View our Main Site »

Friday, August 17, 2018

New Beer Friday, 2018 Customer Appreciation Sale (August 17)

Get ready to stock up!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Tuesday, September 4, and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 9.

Our annual Customer Appreciation Sale is a great time for beer and winemaking enthusiasts to stock up on supplies and upgrade equipment. This year we are offering incredible deals on beginners equipment kits so if anyone has been thinking about taking the plunge into one these life-enriching hobbies, this would be the ideal time to do so.

Attention Wine Makers: If you plan on stocking up on winemaking kits please email your orders to me ( by Sunday, August 26, and the orders will be put aside for you.

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

    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $122.00, Sale $98.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $153.00, Sale $123.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $225.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $180.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $87.79, Sale $70.00
    • DIGITAL REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $115.49, Sale $92.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $143.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $63.00, Sale $50.00
    • CHAMPAGNE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $153.00, Sale $119.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Regular $85.00, Sale $64.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 7LB HOPPER: Regular $169.00, Sale $139.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 15LB HOPPER: Regular $189.00, Sale $159.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Regular, $52.00, Sale $42.00
    • 8-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, PORTED: Regular $123.00, Sale $98.00
    • 16-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, PORTED: Regular $187.00, Sale $150.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 8, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brew Detroit Operation Pluot, $3.89/16oz - "Wheat ale brewed with pluots" (source).
  • Brew Detroit Yum Town, $2.79/12oz - "Started with an easy drinking Mexican Lager base, addition of tart cherries & key lime provide a pleasant sweetness to this perfect summer brew" (source).
  • Grand Armory Sippin' on Gin Barrel Juice, $5.19/12oz - "Laaaiiiddd back! When you're Sippin' On Gin Barrel Juice, you'll have Blood Orange on your mind and your mind on Blood Orange! This Gin barrel-aged IPA is chronically hopped with Centennial, Citra and Mosaic" (source).
  • Grand Armory Tied Down to Michigan, $2.19/12oz - "Tied Down to Michigan - There ain't no home like this one! This nicely balanced, seasonal IPA draws its rich hop aroma and flavor from locally sourced, all Michigan grown Copper hops. A perfect compliment to summer in the Great State of Michigan" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Our take on this classic German style is a celebration of maltiness— packed with rustic, autumnal flavors to put a little more oomph into your oom-pah-pah" (source).
  • Hacker Pschor Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Bavarian barley slow roasted, caramelized to a rich, red amber color combined with the purest spring waters from the Alps, exclusive yeast and the finest Hallertau hops" (source).
  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $2.19/12oz - "This is a beverage brewed from pure water, the best quality malt and perfect hops. Brewed by Hofbräu München, the Oktoberfestbier is a full-bodied lager known for its clean, crisp edge and ability to get any party started" (source).
  • Lagunitas Passion Grass, $2.29/12oz - "We had a Joint Session with our friends at Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, Mich. to create this smooth and drinkable 4.6% ABV West by Midwest Ale. With some passion fruit juice added for that pleasant summery-ness and rounded off with a special zing of lemongrass, it’s best imbibed with your ‘buds … it’s good to have friends" (source).
  • Prairie Color Block, $4.39/12oz - "Brewed with Warrior and Citra for a smooth citrus bitterness.The beer was fermented on Cara Cara, Satsuma & Naval oranges with vanilla & a double dose of Citra" (source).
  • Prairie Era, $2.39/12oz - "Hoppy Farmhouse ale dosed with lemon zest, along with a combination of cascade and centennial hops for an extra kick of citrus" (source).
  • Prairie Pink Guava Funk, $3.49/12oz - "Kettle Sour with Brett and Pink Guava" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "We’ve partnered with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, for this American take on the classic German Oktoberfest. A malt backbone is balanced by subtle hop character in this crisp, clean, and drinkable crowd-pleaser. Nothing captures the spirit of celebration like a beer among friends" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $4.39/12oz - "All Hallow’s Eve is a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent. It is thought that we harness this magic to brew our powerful pumpkin ale. Not so, but it is with great respect to the magic of their trade that our brewers produce this fine beer. Take a whiff of this complex ale and your journey has just begun. At first sip, a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds, yet another victim enraptured by the Pumking" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $4.39/12oz - "Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own & also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet. Dark and mysterious, reanimate your senses with Warlock’s huge roasted malt character, moderate carbonation & a spiced pumpkin pie aroma" (source).
  • To Ol Ms. Magenta, $9.79/500ml - "Dragonfruit & Strawberry Berliner Weisse" (source).
  • To Ol Ms. Teal, $8.79/16oz  - "Seaweed Gose" (source).

Video of the Week: Brewery Vivant

U of M: "Brewery Vivant serves up a healthier planet."


Friday, August 10, 2018

New Beer Friday, One That Got Away Edition (August 10)

Barb with one that didn't get away
By Steve Siciliano

When my wife Barb and I were fly fishing in southwestern Montana a few weeks ago we had to quickly learn how to fight the area’s muscular trout. I got a crash course in the proper technique the first time I hooked into one of those piscatorial torpedoes. As soon as I set the hook the big rainbow took off on a reel-screeching run downriver and I instinctively reared back on the rod and tried to put the brakes on the fly line. “Let it run!” shouted Chris our guide. “Get your hand off the reel!”

