View our Main Site »

Friday, October 14, 2016

New Beer Friday, Great American Beer Edition (Oct 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Ten Michigan breweries garnered awards last week at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.

A total of 286 gold, silver and bronze medals were presented at the festival’s commercial beer competition which drew a record 7,227 entries from 1,752 breweries located in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

Congratulations to the following Mitten State breweries that received medals in this year’s competition.


    • Dirty Frank Stout, River’s Edge Brewing, Milford (Export Stout)
    • Raucher, Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor (Smoke Beer)


    • Expedition Stout, Bell’s Brewing Co., Galesburg (Aged Beer)*
    • reDANKulous, Backstage Series, Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids (American Imperial Red)


    • Angelina, Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)*
    • Kusterer Original Weissbier, Cedar Springs Brewing Co, Cedar Springs (German-Style Wheat Ale)
    • Broadway Light, Detroit Brewing Company, Detroit (American Style Cream Ale)
    • Bangin The Mash, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Portage (Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout)
    • Good Mooed Milk Stout, Railtown Brewing Co, Dutton (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout)
    • Live Wire, Roak Brewing, Royal Oak  (English IPA)*
*Currently available at Siciliano’s

New and Returning Beer

  • Pike 51 Cherry Sour, $10.79/22oz - "Wild Golden Ale w/ MI Balaton Cherry" (source).
  • Anchor Brotherhood Steam, $2.39/12oz - "Our friends of Chris Robinson Brotherhood released their new album “Phosphorescent Harvest” and kicked off their U.S. tour in the SF Bay Area earlier this spring. To celebrate, we tapped the first keg of our Brotherhood Steam Beer, a Golden State Collaboration of handcrafted California tunes and handcrafted California brews. Inspired by the brewing tradition of our flagship, Anchor Steam® Beer, Brotherhood Steam Beer is brewed with its own unique recipe. A distinct malt bill gives the beer its copper color, and dry-hopping with Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops adds aromatic hints of citrus and mint. The result is a smooth, full-bodied malt flavor with a lingering, fresh hop finish" (source).
  • Left Hand Fade to Black Vol. 1, $2.19/12oz - "That time of year when the day seems to fade away. Drifting further into the darkness with each passing day. Volume 1 – Foreign Stout – Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes that give way to a feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Fall Horn'n, $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).
  • Lagunitas Tuberfest, $2.19/12oz - "The TuberFest is a smooth and malty lager that is counterbalanced with some delicious Pacific NorthWestern Idaho #7 hops, giving it a cedary, herbal zing… Brewed to jumpstart your salubrious slide into late-Summer" (source).
  • Oddside Black Citra, $1.99/12oz - "Just like our Citra Pale Ale with just a slight variation in flavor and of course color" (source).
  • Short's Black Cherry Porter, $2.69/12oz - "Black Cherry Porter is made using sweet black cherries and eight different malts. The combination of ingredients provides the deep radiant flavor profile and creates a dark opaque color. The beer leaves a slight purple lace from the fruit puree and finishes with flavors of roasted chocolate and pleasurable black cherry" (source).
  • Ommegang Valar Dohaeris, $10.09/750ml - "After an exciting season that saw the Starks reclaim the North and Cersei take the Iron Throne as the first queen of Westeros, Brewery Ommegang and HBO Global Licensing are introducing a new beer and bringing back a previous brew to steady the nerves of fans as they anxiously endure the show’s off-season break. Valar Dohaeris Tripel Ale is the latest beer in the series and pays homage to Arya’s season-long struggles within and around the House of Black and White. Valar Dohaeris Tripel Ale is, much like a “faceless man,” not what it first appears to be; it shares the complexity of its sister-brew, Valar Morghulis Dubbel, and a strength masked and belied by its lighter color" (source).
  • Petoskey Cosmati Mosaic, $10.99/22oz - "Mosaic hops are the star of this single-hopped composition. Diverse citrus, mango & papaya mingle with mysteriously pleasing bitterness balancing by the large grain bill. A few sips of this unique Double IPA will have you mouth watering and your mind wanderin" (source).
  • Founders Harvest Ale, $3.49/12oz - "This liquid dream pours a hazy golden straw color with a white, two-finger head. Your first sip rewards you with a super juicy hop presence bursting with fresh citrus, then finishes to introduce toasted malt undertones" (source).
  • New Holland Dragons Milk Reserve Vanilla Chai, $4.29/12oz - "New Holland Brewing Co. has taken its top-selling, year-round, bourbon barrel stout – Dragon’s Milk – and infused it with flavors of Vanilla Chai. The Michigan-based brewery is releasing its first 2016 “reserve” batch of Dragon’s Milk to markets around the country with Dragon’s Milk Reserve Vanilla Chai shipping from New Holland’s production facility by the end of January and hitting stores and local watering holes soon after. This reserve blend is aged in bourbon barrels for three months, with the nuanced flavor of Vanilla Chai for a portion of that time" (source).
  • Trooper Red and Black Porter, $5.89/500ml - "The limited edition beer, designed once again by Iron Maiden vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s; a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain" (source).
  • Anchorage / Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Boreal, $15.49/750ml - "Saison brewed with mosaic and galaxy hops. Fermented and aged in oak tanks with fresh grapefruit peel, peppercorns, and fresh grapefruit juice" (source).
  • Dieu du Ciel Solstice d’Été aux Framboises, $5.09/12oz - "This beer is an adaptation of a wheat beer brewed in Berlin known as a Berliner weiss. This is a cloudy blond coloured beer lightly tinted by the fruits which are steeped in it: either strawberry, raspberry or blueberry depending on the time of year. It is a highly acidic beer due to the lactic fermentation which takes place. Its aromas are acid, tart, and fruity.A light tasting beer, its acidity is quickly felt on each side of the tongue before leaving all the room for the wonderful fruity taste. 5.9% ABV on bottled version" (source).
  • Freigeist Berliner Scheisse, $6.79/330ml - "For the last 70 years or so German had almost nothing to do with sour, funky beer — until our friends at Freigeist changed all that in a big way. These specialists in reviving and updating freaky old Deutsch styles have now come up with a version of a dark, historic Berlin Braunbier, hilariously named Berliner Scheisse Wild Strawberry. (If you don’t know the translation of scheisse, look it up immediately — and never offer the beer to a German grandmother.) This 5% specialty is, as per usual with Freigeist, very drinkable, in the way a shit-brown, roasted, lactic, mildly acidic and sour beer with lots of sweet strawberry can be" (source).
  • Jopen/Cigar City Wayne's World, $5.09/12oz - "This American Blonde is brewed with Wayne Wambles from Cigar City Brewing. It is brewed with loads of fruity aroma hops to give the beer a fruity resiny flavour. Then we added spicy juniper berries and fresh sliced grapefruit and to top it off , we aged it on cedarwood. So many flavours in one glass" (source).
  • Panil Barriquee Sour Red, $18.99/750ml - "This masterpiece is ‘œtriple-fermented.’ Primary fermentation is in stainless steel. The deep earthy, sour character results from three months of maturation in cognac barrels from Bordeaux, followed by re-fermentation and further aging in the bottle. Barriquée is not pasteurized or filtered, and no sweeteners are added, so it is uncompromisingly dry and complex, and endlessly interesting" (source).
  • Prairie Ales Ace, $11.39/500ml - "Prairie Ace is a candy sugar saison that has been dry hopped with Sorachi Ace" (source).
  • To Øl Mr. Pink, $6.49/16oz - "Berliner style weisse beer with lychee and pink guava" (source).

