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Friday, February 17, 2017

New Beer Friday, Cast Your Vote Edition (Feb 17)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Beer City USA continues to garner national recognition for its vibrant craft beer culture. This past week USA Today announced that Grand Rapids has again made the publication’s list of the twenty best beer scenes in America, presenting GR with the opportunity to reprise its 2016 USA Today’s Readers’ Choice award as the number one destination for craft beer in the country.

“Michigan’s second-largest city sports the state’s strongest beer scene, thanks largely to the presence of the world-renowned Founders Brewing Co.,” the publication states on its 10Best website. “Not to be outdone, there are several other brewing operations around town, most notably the Belgian-inspired Brewery Vivant. The city’s official “Beer City Ale Trail” lists more than 40 breweries in the surrounding area, and the local calendar is constantly filled with beer festivals, events and promotions. Throw in exceptional beer stores such as Siciliano’s Market, and it’s easy to see why Grand Rapids proudly stakes its claim as Beer City USA.”

Also nominated for USA Today’s Readers’ Choice awards this year are Brewery Vivant and Founders Brewing Company for the country’s best brewpub and HopCat for the best beer bar. Voting for each specific category is limited to one vote per day per device and ends Monday, March 13. Click on the following links to cast your votes:

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Uncle Steve, $1.69/12oz - "Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout is Short’s version of the classic Irish Stout, complete with a dark color, soft head, and smooth full flavor typical of this lighter bodied beer. A simple grist formula provides a base of roasted malt flavors and a creamy drinkability everyone loves" (source).
  • Victory Selene Saison, $7.99/750ml - "Dark as the night sky and fermented with unique yeast, this Saison delivers earthy and spicy undertones to warm your senses all winter long" (source).
  • Atwater Cherry Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "The addition cherries from Traverse City, MI, prior to fermentation, Atwater’s Cherry Wheat brings a bright tartness together with the crispness of an American Wheat ale" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Beer to Drink Music To, $2.59/12oz - "Our music-inspired Tropical Blonde brewed with kiwi juice & hibiscus flowers" (source). See video below.
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche (2016), $2.59/12oz - "Our tart summer-session-sour" (source).
  • Shiner Coffee, $1.69/12oz - "For our 108th birthday, we’ve brewed up something special. Our first coffee ale, crafted in collaboration with Austin’s own Chameleon Cold-Brew, made with dark-roasted specialty malt and Chameleon’s beloved cold-brewed coffee, it’s sure to wake up your tastebuds. But it won’t be here forever, so pour yourself a fresh cup while you can" (source).
  • Right Brain Firestarter Chipolte Porter, $7.19/22oz - "A deep bodied and roasty porter with strong smokey notes and a mild spicy finish. Flavor profile very similar to mexican mole’ sauces" (source).
  • Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, $2.79/12oz - "A traditional Doppelbock fermented with an old world yeast. Reddish brown in color with a mild hop profile, Consecrator is a well-balanced, full-bodied lager with hints of caramel and molasses in its smooth, malty finish after spending 3 months maturing in our fermentation tanks" (source).
  • Dark Horse Too Cream Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number two in our stout series, this beer is made with milk sugar (lactose) which gives this beer a nice creamy mouth feel, pleasant sweetness, and aromas of chocolate and coffee. An earthy hop profile that mingles with flavors of roasted coffee and sweet milk chocolate provide a fulfilling finish" (source).
  • Dark Horse Rail, La Spar, $2.09/12oz (4 per) - "Stout brewed with sarsapilla root and vanilla beans" (source).
  • New Holland White Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Flavorfully blends the soft malt, fruity esters and delicate spicing of a Belgian White with hoppy citrus notes of an IPA. Pleasant hints of orange are framed with chamomile, coriander and grains of paradise" (source).
  • Stone Jindia Pale Ale, $2.99/12oz - "A double India Pale Ale instilled with Juniper, ginger and lemon peel" (source).
  • Stone Pataskala, $1.99/12oz - "A massively dry-hopped deep crimson IPA" (source).

Dogfish Head Beer to Drink Music To

Now available at Siciliano's Market.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Copper & Kings American Brandy

Review by John Barecki

The process of brandy distillation was created out of a need to extend the profitability of each year's fruit harvest. With the discovery of barrel aging and its influences, distillers started to churn out aged products that eventually became some of the most sought after spirits on the market in the form of cognac, calvados, slivovitz and others.

In the long run, the popularity of these spirits was overturned by the introduction of prohibition as well as the phylloxera epidemic during the 1860s that destroyed many grape crops in France and almost ruined cognac's production. Even with these setbacks, brandies of many verities still have a place as collectors items, and they are starting to enjoy a renaissance in the craft spirits and cocktail sectors.The Copper & Kings distillery is aiding in this new beginning with their own multifaceted expressions that are produced in an area that most people would consider uncommon territory, Kentucky, the home of Bourbon.

An article posted on the Copper & Kings website states that Kentucky has been the home of many brandy distilleries in the past. Sourcing information from Chester Zoeller's book Bourbon in Kentucky: The History of Distilleries in Kentucky, the article states that there were over 450 brandy distilleries in the state and over 100 whiskey producers were distilling before prohibition. Michael Veach supports this, stating that bourbon Merchants such as W.L. Weller and Sons and Brown-Forman had brandies in their portfolios, some of which were being produced and sold as “bottled in bond” products.

Copper & Kings have rejuvenated this tradition with their own grape- and apple-based brandies. These are created from the Muscat de Alexandrie, Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Kentucky Vidal Blanc grape varieties that are chosen for their bold flavor, acidity and aromatic properties. The apple varietals they use are selected much the same way, and include a few that are Michigan-grown as well. In addition to their brandies, they also produce an absinthe that uses the Muscat de Alexandrie grape as its base. They create this by macerating traditional herbs into the first run of spirit and then distill it again creating a clear but monstrously flavorful product.