When you’re fishing with light tackle and you try to rein in a big, Big Sky Country trout before it tires, you’re chance of netting the brute goes down dramatically. When it goes on its multiple runs you keep the line taut and when it stops running and starts doing some high flying acrobatics you hold on and enjoy the show. Sometimes it keeps running until you get perilously close to the end of the line. When that happens your guide weighs anchor and chases after it with the boat. If it decides to shoot back in your direction you reel furiously to take up the slack. When it finally begins losing steam you keep the rod tip high and you slowly retrieve the line. If everything goes right you eventually guide it into the net.

Of course everything doesn’t always go to plan. While we netted a good deal of beefy browns and rainbows on our trip more than a few got away. When one does get away you let out a few expletives and get back to fishing.

One time Barb tied into a huge brown and I reeled in to make sure it didn’t tangle up in my line. After sitting idle for fifteen minutes while she fought the beast I got out of the boat, waded upstream and resumed fishing. It happened to be lunch time so our guide decided to fire up the portable gas grill which immediately began emitting a huge plume of smoke while burning off the grease from the previous day’s burgers. When the trout went on a long run Chris pulled up the anchor and began rowing around a bend downriver. “We’ll come back for you, Steve,” he shouted through the billowing smoke. An hour later I saw the boat rounding the bend with Chris in the water hauling it back upriver with a rope a la Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen. Unfortunately, Barb lost the fish, which Chris guessed to be about twenty-six inches, after an hour long fight.

That big brown trout keeps getting bigger each time she tells the story.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Chia Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "A variation of our classic Solstice ales. Additions of cardamom, star anise, and vanilla create a mélange of sweetness and complexity; while orange peel, ginger, black pepper add a zesty freshness and a touch of spicy heat" (source).
  • Big Lake Seed Spitter, $2.79/12oz - "An American Wheat Ale brewed with loads of natural watermelon.  This is a perfect summer quencher" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plein de Vie Cherry Angelina, $12.99/500ml - No commercial description.
  • Dark Horse Smells Like A Citra Safety Meeting, $2.29/12oz - "A new addition to the Smells Like family this IPA uses the same malt profile as our seasonal IPA called Smells Like a Safety Meeting and clocks in at 8.5% ABV. Instead of the proprietary hop blend we like so much in the original Smells Like a Safety Meeting, we removed all of the hops and replaced them with Citra hops giving this beer a very citrus forward nose and flavor profile" (source).
  • Epic New England IPA, $2.79/12oz - "These juicy, hazy, hop bombs are packed to the brim with flavor. In fact, we’ve been downright irresponsible when it comes to hop utilization. Our brewers have been experimenting with everything from lupulin powder, to massive hop backs, exploring the flavor synergies of fermentation hopping, and literally cramming in more dry hops then our tanks can even hold" (source).
  • Maui Pau Hana Pilsner, $2.39/12oz - "European Pilsner malt offers sweetness balanced by a spicy hop profile" (source).
  • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $1.99/12oz - "Brewed with secret blend of spices, this is a fall beer that keeps the pumpkin out of things" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake Stout, $2.59/16oz - "This stout is brewed with lactose (milk sugar) to impart a fuller body and sweeter palate. Flavored with toasted marshmallows for the 9th day of 12 Days of Milkshake Stout " (source).
  • Short's Citra Local, $1.89/12oz - "Citra Local’s is our flagship American Lager but with a fun new twist. Dry hopped with Citra hops, this beer is bursting with fresh grapefruit aromas. Similar complementary hop flavors are perceived within, but without any imparted bitterness. The light pilsen malt creates a soft and subtle flavor profile that finishes crisp and clean, once the initial hoppy perceptions subside" (source).
  • Stone Brewing 22nd Anniversary, $3.19/12oz - "Stone Brewing has spent over 20 years pursuing clean, bitter, hop forward beers. It would be passé to suggest this beer is simply another gigantically juicy and extremely complex Stone Double IPA. It’s a middle finger to the haze craze proving that clean, crisp IPA’s can still be smashed full of big, juicy, tropical flavor. It’s also the winner of our 2018 Spotlight Series contest, which pits teams of brewers against each other to see who can brew the best beer. Citrus takes the forefront, with plenty of fruit character to back it up. With incredible mouthfeel from the malted oats, the beer isn’t sweet at all, but its light amber color would make you think it is sweeter than it tastes" (source).
  • Tallgrass Coastal Fusion, $1.89/12oz - "Tallgrass is back in the IPA game!  We have taken our time to develop a unique IPA that fuses the best characteristics of both coasts.  Coastal Fusion has big, juicy citrus notes upfront with a dry, bitter finish; creating a new “Midwest IPA” category!  Already a company favorite, this IPA comes in at 7%, and is the punch in the mouth you’ve been missing from our lineup.  We send this “From Kansas With Love” to you, our loyal Tallgrassers" (source).

