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Friday, August 28, 2015

New Beer Friday, Fresh Grapes Edition (August 28)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you’re thinking about making wine from fresh grapes this fall there are couple of good options available for home vintners looking to source some Michigan grown fruit.

The folks at Taylor Ridge Vineyards in Allegan and Morgan Vineyard in Ravenna have apprised us that are now taking orders for the fall harvest. Contact information for these two West Michigan vineyards follow:
Taylor Ridge Vineyards
3843 105th Ave.
Allegan, MI 49010
Cell: 269-491-1512
Home: 269-521-4047 
Morgan Vineyard
23760 36th Ave.
Ravenna, MI 49541
Phone: 616-638-9353
On three consecutive Saturdays this fall we will again be offering the free on-site use of our fruit crushers and basket presses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot behind the store. Dates for the free use of the equipment are as follows:
Saturday, September 26
Saturday, October 3
Saturday, October 10

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Violin Monster, $2.29/12oz - "A geographical approach to the werewolf legends results in the identification of a major werewolf area stretching from mid-Germany into the Netherlands and Belgium. With this in mind, we have created a strong, dark, spiced using ingredients from those regions. Brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar, the Violin Monster is black as night and packs a punch at 9.3%. Unleash your inner beast with Violin Monster Dark Ale, but beware…. it finishes with a bite" (source).
  • Bell's Best Brown, $1.79/12oz, $1.99/16oz can - "A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tree Bucket, $4.29/16oz (4 per) - "Somewhere there is a Belgian Monk who’s head is spinning. A Belgian brewer would never put this much hop into a beer. However, we are not Belgian are we? We can do whatever we want. This is an unconventional beer. Belgian candy sugar, classic Belgian yeast, and a boat load of hops, plus some dry hopping in top of that. A very unique take on a Double IPA that will make it stand out in a crowd" (source).
  • Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin, $1.59/12oz - "Post Road Pumpkin Ale is a revival of a beer brewed by the early American colonists. Pumpkins were plentiful, flavorful and nutritious and they blended nicely with barley malt. Hundreds of pumpkins are blended into each batch of Post Road Pumpkin Ale, creating a beer with an orange amber color, warm pumpkin aroma, biscuity malt center and crisp finish. Post Road Pumpkin Ale is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg" (source).
  • Brooklyn Oktoberfest, $1.59/12oz - "Brooklyn Oktoberfest was introduced in 2000. It is true to the original German style, full-bodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness. When Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria wanted to celebrate his wedding engagement in 1810, he did what any good Bavarian prince would--he threw a beer festival. Bothe the festival and the special beer served there became known as Oktoberfest. Brewed from the finest German malt and hops, Brooklyn Oktoberfest is true to the original style, fullbodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness" (source).
  • Bell's Oracle, $3.09/12oz - "Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the floral aromatic punch of two separate dry-hop sessions with Amarillo and NZ Pacific Jade. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise" (source).
  • Grizzly Peak Hellion, $3.39/12oz - "The devil is in the details. The light touch of pale and wheat malts. Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe and Chinook hops. Massive hops additions imbue a wicked bitterness and the intense floral aromas of citrus and lush tropical fruit. Hoppy, hoppy, rich and golden" (source).
  • New Holland Ichabod, $1.79/12oz - "Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert" (source).
  • North Peak Hooligan, $1.89/12oz - "With North Peak’s Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin Ale you will never have to choose between your favorite pumpkin beer and IPA again. Hooligan is brewed with real pumpkin and spices to give you all the spicy goodness you could ask for. And did we mention the hops? Hooligan is brimming with Citra, Centennial and Chinook hops" (source).
  • Dominion Pils, $2.09/12oz - "Our Bohemian Pilsner, brewed with all natural ingredients, is crisp and refreshing, making it a perfect beach companion. Go Bohemian this Summer and take a case of our Beach House to your beach house" (source).
  • Oskar blues Ten Fidy, $4.19/12oz - "This titanic, immensely viscous stout is loaded with inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee and hide a hefty 98 IBUs underneath the smooth blanket of malt. Ten FIDY (10.5% ABV) is made with enormous amounts of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY is the ultimate celebration of dark malts and boundary-stretching beer" (source).
  • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $7.19/22oz - "A fall ale brewed with our secret blend of spices" (source).
  • Smuttynose Smuttlabs Spank, $9.29/22oz - "Hoppy Saison (Birthday Beer!) Brewed to celebrate Smuttynose’s 21st birthday" (source).
  • Oddside Snozzberries, $2.29/12oz - "Wit IPA with cherries added" (source).
  • Ommegang Grains of Truth, $2.89/12oz - "This is Grains of Truth and it is a Harvest Ale brewed with barley, wheat, oats & rye.  This seasonal release celebrates “the richness of the grain harvest,” it will be packaged in 12oz bottles and the beer will hit 5.8%-AbV.   For those wondering if this is Scythe & Sickle with a new name, stay tuned" (source).
  • Shorts Sticky Icky, $1.99/12oz (2 per) - "Sticky Icky Icky is a radiantly clear, copper-colored American India Pale Ale. It is loaded with citrusy hop aromas of oranges, nectarines, and apricots. This light, yet full bodied ale is perfectly balanced by equal parts sweet malt and juicy hops. A medium bitterness along with a subtle earthiness lingers in the finish" (source).