To produce these spirits they have chosen to employ three Vendome copper pot stills of varying size. Between the size of the posts and the reactions that copper induces during distillation, the spirits that flow from these stills are chock full of flavors and aromas. This is backed up by their choice to double distill the base wine keeping more of the bolder characteristics intact in the distillate, and the fact that they don't chill-filter the spirit or add any altering flavors or color. Once the new-make brandy is placed in the barrel it is allowed to lend itself to a full array of oak influences ranging from new American oak, ex-Bourbon, Sherry, Tequila and ex-beer barrels.

During the process of maturation these guys have an interesting way of energizing the spirit in which they place sub woofers in their cellar and pump heavy bass towards the barrels 24/7. This “sonic aging” uses sound waves to keep the spirit moving, and with the help of mother nature it is used to extract as much aroma and flavor from the wood as possible. Some of their aged expressions also go through a solera system, which is a process that blends the young with the old producing a rich and complex end product that shows the best of both worlds.

Utilizing full flavored base spirits and a keen ear and eye for barrel aging, Copper & Kings distillery is pushing the boundaries of what we perceive as American brandy. They produce aged expressions that have flavors and aromas that are more akin to scotch and bourbon, and continue to explore new possibilities in an effort to create more complex products. In my opinion they have the ability to rival some of the more traditional brandies and whiskies on the shelf, and offer a new alternative for spirit connoisseurs of all tastes.

Immature Grape Brandy, $35.22/750ml

    • Muscat base, 90 proof
    • Nose: Very floral and fresh (youthful), with bold anise, caraway, jasmine, honey and apricot
    • Palate: Viscous body, notes of candied fruit, black licorice and honey
    • Finish: Medium length, with a rich grape fruitiness that fades to a slightly mentholated floral note

Unaged Apple Brandy, $35.22/750ml

    • 90 proof
    • Nose: Orchard and cooked apples, youthful, with a lavender floral note
    • Palate: Medium bodied with fresh apples with light caramel, muscovado sugar, hints of vanilla, herbs slight citrus and pepper
    • Finish: Apple peel, herbaceous and earthy, with a tannic like dryness at the end

Aged Grape Brandy, $38.52/750ml

    • 90% ex-Kentucky bourbon, medium char, 10% new american oak barrels, 90 proof
    • Nose: Dried figs and raisins, butterscotch, cinnamon, cavendish pipe tobacco, worn leather, almost sherry like
    • Palate: Medium-bodied, caramel crème, peppery ginger and baking spice, with stewed grape and dried fruit
    • Finish: Fruity and floral, dry with the return of sherry like qualities

Floodwall, Aged Apple Brandy, $46.75/750ml

    • Ex-Kentucky Bourbon and Sherry barrels, 100 proof
    • Nose: Rich apple, maple syrup, vanilla and slightly savory baking spice, with minty notes, dried fruit and oak
    • Palate: Rich body, with dried fruits and caramel, cardamom and ripe apple, a bit of dried herbs and nuts
    • Finish: Medium length, lingering sherry influence of dried fruit, dates, nuts, earthy mushroom notes and light honeyed tobacco

Butchertown Reserve Cask, $64.88/750ml

    • 75% Kentucky bourbon 25% new American oak, 124 proof
    • Nose: Intense notes of cherry, coconut, black licorice, honey, caramel. With vanilla, baking spice, grape jelly and burley pipe tobacco
    • Palate: Bold and viscous, slight butteriness with black pepper and melon followed by charred oak, vanilla, caramel, and hard grape candies and pipe tobacco
    • Finish: Oaky, vanilla, light caramel, slightly savory fruitiness with notes of ginger and tropical fruit

Absinthe, $62.23.750ml

    • Muscat base with herbs, 130 proof
    • Nose: Herbaceous and floral, Black licorice pastels, lime peel, minty, and candied fruits 
    • Palate: Oily, black licorice, fig preserves, molasses, sassafras, slightly minty with an underlying unrefined sugar quality 
    • Finish: Long, mentholated and floral with lingering anise, dried fruit and citrus peels

All of these products are now available at Siciliano's Market, and will be sampled on February 14, 2017, from four to seven pm.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Beer Friday, Call for Entries Edition (February 10)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

From its humble beginnings fourteen years ago, the Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition has developed into one of Michigan’s most respected competitive homebrewing events.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s Best of Show brewer will again have the opportunity to brew his or her winning recipe at Trail Point Brewing Company in addition to winning a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and, per tradition, having his or her name engraved on the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup.

See below for contest rules and regulations for the Fourteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. Best of luck everyone!

    • Every homebrewer is allowed one (1) beer entry. All entries must be brewed by the registrant on a homebrewing system. Please do not submit entries under the names of significant others, insignificant others, siblings, offspring, distant relatives, estranged roommates, pets, fictional characters, imaginary friends or anyone else. 
    • Beers are submitted according to the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines. Ciders and meads are excluded from this contest. If you are unsure of which is the correct style for your beer, contact us and we will help. 
    • Entries require two (2) plain, unlabeled/unmarked 12-ounce amber bottles. Please no clear bottles or bottles of any other size. 
    • We are again using Reggiebeer as our competition website. Go here to enter your beer and print bottle labels. 
    • The entry fee is $7.00. 
    • The total number of contest entries will be capped at 200. Do not delay in submitting your entry. Once the cap is reached no additional entries will be accepted. 
    • Online registration for entries will be accepted from Monday, March 20 through Sunday, April 9 or until 200 entries are submitted, whichever occurs first. 
    • Entries must be received by Sunday, April 9. Entries will not be accepted after that date. If mailing an entry, please include paperwork and submission fee. Ship in a well-packed box to: Siciliano’s Market // 2840 Lake Michigan Dr. NW // Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    All entries in the Siciliano’s Homebrew Competitions are judged by industry professionals and/or trained judges according to the standards of style, not in comparison to each another, with the exception of Best in Show. Entries that receive scores falling within designated point totals will be awarded bronze, silver or gold medals.