Video of the Week: Sierra Nevada

Where it all started: Sierra Nevada's original brewhouse.


Friday, August 3, 2018

New Beer Friday, Big Sky Country Edition (August 2)

Barb, Steve and a couple of healthy browns
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last May, just a few days after landing her first trout on a fly rod, my wife Barb told me that she would like to go fly fishing in Montana. After giving my face a hard slap to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I told her that angling for wild browns and rainbows in the famous trout streams of Big Sky Country sounded like a pretty good idea to me too. We did some research and after a week or so of weighing our options we decided to book a weeklong stay at the Broken Arrow Lodge, a ranch and outfitter located in the Snowcrest Mountain Range in the southwest portion of the state. It turned out to be a good decision.

Broken Arrow Lodge sits on a high ridge overlooking the Ruby Valley, supposedly one of the best areas for hunting elk, grizzly bears, mountain lions, antelopes and mule deer in the state. In addition to guided fishing and hunting outings, the lodge offers hiking, horseback riding and overnight pack trips. The family run operation is rustic but comfortable, laid back but chaotic with most of that chaos being generated by owners Irwin and Sherri Clark’s brood of grandchildren and enhanced by a pack of mischievous goats and a couple of chicken-chasing hound dogs. It didn’t take long before we felt right at home.

Broken Arrow Lodge
Barb and I fished hard for five days, expertly guided by the Clarks’ son Chris, and we were able to catch and release an incredible number of trophy sized trout. We would leave the lodge after a hearty early breakfast, have a lunch on the river and on some days we didn’t sit down for an excellent home cooked supper until it was dark. After relaxing with a few Manhattans on Broken Arrow's front porch we were ready for bed.

Guide Chris
Chris is an extraordinary guide. His fly fishing knowledge is unsurpassed and he seems to know every run, riffle and hole on the area’s rivers. Each day after landing our first fish he would pump its stomach to see what it was eating (a procedure that is harmless to the fish). One day he placed the contents in a plastic container filled with water and that night back at the lodge he tied a bunch of flies that matched the bugs. The next day we used those flies to tie into some huge rainbows.

At the end of the week our feet hurt, our legs ached and our arms and shoulders were sore. But aches and pains are a small price to pay for a week’s worth of incredible fly-fishing memories.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Crystal Peacock, $2.19/12oz - "This kettle-soured Berliner Weisse pours hazy straw yellow with a stark white foam. Aromas of lemon rind, pineapple, and tart grapefruit complement the pleasant malty wheat flavor. A combined fermentation from ale yeast as well as the souring Lactobacillus give it a quenching tartness, light body, and crisp finish" (source).
  • Atwater Brewing Raspberry Vanilla Java Porter, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale, $1.79/12oz - "A crisp, single-hop pale ale with floral and citrus notes from 100% Cascade hops and a smooth caramel malt character" (source).
  • Short's Brewing Synalpheus Pinkfloydi, $2.59/12oz - "Synalpheus Pinkfloydi is a cherry lemonade Gose brewed with Lemondrop hops, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, coriander, lemon and Balaton cherries. With a red hue and great clarity, this summertime Gose smells of bright cherry, tart lemon, and a little salt. Despite a lengthy list of ingredients, Synalpheus Pinkfloydi has a great balance of flavors. Tart cherry and lemon complement the saltiness of a classic Gose. A dry and tart finish rounds out this easy drinking summer brew" (source).
  • Southern Tier Help! On The Way!, $4.09/16oz - "The fourth release in our Science is the Art Collection leverages mangoes and tropical hops to create a fruit bomb that combines the extra body and creamy richness of the Double IPA with the addition of lactose. Turn the can upside down before opening for increased hazy appeal. Or don’t. Either way, it’s a flavorful and aromatic trip into the cosmos" (source).
  • Boulevard Berliner Weisse, $1.89/12oz - "Few beer styles can match the delicate, sparkling character of the classic Berliner Weisse, with its light body and tart palate. It’s said that Napoleon’s troops referred to it as “The Champagne of the North,” high praise for beer, coming from Frenchmen. With Berliner Weisse, we pay tribute to the style, while giving it a distinctively American twist. Bright and thirst-quenching, the beer is enlivened by soft lactic notes" (source).
  • Nowhere In Particular Batch 027, $2.89/12oz - "Juxtaposition can be a fun little thing when it comes to beer. This is a prefect example of that, with more traditional C hops being used in conjecture with some fun new techniques we have picked up along the way. Combine that with Hornindal Kveik yeast, a fun little  Norwegian yeast strain thats just a couple centuries old, almost went extinct, and has seen a recent rise in popularity. It's easy to see why all these ingredients have been popular at one time or another, this guy is flavorful and juicy, has almost no bitterness, and my personal favorite, has plenty of well disguised alcohol! You'll be drunk before you know it, seeing ghosts of your Norwegian ancestors looking on with pride. Maybe our parents weren't wrong when they said they don't make em like they used to, so cry out jubel and drink promiscuously friends" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Fruitful Fort, $9.99/12oz - "A twist on our beloved Fort, Fruit-Full Fort is brewed with four types of berries - Raspberry, Blackberry, Boysenberry and Elderberry! This juicy blend of dark berries creates depth and complexity reminiscent of a jammy red wine" (source).
  • Odd Side Ales Thunder Gun Express, $2.59/12oz - "A hazy American DIPA brewed with oats and lactose with loads of late addition Citra, Amarillo, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Schramm's Mead Heritage Raspberry Mead, $40.69/375ml - "'Heritage' is a variety of red raspberry, which has been grown in the Schramm family for generations. Our estate-grown raspberries all go into in The Heart of Darkness, but we recently found some delicious Heritage raspberries for purchase. Tasting these raspberries took us right back to berry picking in the backyard of Great-Grandpa Schramm's house. We think this tasty jammy mead would make him proud" (source).

