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Friday, June 23, 2017

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

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

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

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

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

New and Returning Beer

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

Video of the Week | Tres Blueberry

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, June 9, 2017

New Beer Friday, Ludington Bay Edition (June 9)

Patti & Tom Buchanan
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

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

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

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

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

New and Returning Beer

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

Video of the Week | North Coast

The story of North Coast Brewing Company


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June Brew of the Month: Sofrunky Wow Pear Gose

Original label by Jaime Miller
By Hayden Shelley

We’re a few weeks from the start of summer now and it finally feels as if the warm weather might be here to stay. Around this time of the year I find myself filled with a sudden urge for two styles of beer: fruit beers and Gose (Goses?).  Therefore, for my brew of the month I wanted to combine the two. I brainstormed about which fruit would combine best with the crisp refreshing flavor of a Gose when, finally, my mind came to pears, and I got to work on my recipe.

For this beer, I chose a classic grain bill of 60% wheat malt accompanied by 40% pilsner malt. I mashed in for a 60-minute rest at 148°F to finish with a highly fermentable wort. To achieve the sourness I felt appropriate, I added two pounds of sour malt after the initial mash was complete and followed with a second rest for 45 minutes. Once complete I sparged as usually and proceeded with a 90-minute boil. Tettnang hops were added at 60 minutes for bittering. The only other additions came from coriander seed and pink Himalayan sea salt added with 10 minutes left in the boil.  For a clean yeast character I chose to pitch Wyeast 1007 German Ale. After two weeks in the primary I racked the beer onto five pounds of Bartlett pears where it sat for one more week prior to kegging.

With this being my first experience using pears I was eager to tap the beer. To the eye it has a light-yellow color with the familiar haze and creamy white head often seen in wheat beers.  The flavor shows a subtle pear sweetness combined with citrus character from the coriander and a salty minerality from the pink Himalayan sea salt. The beer finishes tart, dry and highly refreshing.

Overall I am pleasantly surprised with the way this turned out.  It is a Frankenstein creation of two of my favorite styles of beers and I feel as if it can please even the pickiest of beer drinkers. Oh, and for the name, let’s just leave it at AutoCorrect’s attempt at translating a drunk text message. Vital Statistics OG: 1.048 FG: 1.009 IBUs: 11.3 SRM: 3.6 ABV: 5.1%

All Grain Brewing ($28.31*)

    • 5.75 lbs. Briess White Wheat Malt
    • 3.75 lbs. Avangard Pilsner Malt
    • 2 lbs. Acidulated Malt
    • 1.4 oz. German Tettnang Hops (60 mins)
    • 1 oz. Coriander Seed (10 mins)
    • 0.75 oz. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt* (10 mins)
    • Wyeast 1007 German Ale
    • 5 lbs. Bartlett Pears*

Extract Brewing ($34.24*)

    • 4 lbs. Wheat Liquid Malt
    • 2.9 lbs. Light Liquid Malt
    • 2 lbs. Acidulated Malt
    • 1.4 oz. German Tettnang Hops (60 mins)
    • 1 oz. Coriander Seed (10 mins)
    • 0.75 oz. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt* (10 mins)
    • Wyeast 1007 German Ale
    • 5 lbs. Bartlett Pears*

*Cost of pink Himalayan sea salt and Bartlett pears not reflected in this price.

Friday, June 2, 2017

New Beer Friday, Founders Beer & Cigar Event (June 2)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I am excited to announce that on Wednesday, June 28, Siciliano's Market is teaming up with Founders Brewing Company for a beer and cigar event on the patio of the brewery's Centennial Room at 235 Grandville SW in Grand Rapids.

For the admission price of $60.00, attendees will receive three pints of Founders beer, two Perdomo cigars and a selection of light snacks prepared by the Centennial Room catering team. Two of the beers that will be served at the event have been chosen by the Founders education staff to pair with two different blends in the Perdomo Special Craft Series, a premium line of cigars that Tabacalera Perdomo recently created to complement the aromas and flavors found in various styles of craft beer.

Representatives from both Perdomo and Founders will be on hand to discuss how smokes and suds complement and enhance one another. The event will begin at 6:00 pm. Go here to purchase tickets and for additional information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Goose Island Summertime, $1.79/12oz - "With a light fruity aroma and a bright, crisp finish, Goose Island Summertime Kölsch is the perfect summer session ale.  A Kölsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of Summertime as much as you do those hot summer days and cool summer nights" (source).
  • Perrin Black Goat, $11.49/22oz - "This beer is aged in Woodford Bourbon Barrels, some of the most sought after bourbon barrels in the craft brew industry. We took the recipe for our Black Lager and doubled the ingredients. Forty days after the magic happened, the goat was birthed. Black Goat is a Double Black Lager, sure to please the harshest of critics" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Mackinac Island Fudge, $2.89/12oz - "Each small batch is brewed with 5 different malts , real fudge, milk sugar, and a light dose of hops for a deliciously rich and complex chocolate flavor that’s not too sweet or too heavy" (source).
  • Vivant Tropical Saison, $3.49/16oz - "Live the good life. Pair great beer with great food and enjoy it with friends and family. Tropical Saison is a summertime reverie, bringing together the best our Midwest sunshine has to offer. A slightly spicy character, light effervescence, and the addition of real pineapple & mango juice make this beer perfect for a Michigan summer. The hop presence lends a complexity to this brew. Live the Bon Vivant" (source).
  • Wolverine Barista, $1.99/12oz - "A collobration brew with Ann Arbor’s RoosRoast featuring locally roasted Colombian coffee. Wolverine Brewer Karl Hinburn, once in the coffee roasting business himself, spearheaded the coffee side of this beer, finally selecting a Colombian Excelso bean roasted at Roos. Part beer, part coffee, what’s not to love" (source).