Video of the Week | Plain de Vie

A video in honor of Brewery Vivant's GABF bronze medal. Please enjoy.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Brew of the Month: Mark's American Brown

Mark Iacopelli

Now that Octoberfest is over — yes, it actually is celebrated in September — and fall is in full swing, it's time for the dark, malty ales of the season. It is an exciting time in the beer world with countless seasonal beers on the shelves. For this month’s brew I decided to do an American Brown ale to kick off the fall, and to pay tribute to the browning leaves.

To make this one different I decided to go with a Munich malt base and omitted any type of caramel malt. Caramel malt is in almost every brown ale recipe I have seen and/or written for myself and for our customers. My reason for opting against Munich is to challenge my recipe design skills and to explore new malts. I believe that putting limitations on yourself in this way can better familiarize you with the different flavors you are picking up from each malt. To fill the void that the caramel malt left I decided to boil for two hours to pick up some maillard (browning) reactions. This is where I hoped to get the caramel sweetness found in many browns.

The finished product pours a deep brown with dark ruby highlights when held up to the light. The head is a light tan with medium retention. On the nose the beer is predominately biscuity and bready with very slight chocolate, but mostly clean. In the flavor the beer is considerably toasty up front. In the middle it has a balanced savory sweetness before finishing a nutty dry. The carbonation is medium with a soft round body, yet finishes dry.

Overall, I found it to be a pretty comforting beer that is satisfying on its own, but light enough to have two or three in a sitting. I think the only change I would consider in a rebrew is to add a little rye in order to give the beer slight fruitiness. If you choose to pair this beer it would go well with honey ham and a side of mashed potatoes with apple pie for dessert.

All Grain Recipe

    • 8lb Briess Munich Malt
    • 1lb Pilot 6 Row
    • 1lb Biscuit Malt
    • 1lb Crisp Pale Chocolate
    • .5lb Aromatic Malt
    • .5oz Centennial (60mins)
    • 1oz Northern Brewer (15mins)
    • .5oz East Kent Goldings (5mins)
    • US-05 yeast

Extract with Specialty Grains

    • 6.6lb Liquid Munich Extract
    • 1lb Liquid Pilsner Light Extract (bring a mason jar)
    • .75lb Biscuit Malt
    • .75lb Crisp Pale Chocolate
    • .5lb Aromatic Malt
    • .5oz Centennial (90mins)
    • 1oz Northern Brewer (15mins)
    • 1oz East Kent Goldings (5mins)
    • US-05 yeast
The staff at Siciliano's is always eager to answer your homebrewing questions. Stop by for help developing custom-made recipes like this one!