Video of the Week | Boulevard Brewing

The story of Boulevard Brewing.


Friday, July 27, 2018

New Beer Friday, From the Archives Edition (July 27)

Due to the fact Steve and Barb are currently fishing in Montana (see picture), we will NOT be posting a new preamble from Steve. We're pleased to present instead this gem from the archives. Despite its original 2012 publication date, it seems a fitting choice given the absolute certainty Steve will be enjoying a smoke or two on the river this week in Big Sky Country. Please enjoy. —Buzz Editors

By Steve Siciliano

I’m proud of the fact that our store has garnered a reputation as being a destination for a wide variety of products: craft beer, fine wine, premium liquor, mead, homebrewing and wine-making supplies, bulk tea and coffee, a constantly expanding selection of do-it-yourself books, gourmet chocolates, hand-crafted sodas and much, much more. Something that doesn’t get mentioned quite as often, however, is the fact that we also are a tobacco shop.

I like wearing my tobacconist hat. I enjoy weighing out ounces of pipe tobacco on the triple-beam scale and I get a lot of satisfaction from selling pipes, humidors and especially premium cigars.

I smoked my first cigar when I was sixteen. I had a job as a bus boy in the cafeteria of the old Pantlind Hotel and once a week a crotchety old fellow came in and after supper he would always smoke a cigar. To this day I remember the cigars he smoked, a brand called Optimo that were beautiful, oily-dark maduros. One day I got up the nerve to ask him where I could get one.

“Why?” he growled.

When I told him it was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to buy him a cigar the old codger actually cracked a smile. “Across the street at Elliot’s,” he said. Despite my age the clerk at the shop had no problem selling me one of those Optimos which I smoked on the walk home.

I would like to say that I’ve smoked nothing but premium cigars all my life but that’s just not the case. In high school I would occasionally burn a wood-tipped Hava-Tampa Jewel or a plastic-tipped cigarillo. In college I had a predilection for rum-soaked Crookettes and in my twenties and thirties it was an Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadier, a White Owl or a Dutch Masters during weddings and weekend fishing trips.

It was in my mid-forties when I began smoking only the premium, hand-rolled cigars and, looking for anything back then to generate sales in a struggling store, I decided that I would try selling them. I began with a few inexpensive brands in a humidified counter-top case. In time I progressed to a couple of glass displays and then we finally built the walk-in humidor.

Today the humidor is well stocked with cigars from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. In two reach-in cases we display cigars that are rum flavored, vanilla flavored, chocolate flavored and some that are infused with botanicals. Because of our government’s continued trade embargo with Cuba we are unable to sell any Cubans. Hopefully someday that will change.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Cuba and while there took a day trip to Vuelta Abajo, which is considered to be the finest land for growing cigar tobacco in the world. I was standing on a high ridge gazing down at the indescribably beautiful valley when an old Cuban approached me. He was selling bundles of cigars that he rolled himself from tobacco he had grown himself. I had doubts about their quality but took a chance and handed him ten pesos, about the equivalent then of ten US dollars. They turned out to be the best cigars I have ever smoked.