    A reminder too that we are looking for judges and stewards to help us evaluate all that homebrew. Judging will be held on Saturday, April 22 at the Guest House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Registration for judges and stewards is now open. Please visit this page for sign-up information.

    New and Returning Beer

    • Dark Horse Rain in Blood, $1.99/12oz - "Our tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman and the greatest band of all time, Slayer. This pale ale is brewed with fresh blood oranges and blood orange juice that is hand squeezed at the brewery. It should be enjoyed fresh and paired with delicious heavy metal" (source).
    • Founders "T"all Day Cans, $1.99/19.2oz - "Naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish" (source).
    • Latitude 42 Cosmic Charlie, $2.09/16oz - "Session Pale Ale" (source).
    • Latitude 42 Honey Amber, $2.09/16oz - "Our American amber ale features locally harvested Michigan wildflower honey from Schoolhouse Honey Farms in Scotts, MI, and Willamette and Nugget hops. Malty, sweet and well-rounded" (source).
    • Bruery Share This: Molé, $16.99750ml - "Let’s move beyond the concept of grabbing a beer, and reach for something bigger. Share This beer and be part of helping friends become mobile for the first time in Mexico – the source and inspiration of select ingredients in this beer. Each release in our Share This series spotlights unique ingredients and an important cause. Share This: Mole is a mole-inspired imperial stout collaboration with Chef Anne Conness, featuring ancho chilies, chipotle peppers, cinnamon, vanilla and cacao nibs. For each bottle we produce, Free Wheelchair Mission receives one dollar" (source).
    • Bruery The Order, $12.69/750ml - "Monastic breweries wrote the book on complex ales that weave notes of dark fruits, spices, caramelized character and warmth into each sip. The Order summons that tradition and adds local inspiration. Our darkening, Belgian-inspired abbey ale features dark-fruited character from dates, Belgian-style sugars and subtle spicing from coriander, which compliments the Belgian yeast esters" (source).
    • Bruery Terreux Frucht with Boysenberry, $14.19/750ml - "Welcome to Frucht, our land of fruited Berliner Weisse-style beers. Known for a tart flavor profile and traditionally low ABV, our German-style wheat beer gains even more funky notes and natural earthy-woodiness from fermentation in one of our twin oak foeder vessels - the largest known to be fabricated in this country. Each installment in the series features a new fruit, or Frucht, if we’re Sprechen sie Deutsch. This installment has boysenberries added, which impart a puckering jamminess and gem-like hue" (source).
    • Thirsty Dog Barrel Aged Siberian Night, $6.89/12oz - "We took our award winning Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout and aged it for 11 months in fresh bourbon barrels. The result blew us away. The dark chocolate malt yields a milk chocolate flavor that blends perfectly with the vanilla flavor from the barrel. The bourbon aroma adds the finishing touch" (source).
    • Thirsty Dog Barrel Aged Wulver, $6.89/12oz - "We made this beer specifically for bourbon barrels. The result is our most acclaimed bourbon barrel beer. Bourbon barrel aging and specialty malts create flavors of vanilla and carmel that blend in perfect balance" (source).
    • Oscar Blues Deviant Dale, $2.29/16oz - "Deviant Dale’s Imperial IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBUs) was born at the cross roads, in a juke joint, as if Dale’s Pale Ale sold its soul to balance Deviant’s foreboding aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind and piney resins with a copper ball-of-fire color and inscrutable finish. The 2011 Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal Winner (American IPA Category) is the Devil incarnate with untold amounts of malt and hedonistic Columbus dry-hopping" (source).
    • Ommegang Siren Song, $3.29/12oz - "Roasted malt and burnt sugar aromas lead, followed by flavors of dark fruit and notes of dark caramel. The finish is smooth and balanced with subtle bitterness" (source).
    • Dogfish Head 60 Minute, $1.89/12oz cans - "Our flagship beer. A session India Pale Ale brewed with Warrior, Amarillo & ’Mystery Hop X.’ A powerful East Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrusy hop character. THE session beer for beer geeks like us" (source).
    • Boatyard Black Eyed PA, $2.99/16oz - "After we had a great response to our Lost Peninsula IPA, we decided to create an IPA with a dark side.  What was forged in our brewhouse was Boatyard Brewing’s Black-Eyed PA.  We made this ale with the same malt backbone as our Lost Peninsula IPA, but we shifted a few of the caramel malts to the darker end.  We tossed in our beloved Black Prinz and chocolate malts and the deed was done.  This IPA was our first to be dry-hopped, but it still reflects our love of British IPAs" (source).
    • Boatyard Blonde, $2.99/16oz - "This blonde is made with a great combination of pale ale and crystal malts which produce a smooth caramel backbone.  Then we blend in a little rye just to spice her up.  The Palisades hops and traditional Irish ale yeast create one of the most drinkable ales you will ever meet.  This blonde is great all year round, but shines on a hot summer afternoon" (source).

    Video of the Week | Dark Horse

    Now available at Siciliano's.