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Beer Friday, Winexpert Limited Edition (Oct 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Each year Winexpert releases five super-premium kits from the world’s great wine regions that are not part of the company’s regular portfolio.

These kits are available only on a pre-order basis and are released during the first four months of the year.

We are now taking orders for the 2016 Limited Edition offerings. The following are the individual varieties along with the respective pricing and release dates. Complete descriptions are available here.

    • Yakima Valley Cabernet Franc, $157.95 (Available January)
    • Italian Vermentino, $151.95 (Available January)
    • Spanish Milagro, $157.95 (Available February)
    • California Blanc De Noir, $151.95 (Available March)
    • Australian Grenache Cabernet with grape skins, $182.95 (Available April)
These kits yield six gallons of wine which translates into thirty 750-ml bottles.

Please note that we must receive pre-orders by Friday, December 2, 2016 either by phone (616-453-9674), email or in person at Siciliano's.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Eik, $20.99/750ml - "A big, floral, citrusy nose with hints of blood orange, brett and oak. This refreshingly sour, light bodied IPA is reminiscent of lemon grass and has a strong oak character carries through to a very dry finish" (source).
  • Arbor Peaches on Regalia, $20.99/750ml - "A perfect summer sipper for those funky enough to imbibe. It’s dank, earthy, and has peach aromas in the nose with hints of lemon and grass. Light bodied on the palette and slightly tart. The unripened peach notes lead into a mildly sweet, biscuit finish" (source).
  • Dark Horse Scary Jesus Rockstar, $2.19/12oz - "This collaboration beer made with Chef Cleetus Friedman of Chicago's Fountainhead will save your soul and then melt your face off. Aromas of chamomile touch your nose as they lead into the soft body and mouthfeel of this liquid symphony. Just as your mind is clear and your sins are washed away, a tasty riff of sweet and earthy fresh apricots hit your palate and rock your tastebuds finishing dry and hoppy. Drink, rock, repeat" (source).
  • North peak Dubious, $2.19/12oz - "North Peak Dubious is a smooth and rich beer, brewed with real chocolate, and roasted and black malts. The aroma, flavor and body are underscored by chocolate added at the end of the boil" (source).
  • North Peak HooDoo, $2.69/12oz - "North Peak Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA is the first of it’s kind. Brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for exceptional flavor. Hoodoo is hops from start to finish with a little malt in the middle, just enough to keep Hoodoo from going Voodoo on you. not to worry – pretty much nothing but hops" (source).
  • Stone Coffee Milk Stout, $1.99/12oz - "North Peak Dubious is a Dark Chocolate Stout that has the perfect combination of chocolate, roast and black malts resulting in a smooth rich beer. Judicious use of hops bring out a complex, yet subtle bittering finished off with a big Goldings nose. This swirl of aroma, flavor and body is underscored by the rich chocolate that is added at the end of the boil. This medium bodied beer is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Stone Xocoveza, $2.99/12oz - "Harmoniously layered with cocoa, Mostra coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk sugar, this beer is an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate. Thanks entirely to you and fan demand, it has gone from being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition too special to skip. Feel free to enjoy it long into the winter months because this festive beer will age beautifully and is definitely not exclusive to the holidays" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By Tangerine 10.31.16, $8.99/22oz - "After brewing this intense double IPA with more than 10 different hops and consistently delivering it faster than any bottled IPA on the planet, we decided to do something different with this Stone Enjoy By IPA—we took it to another level, again. Puréed tangerines were added to the batch to create a devastatingly fresh IPA with a tang of tangerine. The flavors yielded by this addition to the recipe meld beautifully with the bitterness of the hops. True to this series, Stone Enjoy By Tangerine IPA is brewed specifically NOT to last, and should be enjoyed within 37 days" (source).
  • Uncle John's Cinnamon, $2.99/16oz - "For generations, we made hard apple cider simply for our family’s enjoyment. When word got out about its crisp taste and perfect amount of carbonation, folks asked us to put it in cans. So here it is, direct from our farm to you. We use only fresh, quality apples-great apples make great cider! This cider is made from our traditional apple blend with other fruit and/or spice flavors added" (source).
  • Crispen Charred Cider, $8.99/22oz - No commercial description.