New and Returning Beer

  • Big Lake Triple Ryecoe, $4.39/16oz - "Our signature Rye IPA brewed with over 25% Rye Malt, and complemented with a triple dose of simcoe dry hops" (source).
  • BrewDog Clockwork Tangerine, $1.99/12oz- "A flavour profile that'll tick all those boxes as we head into the summer months! At 4.5% it's a standout session beer that packs a juicy citrus hit and mellow tropical notes on a toasty and caramel background" (source).
  • BrewDog Elvis Juice, $1.99/12oz - "An American IPA with a bitter edge that will push your citrus tolerance to the brink and back; Elvis Juice is loaded with tart pithy grapefruit peel. This IPA has a caramel malt base, supporting a full frontal citrus overload - grapefruit peel piled on top of intense us aroma hops. Waves of crashing pine, orange and grapefruit round out this citrus infused IPA" (source).
  • BrewDog Hazy Jane, $2.29/12oz - "Hazy Jane is a Vermont-style IPA, wiht low background bitterness, loaded with intense juicy fruit character. Pineapple, stone fruit, mango, light resin and hints of lime peel — this juicy IPA is full-bodied and smooth, enhancing the soft ripe fruit flavors" (source).
  • BrewDog Jet Black Heart, $1.99/12oz - "Flaked oats and wheat add to the velvet mouth-feel, with the carbonation adding a honeycomb texture. Magnum and Sorachi Ace bring a berry & citrus fruitiness that amplifies the chocolate character of this inky leviathan" (source).
  • BrewDog Punk IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Layered with new world hops to create an explosion of tropical fruit and an all-out riot of grapefruit, pineapple and lychee before a spiky bitter finish, this is transatlantic fusion running at the fences of lost empires" (source).
  • Creston Copper, $3.89/16oz - "A crisp, clean IPL that is dry hopped with a massive amount of tropical hops" (source).
  • Founders Mosaic Promise, $1.39/12oz - "Mosaic Promise showcases two unique ingredients: Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt. The versatility of the hop’s pleasing aroma and flavor characteristics and the traditional barley’s depth of flavor comprise this clean, rich, golden beer. We can brew complex beers with the best of them, but we recognize that there is also beauty in simplicity" (source).
  • Lagunitas Dark Swan, $5.19/22oz - "Observers of yestercentury once denied the existence of the Dark Swan as obstinately as flat-earthers once denied the shape of our spherical home. They insisted the species was confined to a singular snowy hue. But there is a fragile futility to such narrowness of thought. The broader of mind understood that light and dark must forever compliment each other as eternal counterpoints. And just as Aristotle convinced us of our circularity, so adventuring ornithologists eventually contradicted the misconception of the monochrome swan, astonishing the world and casting light upon the Dark. This beer may well do the same…" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Don Graper, $5.49/16oz - "NE Style IPA brewed with Mikkel's Riesling grape juice" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Mr. Manager, $6.29/16oz - "Double Dry-Hopped NE Style Double IPA" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Raspberry Blush, $3.29/16oz - "Berliner weiss w/raspberries and Second Craft Ethiopian coffee" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Staff Magician, $3.49/16oz - "New England style Pale Ale" (source).
  • Odd Side Tangerine Dank Juice, $2.79/12oz - "NEIPA brewed with tangerine" (source).
  • Oscar Blues G'Knight, $1.79/12oz - "Our ‘Velvet M-80’ is a hefty, dry hopped double-red ipa with a nose full of aroma, a sticky mouthfeel, a malty middle and unctuous hop flavors. G’Knight sports a surprisingly sensuous finish for a beer of its size (8.7% ABV, 60 IBUs). It’s brewed in tribute to a fellow Colorado craft beer pioneer and Vietnam vet who died fighting a 2002 wild fire outside of our Lyons hometown" (source).
  • Stone w00tstout 2.0, $3.19/12oz - "In 2013, our CEO and co-founder, Greg Koch, invited two respected fans of craft beer, brewing and all things Stone to develop an intense, inventive beer capable of not only delivering immense flavor, but also serving as a fitting, singular celebration of über-level enthusiasm. Self-proclaimed geeks in a number of arenas, the duo of thespian and renaissance man Wil Wheaton and online news guru Drew Curtis proved up to the challenge, calling on their personal backgrounds to devise an imperial stout brewed with flaked rye, wheat and pecans that was partially aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Shortly after being released, this creation—dubbed “w00tstout” in honor of w00tstock, Wil’s annual tribute festival to cross-genre geekdom—became an instant cult classic. So, despite the fact that Greg spent the first half of 2014 on an international walkabout-style sabbatical, Wil and Drew were invited back to Stone to put a new spin on this threesome-borne beauty. All they needed was a third conspirator, and for that, they called on friend and fellow geek, Aisha Tyler. An actress, talk show host, comedian and author with a flair for individuality, she brought an entire new dimension to the brew day, just as the stone-ground chocolate the trio added to the original w00tstout recipe added delicious depth to the beer. Also brought in to put a personalized stamp on this year’s edition of w00tstout was famed comic artist Dave Gibbons" (source).
  • Watermark Margarita Melon Heads, $4.39/16oz - "Gose w/ Lime & Sea Salt" (source).

Podcast of the Week | In MI Pint, Ep. 1

Siciliano's own Kati Spayde has teamed up with Ben Darcie (Michigan Beer Guy)
on a new beer-themed podcast. Listen here -->> EPISODE 1


Friday, July 20, 2018

New Beer Friday, Calcium Carbonate Edition (July 20)

Free to a good home
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We stock a wide array of products here at Siciliano’s which means we’re constantly placing orders with a multitude of wholesalers. I’ve always relied on key members of the staff to help me keep the shelves stocked and now that I’m semi-retired I’m relying on them even more. They do a fantastic job but due to the sheer volume of orders it’s inevitable that every so often someone makes a mistake. When an ordering mistake is made we call it a folly and the person responsible is then subjected to some good-natured ribbing from his or her fellow staff members. Most of the time the follies are minor but every so often there’s a real doozy. We recently had a real doozy.

A wrong order number was keyed in and instead of getting four one-pound bags of calcium carbonate we received four 50-pound bags. Now that’s a hell of a lot of calcium carbonate. We could return it of course but that would entail 200 pounds of shipping charges and a 20% restocking fee. The bottom line is that returning it would cost more than the price of the product.

