12oz - "This dangerously drinkable garnet beauty is a hop lover’s delight. The intense dry-hop nose and the alcohol content are perfectly balanced for a caramel malt backbone. This is a serious beer for serious beer aficionados. Oink" (source).
  • Avery Real A Peel, $2.19/12oz - "Inspired by a summer's day and crafted to crush year-round, our IPA twists real tangerine peel and citrusy hops into this juicy experience. It's the real deal" (source).
  • Short's Space Drop, $13.29/22oz - "Space Drop is a bourbon barrel aged American Pale Ale we make by aging Short’s Flagship American Pale Ale, Space Rock, in bourbon barrels for 7 months and dry hopping the nearly finished brew. Bright with a golden hue, Space Drop pours with a big head that settles quickly into a thin layer that clings to the glass. Citrus aromas are accompanied by subtle scents of oak and bourbon. Upon first sip bitter, citrus flavors abound. Accompanied by light oak and bourbon, Space Drop is quite balanced. This brew finishes dry with a slight bitterness" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant, $4.29/16oz - "" (source).
  • Founders Redankulous, $3.09/12oz - "reDANKulous Imperial Red IPA is a no frills, bold 9.5% ABV India Pale Ale. It pours a pleasing burnt amber with some sweetness due to the Caramalt and roasted barley used in the malt bill. But hops are the true headliner in this elaborate sensory experience. The spicy, piney, tropical complexities of Chinook, Mosaic and Simcoe hops hit you right away with their dank aroma—and they stick around. Take a sip to have your palate simultaneously walloped and caressed in all the right places. Combined, the hops take the beer to 90 IBUs. It’s not just ridiculous. It’s reDANKulous" (source).
  • New Holland Dragon's Milk Reserve S'mores, $4.29/12oz - "Hints of toasted marshmallow and Graham Cracker complement the chocolate character of Dragon’s Milk, giving this Reserve a flavor reminiscent of campfires and summer nights" (source).

Video of the Week | Beerland

Homebrewers, this could be you!


Friday, June 23, 2017

New Beer Friday, Gin & Tonic Edition (June 23)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Summer officially arrived in the environs of Beer City USA this past week and while a frosty craft beer can help beat the heat on a scorching summer day, my favorite cold beverage for cooling off on a sultry summer evening is a refreshing gin and tonic.

It wasn’t that long ago that gin lovers only had a handful of decent options to choose from. That began to change a few years ago with the widespread emergence of craft distilleries and today there is a wide array of both domestic and imported hand-crafted gins on the market.

Siciliano’s stocks a number of these unique, botanically infused spirits. There’s plenty of warm weather ahead of us so there’s plenty of time to try a few new gins if a cooling G & T is one of your go-to beverages for beating the summer heat.