  • Painted Turtle Java Vanilla, $3.29/16oz - "Crafted for the coffee lover, Java Vanilla is made with exceptional coffee from our favorite local roaster, Schuil Coffee Company. This coffee is combined with quality vanilla and blended to perfection with an outstanding semi-sweet cider. Java Vanilla is a unique flavor you'll rave about" (source).
  • Painted Turtle Apple Crisp, $3.29/16oz - "Apple Crisp hard cider is dessert in a can inspired by mom’s incredible apple crisp. Cinnamon and vanilla complement Michigan’s best baking apples, which are slow fermented to give you a hard cider experience you just won’t forget" (source).
  • Painted Turtle Blueberry, $3.29/16oz - "Sweet Michigan blueberries are blended with an incredibly refreshing semi-sweet cider to create an amazing beverage that you just can't help but smile about. Blueberry Bliss is bursting with blueberry flavor. This cider is light, delicious, and a fan favorite" (source).
  • Painted Turtle Traditional, $3.29/16oz - "Painted Turtle Traditional cider is the best you will ever taste. It starts off bright with an apple explosion and finishes with mild pear and floral notes. It is smooth, refreshing, and uplifting. Semi-sweet and balanced, it makes a perfect drink for any occasion" (source).
  • Sierra Rose Strawberry, $2.29/12oz - "Strawberry and apple cider fermented for a great subtly tart taste" (source).
  • Sierra Rose Peach, $2.29/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Sierra Rose Blueberry, $2.29/12oz - "Smoked blueberries, dark and very rich" (source).
  • Sierra Rose Blackberry, $2.29/12oz - "Like a dry wine with complex flavors. The apple character marries with the added fruit to create a balanced flavor" (source).
  • Farmhaus Hop Crop, $2.29/16oz - "This cider isn't for everyone. Made for those looking to take their taste buds on an adventure, this cider is aggressively hopped from start to finish. Not bitter, but a real mouthful. It's big. It's bold. It's beautiful. It's a whole crop of hops fresh from the farm exploding in your mouth. Packed with citrus and passion fruit flavor, it's mouthwateringly delicious" (source).
  • Northern Naturals North Star, $2.69/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Northern Naturals Blueberry, $2.69/12oz - "Our blueberry apple has playful characteristics, sweet on the nose and semi dry on your palette. Our cider is very clean, crisp, & refreshing.  Wild Blueberries and a blend of local Heirloom Apples" (source).
  • Deschutes Hopziet Autumn IPA, $1.79/12oz - "If you’re looking for a traditional Oktoberfest, head to Munich. This modern ale inspired by the time-honored flavors of a Märzenbier combines classic malts with the latest hop varietals from Germany to deliver an herbal and balanced Autumn IPA that’s as at home in your backyard as the biergarten. Celebrate the season by sharing with friends, and skip the lederhosen- your friends will thank you" (source).
  • Deschutes Sagefight IPA, $2.09/12oz - "The main event for hopheads has arrived! In the right corner we have lively botanicals hailing from the high desert; in the left, heavyweight citrus hops are looking for a knockout. Get ready to take a punch and keep on swinging with this bold Imperial IPA brewed with sage and juniper berries that’s best shared with those in your corner" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Hotbox Porter, $3.09/12oz - "This porter (6.4% ABV, 30 IBUs) is based on malt flavors of roasted nuts, crème brulee, cocoa, and caramel, extracted from English and German roasted and caramel malts. Hotbox Roasters then crashes the party and infuses potent, cold-extracted coffee from Burundi and Ethiopian beans and deals out flavors and aromas of dark plums, chocolate, and hints of blueberry" (source).
  • Starcut Phuzz, $2.29/12oz - "Phuzz is a semi-sweet cider fermented with Michigan apples and peaches. The cider is a brilliantly clear amber-straw color and has aromas of fresh apple and peach. Phuzz is mildly tart and subtly sweet with flavors of bold apple and pleasant lingering peach" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, $14.39/750ml - "Ok, so the joke was that Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer. Well, now we do. Just this one. Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice, and a gentle kiss of cocoa to liven the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about" (source).
  • Avery Raspberry Sour, $13.79/22oz - "Sour ale with raspberries added. Aged in oak barrels. Luscious ripe red raspberries are elegantly intertwined with a bountiful amount of lactic acidity and delicate barrel nuances to cultivate this stunning sour ale" (source).
  • Avery El Gose, $1.99/12oz - "A timeless, traditional tart gose (goes-uh) with its zesty and salty disposition is brightened by a tangy citrus twist. A bier for every día" (source).
  • Ballast Point Cinnamon Raisin Commodore, $2.59/12oz - "Our Cinnamon Raisin Commodore is truly a story of experimentation. Originally a gold-medal winning American stout first born in our R&D program, our brewers developed a new variation, adding cinnamon and raisins to this dark, bittersweet brew. The result is just the right amount of sweet and spice, with roasty maltiness at the helm" (source).