We first tried to peddle it at cost to a number of breweries in the environs of Beer City USA. No dice. We then did a google search and found that in addition to a water additive in brewing the chemical can be used to make chalk paint, as an animal feed additive and to reduce lime in soil. Acquaintances who are artists, gardeners and who raise goats were contacted. There were no takers.

I’m at the point where I just want to get rid of this stuff so if anyone wants 50 pounds of calcium carbonate free of charge come on in and get it. First come first serve. Call 616-453-9674 or contact me at

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Velvet Hammer, $12.99/500ml - "Velvet Hammer 12 is a complex and delicate sour brown Ale meant to be sipped and contemplated. Permeating the aroma are tones of plum jam, fruity Belgian yeast, and earthy, wild-barrel phenolics. This year's vintage is a medium bodied beer with a delicate flavor palate with notes of Cabernet, candy sugar, sweet Hibiscus, and a dry, tart lactic finish. A beer to be enjoyed now but has the legs to age for several years to come" (source).
  • Bell's Oracle, $3.29/12oz - "Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first and foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt and balance. The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise" (source).
  • Decadent Strawberry Creamcicle, $5.49/16oz - "Double IPA brewed with strawberry, Vanilla Beans, and Marshmallow" (source).
  • Evil Twin Flava Influencer, $5.49/16oz - "This is The Flava Influencer IPA and it is an IPA brewed with oat, lactose, vanilla, pineapple and gooseberry" (source).
  • Evil Twin Soul Made, $5.49/16oz - "Hazy and juicy with a bright citrusy and tropical flavor" (source).
  • Evil Twin D is for Dewberry, $5.49/16oz - "A gose-style ale brewed with salt and dewberry" (source).
  • Left Hand Nitro Black Currant, $2.89/16oz - "Super smooth with a light body, tart berries and vibrant color" (source).
  • Left Hand Wheels Gose 'Round, $2.39/12oz - "Brewed to help raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis research and Team Left Hand Bike MS rides. Team Left Hand is dedicated to solving the riddle which is Multiple Sclerosis. Since 2008, we have raised over $3 million, and hope you’ll consider joining us to raise funds and awareness for the millions of people around the world who are fighting this disease today" (source).
  • Right Brain Luminous Lemon, $2.09/16oz - " Light. Refreshing. Lemon" (source).
  • Stillwater Blown Speaker, $5.99/16oz - "Triple India Pale Ale" (source).
  • Stillwater Fast Fashion, $4.09/16oz - "Double dry-hopped India Pale Ale" (source).
  • Tilquin Gueuze, $12.89/375ml - "Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L'Ancienne is a gueuze blended from Boon, Lindemans, Girardin, and Cantillon lambic. It is typically comprised of 50% one-year old lambic, 30% two-year old lambic, and 20% three-year old lambic. However, the first season of bottling was 60% one-year old lambic and 40% two-year old lambic as there was no three-year old lambic available for the blend" (source).
  • Tilquin Mure, $32.89/750ml - "The Mûre Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc/vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of fresh or frozen blackberries in young lambics, blended with 1, 2 and 3 years lambic to reach a final concentration of fruits of 300-350 gr fruit per liter" (source).
  • Tilquin Quetsche, $17.69/375ml - "The Quetsche Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc / vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of destoned fresh purple plums (variety Prune de Namur or Quetsche véritable d’Alsace, close to the Damson) in a blend of 1 and 2 years old lambics for a period of 4 months. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it is re-fermented in the bottle for a minimum period of 3 months. The lambics used were fermented and matured in our own oak barrels at the blendery. They are made from worts brewed by Boon, Lindemans, Girardin and Cantillon" (source).
  • Upland Champagne Velvet, $2.49/16oz - "Champagne Velvet has a refreshingly light pilsener body with some sweet complexities given off by the corn malt used in this recipe, making this the perfect lager. It’s smooth and light, but still full of flavor, the perfect everyday beer for craft beer drinkers and a step up for domestic drinkers" (source).
  • White Flame Mo'Peez, $2.79/12oz - "Smash IPA with mosaic hops" (source).
  • White Flame Red, White & Brew, $2.79/12oz - "Were it not for the Brave - There would be no land of the free. Brewed for all those who serve" (source).

Video of the Week | White Flame

The origins of Hudsonville's own White Flame Brewing Co.


Friday, July 13, 2018

New Beer Friday, Little Manistee River Edition (July 13)

The following NBF preamble, written by Steve Siciliano, first appeared on The Buzz in August, 2014. Buzz editors liked it so much we thought it deserved reposting. Enjoy!

Sometimes when I’m feeling a tad claustrophobic I’ll get myself lost on the gravel roads in the northwest section of Lake County. “Lost” is a relative term here. I might not know exactly where I’m at all the time but those washboard-rutted roads always lead to a paved highway and eventually I’ll find my way back to the cottage. If I happen to come across a country tavern along the way it’s a bonus.

While I’m “lost” there’s always plenty to look at — lots of trees, abandoned farmhouses and dilapidated barns, deer grazing in the fields, small streams and the occasional undeveloped lake.