Video of the Week | Science-y Stuff

Here's why aluminum cans are shaped the way they are. Fascinating.


Friday, August 21, 2015

New Beer Friday, A Quick Reminder Edition (August 21)

A short preamble to this week's New Beer Friday coincides with a relatively short list of new beers. Really we just want to remind you that our annual sale on homebrew and winemaking supplies begins on September 14 and runs through September 20. So mark you calendars and let your friends know—this is the best time of year to get into the hobby. You can find complete details of discounts and sale items by clicking here.

New and Returning Beer

  • Victory Festbier, $1.79/12oz - "Subtly sweet with a delicate malt nose, our Festbier gains its impressive body from our use of all imported German malts and decoction brewing process" (source).
  • Abita Pecan Harvest, $1.69/12oz - "Abita Pecan® Harvest Ale is brewed with pale, Munich, biscuit and caramel malts and Willamette hops. Real Louisiana roasted pecans are added in the brewhouse and give the ale a subtle nutty flavor and aroma" (source).
  • Gonzo's Vanilla Porter, $3.29/16oz - "A benchmark of balance, this chocolate porter boasts a hint of vanilla as well as an unforgettable velvety texture" (source).
  • Deschutes Obsidian Stout, $1.79/12oz - "Deep, robust and richly rewarding, this is beer to linger over. Obsidian has distinct notes of espresso, chocolate, roasted malt and black barley, with just enough hop bite to cut the sweetness" (source).
  • Arbor Bliss, $1.79/12oz - "This traditional Hefeweizen is light bodied, gold and cloudy in appearance, with banana and clove in the nose. A clean citrus finish makes this the perfect spring/summer time beer" (source).
  • Dark Horse Scary Jesus Rockstar, $2.19/12oz (2 per) - "Pale ale brewed with plentiful amounts of Apricots and Chamomile. A collaboration beer with Chef Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions" (source).

Video of the Week | Black Rocks

Something cool from the little brewery way up north.
(Black Rocks beer is available at Siciliano's.)


Friday, August 14, 2015

New Beer Friday, The Big Sale Edition (August 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2015 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Monday, September 14, and continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 20.