Video of the Week | The Cider Shed

A fitting video to accompany the many hard ciders on this week's NBF.


Friday, September 30, 2016

New Beer Friday, Learn to Homebrew Edition (Sept 30)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

On Saturday, November 5, Siciliano’s Market and Trail Point Brewing Company are teaming up to host an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Learn to Homebrew Day. This free event is open to the public and will be held in the brewery’s back parking lot at 6035 Lake Michigan Dr. in Allendale, Michigan from 11 AM to 5 PM.

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

For more information on the Learn to Homebrew event at Trail Point please contact

In other news, Trail Point is teaming up with IKUS Life Enrichment Services to host a “Taps +Trails” event at Indian Trails on Thursday, October 13. Participants will hike the camp’s trails and enjoy appetizers paired with Trail Point beer at various stations set up along the course. For registration information go to

Finally, we are pleased to announce that on Saturday, October 8, the folks from Klein Cider Mill will be selling fresh squeezed apple juice in our back parking lot between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. The price for Klein’s award-winning cider will be $3.50 per gallon and you must supply your own containers. Of course, as always, we will have containers available for purchase along with everything you need for making hard cider.

New and Returning Beer

  • Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, $2.09/12oz - "Our flagship beer, Loose Cannon wins people over at first smell. The carefully cultivated interplay of Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial creates a most fragrant IPA - its nose bursts with notes of grapefruit, herbs, and pine. Bitterness is somewhat subdued by the floral quality that pervades the taste. The color is burnished gold, and the mouthfeel is creamy. A strong malt backbone balances out the triple-hopped beer. Its nickname, Hop3, comes from the brewing process: our brewers hop Loose Cannon in the boil, the hopback, and the fermenter. It won a second place CAMRA award at the 2010 Great British Beer Festival" (source).
  • Heavy Seas Double Cannon, $2.19/12oz - "Hop aromas blast out of this flavor explosion. Massively dry-hopped, with a balanced malt sweetness, this irresistible force showcases the power of bringing in the extra artillery. Hop cubed - then squared (hop to the sixth)! We've kept the same malt recipe proportions as Loose Cannon, pumped up to 22 Plato (from 16.5) and then doubled the hops. We employed the late addition, whirlpool, hopback, and dry-hopping process that makes Loose Cannon such a flavorful IPA. We've captured the beautiful balance of Loose Cannon but we've doubled the firepower" (source).
  • Heavy Seas Peg Leg, $2.19/12oz - "This full-bodied imperial stout pours an opaque mahogany color with a tan head. Its smell is dominated by notes of roasted coffee beans, with a slight hint of chocolate, but Simcoe and Fuggles hops add complexity to the aroma. The roasted barley is detectable in the taste, and this complements the bitterness from the Warrior hops - balancing out the sweetness from the load of malts used in brewing Peg Leg. A creamy mouthfeel makes this a smooth, utterly drinkable beer" (source).
  • Heavy Seas Winter Storm, $2.19/12oz - "Winter Storm may be Hugh's favorite beer in the Heavy Seas catalogue. Our winter ale draws on hops from the West Coast and the UK for its pronounced bitterness. A mix of pale and darker malts give it its tawny color and its bigger body. True to the style, Winter Storm's aroma is nutty malts and earthy hops. This is a perfect fall beer, especially because of its warming qualities" (source).
  • Atwater Lip Locked, $1.99/12oz - "A full and dark outing, Atwater’s Cherry Stout features the malt complexity common to American-Style stout with the tartness, not sweetness of Michigan Cherries. The blend of fully fermented fruit and toasted, nutty malt characters bring forth an elusive cherry wood aroma to the finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Choclat, $4.99/12oz - "The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya, unfolds a complex web of mystery around a beverage known as xocoatl (ch-co-atle). At Southern Tier, we’re not surprised that hieroglyphs of the ancient Maya depict chocolate being poured for rulers and gods. Even through the many voyages of Columbus, the mystical bean remained nothing more than a strange currency of the native peoples. Moving through centuries, the circular journey of cacao has been realized in our brewing house, encompassing the complexity of the darkest, bitter-sweet candy together with the original frothy cold beverage of the ancient Maya to bring to you our Blackwater Series Choklat Stout. We have combined the finest ingredients to tempt your senses & renew the power & interrelation of history in every bottle" (source).
  • Danny Boy Ginger Wit, $2.99/16oz - "We brew our continuously-hopped, Belgian-inspired Urban Wheat Ale with a blend of Belgian and American yeast. Dry-hopped with Citra – twice – striking a happy balance between the hop and grain builds with soft notes of lemon, coriander and ginger. A naturally filtered Urban wheat Miss Ginger offers a nice, easy-to-drink session ale" (source).
  • Danny Boy Training Day, $2.99/16oz - "This American pale ale is 6 percent alcohol by volume, with citrus, centennial and cascade hops in it. This makes for a nice, drinkable APA" (source).
  • Danny Boy Rock 'n Rolla, $3.29/16oz - "The Mosaic hops brewed in this beer, gives it a very citrusy, earthy pine, and tropical fruit taste with a hop forward flavor. Though higher in alcohol, the RNR is very well balanced with a smooth bitter grapefruit finish" (source).
  • Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, $12.99/22oz - "One Big Bad Imperial Stout with Cocoa nibs and Coffee beans. Each season's release uses a different dark roasted coffee" (source).
  • Short's Kind Ale, $2.39/12oz (6 per) - "Kind Ale is a beer brewed each fall to celebrate a successful growing season. True to tradition, we commemorate the year’s agricultural achievements by using only wet hops in the boil, straight from the fields of Northern Michigan’s local hop farms. Local hops impart a dank intensity to this ale. The beer’s finish is immensely grassy, bitter, and fresh thanks to a healthy dry hop addition" (source).
  • Grand Armory Crop Duster, $1.89/12oz - "Crop Duster is a west coast style IPA using 100% Citra hops for bittering and aroma. Extremely drinkable with great aroma and grapefruit notes" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Party at the Moon Tower, $2.29/16oz - "Double IPA" (source).