If I drive around those roads long enough I’ll come to one of the wooden pylon bridges that cross over the Little Manistee and because I’m usually in an unhurried state, I get out of my truck to look at the river. Often I’ll see a fly fisherman working his way upstream or, if I'm lucky, a trout holding steady in the current.

It’s my decidedly humble opinion that the Little Manistee is one of the Lower Peninsula’s most delightful rivers. It rises just east of Luther and winds fifty-five miles through the hardwood forests of Lake, Mason and Manistee counties before emptying into Manistee Lake. When I was young my uncle had a cabin a few miles outside Luther. I have wonderful memories of fishing for browns and brook trout in the pond formed by the old logging mill dam that was built back in the 1800s.

Many years later my brother-in-law and I went skinny dipping in one the Little Manistee’s icy cold pools after a day of drinking Stroh’s at my father’s cabin near Irons. The swim was quite refreshing, but the memory of that experience is tempered by the fact that a few days later I got a bad case of poison ivy in the sensitive regions below my waist.

Last Saturday Barb and I kayaked the stretch of the Little Manistee between Fox Bridge and Bear Track Campground with friends John and Pam Matson. Kayaking the Little Manistee is definitely a challenge. Because John and Pam have kayaked this part of the river over twenty times, they are very adept at maneuvering the twists, turns, obstructions and eddies while enjoying a beer. I, however, quickly found out that I wasn’t.

Ten minutes into our excursion I cracked open a 16-ounce can of Two Hearted and the first two sips tasted wonderful. While I was taking the third sip the current pushed my kayak sideways against a submerged log and the remainder of that world-class IPA ended up with me in the river. Fortunately I was able to retrieve my paddle, my flip flops and the empty beer can.

My ego was slightly bruised, but a bruised ego is a relatively small price to pay for another Little Manistee memory.

New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Strawberry, $1.89/12oz - "Abita Strawberry Harvest is a lager brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and Vanguard hops. Real Louisiana strawberry juice is added after filtration resulting in a crisp lager with a sweet strawberry flavor, aroma and haze. It is wonderful with desserts or lighter fare such as salads and pastas. Fresh cheeses such as Burrata, chèvre, Crescenza, mozzarella or Teleme pair well with Strawberry Harvest. All of our Harvest Series brews are made with the finest Louisiana-grown ingredients keeping us Louisiana True®" (source).
  • Cutwater Bourbon Lemon Tea, $3.79/12oz - "We’ve added our own twist to a warm weather favorite. The subtle herbal tea notes blend perfectly with the soft honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla of our Black Skimmer Bourbon, balanced with sweet lemon. It’s a refreshing cocktail you’ll be drinking all year round" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Mixed Media, $2.79/12oz - "The closest an ale can legally be to wine! With 51% of the fermentable sugars coming from grain and 49% coming from grapes, Mixed Media is a complex saison-esque ale brewed with a distinct Belgian yeast strain. Using a late-harvest Viognier grape must from our friends at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Washington, you'll find notes of white grape and melon in the aroma, and greeted with a spicy white wine body in every sip" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Midsummer Night Mead, $29.99/750ml - "Sweet succulent strawberries blend with tart lemons and rich wildflower honey to create a refreshing mead" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Raven Heart Mead, $29.99/750ml - "The tart earthy flavors of black and red currants marry with rich wildflower honey to bespell your taste buds with this bold, semi-sweet nectar that will steal your heart" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Raspberry Malone Mead, $29.99/750 - "You can thank a Malone for the creation of this refreshing mead, with its bold, red raspberry goodness" (source).
  • North Pier Sandbar Session, $1.99/12oz - "A North Pier X Third Coast Surf Shop collab, this sessionable ale is dry-hopped with Vic Secret Hops to give a rush of juicy pineapple aromas" (source).
  • Odd Side Citra Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Citra hopped version of our New England IPA. Smooth, juicy, hazy beer with a citrus aroma and notes of grapefruit and lemon" (source).
  • Odd Side Mosiac Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Mosaic hopped version of our New England IPA. Aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, and berries give way to a smooth, hazy beer with citrus flavors with a hint of pine" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Water Street Wheat, $2.49/16oz - "An unfiltered German-style wheat beer with the traditional banana and clove flavors and aromas derived from the unique Hefe-Weizen yeast strain" (source).

Video of the Week | Dogfish Head Mixed Media

Get it at now at Siciliano's (while supplies last)!


Friday, July 6, 2018

New Beer Friday, Cracked Pipe Edition (July 6)

Rod, Steve's regular handyman
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I’m not much of a handyman so when something needs fixing around the house or at the store I hire someone to do it. Most of the time that someone is my friend Rod Lawrence who, I’m convinced, owns every tool devised by man and who takes great delight in ribbing me about my mechanical maladroitness. But sometimes a repair is beyond even Rod’s considerable skills and I have to enlist the help of a specialist. Thankfully there’s plenty of folks in the environs of Beer City USA who are willing and able to do the work.

Unfortunately that’s not the case at the cottage. When something needs to be repaired at our Lake County lake house it can be a challenge finding someone to do the work. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of folks who claim they’re willing and able to do the work as evidenced by the number of advertisements on restaurant placemats and by the proliferation of business cards plastered on bulletins boards in saloons, gas stations and grocery stores. The problem is getting some of these folks to show up. Some won’t even bother returning your calls.