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

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

    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $105.00, Sale $85.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $95.00, Sale $79.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $135.00, Sale $120.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $231.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $189.00
    • 50 FT. IMMERSION COPPER WORT CHILLER: Regular $123.00, Sale $97.00
    • 25 FT. IMMERSION COPPER WORT CHILLER: Regular $63.00, Sale $56.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $75.00, Sale $57.00
    • MASH/LAUTER TUN: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $143.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $64.00, Sale $50.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Regular $80.00, Sale $64.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Regular $49.00, Sale $39.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 19, for some free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Jaw Jacker, $1.79/12oz - "This spiced amber-wheat ale is our celebration of the arrival of Autumn. Using the finest malted barley and a small amount of wheat for mouthfeel, Jaw-Jacker displays a brilliant orange-amber color, despite the absence of pumpkin in the recipe. The addition of cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg (in the exact proportions of a family pumpkin pie recipe) creates a refreshingly spicy, season brew" (source).
  • Smuttynose Robust Porter, $1.69/12oz - "A hearty ebony colored ale that starts with a rich malty palate finished with clean hops and notes of coffee and chocolate" (source).
  • Summit Make It So, $2.09/12oz - "Extra Special Bitter Ale brewed with Earl Grey tea and a sense of adventure" (source).
  • Summit Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Brewed in the Märzen style, Summit Oktoberfest brings alive the famous European Fall celebrations. Summit Oktoberfest has a reddish-bronze color, a rich malty aroma and a satisfying smooth finish" (source).
  • Alaskan Pumpkin Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Alaskan Brewing Company’s newest beer is Alaskan Pumpkin Ale, a Fall Seasonal that will start appearing on taps and shelves throughout the company’s 17-state distribution footprint beginning this month. Alaskan brewers have put a new spin on the Pumpkin Porter that has come out the past two years, and produced a smooth brown ale-based recipe that combines holiday spices and organicPumpkin Ale_Product Shot-pressrelease pumpkin for a perfect autumn pour" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin, $2.19/16oz (4 per) - "Our autumn seasonal. An Amber Ale brewed with roasted pumpkin in the mash then spiced with ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Spicy and refreshing. A great tail gating beer" (source).
  • Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "Bavarian barley slow roasted, caramelized to a rich, red amber color combined with the purest spring waters from the Alps, exclusive yeast and the finest Hallertau hops" (source).
  • Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor" (source).
  • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.29/12oz - "This beer is available each autumn in celebration of the great Bavarian festival season. Brewed in late spring and cellared throughout the summer, our Oktoberfest is produced through traditional methods as it has been for centuries in Germany, This copper-hued lager owes its rich malt flavor to a generous combination of select Vienna and Munich malts. Cool, open-fermentation develops a subtle elegance and drinkability suited to any festive occasion" (source).
  • Shorts Autumn Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Autumn Ale is a true-to-style London Extra Special Bitter (ESB). It has a medium body, amber color, and full flavor. This beer exhibits a wonderful balance of malty sweetness and floral hop bitterness. The result is an ideal bridge between malty and hoppy beer styles. Autumn Ale is a silver medal winner from the 2006 Great American Beer Festival" (source).
  • Shorts Cerveza De Julie, $1.69/12oz - "Cerveza De Julie is a pale yellow Mexican Lager brewed with real lime. Delicate yeasty aromas gather quickly from the ample amount of carbonation in this lighter bodied beer style. Soft grain sweetness enhanced by unobtrusive lime qualities bring out a subtle snappy tartness, which turns mildly bitter before a crisp refreshing finish" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Cleveland’s celebration of Oktoberfest dates to the mid 1800’s when German immigrants gathered at outdoor beer gardens like Haltnorth’s and Kindvater’s St. Clair Gardens. Our amber lager with rich malt flavor and noble hops honors Cleveland’s diverse cultural heritage" (source).
  • Abita Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Abita Octoberfest (September – November) is a German style lager. This full bodied malty lager has a copper color and is hopped and dry hopped with German Hallertau hops giving it a pleasant, spicy hop aroma that's just right for the season" (source).
  • Oddside Queen of Tarts, $9.69/500ml - "Soured Wheat Ale, Barrel Aged with Raspberries" (source).
  • Anderson Valley  Fall Hornin', $2.19/12oz - "With a brilliant, deep copper hue and creamy beige-colored head, our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale has inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and seasonal spices. The pleasantly creamy mouthfeel and silky body embrace the sweet caramel flavors and tang of spices (with just hint of hops) that ends in a smooth, round finish" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Neomexicanus Native Pale Ale, $2.09/12oz - "This ale is a tribute to the artistic expression that can be realized when a brewery and a hop farmer partner together with the common goal of achieving something new and creative. This beer is an exploration of a largely undocumented hop, native to the South Western United States. This ale offers a citrusy aroma with a distinct lemon and tangerine character while maintaining a moderate acidity that accentuates the delicate flavors and aromas of this brew" (source).
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead, $1.79/12oz - "Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor" (source).
  • Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, $10.19/22oz (1 per) - "A big bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg.  Pale Ale, Wheat and Light Munich malts combine with the natural tannin in pumpkin and the delicate spiciness of Saphir and Hallertau Hops to balance the sweetness of the fruit.  To fully experience all the flavors, this beer is best enjoyed at 55 degrees Fahrenheit" (source).