Video of Week | Wild Apples

Wild apples. Hard cider. Great video.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday Review: AleSmith Speedway Stout

By Mark Iacopelli

AleSmith Brewing Company was established in 1995 in San Diego. Their history is deeply rooted in homebrewing and, more to the point, brewing beers at home that expanded style boundaries. Today the brewery has decorated its walls with nine World Beer Cup medals (five gold) and sixteen GABF medals. They also won Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year Awards in 2008. The current owner, Peter Zien, is a Grand Master beer judge. The most noteworthy beer they brew is Speedway Stout.

Some see stouts as a style of beer reserved for the cold winter months. AleSmith Speedway Stout has recently made its way to the local market and will prove that a good imperial stout can be enjoyed at any time. This 12% behemoth is imbued with coffee and has numerous variants (including a barrel-aged version) but always has a coffee influence.

When first poured the appearance is pitch black with a small tan head that does not persist. The aroma is initially very chocolate forward with a subtle coffee and bread note in the background. As the beer warms up the coffee comes through and takes the focus. The first sip slapped me in the face with intense roast. It had a big chewy mouthfeel and dryness from the roasted malts. As the beer ran across the palate, rich dark chocolate and coffee came through and continued into the finish. The alcohol was apparent at first but not overly boozy or hot. As the beer warmed, the alcohol, coffee, chocolate and roast melded together and each play a more equal role in the beer’s character. Added to that was a burnt note with sweetness and stone-fruit character that was difficult to detect initially. The finish still had a touch of sweetness despite the roast and coffee creating so much dryness.

Speedway Stout is known nationwide and for good reason. Any beer fan in love with big stouts and KBS especially will find a year-round substitute in this bottle. This beer will pair well with grilled red meats, chocolate desserts and vanilla ice-cream with red berries. Find it at Siciliano’s Market in 750ml foil-wrapped bottles for $13.99. We also carry a handful of other mainstays crafted by AleSmith.

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Beer Friday, 244 Percent Edition (September 23)

Beer tax the focus of local politician
By Steve Siciliano

With the growth of the Michigan craft beer industry showing no signs of slowing, I suppose it was only a matter of time before an axe grinding Lansing lawmaker deemed it necessary to introduce legislation that would increase the excise tax on suds manufactured and sold in the state. The inevitable became reality last week when Representative Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, introduced a bill that would increase the Michigan beer tax by 244%.

An avowed teetotaler, Mr. Hooker maintains that alcohol creates its own set of societal issues and stated that the additional revenue raised by the proposed tax increase would be directed towards state recovery programs, drug treatment courts and the enforcement of underage drinking laws. He also noted that the beer excise tax is a “sin tax” and would have no effect on those who don’t drink. Apparently Mr. Hooker feels that drinking hand crafted beer is the modern equivalent of reefer madness as increased taxes on wine and spirits were not included in his proposed legislation.

The bill elicited negative reactions from industry professionals, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Brewers Guild. According to the Detroit News, it’s also highly unlikely that Mr. Hooker’s proposed tax increase will get much support from his fellow legislators. Representative Hooker is not seeking reelection this fall due to term limits.