I’m not sure why this is but I surmise that if you’re in business in a rural area rife with cottages and weekend retreats you probably have more work than you want or need. Whatever the reason it certainly can be frustrating.

I went through that frustration a few weeks ago when I was trying to find someone to replace a section of PVC pipe that carries groundwater from a basement sump pump. I had noticed that an area of the yard was perpetually green and when I saw water bubbling up through the ground one day I immediately suspected a cracked pipe. I grabbed a shovel and after a few minutes of digging I found it.

One guy I called surveyed the situation and promised to get back to me with a quote. After waiting a few weeks and after leaving a few terse voice mails I wrote him off. I then called another guy and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when he called me back. He said his foreman would contact me by the end of the day and I was even more surprised when he did. The foreman told me he would be at the cottage sometime around three on the following day. I crossed my fingers.

It was 6:30 when he finally showed up with two of his workers and by then I had become resigned that I would have to attempt the repair myself. The foreman immediately told me about his broken ribs and his two workers seemed less than enthusiastic about tackling another project after working all day in the heat. I was afraid they would leave so I grabbed a shovel and began digging. The two workers reluctantly followed my lead.

It took us three hours to uncover, extricate and replace the twelve foot section of cracked and root-clogged pipe. I did a good deal of the digging. The two workers took a good deal of breaks. The foreman supervised. After the digging was done and the old pipe was out I left the installation of the new pipe to my coworkers and jumped in the lake. Afterwards I relaxed on the deck with a G & T feeling pretty darn good about myself. I may not be much of a handyman but I’m pretty good at handling a shovel.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brew Detroit Cerveza Delray, $1.69/16oz - "A Mexican-style lager" (source).
  • Cutwater Bourbon Highball, $3.79/12oz - "Just bourbon, soda water, and mint. Our take on a Whiskey Highball is the perfect showcase for our Black Skimmer Bourbon with hints of honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla. When combined with our house-made soda and a dash of mint, you have one simply refreshing cocktail" (source).
  • Cutwater Cucumber Vodka Soda, $3.79/12oz - "Cool, fresh, and effervescent, our Cucumber Vodka Soda is a new take on the classic cocktail. We start with our exceptionally smooth award-winning Fugu Vodka. Then add just a hint of cucumber to our unique house-made soda. It’s a refreshing cocktail that will take you places" (source).
  • Cutwater Gin and Tonic, $3.79/12oz - "Even when updated, some cocktails are timeless. We’ve blended our clean and fragrant Old Grove Gin with our house-made grapefruit cucumber tonic to re-create the perfect match. A modern spin on an old classic, the bright citrusy flavors will keep you refreshed day or night" (source).
  • Cutwater Mild Bloody Mary, $3.79/12oz - "Our Fugu Mild Bloody Mary is perfect for those who like a stronger dose of tomato in their mix. This veggie-forward cocktail is perfect with our signature Fugu Vodka, featuring ripe tomatoes and exotic spices, for a classic cocktail that is dangerously drinkable" (source).
  • Cutwater Rum and Ginger, 3.79/12oz - "This Rum & Ginger is like none you’ve ever tasted. We blend our Three Sheets White Rum, crafted from pure cane sugar, with our fresh and spicy house-made ginger beer to create a robust yet balanced craft cocktail. It’s a storm of flavor that is sure to warm your pallet" (source).
  • Cutwater Spicy Bloody Mary, $3.79/12oz - "Like the venomous namesake fish this Fugu Bloody Mary packs a sting. We’ve combined our signature Fugu Vodka with our award-winning Bloody Mary mix, featuring ripe tomatoes, exotic spices and a heavy dose of pepper, to make a spicy cocktail that is dangerously drinkable" (source).
  • Cutwater Tequila Paloma, $3.79/12oz - "Our Tequila Paloma puts a south of the border favorite in the palm of your hand. The tequila gives a floral aroma with a smooth finish that complements the sweet flavors of our house-made grapefruit soda. It’s a sparkling citrus cocktail that will have you dreaming of your next beach getaway" (source).
  • Dark Horse Obtuse Spruce, $2.99/12oz - "Pale ale brewed with spruce tips" (source).
  • Great Divide Strawberry Rhubarb, $11.69/22oz - "Strawberry is the yin to rhubarb’s yang—the sweet to the tart. This beautiful partnership creates a beer that glows ruby in the glass, bursts with strawberry aroma, and bites with every sip. Bright and effervescent, this sour is a fun and refreshing, lip-puckering treat perfect for every occasion, any time of the year" (source).
  • Short's Strawberry Shorts Cake, $2.59/12oz - "Strawberry Short’s Cake is a Golden Ale brewed with the addition of strawberries and milk sugar. The flavors of shortcake and fresh strawberries transform this beer into rose-colored party nectar that is pleasingly sweet with hints of cream. Biscuit flavors and aromas arise from the use of large amounts of Victory malt" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse

Dark Horse: A destination with all the right vices.