Video of the Week | Pure Michigan

About time we dusted off and reposted this gem.


Friday, August 7, 2015

New Beer Friday, New Mayor of Beer City Edition (August 7)

Preamble by Steve Sicliano

If you live in the Grand Rapids vicinity you probably know that Rosalynn Bliss was elected as the city’s first female mayor this past Tuesday.

I have to confess I’m pretty apolitical and don’t know much about Ms. Bliss’s stance on issues that are germane to the city but what I do know about the new mayor is that she’s a fan of craft beer.

For the past two years Rosalynn took time out of her busy schedule to lead the country wide toast to the enriching hobby of homebrewing at the Siciliano’s Big Brew on the Calder.

I highly doubt that this had any impact on Tuesday’s election but in my opinion any politician who rubs elbows with homebrewers has to be pretty darn cool.

Our next mayor toasting local homebrewers during Big Brew on the Calder, 2014.
Photo courtesy Steph Harding.

New and Returning Beers

  • Tandem Smackintosh, $3.59/16oz - "The first Smack of the season, made from McIntosh, Rhode Island Greening, and Northern Spy. Sweet and Macky with a rich golden hue, this cider is fresh and fruit. The McIntosh and Greenings are from some 75-year-old trees on Old Mission, the spy from a few miles up the road. Growers: Shultz Orchards and the Kolarik Brothers" (source).
  • Saugatuck Pumpkin Chai, $1.89/12oz - "Our new fall seasonal beer; an ale brewed with herbal chai tea and pumpkin. Aromas of chai tea and subtle pumpkin notes on the nose; Flavors of chai and pumpkin make this fall seasonal stand out from typical fall beers. Perfect for a brisk autumn day" (source).
  • Sprecher Hard Apple Pie, $1.49/12oz - "At 5% abv, this is definitely not your Grandma's apple pie though it tastes remarkably similar. Each sip gives you every flavor you get in an apple pie -- crisp yet soft apple up front followed by cinnamon and a pie crust finish. Sweet, tart and smooth with a hint of savory. Engagingly provocative, Hard Apple Pie is delicious on its own, in a float with your favorite ice cream, or mixed in a cocktail" (source).
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, $1.69/12oz - "We brew Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale with real pumpkin and a blend of classic pumpkin pie spices in tribute to our colonial forebearers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins have been found from early European settlers in New England, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients" (source).
  • Sam Adams Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep golden amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest is a malt lover’s dream, masterfully blending together four roasts of barley to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The beer is kept from being overly sweet by the elegant bitterness imparted by the German Noble hops. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the winter’s heartier brews" (source).
  • Shiner Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Here in Shiner, TX (pop. 2,070), we’re suckers for tradition. Which is why this classic Oktoberfest brew is made with the highest quality two-row barley, Munich and caramel malts, along with German grown Hallertau Tradition and Hersbrucker hops. It’s our way of honoring our ancestors and the beer they loved to celebrate with. So raise your stein to tradition and enjoy this utterly classic brew" (source).
  • Tapistry Gretel, $8.19/22oz - "Gretel is German. Gretel is like a chocolate covered banana. Gretel will make you say "Das schmeckt gut!" (translation: "That tastes good!")" (source).
  • Tapistry Heart Full of Napalm, $11.09/22oz - "Double IPA brewed with Galaxy, Mosaic, & Amarillo hops" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2XIPA, $1.99/12oz - "Not quite an imperial, but certainly not a standard India pale ale. Our double IPA is a hop lovers dream. Citrusy and clean with an incredible finish" (source).