In other beer-related news, the folks at Trail Point Brewing Company have announced the release date for the Best of Show recipe for the 2016 Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. Jeremy Gavin’s “Master Blaster," a nicely balanced Dark Czech Lager, will be tapped at the Allendale brewpub at 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 29. Go to Trail Point’s Facebook page for more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Perseverance Russian Imperial Stout, $8.99/22oz - "A full bodied beer with a velvety texture and a wide range of intense aromas and flavors" (source).
  • Texas Corners Imperial Buffalo Brown, $7.99/22oz - "A true Michigan beer brewed with brown malt from Pilot Malt House in Byron Center and Willamette hops from Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners. This toasty, malt forward beer is pleasing to the palette, especially as the leaves begin to color and the cool autumn nights arrive" (source).
  • Blackrocks Nordskye, $2.09/12oz - "We brewed/tweaked this beer at the pub for a couple years under a different name until it was can worthy. Galaxy hops bring out big tropical/fruity aromas and flavors, the low ABV and easy body make it easy to justify grabbing one more" (source).
  • Bell's Expedition Stout, $3.09/12oz - "A Russian Imperial Stout with a huge malt body that is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Bourbon Imperial Screaming Pumpkin, $17.19/22oz - "Rich oak-vanilla flavor with a oak barrel nose. The blending with the spices, hops, and malt creates the ultimate pumpkin beer" (source).
  • Stone Anniversary IPA Collection, $37.69/22oz/4pack - "Experience our 20-year journey through this hoppy foursome of colossally flavorful, commemorative IPAs—three of which are only available here" (source).
  • Perrin Unfinished Business, $15.99/22oz - "As we continue to push the outer boundaries of stylistic freedom, our brew team continue to swing the sword with our own version of a Japanese Emperor’s Stout. Hand picking 10 specialty malts, the finest flaked oats, golden wheat, and Japanese rice give the body of this beer a silky, smooth, and clean mouth feel. To age this rare beer down, they found a cache of barrels from a small batch, award winning bourbon distillery out of Washington. These heavy toasted rare American bourbon barrels impart hints of light vanilla, coconut, and fresh oak. The dark bourbon notes add warm caramel, ripe tobacco and a soothing boozy finish to this velvety Stout" (source).
  • Short's Pangalactic Gargleblaster, $2.39/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a double Belgian IPA brewed with Australian Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive dank blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons, very green and fresh with subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile with little malt character to compete with. A slight, fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Sunday Molé Stout, $4.29/12oz - "As the name suggests, this 11.3% ABV American Imperial Stout is the foundation of everyone’s favorite, Sunday Morning Stout, with a twist (and without the barrel aging)… This brew captures everything you’d expect from a traditional molé – coffee, chocolate, heat and smokiness. Foremost is coffee, which is followed by layers of chocolate courtesy of the chocolate malt, cocoa powder and cacao nibs. Finally, a subtle lingering heat and smokiness from our blend of ancho, pasilla, mulato and chipotle peppers, as well as cinnamon, which is gone by the time you’re ready for your next sip" (source).
  • Destihl 1920 Stout, $27.59/500ml - "In the spirit of the Franco-Belgian Military Accord of 1920, this beer unites a Belgian-style Imperial Stout with one year aging in a French Cognac oak foudre, coalescing into aromas and flavors similar to dark roast coffee & dark chocolate, black cherries, plums, hints of molasses and slight smoke, all pairing beautifully with the French oak tannins, medium body, gentle warming and dry finish" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter, 3.09/12oz (2 per) - "This porter (6.4% ABV, 30 IBUs) is based on malt flavors of roasted nuts, crème brulee, cocoa, and caramel, extracted from English and German roasted and caramel malts. Hotbox Roasters then crashes the party and infuses potent, cold-extracted coffee from Burundi and Ethiopian beans and deals out flavors and aromas of dark plums, chocolate, and hints of blueberry" (source).
  • Goose Island Caution Tape, $1.69/12oz - "Light, refreshing and slightly tart with just enough toasted malt character to balance the unique hop aroma of white grape and sweet melon" (source).
  • Elysian Space Dust, $1.99/12oz - "The hopping is pure starglow energy, with Chinook to bitter and late and dry additions of Citra and Amarillo" (source).

Video of the Week | Bell's Two Hearted

Classic Michigan beer. Classic Michigan river.


Friday, September 16, 2016

New Beer Friday, Press the Fruit Edition (Sept 16)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in West Michigan and are thinking about making wine from fresh grapes this fall there are options available for vintners looking to source locally grown fruit. Here is the contact information for Taylor Ridge Vineyards in Allegan and Morgan Vineyard in Ravenna, both good sources for fresh wine grapes:
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 four 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 2 p.m. in the parking lot behind Siciliano's. Dates for the free use of the equipment are as follows:
  • Saturday, September 17
  • Saturday, September 24
  • Saturday, October 1
  • Saturday, October 8