    Friday, February 3, 2017

    New Beer Friday, Sandy Ridge Farms Edition (Feb 3)

    Preamble by Steve Siciliano

    We have exciting news for anyone looking to establish or expand a hop garden this spring. This year the folks at Sandy Ridge Farms in Zeeland, Michigan will be supplying us with established hop plants as opposed to the hop rhizomes we have offered in the past. According to the growers at Sandy Ridge, the advantages to purchasing an established hop plant versus a rhizome are three-fold:
    1. An established plant eliminates the risk of questionable viability as often found with rhizomes. It is typically recommended to plant more than one rhizome per pot/hole which increases costs.
    2. An established plant with a developed root system and mature top growth will produce larger yields in the first 2 years than a planted rhizome.
    3. Hop plants are susceptible to virus and disease out in the hop yard. A rhizome from an infected plant will produce another infected plant. Plants are obtained from the National Clean Plant Network at Washington State University where they are virus/viroid tested prior to being shipped. Sandy Ridge Farms has a strict protocol in place regarding clean plants and preventative pest-management. A healthy plant produces more hop cones.
    We will be taking hop plant pre-orders now through the end of business on Thursday, March 16th. Those wishing to place orders may do so via email (, by phone (616-453-9674) or in person here at Siciliano's. When ordering by email please ensure that you indicate the desired quantity of the specified variety. Price per plant is $8.59 and payment will not be due until the time of pickup.

    We anticipate that the hops plants will be available for pickup during the week of May 22nd. Those placing orders will be personally notified when the shipment arrives. Go here to see a full list of the hop plants being offered.

    Cascade Hops (Photo courtesy Sandy Ridge)

    New and Returning Beer

    • Rochester Mills Blueberry Pancake, $2.39/16oz - "This stout is brewed with lactose (milk sugar) to impart a fuller body and sweeter palate. Flavored with blueberry for the 3rd day of 12 Days of Milkshake Stout" (source).
    • O'Hara's Barrel Aged Leann Folláin, $16.69/750ml - "To craft this beer we fill casks which were previously used for Irish Whiskey with our full bodied and rich O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Extra Irish Stout.  The stout is aged in oak Irish Whiskey barrels where it picks up the flavours of whiskey and oak cask.  After aging we then bottle condition the beer to give a gentle carbonation, bringing out the best of both the stout and the whiskey" (source).
    • Tallgrass 8-Bit Pale Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Just like those classic video games we all grew up with, 8-Bit Pale Ale is spectacularly simple at first glance yet remarkably fun and complex when you get into it. Our Hop Rocket infuses the character of Australian grown Galaxy Hops into an American Pale Ale, giving a unique tropical, almost melon aroma in a classic American style" (source).
    • Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood Cans, $2.59/12oz - "What you have here is an honest to goodness India Pale Ale brewed with a bevy of real citrus, including orange peel, lemon flesh & blood orange juice" (source).
    • Avery Tangerine Quad, $13.79/22oz - "Patiently aged in the finest of Bourbon Barrels, this bold Belgian style Quadrupel layers notes of rick, dark fruit, vanilla and caramel with a burst of tangerine peel culminating in the vibrancy of this full-bodied creation" (source).
    • Short's S'more Stout, $2.39/12oz (2 per) - "S’more Stout is a complex stout brewed with graham cracker, milk chocolate, marshmallow, and smoked malt. The rich hearty sensations each take their turn, starting with the subtle graham aromas, and leading pleasantly into the sweet flavors of marshmallow cream and milk chocolate. All of these flavors are followed by a slight lingering flavor of smoke. A flaming marshmallow garnish is strongly encouraged" (source).
    • Short's Chocolate Wheat, $1.69/12oz (2 per) - "Chocolate Wheat is a Porter brewed with chocolate malt, wheat malt, and specialty grains. The combination creates a deep black, full-bodied beer that provides subtle hop flavors and rich malt tones. Chocolate Wheat has balanced flavors of roasted caramel, coffee, and chocolate, and ends with a smooth finish" (source).
    • Alesmith My Bloody Valentine, $7.59/22oz - "Don’t spend this Single Awareness Day alone – grab a beer! This red-blooded cousin of Evil Dead Red Ale, our Halloween Brew, is a beautiful crimson color. Notes of caramel, toast, and bittersweet chocolate balance an intense bouquet of floral hop aromas that we know you’ll fall in love with. The finish leaves a pleasant, full-bodied sweetness on the palate that won’t spread angry rumors about you to all your friends like that one time when I was…ohh…uhh…Happy Valentine’s Day" (source).
    • Victory 21st Birthday, $1.79/12oz - "We were so impressed with this year’s harvest in Yakima we decided to brew 2017’s anniversary brew with our favorite hops from the trip: Roy Farms Chinook, Roy Farms Centennial, and Black Star Ranch Mosaic" (source).
    • Great Lakes Chillwave, $3.29/12oz - "Inspired by the North Coast’s dedicated (and sometimes chilly) surf community, our Double IPA will melt the ice in your beard and never lose its balance" (source).
    • Lagunitas Undercover, $1.99/12oz - "Our malty and rich beer with a snappy hop finish truly defies style…Imperial Mild?...Uber ESB?... We do know for sure that it is Unforgiven and Unrepentant" (source).
    • Odd Side Paranoia, $2.49/12oz - "An Imperial IPA" (source).
    • Bell's Hopslam, $18.29/6pk (1 per) - "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire" (source).
    • Black Rocks Murray Project, $3.09/12oz - "Named after our mash tun (which has a giant Bill Murray headshot on it), the Murray Project is an explosion of bright, tropical aromas with a malt profile that would have goldilocks saying, 'Just Right'" (source).
    • Brewery Vivant Plein de Vie Space Queen in Peril, $9.99/500ml - Barrel aged Sour dry hopped with Amarillo.
    • Stone Megawheat Double IPA, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "Kick back and crank it up as we’ve done all the brewing…the we being us and the special guest appearances of two heavy hitters in the indie craft beer industry: New Mexico’s Marble and Colorado’s Odell. Credited with 58 years of brewing chops, our trio built their wheat ale foundation on the classic “C” hops. Then, we rocked a pure hop triad of “M” hops to achieve a supercharged succession of orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, spice and dankness. The undulating riffs of Motueka, Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria hops slash through the wheat haze with equal footing, never playing over one another. The cacophony of flavor is what fans would expect with a name like Megawheat. So join us as we forge ahead on a path that directly leads to the main stage…and then off the front of it, into the crowd! If you feel the urge to smash the bottle afterward, don’t. That’s what guitars are for" (source).
    • Stone Tangerine Express, $4.99/22oz (1 per) - "This ain’t no just-add-juice approach. This one is for adults. We use bountiful whole tangerine purée, which brings pithy, crisp bitterness to the citrus flavor. In addition to the complexities of the tangerine — the likes of which you can only get by using the whole fruit — we judiciously employ just a hint of whole pineapple for a backnote (you’d likely not even pick it out of the mix if we didn’t tell you it was there). We’re not looking for a sweet concoction to appease the “I want my beer to taste like fruit juice” crowd. This is Stone. We like our IPAs to taste like IPAs. Big, bold and not for kids" (source).
    • Goose Island Preseason Lager, $1.79/12oz - "This amber lager combines citrus, spicy and a herbal hop note with a balanced bready malt body and a bright bitter finish. The name “Preseason” refers to the time right after the New Year when many are ready for winter to be over and for Spring to arrive. This is the perfect beer to bundle up with and cheers to the outdoor activities waiting just around the corner" (source).
    • Deschutes Abyss, $17.19/22oz - "A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate" (source).
    • Deschutes Scotch Barrel Aged Abyss, $26.89/22oz (1 per) - "The most multifaceted liquid truffle ever fashioned. Dark cherries brined in light peat smoke and popped into the heart of a prune. Then drizzled with toffee and flamed caramel, crusted with white and green peppers, and dipped in honey infused molasses. This beautiful construction is then delicately coated with rich dark chocolate and finished with a luxurious coating of milk chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder and gold flakes. Served on a chard shard of oak with three sultanas and pieces of vanilla suffused marzipan" (source).
    • Deschutes Collage 2, $26.89/22oz (1 per) - "We’ve teamed up with Hair of the Dog Brewing Company to bring you another artistic collage of cask-aging alchemy. This encore collaboration delivers layers of vanilla, caramel and molasses with roasted accents and complex malt character. This second version magically blends The Abyss (100% aged in Pinot barrels) and The Stoic (100% aged in Pinot barrels) with Hair of the Dog’s Fred (aged in American oak and rye whiskey barrels) and Doggie Claws (100% aged in cognac barrels)" (source).
    • Deschutes Dissident, $17.19/22oz (1 per) - "The Dissident is an Oud Bruin, a distinctive Flanders-style sour brown ale, with a heavenly aroma and flavor. Our first wild yeast beer, we use Brettanomyces and local cherries to give The Dissident its characteristic sour taste. Our stiffest brewing challenge, it must be fermented in isolation from our other beers for a full 22 months, partly in pinot and cabernet barrels. The words coddled and “worth it” come to mind" (source).