  • Greenbush One in the Same, 1.99/12oz - "Not quite an imperial, but certainly not a standard India pale ale. Our double IPA is a hop lovers dream. Citrusy and clean with an incredible finish" (source).
  • Hebrew Slingshot, $1.79/12oz - "Slingshot pours a bright straw color with a thin white head and light lacing. The aroma features juicy, tropical fruit notes of peach, lemon and red grapefruit with the light spice accent of noble hops. The polished malt bill is mainly 2-row pale malt with portions of Vienna and a touch of wheat and rye to add a delicate balance to the spice and fruit. It is medium in body with a smooth refreshing mouthfeel to make Slingshot a well-balanced, easy drinking American craft lager" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, $3.39/12oz - "Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices(Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Cloves). This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is heartier, spicier, and more caramelly and pumpkiny than its faint brethren! Perfect finisher on a cool autumn night, or match it up with a slice of pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream. If you don't agree this is the mother of all pumpkin ales, then you just don't like mothers" (source).
  • B. Nektar Sleeping Giant, $26.39/375ml (1 per) - "Once upon a time a giant was imprisoned inside a rye whiskey barrel. For over a year he sat in silence and total darkness and finally, he fell asleep. In time the world forgot about him. Until one day, a brave mead maker with a magical mustache discovered the giant, and put it in a bottle. At over 19% abv, this mead should not be taken lightly. Uncork the bottle and awaken the Sleeping Giant" (source).
  • North Peak Dauntless, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with a traditional Munich lager yeast, Dauntless is a copper colored malt forward salute to the Oktoberfest celebration taking place in Germany every year since 1810.  Tettnang and Hallertauer hops complement the malt flavors by adding subtle, spicy hop notes. Malty, smooth, and eminently drinkable" (source).

Video of the Week | Acme Cider

More GR-made cider? Yes, please.
Visit their Kickstarter page for more information.


Friday, July 31, 2015

New Beer Friday, Trail Point Brewing Edition (July 31)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you’re over fifty and have lived in the environs of Beer City USA your entire life you might remember when the community of Allendale was nothing more than a scattering of buildings that you whizzed by on your way to and from the big lake.

That started to change in the mid-sixties when GVSU’s campus began taking root in the fields just west of the Grand River. Today there are a number of good bars and restaurants in the area and my wife Barb and I will often head out that way when we don’t feel like dealing with the traffic and congestion of the city.

Trail Point Partners (from L to R)
Gary Evans, Jeff Knoblock and Greg Evans
With the planned opening of Trail Point Brewing Company on the near horizon there will soon be another good reason to take that pleasant fifteen minute drive west on M-45 out of GR.

This past Tuesday Barb and I stopped at Trail Point to check the brewery’s progress on our way to dinner at the Embassy Bar (excellent enchiladas and a Shorts Bellaire Brown for me, a wet burrito, also excellent, and a Two Hearted for Barb). According to Trail Point partners Gary Evans, Greg Evans and Jeff Knoblock, there’s a good chance that there will be a soft opening in the tap room as soon as next week.

The Taproom at Trail Point
While I sat with head brewer Gary Evans at the bar sampling a very good cream ale and a nicely balanced Citra IPA his wife Lucy showed Barb around that beautiful, repurposed barn wood appointed tap room. Gary expects to have seven or eight beers ready when the brewery opens and plans to eventually have sixteen brews on tap. He is brewing on a seven barrel, steam-fired system.

Trail Point Brewing Company is located on 6035 Lake Michigan Drive. Go to or to their Facebook page for further details regarding the tap room’s official opening.