    New and Returning Beer

    • Brau Bros Rubus Black, $2.89/12oz - "Rubus Black, a Blackberry Imperial Porter, is classic in terms of ingredients, yet takes flavor to the edge of porter. Chocolate Malt dominates, with a high percentage of various roasted and toasted malts building a nutty, milk chocolate profile. Fuggle and Golding hops play a supporting role; both edge the south side of the brewery’s Estate Hopyard. A measured infusion of blackberry will contribute complex dark cherry and black currant nuance. A traditional British yeast allows the fruit to stay in the forefront" (source).
    • Short's Dan's Pink Skirt, $1.99/12oz - "Dan’s Pink Skirt is an American IPA brewed with Summit and Simcoe hops. Malt characteristics are mild throughout and practically undetectable in the nose. Pronounced floral and citrus aromas abound, with a pine resin hop bitterness that lingers well into the finish" (source).
    • Odd Side Red Eye, $1.99/12oz - "A ridiculous rampage of ruthless rowdy hops in a rebellious rusty red ale" (source).
    • Odd Side Blood Orange IPA, $2.29/12oz - "IPA with blood oranges" (source).
    • Odd Side How Now Brown Cow, $1.99/12oz - "A brown ale" (source).
    • Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout, $1.79/12oz - "Thin mint cookie, meet John Niedermaier A stout made with organic locally-grown whole leaf mint. She’s just back from a stint in the cooler for being too naughty. She might have mellowed out but this stout is still naughty at heart" (source).
    • Right Brain Concrete Dinosaur, $1.79/12oz - "A blend of rye and roasty, chocolaty malts, with plenty of hop flavor and complexity" (source).
    • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $1.79/12oz - "A fall ale brewed with our secret blend of spices" (source).
    • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, $4.19/12oz - "Ten FIDY Imperial Stout – This titanic, immensely viscous stout is loaded with inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee and hide a hefty 65 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).
    • Abita Peach Harvest, $1.69/12oz - "Fresh Louisiana peaches are handpicked for this smooth lager. Pale malt gives the beer a sweet, crisp taste, with abundant amounts of ripe, juicy peaches added in the brewhouse to capture the flavors and aromas of real, fresh fruit. All our Harvest Series brews are made with the finest Louisiana-grown ingredients" (source).
    • Jolly Pumpkin Cucurbitophobia, $15.39/750ml - "Cucurbitophobia is a 6.1 percent ABV sour ale brewed with blood oranges and spices that was brewed at Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter, Mich. on Dec. 9, 2015" (source).
    • Liberty Street Punkin Pie Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Pumpkin pie. No, really, it tastes just like pumpkin pie. This is our fall/winter seasonal beer that is on tap from September through February" (source).
    • Southern Tier Cherry Gose, $4.19/12oz - "The finished beer is a striking, lustful shade of red with a persistent white head and durable lacing thanks to the large portion of wheat in the grist. The nose is defined by equal parts bright lactic acidity and cherry notes with a hint of coriander. On the palate, the strong lactic acidity is accentuated by the natural tartness of the cherry juice. Quantitatively, this beer is quite sweet, but we find that this level of residual sweetness is just enough to balance the acidity and that the overall perception of the beer is actually quite dry. The beer finishes very clean and in conjunction with the salt in the finish, it definitely makes you want to come back for more" (source).
    • Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, $10.19/22oz (1 per) - "Smashed Pumpkin is a big-bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg" (source).
    • Shipyard Pumpkinhead, $1.79/12oz - "This KBC favorite is like a pint of pumpkin pie! Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in a light, crisp Wheat Ale are just right for when the leaves start to change" (source).
    • Brewery Vivant Pumpkin Tart, $3.49/16oz can - "Ale brewed with real pumpkin & spices" (source).
    • Big Eddy Uber Oktoberfest, $2.99/12oz - "A bolder, toastier take on an Oktoberfestbier that can only be described as “Über.” With a tawny orange hue, toasted malts and spicy hops" (source).
    • Bell's Double Cream Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Named for its velvety smooth, creamy texture, this incredibly rich stout is brewed with 10 different specialty roasted malts chosen that impart notes of rich mocha and espresso. Dark and sweet tones intermingle with a soft, roasty finish" (source).
    • Bell's Roundhouse, $1.89/12oz - "Substantial amounts of late-kettle hop additions and dry-hopping yields a heady blend of fruity aromas of pineapple, peach and citrus. Those aromas continue into a crisply bitter hop presence across the tongue, but the judicious use of toasted and caramel specialty malts prevents the hop intensity from overwhelming the palate" (source).
    • Founders Pale Joe, $1.79/12oz - "Most coffee beers are usually dark beers (porters and stouts). This one is a light, golden ale and it uses high end, lightly roasted, fruit forward coffees that don’t get too bitter or astringent. Brewed with Kenya Windrush and a Tier 3 experimental coffee roasted at Ferris, right here in Grand Rapids" (source).
    • Founders PC Pils, $1.79/12oz, $18.89/15-pack - "Pleasantly crisp, perfectly clean and profoundly crushable, PC Pils is our take on the classic Pilsner style. While Noble hops have been the preferred choice of Pilsner brewers around the world, we went with some of our favorite American varieties. Piney Chinook, pleasantly citrus Cascade and punchy Centennial make this an easy-drinker with floral hop characteristics" (source).
    • B. Nektar Pineapple Coconut Express, $14.19/375ml (1 per) - "Honey pineapple wine with coconut added" (source).
    • Avery Rumpkin, $13.99/12oz - "Wonder what would happen if a monstrous pumpkin ale full of spicy gourdiness was aged in fresh rum barrels to add notes of oak and candied molasses?" (source).
    • Avery Pump(KY)n, $13.99/12oz - "Porter brewed with pumpkin & spices - aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
    • Avery The Kaiser, 8.19/22oz - "We took all that is good in a traditional Oktoberfest - gorgeous, deep copper sheen, massive malty backbone and spicy, floral, pungent noble hops - then intensified each into this, an Imperial Oktoberfest" (source).
    • Rodenbach Caractère Rouge, $27.19/750ml - "The brewer allows the beer to macerate with fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries. After this maceration in oak, the beer re-ferments in the bottle. The result is RODENBACH Caractère Rouge, an exceptional RODENBACH with fruit maceration and a 7% alcohol volume. The brew is more than unique and extremely exclusive, as only 900 75-cl bottles were produced" (source).
    • Rodenbach Vintage 2013, $23.89/750ml - "RODENBACH Vintage is the unique result of our RODENBACH-brewers selecting the cask which has produced the best beer after two years of maturation: “cask of the year”. The cask number always appears on the label, and the year refers to the start of maturation" (source).
    • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.29/12oz - "This is no festivus for the restuvus – on the contrary – we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection. Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Time to roast your chicken and upend your stein before the air gets crisp, the leaves flame and fall and the skies fade to black" (source).

    Video of the Week | Pale Joe

    Founders Pale Joe is now available at Siciliano's!