    Video of the Week | Founders Aged-Beer


    Friday, January 27, 2017

    New Beer Friday, Perdomo Edition (Jan 27)

    Nick Perdomo
    Preamble by Steve Siciliano

    Last week my wife Barb and I were among a group of smoke shop retailers who traveled to Esteli, Nicaragua for a comprehensive four-day tour of Tabacalera Perdomo’s cigar manufacturing facilities.

    Company owner Nick Perdomo walked us through every facet of his premium cigar making operation and the visit was both interesting and educational. I’ve been selling handmade cigars for close to twenty years but never knew how much time it takes to grow, dry, ferment and age tobacco, not to mention how much manual labor goes into the manufacturing process.

    After daily tours of the company’s greenhouses, farms, drying barns, fermentation rooms, sorting rooms, rolling rooms, aging rooms, box factories and packaging facilities our group gathered each night for delicious meals. After dinner we relaxed and enjoyed quality Nicaraguan rum, refreshing Nicaraguan beer and, of course, excellent Perdomo cigars. It was a great experience and a truly wonderful trip.

    New and Returning Beer

    • Pike 51 Knights on Mastodons, $8.09/22oz - "Imperial brown with coffee" (source).
    • Pike 51 Cran Cherry Sour, $5.79/12oz - "A balanced blend of fruited sour beers" (source).
    • Pike 51 Cherry Sour, $5.79/12oz - "A red ale spontaneously fermented in oak casks with tart cherry" (source).
    • Pike 51 Cranberry Sour, $5.79/12oz - "A mixed culture red ale fermented in oak casks with cranberries" (source).
    • Short's Hopstache, $2.39/12oz - "Hopstache is an American IPA. Made with Amarillo, Citra, and Simcoe hops, this beer has aromas of dank citrus and pine. An initial sweetness is balanced with flavors of grapefruit and zest. The finish is intense and dank with little bitterness" (source).
    • Epic Oak and Orchard Pinot, $13.59/500ml - "Sister beer to Syrah, Pinot inspired sour features blueberry, boysenberry, cranberry, strawberry, and plum. French oak and Brettanomyces" (source).
    • Epic Oak and Orchard Syrah, $13.59/500ml - "Foeder then aged in red wine casks with blueberry, boysenberry, and black currants. Bright floral aroma with a flavor explosion of fruit complexity, jam, and puckering sourness finished with Brettanomyces funk" (source).
    • Epic Sour Pineapple, $13.59/500ml - "Sour ale aged in oak barrels with pineapple" (source).
    • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, $1.99/12oz - "The beer with a guarantee built right into the name, this one is destined to blast through the flavors from the night before. Massively dry-hopped for your aromatic pleasure" (source).
    • Rogue Dead Guy Cans, $2.09/12oz - "German-style Maibock made with Rogue’s proprietary "PacMan" ale yeast. It is deep honey in color with a malty aroma, rich hearty flavor and a well balanced finish" (source).
    • Rogue 6 Hop, $2.09/12oz - "The first in a fresh crop of Rogue Farms IPAs, crafted entirely from ingredients we grow ourselves in Oregon’s renowned Willamette Valley. The Rogue Farms Revolution, Independent, Alluvial, Rebel, Liberty and Freedom Hops in 6 Hop IPA create a well-balanced, drinkable IPA grown from Ground to Glass" (source).
    • Odd Side Passion Juice, $2.29/12oz - "IPA with passion fruit" (source).
    • Alaskan Smack of Grapefruit, $8.99/22oz - "The American IPA is a more flavorful, intense IPA. Hops are typically American, as in this case, with the Three-C combo of Citra, Centennial and Cascade exhibiting bright, juicy citrus flavors" (source).
    • Grand Armory Nutter Your Business Peanut Butter Stout, $5.09/16oz (2 per) - "Peanut butter stout" (source).
    • Elysian Split Shot, $1.99/12oz - "Beer and coffee are Seattle siblings, jealously dividing the day. Split Shot combines the talents of Elysian’s brewers with a pound per barrel of cold-infused, Seattle-produced Lighthouse coffee. It’ll open your eyes to a delicious new beer. Split Shot is the official beer of 2012 Seattle Beer Week" (source).
    • Elysian Immortal IPA, $1.99/12oz - "A Northwest interpretation of a classic English style, golden copper in color and loaded with New World hop flavor and aroma. Extremely drinkable" (source).