Preamble Steve enjoying a beer at Trail Point Brewing

New & Returning Beers

  • Volkan Blonde Ale, $3.69/12oz - "A nose of yellow plum, with light malt that develops into a rounded soft ginger tone" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $9.29/22oz - "Imperial stout brewed with pumpkins. Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $9.29/22oz, $4.19/12oz - "Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed. Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let it’s deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape the Pumking" (source).
  • Atwater Blocktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "Octoberfest, a German tradition that celebrates harvest. Now Atwater carries on the tradition with our own special lager "Blocktoberfest". Brewed with 100% German malt for a rich taste and amber color" (source).
  • Atwater Pumpkin Spiced Latte, $2.19/12oz - No commercial description available. The name kind of says it all.
  • Berghoff Rowdy Rootbeer, $1.69/12oz - "Creamy, smooth and malty, Rowdy Root Beer is crafted from a flavorless porter mixed with all natural sugar cane root beer mix to retain the unforgettable aroma of draft root beer. As you sip on the brew, you’ll notice familiarly smooth root flavors along with an additional alcoholic kick. The finish introduces after tones of the delicious malts the beer is carefully brewed with. We worked with Northwestern Extract to achieve the iconic root beer flavor, testing out 15 different prototypes before choosing the final recipe. Your favorite soda can finally give you a great buzz. It’s almost time to grab your blow horns and get rowdy" (source).
  • JK Scrumpy Cider, $3.59/16oz can (new package) - "Orchard Gate Gold is fermented naturally in small artisanal batches from a proprietary blend of organic apples grown here at our Koan Family Orchards in Michigan. We have produced hard ciders here since the 1860s. This is the same traditional recipe that helped save our farm during the great depression. There will be slight variations from batch to batch, just as nature makes no two apples alike! Enjoy our authentic hand bottled American Farmhouse "Scrumpy" Cider with family, friends & food" (source).
  • De Proef Wekken Sour, $15.99/750ml - "Nearly black in color with the roasted malts contributing complex flavors of licorice and blackstrap molasses balanced by herbal hop notes" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "We’re on a mission to explore the roots of Germany’s festival beers. Each year, we’ll partner with one of a handful of incredible German brewers to create a traditional take on the most famous beer style in history. This year we’re working hand in hand with Brauhaus Riegele of Augsburg. Together we created an authentic Oktoberfest beer, true to the roots of the festival, that’s deep golden in color and rich with complex malt flavor from the use of traditional German Steffi barley" (source).
  • Epic Hop Syndrome, $1.79/12oz - "A deliciously hoppy lager, this clean, spicy, yet fruity addition is sure to quench your summer palate just right" (source).

Big News of the Week

Congrats to our friends/customers Jeff Carlson and Nick Rodammer,
two of only three homebrewers to medal in this year's U.S. Open Beer Championships,
a true pro-am event with over 4,000 entries from some of the best breweries
(and homebreweries!) in the world. Photo courtesy of Jeff Carlson.


Friday, July 24, 2015

New Beer Friday, Return of Sagnessagiel (July 24)

Preamble by Sagnessagiel

It’s been an eternity since I submitted anything to The Buzz and I’m sure some of you may be wondering whether I have fallen off the face of the earth.

Well in a way I have.

The last time I was down in good ol’ Beer City USA I got a little carried away, imbibed a little too much of the local breweries excellent beers and was late getting back to heaven for a rather important meeting with the Boss. And when I say the Boss, I mean the Big Boss. Tardiness is one of the Almighty’s pet peeves and He came down pretty hard on me. For the last four years or so I’ve been delegated to cleaning the golden commodes up here, my internet privileges were rescinded and I was forbidden to set a sandaled foot off of these hallowed grounds.