New and Returning Beer

  • Against the Grain Rico Sauvin, $3.89/16oz - "An India Pale Ale featuring Nelson Sauvin hops. Named after the Sauvignon Blanc grape, is a variety of hop developed and grown in New Zealand. It has a strong fruity flavor and aroma that is described as resembling white wine, or fresh crushed grapes or gooseberries. Some reviewers of this hop perceive the fruitiness as being very tropical with descriptions including passion fruit, tangerines, and grapefruit. These hops are organic and are about 4 times as expensive as our normal American varieties, hence the footed glass only" (source).
  • Against the Grain Pile of Face, $3.389/16oz - "What's the first thing you need to do when you start a brewery? Develop your logo, of course. With any potentially decent brewery, your logo must be a skull, it has to be a skull, you'll be laughed out of the room if you don't have a skull. So we went hunting in the area where all the great skulls have come from and were shit out of luck. By those fateful dumpsters all we found was this deformed neanderthal type deal, or maybe it's from an ape, and a big ol' pile of face. To celebrate our lack of success in finding a really cool skull, we are embracing another required cliché by brewing this American IPA. A modicum of simple malts provide the mediocre backbone to the mountain of various hops that are utilized and rotated throughout the brewing process. Look for dank overtones supported by various citrus and heirloom fruits. It's the straight forward fuckin' IPA that you always wanted from us. You lucky bastard" (source).
  • Against the Grain Brown Note, $3.09/16oz - "The brown ale to end all brown ales. Enjoy it, because there is no longer any reason to drink another. You’ve reached the pinnacle. A healthy blend of traditional British malts give this popular style a semi-sweet, biscuity, slightly roasted flavor. Oats thicken the mouthfeel, and a handful of specialty malts add complex chocolate, toffee, and caramel notes. The hops are mostly traditional, earthy British hops, but we cocked it up a bit with some Cascade late in the boil just to show those snooty Brits that we don’t approve of that Constitutional Monarchy crap" (source).
  • Evil Twin Food and Beer, $10.29/22oz - "This all Brett pale ale is brewed with peaches and it is brewed to celebrate the release of the chef Daniel Burns / Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso’s Phaidon book Food & Beer" (source).
  • Prairie Flare, $2.89/12oz - "Gose Ale Brewed with Orange and Coriander" (source).
  • Grimm Super Shine, $11.99/22oz - "Oak conditioned gose dry hopped with Mosaic & Azacca" (source).
  • Grimm Rainbow Dome, $11.99/22oz - "Tart aromas of stone fruit and fruity hops (El Dorado, Columbus, Cascade). Intense apricot on the palate with soft, inviting acidity" (source).
  • Anchorage Darkest Hour Whiskey Barrel Aged, $27.99/50ml (1 per) - "This years batch is totally new recipe using regular ale yeast and several high end whiskey barrels for aging" (source).
  • Anchorage Darkest Hour Brandy Barrel Aged, $27.99/750ml (1 per) - "Spanish brandy barrel aged Darkest Hour" (source).
  • Arbor Framboozled, $11.99/500ml - "The newest addition to the sour series is richly complex and reminiscent of brandy-soaked dark fruits, toasted nuts, and a sweet balsamic reduction. Framboozled features a hint of barnyard funk from extended barrel aging in the presence of friendly microbes" (source).
  • Bells Q Falls, $1.89/12oz - "A dry-hopped lager that possesses a crisp, dry bitterness you would expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest, evoke the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Angelina, $11.99/500ml - "Sour Ale" (source).
  • Dark Horse Tres Blueberry, $2.09/12oz - "Number three in our stout series, this stout is full-bodied and brewed with all malted barley and fresh blueberries added after fermentation. The nose is where you will begin to realize this stout is in a league of its own. Blueberry, chocolate and roasted aromas lead the way to a very pleasant drinking experience which leaves you wanting the next November to arrive sooner than last year" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres, $3.29/12oz - "This stout is full-bodied and brewed with all malted barley, fresh blueberries added after fermentation and then aged in bourbon barrels. The nose is where you will begin to realize this stout is in a league of its own. Blueberry, chocolate and roasted aromas lead the way to