    More Pics from Nicaragua

    Cigar rollers
    Aging tobacco in bourbon barrels


    Tuesday, January 24, 2017

    Siciliano's Hop Selection Grows to More Than 100 Varieties

    By Joe Potter

    Why continue to limit yourself to the same six or seven hop varieties? Staffer Joe Pottter highlights some of the new (and some of the not-so-new, but still underutilized) hops available here at the store.

    Things are HOPpening here at Siciliano’s.

    If you’ve ventured into the hop cooler lately and were paying close attention, you may have noticed a few new boxes on the shelves. However, with over 100 varieties available now, we can’t blame you if the new additions (ba dum tss) didn’t quite jump out at you. And while I don't have anything against the classic standbys like Cascade, Centennial or Fuggle, nor the relatively newer golden children like Amarillo, Citra or Simcoe, I do feel we have many underdog varieties that are more than ready to take on the task of hopping up your next brew.

    Below, I’ve listed the descriptors and specs* of some of our hops that are particularly promising, but haven’t yet gained widespread popularity. If this doesn’t make you want to brew an mouthwatering IPA, I don’t know what will.

    *The Alpha Acid percentage listed applies to our current stock; the percentage will vary slightly from harvest to harvest. The listed price per ounce is also subject to change.

    New Hops at Siciliano's

      • Ahtanum™: Citrus, Grapefruit, Geranium, Earth. 3.9% AA. $2.09
      • Apollo™: Strong Grapefruit, Hoppy. 18.3% AA. $2.29 
      • Azacca®: Tropical, Mango, Papaya, Slight Pine. 18.3% AA. $2.69
      • Calypso™: Pear, Apple, Sweet Lemon Lime, Earthy Tea. 13.8% AA. $2.49 
      • Comet: Citrusy Zest, Subtle Grass and Grapefruit. 9.3% AA. $2.39 
      • Delta™: Mild Spice, hints of Citrus and Melon. 6.4% AA. $2.89 
      • El Dorado™: Tropical Fruit, Pear, Watermelon, Stone Fruit. 14.9% AA. $2.39 
      • Jarrylo®: Banana, Orange, Pear, Grass, Spice. 15.4% AA. $2.39 
      • Kazbek: Saaz-like Floral and Earthy Spice, bright Lemon or Grapefruit. 4.1% AA. $1.79 
      • Kohatu: Lime and Pineapple, traces of Pine and a “dank” undertone. 6.4% AA. $2.49
      • Medusa™: Intense Guava, Melon, Apricot and Citrus. 3.0% AA. $2.29 
      • Motueka: Lively Lemon Lime, background hints of Tropical Fruit. 6.6% AA. $2.79 
      • Pekko®: Floral, Melon, Pineapple, Pears, Saaz-like Cucumber, Mint, Herbal. 16.8% AA. $1.79 
      • Phoenix: Crisp and mellow with Pine, Chocolate, Molasses and Spice. 13.3% AA. $1.79 
      • Sorachi Ace: Unique Dill, Lemon, Lime and Herbal. 12.9% AA. $2.89
      • Sovereign: Intense Peach, Red Currant, Berry and Cherry. 4.8% AA. $1.79 
      • Wai-iti: Peach and Apricot, intense Lime and Mandarin. 2.5% AA. $2.69 
      • Wakatu: Floral, Lime zest, Citrus oils. 7.0% AA. $2.29

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    New Beer Friday, Guest Preamble Edition (January 20)

    Steve in Nicaragua on
    official store business (cigars).
    Preamble by Harry Winston

    Last Saturday Steve informed me that he and Barb were going out of town for a few days and he asked whether I’d be willing to write the preamble for this week’s New Beer Friday.

    “So that’s why you invited me over,” I said looking over at him before taking another bite of herb-roasted Cornish hen.

    “Not at all,” Steve said. “Barb mentioned she saw you in the store the other day and said you were whining about us not having you over for dinner in a while. She said it was pathetic the way you were carrying on.”

    “Barb said that, huh?”

    “I said what?” Barb asked. She had just walked back into the dining room after going to the basement for another bottle of wine.

    “Here Barb, let me open that,” Steve said. “That you saw Harry in the store last week. How’s the Burgundy, Harry?”

    “For the sixth time, it’s good,” I said. “Didn’t you tell me that you were saving the Pommard for a special occasion?”