I’m quite sure this ungodly punishment would have continued but the Old Man got wind of a new product that He was keen to try and every last one of my compadres were off on other assignments. A few weeks ago He summoned me and quite literally told me to get my butt down to earth and pick Him up some Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

Now the Old Man isn’t opposed to taking a drink now and then but He's really not much of an imbiber. A little sacramental wine now and then and that's about it. Though He doesn't drink a ton of beer He does hold creative brewers in high esteem and He absolutely loves what is going on with the craft beer movement. (You know that little quip attributed to Ben Franklin that beer is proof that God loves humans? Spot on!) That said, he is quite fond of root beer and I wish you could have seen the beatific look on His face after He took a hefty swig of the stuff from His chalice.

Personally, I don’t get why so many folks are going gaga over this root-beerish malternative. The Old Man let me have a sip and let me tell you that was plenty enough for me. Too sweet in my opinion. Does it taste just like root beer? Sure. But when I want a beer, and that’s quite often, I want the real stuff.

But you know what? If Not Your Father’s Root Beer makes the Old Man happy and some Siciliano’s Market customers happy, well, that’s good enough for me.

Like J. C. is fond of saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Peace and love,


New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Oracle, $3.09/12oz (2 per) - "Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise" (source).
  • Bell's Neptune, $2.09/12oz (2 per) - "With Neptune, our Planets Series comes to an end. Inspired by one of Larry Bell’s old homebrew recipes and the music of Gustav Holst, this complex, strong and spiced Imperial Stout offers prominent herbal notes along with flavors of chocolate, roasted malt, licorice/anise and pepper with a touch of heat. Reminiscent of a mystical creation brewed in days gone by, this beer is a good candidate for aging due to the robust characteristics of its ingredients" (source).
  • Vivant Tropical Saison, $3.39/12oz (2 per) - "Waves lapping the shoreline. The smell of sunscreen and dune grass. A day with nothing to do. This saison transports us to our summertime happy place, no matter what office cubicle we're trapped in, no matter what the weather is outside the window. A slight spicy character, light effervescence, and the addition of real pineapple & mango juice lift us out of our everyday and plop us, feet in the sand, to our beach front reverie. Not cloying, but refreshing and complex, this beer is a true “salut” to summer" (source).
  • Lakefront New Grist Ginger, $1.89/12oz - "We took our refreshing gluten-free beer, New Grist Pilsner, and brewed it with fresh ginger for a zesty, thirst-quenching flavor: introducing New Grist Ginger. This beer pours light gold with a rocky white head kicking out aromas of ginger and malted sorghum. The spicy-sweet ginger greets the palate first, before moving into the familiar flavor of New Grist: tangy green apple, light body, and crisp, refreshing finish. Overall, New Grist Ginger is a flavorful, easy-drinking, session beer with a snappy ginger punch. New Grist Ginger goes great with any variety of ginger-infused Asian dishes, like the sweeter broth of chicken Saigon pho, mild-to-spicy Thai gai pad king, or the spicy citrus notes of chana masala" (source).
  • New Belgium Long Table, $1.69/12oz - "The longer the table, the more room for friends. This season, our new Long Table Farmhouse Ale is the best excuse to pull up a chair with your closest companions for a few rounds. An ode to the bucolic, table-friendly Belgian saison, we’ve added a delightfully new hoppy spin to the style, creating a sip that whisks a taste of the tropics into the Old World. Traditional grains of Munich, pale malt and rye lend a wash of toasty, spicy bread, while exotic Nelson Sauvin and citrusy Chinook hops buoy the juicy fruit flavors of our Belgian yeast. So gather around and get ready to hoist this spritz complex farmhouse ale amongst the company of friends" (source).
  • Deschutes Stoic, $17.19/22oz - "A prized, potent, Belgian-style Quad of stirring depth and complexity. Four nuanced fermentations. Aged, sequestered, in select rye whiskey & wine casks. Ergo a stoically brewed quad, with the spellbinding complexity of its medieval ancestors" (source).
  • Ommegang 2015 Belgium Independence, $9.29/750ml - "Our limited edition belgian-style tripel honors Belgian Independence Day - July 21, 1831. In a new world twist on old-world style, we've joined Ommegang innovation with Belgian tradition in celebration of the Belgian revolution and the American craft beer revolution. Dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops, this unique beer offers fruity aromatics, well-integrated honeyed malt character and a delightful overlay of tangerine and sweet citrus notes" (source).
  • Short's Spruce Pils, $2.39/12oz - "Spruce Pilsner is an Imperial Pilsner, fermented with local, hand-picked blue spruce tips. The spruce presence, rooted in historical brewing practices, is enormous and gives the beer a refreshing gin quality. This beer is impressively light bodied, considering the immense spruce flavors and the prodigious additions of hops" (source).
  • Big Sky Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Pygmy Owl is an IPA with full fledged hop taste and aroma, yet is remarkably low in alcohol. In fact, it clocks in at only 4.2% ABV. An IPA with full flavor, but without the harsh bitterness. And the best part, you can have more than one without getting that drunkied up feeling" (source).
  • B.O.M. Wild and Funky, $5.09/11.2oz - "The Wild & Funky is our response to the challenge to brew a new style of sour beer with mixed fermentation. Taste-wise, the beer fits perfectly within the Belgian tradition, but the brewing method is different than usual" (source).