a very pleasant drinking experience which leaves you wanting the next December to arrive sooner than last year" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Original, $3.29/12oz - "For 30 days this honey-hued beer sleeps in hand selected oak barrels, locked inside a bonded warehouse, gradually assimilating the subtle flavours that reside in the wood. Barrels are then emptied and maturation continues for a further 47 days in a marrying tun where these natural flavours infuse and fall into perfect balance. This 77-day process is unique and produces a delicious, refreshing beer: Aromas of vanilla and toffee, hints of citrus, with a malty, lightly oaked,palate. Deftly balanced and light in texture, soothing and warming in the finish" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Rum Cask, $3.59/12oz - "We are delighted to present this unique limited bottling of Innis & Gunn finished in oak barrels which previously contained navy rum. Maturation in special oak barrels imparts Navy rums with the sweet, spicy character for which they are renowned. We have long wondered what flavours might be imparted to our beer by finishing it in these same barrels and earlier this year we decided to find out. We brewed a special batch of Innis & Gunn beer and matured it in oak for 60 days. Every single drop spent half of that time in American oak barrels before being refilled into selected navy rum barrels to finish the lengthy maturation. Once the beer had absorbed the unique character the barrels were emptied, the beer blended and then maturation continued for a further 47 days until all of the flavours had married together and mellowed. We think the result is absolutely delicious" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Bourbon Dark, $3.69/12oz - "This very special dark ale has been brewed in small batches and then matured in hand-selected, first-fill bourbon casks to give it its rich, rounded character. Notes of brown sugar, orange oil and coconut are complemented by an earthy freshness from the hops, and the 30 days the beer’s spent in oak have ensured a satisfyingly smooth finish. We spend a lot of time at Innis & Gunn finding the perfect casks to home the new beers that we make. So many factors can influence the reaction between the wood and the beer, that we like to give the casks the best possible chance of success, by considering things like their age, their previous occupants, their finish, their char level... We’ve selected relatively new bourbon casks for this recipe in order to complement the rich, heady flavours of the beer with a light touch of vanilla and spice from the wood. The casks have also helped to smooth the finish of the beer, making it velvety and very long" (source).
  • Victory Old Horizontal, $9.99/22oz - "Massive amounts of barley malts, combined with fresh harvest American hops make it aromatic and spicy on the nose. Floral, fruity aromas slide into honeyed malt depth with lingering sensations of candied and citrus fruit. Late warming alcohol brings all of these flavors into wonderful harmony to finish" (source).
  • Odd Side mango IPA, $2.19/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Olas Espaciales, $14.39/750ml - "Bottle conditioned sour ale with cherries, salt and lime added" (source).
  • Boulevard Love Child, $17.99/750ml (1 per) - "Boulevard's Love Child Series of "wild" ales are barrel-aged with such boisterous cultures as Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces. These wayward offspring can prove so complex that we employ gauges on the label to convey the intensity of three key personality traits, Funk, Sour and Fruit, presenting a picture of the ale at the time it was released. It will change as it ages, but don't we all? A blend of wood-aged sour beer, Love Child No. 8 is composed of multiple vintages of a Flanders-style sour red ale and a sour Belgian-style golden. This release features soft lactic acidity punctuated with slight acetic notes and a tart, fruity flavor remiscent of sour cherries and green strawberries" (source).
  • Lagunitas 12th of Never, $1.99/19.2oz - "The magical, mystical 12th of Never is a blend of Old and New School hops that play bright citrus, rich coconut, and papaya-esque flavors, all on a solid stage of English puffed wheat. Tropically hoppy. Light, yet full-bodied. Bright and citrusy. The 12th of Never Ale is everything we’ve learned about making hop-forward beer expressed in a moderate voice.  Pale, cold, slightly alcoholic and bitter" (source).