    Steve leaned over and patted my arm. “What can be more special than having dinner with you? Right, Barb?”

    “That’s right, Harry.”

    “So what do you say, buddy?” Steve asked. “Going to do that favor for me?”

    “Gee I don’t know,” I said. “I’m awfully busy right now.” I swirled my glass of Burgundy and savored the aroma of rose petals and ripe red fruit. “By the way, got any more of those Westy 12’s laying around?”

    Steve put his fork down and sighed. He looked at Barb and then looked back at me. “One,” he said finally.

    “Only one, huh? Got any more of those Cubans?”

    Steve’s countenance took on the same doleful expression that it did when my straight flush beat his four Jacks last November at deer camp. “Only one,” he said again.

    Later that night I was sitting in front of a fire in my den when I noticed a green light blinking on my cell phone. It was a text message from Steve.

    “So what u goin to write about?” Steve asked in the text.

    I smiled and took a sip of the Westy and a long pull off the Montecristo.

    “Don’t know yet,” I texted back a few minutes later. “I’ll think of something.”

    New and Returning Beer

    • To Øl Don't Gose Towards The Light, $5.19/12oz - "When you’re afraid of the dark, it’s easy to look for the light. Alas, we must say no, “Don’t Gose Towards The Light”, for after all, the dark brings many joys as well! We have taken the classic pale Gose style and thrown in some dark malts, to drive this beer into darkness. The addition of Carafa Special and Cara Aroma gives this salty sour beer a touch of rich bitterness. We then add Blackcurrants to add a touch of balance with sweet and tart fruit flavours" (source).
    • Sahtipaja Rott Men Inte Sott, $3.89/12oz - "Raspberry Berliner" (source).
    • Prairie 'Merica, $2.89/12oz - "For Merica, Nelson Sauvin hops have been selected at a rate of 3lbs per barrel. Nelson Sauvin, a New Zealand grown hop, is known for its Sauvignon Blanc grape aroma and flavor. Merica is heavily dry hopped for an intense hop flavor. Merica has a bitterness of 35 IBUs. The malt used in this beer is a highly specialized and traditional Bohemian Pilsner malt. This malt is produced in the authentic, traditional “Floor Malted” fashion. The color of the beer is very light in color, yet has an authentic, Bohemian flavor and aroma. Merica is fermented with Prairie" (source).
    • Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Stout, $4.09/12oz - "The "Brewer’s Reserve" label is used only for limited edition beers. No time or expense was spared to create these beers! This is a good expression of our passion for brewing" (source).
    • Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number one in a series of five stouts produced to help ease you through the cold and grey Midwestern winters. This beer is full bodied and made with oats. You will find hints of chocolate, roasted barley, and coffee flavors. With a nice creamy head and a big mouth feel, our oatmeal stout is sure to satisfy" (source).
    • Founders Frootwood, $3.99/12oz, $11.99/750ml - "We took a crisp, light-bodied cherry ale and hid it away in oak barrels that have held both bourbon and maple syrup. After a lengthy stint, it emerged a changed beer, blanketed in notes of warm vanilla and earthy sweetness. The wood proves itself the star of this beer, adding depth and taming the tart cherry while the maple imposes a velvety texture that lingers for not a moment too long" (source).
    • New Holland Blue Sunday, $8.39/22oz - "This unique anniversary libation, heritage-blended from our library of barrel-soured beers, exhibits deeply layered flavors of malt and oak, with a tart finish" (source).
    • Shipyard Chocolate Milk Stout, $2.29/12oz - "Chocolate Milk Stout is a creamy sessionable ale with notes of roasted chocolate malt and a rich, dark chocolate sweetness contributed by the cocoa nubs" (source).
    • Stone Enjoy by 2-14-17, $2.99/12oz, $8.99/22oz - "It’s not unusual to see pronouncements of “I Heart Hops,” “I Heart Chocolate” or “I Heart Coffee” throughout #socialmedia, printed on T-shirts and, natch, emblazoned on coffee cups. Over the past couple of decades we have helped add “I Freaking Heart IPAs” to that lexicon. Today, passionate people can’t imagine a world without all of the above. For this special edition, we added chocolate and coffee to make this devastatingly fresh IPA even more seductive to the palate. We humbly suggest that you use this libation to proclaim your love for someone... and we suggest that someone be you. Loving yourself is exactly what this libation is all about. Love now; remember forever" (source).
    • Arcadia Hop Rocket, $3.49/12oz - "This Imperial IPA has an assertive aroma of sticky, resinous Summit hops. A complex flavor profile includes notes of grapefruit, lemon peel, and spruce. Though the flavor focus is on hops, a trio of malts provides a balance to the beer, creating a delicious level of palatability. Hints of caramel, toffee and freshly-baked biscuits are also apparent in the flavor profile" (source).
    • Heavy Seas TropiCannon, $2.19/12oz - "Our brand new citrus IPA is exploding with bright citrus aroma and flavor. Creating an exciting new variation on our flagship Loose Cannon, TropiCannon clocks in at the same 7.25%ABV as it's cousin, but packs a full blast of blood orange, grapefruit, mango and lemon flavor. We've downplayed some of Loose Cannon's piney-ness and amped up the citrus by swapping Centennial and Palisade hops for Amarillo and even more Simcoe. We've introduced dried grapefruit, orange and lemon peel in the brewing process and added mango, blood orange and more grapefruit post-fermentation" (source).
    • Left Hand Hard Wired Nitro Coffee Porter, $2.09/12oz - "Innately predisposed to be smooth when Poured Hard, this nitro coffee porter builds a pillowy, toffee-sweet head. Coffee and flavors of caramelized sugar, cacao and hints of blueberry lead to a light, smoky finish" (source).