Video of the Week | Harmony Hall

A first look at Harmony Hall on Bridge Street in Grand Rapids


Friday, July 17, 2015

New Beer Friday, The Return of Twinkie Edition (July 17)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last week’s front page news that Hostess Twinkies are back on retailers’ shelves after a two-year, bankruptcy-induced hiatus produced a bit of nostalgia in this old convenience store merchant.

Back when I owned a little corner store in the Creston Heights neighborhood—the first incarnation of Siciliano’s Market—I occasionally indulged in some admittedly childish shenanigans with the iconic, cream-filled pastries as my prop.

It started when a regular customer, one of a group of fun-loving, artistic types who worked for a firm across the street, brought a Twinkie up to the sales counter. I looked at the golden, cellophane wrapped sponge cake and for some reason had an uncontrollable urge to smash it. After the startled customer’s shock at having his intended purchase flattened like a pancake with a clipboard, we had a good laugh. I put the smashed Twinkie aside and told him to grab another.

Thirty minutes later I was surprised to see that the spongy snack cake had almost returned to its original shape.

From that day on employees of the firm would occasionally buy a Twinkie with the hope, I’m sure, that I would repeat the tomfoolery.

Every once in a while I would oblige them.

New and Returning Beer

  • Oddside Firefly, $2.59/12oz - "The blend of papaya and a small dose of habaneros provide an ideal mixture of spicy and sweet" (source).
  • Southern Tier Harvest, $1.69/12oz - "Harvest Ale is our celebration of the changing weather and the sowing of hops and barley that will be used in our upcoming brews. We usher in the fall with a classic English style Extra Special Bitter of the highest order. Deep ruby in color with an even deeper hop flavor… in fact, we throw fresh English hops into every brewing vessel, then dry hop after fermentation to impart a zesty kick. This beer has real hop character that mingles with fresh malted barley for an experience that will make you wish it were fall year ‘round" (source).
  • New Holland Incorrigible Reserve, $4.79/22oz (1 per) - "Michigan blueberries & blackberries fuel a second flavorful fermentation of this beer after its residence of several months in our House of Funk sour cellar" (source).
  • McEwans Scotch Ale, $3.29/12oz - "Deep brown colour. A chocolate and caramel body with a lingering sweet finish. Originally brewed by McEwan’s at the Fountain brewery in Edinburgh. Production moved from Fountain to the Caledonian Brewery in 2004. The McEwan’s brand passed to Heineken in 2008 after their purchase of Scottish & Newcastle’s British operations. Heineken sold the brand to Wells & Youngs in 2011. Packaged McEwan’s beers are produced at Wells & Youngs brewery in Bedford" (source).

Video of the Week | Blake's Hard Cider

Congrats to former staffer Greg Johnson, now a cidermaker Blake's Hard Cider.