Video of the Week | Tres Blueberry

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, June 9, 2017

New Beer Friday, Ludington Bay Edition (June 9)

Patti & Tom Buchanan
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you're traveling in the vicinity of Ludington, Michigan, this summer you should make it a point to stop by the recently opened Ludington Bay Brewing Company. Located directly across the street from Jamesport Brewing Company, this new brew pub offers an extensive menu of well prepared food and the solid lineup of beers gives craft beer aficionados one more reason to pay a visit to this beautiful community on the shores of Lake Michigan.

My wife Barb and I visited Ludington Bay a few weeks ago. After snagging two seats at the crowded bar we were disappointed to hear that we had just missed good friend and head brewer Tom Buchanan. We tempered that disappointment with a couple of Tom’s beers — a hefeweizen for me and a Rye IPA for Barb. Both were excellent.

After perusing the menu we decided on a tasty appetizer of smoked wings followed by an equally tasty chicken pesto pizza. We had another beer and just as we were getting up to leave Tom and his wife Patti walked into the pub.

It was nice seeing our old friends again. After getting a tour of the 20-barrel brew house we reminisced about old times and, of course, had another beer. Visit Ludington Bay’s website for hours and more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Bitburger Radler, $1.49/16oz - "Unmistakably sparkling and with a fine touch. In equal parts from Bitburger Premium Pils and fresh Lemon Lemonade Bitburger Radler tastes with 2.5 per cent alcohol volume not so sweet. Its typical Bitburger-Pils flavor lends its unique fine note and makes it an ideal thirst extinguisher" (source).
  • Left Hand Traveling Light, $2.09/12oz - "Golden, crisp, dry and refreshing with herbal hops" (source).
  • Left Hand A Blessing & A Curse, $9.99/22oz - "This double IPA delivers a synthesis of hops from opposite hemispheres with an aggressive disposition of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit characteristics for a delightfully juxtaposed consequence. Count your blessings, accept the curse" (source).
  • Short's Exeter, $2.39/12oz - "Exeter is an American Sour Ale fermented with strawberry and lemon. Ruby red in color with an initial head that dissipates quickly, Exeter has a big sour fruit aroma with just a hint of lemon.  A mouth puckering tart strawberry and sour lemon flavor is complemented by a growing sweetness. The finish is very dry" (source).
  • Short's Strawberry Short's Cake, $2.39/12oz - "Strawberry Short’s Cake is a Golden Ale brewed with the addition of strawberries and milk sugar. The flavors of shortcake and fresh strawberries transform this beer into rose-colored party nectar that is pleasingly sweet with hints of cream. Biscuit flavors and aromas arise from the use of large amounts of Victory malt" (source).
  • Great Lakes Steady Rolling, $1.69/12oz - "Inspired by the Great Lakes region (our big backyard), our single hop Session IPA is brewed for days when you can only guess the time based on where the sun sits in the sky" (source).
  • Great Lakes Light Keeper, $1.69/12oz - "Inspired by Marblehead Lighthouse (the oldest operating on the Great Lakes) our Blonde Ale's effervescence is guided home by a shimmering beacon of dry and fruity hop flavors" (source).
  • North Coast Alt Nouveau, $1.99/12oz - "Alt Nouveau is a decidedly hoppy take on the style, reviving a brand the brewery first released in the mid-nineties. The Art Nouveau style illustration on the label is inspired by the artichoke plantings at North Coast’s partner, Fortunate Farm, in Caspar" (source).
  • Lagunitas Lagunator, $4.79/22oz - "It’s a dry-hopped California Common with a massive malt character, rounded out by a bitter balance from some experimental hops from the Yakima Valley" (source).
  • Oddside The Implication, $4.49/12oz - "Citra Triple IPA" (source).
  • Southern Tier Choklat Oranj, $4.99/12oz - "Choklat Oranj is the fifth beer currently in our highly regarded Blackwater series. Warlock, Creme Brulee, Mokah and Choklat have RateBeer scores of 97, 98, 99 and 100, respectively. Choklat Oranj is a stout brewed with chocolate and orange peels, opaque black in color, 10.0% abv, and a delicious dessert beer. Perfect alone, or enjoyed as a float. Scoop organic vanilla bean ice cream into a snifter or pint glass and top with Choklat Oranj. It’s impossible to be disappointed" (source).
  • Greenbush Broken Promise, $2.19/12oz - "In the land of hop contracts, you can't always get what you want.  Lucky for us, when brewing our Wheat IPA we found Zythos hops, which lend a serious citrus burst to this fine brew" (source).
  • Arbor Bavarian Bliss, $1.89/12oz - "U.S. Open Beer Champion – named “Best Hefeweizen in America” by the Craft Beer News Service.  Classic aromas of banana, clove and floral citrus blossom. Fruity, spicy aromas show a rich yeasty character that follows through on a smooth, medium-bodied palate with a delicately spicy finish" (source).
  • Dark Horse Kamikaze Kaleidoscope, $1.79/12oz - "Kamikaze Kaleidoscope appears hazy straw in color with a bright white head thanks to the healthy amount of wheat in this friendly summer Wit, making it very approachable. Sweet wheat and citrus aromas come to the scene next with a slight hint of Wit yeast that makes this such a unique and drinkable beer. Subtle flavors of Orange and Lemon lace in nicely with a big wheat mouthfeel and a slight tartness thanks to the Wit yeast used in this beer. Finishing dry and clean, this beer will definitely be on your list of summer beers to crush from now on" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Mr. Blue Sky, $2.19/16oz - "American wheat ale that is crisp and refreshing, light in appearance with a slight haze" (source).