    • Abita Macchiato Milk Stout, $4.39/22oz - "Macchiato is made with pale, caramel, chocolate, and roasted malts. Oats and lactose are added to give the beer a more robust and sweeter taste. The sweetness of the lactose helps balance the bitterness of the brew just like in the coffee drink, which is our inspiration. The roasted malts give the beer its dark color as well as its intense flavor and aroma. Willamette hops are added to balance out the sweetness of the malts. Finally, PJ’s Coffee espresso dolce beans are added to the aging tank. This gives the beer a strong coffee flavor and aroma that compliments the existing flavors of the malt" (source).
    • Abita Bourbon Imperial Stout, $9.29/22oz - "Bourbon Street Stout is an Imperial Stout that is aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels. Our Imperial Stout is brewed with a combination of pale, caramel, chocolate and roasted malts. Oats are also added to give the beer a fuller and sweeter taste. The roasted malts give the beer its dark color as well as its intense flavor and aroma. After fermentation the beer is cold aged for 6 weeks. This is necessary for all of the flavors of the malt and hops to balance and produce a very smooth flavor. After the cold aging the beer is transferred into the bourbon barrels. It is then aged for another 8 weeks to absorb all of the flavors from the barrels. The result is a strong stout that brings out the roasted flavors from the malt and the warming toasted, vanilla, and bourbon flavors from the barrels" (source).
    • Tallgrass Brewing King Buffalo, $2.59/12oz - "It looks like Buffalo Sweat. It has the same dense, foamy head — though it’s a little darker — and it leaves the same sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma is spot-on. Coffee. Chocolate. Roasted barley, hints of toffee and a little bit of booze. Take that first sip. The familiar coffee and chocolate flavors are there, but they’re bigger, bolder and more complex. The body is thick and robust, with a velvety texture and a bitter, dry and warming finish. There’s no residual sweetness like that of Buffalo Sweat – because there’s no lactose in this brew – but an earthy, herbal hop character that bounces beautifully off the dark roasted malts. It’s the perfect silky-smooth stout to get you through the cold months ahead. One Buffalo to rule them all" (source).
    • Tallgrass Brewing Zombie Monkie, $1.69/12oz - "A relentlessly tasty robust porter crafted with loads of chocolate malt and other dark-roasted specialty malts, Zombie Monkie also is inoculated with enough hops to add a floral, citrus character to the finish. It’s hearty and complex, brewed for the post-apocalyptic world. Grab a can and take a stand" (source).
    • Tallgrass Brewing Vanilla Buffalo, $1.69/12oz - "In 2013, two nine-gallon casks were filled with Buffalo Sweat and a handful of vanilla beans, and were stored in Tallgrass founder Jeff Gill’s office. A few weeks later, Jeff entered his office to find one of casks had exploded, spraying beer all over his office and leaving a hole in the ceiling above his desk shaped exactly like the cork bung used to seal the cask. Thankfully, the other cask did not explode. That night at an event in Wichita, Kansas, the beer was so well-received, it immediately got the call to become the brewery’s winter seasonal" (source).
    • Tallgrass Brewing Buffalo Sweat, $1.69/12oz - "We often hear from fans who swore they’d never enjoy a stout — until they tried Buffalo Sweat. Some have described its rich taste, creamy mouthfeel and sweet, lingering finish as liquid chocolate chip cookies made with espresso. If you only try one dark beer in your life, Buffalo Sweat will change your entire perception of how a stout should taste" (source).
    • Oskar Blues Beerito, $1.69/12oz - "Beerito is a light bodied, amber Mexican lager brewed with premium German and coloRADo sourced craft malts and featuring a crisp accent from noble hops. The mouth feel is incredibly smooth with flavors of walnut, toasted bread, plum, honey and cocoa - 4% ABV doesn't always come with this kind of character" (source).
    • Big Sky Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout, $3.29/12oz - "Big Sky Brewing’s Ivan the terrible Imperial Stout is brewed according to the traditional style using english hops and the finest american malt. It’s aroma and flavor balance well between esters of dried fruit and roasted cocoa with a slight bourbon presence" (source).
    • Ballast Point Manta Ray, $2.59/12oz - "We’ve developed many IPA recipes in our R&D program, but right from the tank, our Manta Ray Double IPA was a winner. Aromas of fresh, citrusy tangerine, melon and light pine leap from the beer and linger over a smooth finish. Like its namesake, this brew can sneak up on you – a big beer without a bite" (source).
    • Kona Wailua Wheat, $1.69/12oz - "On Maui, follow the old Hana Highway and you will find such a place – Wailua Falls. This plunging cascade of clear water is the inspiration for Wailua Wheat. This golden, sun colored ale has a bright, citrus flavor that comes from the tropical passion fruit we brew into each batch" (source).
    • Kona Koko Brown, $1.69/12oz - "Is there anything more iconic of the lush tropics than the coconut? The delicious heart of the island treasure has a nutty, toffee flavor and aroma that sends you straight to the beaches of Paradise. Kick back with a Koko Brown, brewed with real toasted coconut, and savor the mahogany color and smooth, roasty malt taste. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re on a crescent beach, ringed with feathery palm trees swaying in a light ocean breeze and basking in the warm sun" (source).
    • New Belgium Citradelic, $1.69/12oz - "Tune in and hop out with New Belgium Citradelic. Set adrift on a kaleidoscopic wave of hoppiness brought to you by a mystical marriage of Citra hops and tangerine peel, which elevates each sip onto a plane of pure tropical, fruity pleasure. Citradelic’s namesake hop and fruit combine to jam with visions of additional hops like citrusy Mandarina Bavaria, tropical Azzaca, and fruity Galaxy for a colorful explosion that’s grounded by just a touch of malty sweetness. Bored by the status quo? Expand your palate with a pour of Citradelic." (source).

    Video of the Week | Dark Horse One

    Now available at Siciliano's!