  • Saugatuck Mandarina IPA, $1.89/12oz - "An Imperial IPA with a great malty backbone and a huge hop flavor.  Bright copper color and a medium to heavy mouth feel pair with a nice thick head.  Hop aromas of sweet fruit with a tropical citrusy twist to it" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 7/4, $2.99/12oz, $8.99/22oz - "Our all-important, hop-driven quest to deliver the most devastatingly fresh IPA on the planet facilitated a paradigm shift in 2012 with the launch of Stone Enjoy By IPA. Not only did we brew this beer with more than 10 different hops, we brewed it specifically NOT to last. Acclaimed for its groundbreakingly short shelf life, this intense double IPA brought forth a whole new conceptof what constitutes “fresh” — guaranteeing fans the ultimate level of hoppiness. This defiantly independent batch you have in your hands is no different. It, like its predecessors before, is a celebration and declaration of the fresh beer revolution" (source).
  • Stone Mocha IPA, $2.99/12oz - "Clearly, style lines have been crossed. Is it half-IPA, half-stout? Not quite. It’s definitely all IPA, but it’s also the best of both styles, making this love child of a beer simply just a beautiful, pleasure-seeking meld of imperial IPA and mocha indulgence. How did we come up with this inexplicably delicious creation? Well, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it exists and that it’s here for you now, thanks to our deliberate disregard for brewing norms. Some things are not meant to be known, just enjoyed...thoroughly" (source).
  • Stone Ghost Hammer, $2.99/12oz - "A fermenting beer never slumbers. Consequently, there is always scattered activity tending our precious beers throughout the dark hours. In these late nights and wee hours that hallowed responsibility falls to the shoulders of the overnight Brew Crew. These brewing soloists brave the long nights, often alone, to do what needs to be done. Most areas of the brewery are dark or in shadows. Throughout the night the cellars resonate with the occasional knocking of expanding and contracting pipes. It can be a bit spooky to hear the brewery creak and groan as if possessed by a spirit randomly knocking about with a mallet. This IPA, liberally hopped with Loral, honors our intrepid overnight team by naming it after their mischievous poltergeist companion – the Ghost Hammer" (source).
  • Uinta Ready, Set, Gose, $1.59/12oz - "This tart and salty ale smells of fresh lemon rind and coastal sea breeze. Wheat malts give this beer flavors of freshly baked bread and coriander" (source).
  • Uinta West Coast IPA, $1.59/12oz - "Our bold and citrusy West Coast-style India Pale Ale—brewed using four different hop varieties—features pronounced aromas of pineapple, mango and pine" (source).
  • Unibroue Elderberry Ephemere, $2.09/12oz - "Belgian Style Fruit Flavored Wheat Ale. Bottle refermented ale" (source).
  • Evil Twin Low Life, $2.59/16oz - "A clever woman once said; ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’. On that note we threw in a young, unacknowledged hoppy pilsner gave it a limp, wrinkly flavor and finished it off with an insulting high price that will give you a foul feeling in your mouth. That’s why we name Evil Twin Brewing’s Low Life the Golddigger of Beers" (source).
  • Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break, $3.39/16oz - "The Roman Empire had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ - festive food culture, extravagant architecture and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen - that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient - keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant and flamboyant" (source).
  • Omnipollo Shploing, $4.19/12oz - "INDIA PALE ALE Brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar with mango and vanilla added" (source).
  • Prairie Paradise, $8.99/12oz - "Coconut Vanilla Stout. It’s about to get really hot outside. How about a cold glass of refreshing Imperial Stout" (source).
  • Stillwater Cellar Door, $2.29/12oz - "Brewed with white sage" (source).
  • Stillwater Big Bunny, $2.09/12oz - "Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout" (source).
  • Way Beer Jabuti Gose, $6.9/12oz - "Beer Jabutigose is a beer that stands out for the use of Sea Salt from the region of Mossoró, in addition to Jabuticaba, a Brazilian fruit. It is a sour" (source).
  • Maui Bikini Blonde, $2.09/12oz - "A clean, crisp & refreshing Helles, perfect any time" (source).
  • Maui Big Swell, $2.89/12oz - "Tropical citrus hops burst from this dry-hopped India Pale Ale" (source).
  • Maui Coconut Hiwa, $2.89/12oz - "A robust dark ale with hand-toasted coconut & hints of mocha" (source).
  • Maui Double Overhead, $2.89/12oz - "Double Overhead IPA is a fresh handcrafted double IPA featuring copious amounts of hops. Laden with hops from begining to end and not overly bitter, it’s hop aromas and flavours give hints of Guava, Passion Fruit, and orange spice which blend well with the silky malt flavours. "Big braddah to the Big Swell IPA" (source).

Video of the Week | North Coast

The story of North Coast Brewing Company