Video of the Week | Oberon Beermosa

A new recipe for Sunday brunch.


Friday, May 26, 2017

New Beer Friday, Jeff Carlson's Big Win Edition (May 26)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

A Kolsch brewed by Jeff Carlson has taken top honors in the Fourteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. The Grand Rapids resident and longtime member of the Prime Time Brewers homebrew club was presented with the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup last Saturday at the Fourteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party at Johnson Park. The competition’s top prize also includes a $500.00 gift card from Siciliano’s Market and the opportunity to brew the award-winning recipe at Trail Point Brewery’s seven-barrel system.

Joining Carlson in the Best of Show round in the competition’s judging on April 20 were West Michigan homebrewers John Britt, Mike Finnochio and James Lewis.

“It’s a thrill to win the Cup,” Carlson said after the awards ceremony last Saturday at the Homebrew Party. “This is a tough competition and to win Best of Show is very gratifying. Today I tasted the Best of Show round beers that were brewed by John and Mike and they were outstanding. I think I might have had a little luck on my side.”

While this is the first time Carlson has won a competition with one of his hand-crafted beers, he has garnered numerous accolades for his homemade cider. He has won the American Homebrewers Association Cider Maker of the Year award five times and this year five of his cider entries were awarded medals in the Chicago Regional and are moving on to the Nationals.

This is the second year in a row that a member of the Grand Rapids-based Prime Time Brewers has won the Siciliano’s Cup. Jeremy Gavin won the award last year with a Dark Czech Lager.

New and Returning Beer

  • Bee Ryder Mead Orange Grove, $20.89/375ml - "Mead fermented with Florida orange blossom honey, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon" (source).
  • Bee Ryder Mead Always Maple In The Banana Stand, $24.19/375ml - "Mead fermented with local wildflower honey, bananas and maple syrup" (source).
  • Anchor Blackberry Daze IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Blackberry Daze IPA™ is a synergistic union of blackberries and hops. Because the blackberry was once wildly rampant in California, it is our ideal choice for this singular Anchor brew" (source).
  • Blackrocks Honey Lav, $1.79/12oz - "This is our summer seasonal beer. An American wheat brewed with Michigan honey and full lavender flowers. A fresh and flavorful ale with a great balance between the floral lavender and sweet honey" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Nawt A Cawp, $3.59/16oz - "A bitter, moderately strong American pale ale that uses its clean, supporting malt to showcase its hop character" (source).
  • Central Waters Barleywine, $4.09/12oz - "An American Barleywine Ale aged in used oak Bourbon barrels, this beer develops rich flavors that deepen over time" (source).
  • Central Waters Brewhouse Coffee, $5.49/22oz - "A coffee lover’s delight! A wonderful stout infused with coffee that is specially roasted for us by Emy J’s ( in Stevens Point, WI" (source).
  • Prairie Birthday Bomb, $8.99/12oz - "Birthday Bomb! was conceived to celebrate three wonderful years of experimentation and fun loving flavors like the current incarnation with caramel sauce. Made in house by our brewers with nothing but black gloves and a propane tank. The rest is the complex mix of hops and malt with a healthy dose of the signature coffee and spices. You know exactly what we’re talking about" (source).
  • Stillwater Yacht, $2.59/16oz - "Canned beer has made a serious return in the craft brewing world. Prior to this resurgence, the only beer found in cans were industrial lagers. So as a nod in both directions we present an elegantly crisp and hoppy new world lager. The light and refreshing pilsner malt body delivers an abundance of floral, spice, and grass driven hop flavors and aroma. Perfect for those luxurious cruises through the Caribbean" (source).
  • Stillwater On Fleek, $2.89/12oz - "Big, overhyped imperial stouts, amirite? This one on fleek tho. The most amazing collaboration ever with Casita Cerveceria" (source).
  • Evil Twin and Two Roads Geyser Gose, $2.89/16oz - "Two Roads and Evil Twin sourced local ingredients during a trip to Iceland for this collaboration including: Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and birch-smoked sea salt to create a Two + Evil twist on a gose beer; a sour wheat-style ale with a hint of smoke, light lemon color, dry finish and thirst quenching appeal" (source).
  • Evil Twin Aurantiaco, $2.89/12oz - "Ale Brewed With Blood Orange Added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Nomader Weisse, $2.89/12oz - "Nomads; constantly moving, 'round and 'round; sometimes settle, if just for a bit. Perhaps the muse moves one to brew a sharp and clean session beer, one inspired by the Berliner-weisse of old, and the nomad rests. Enjoy this beer, here, there, perhaps north of Madison Square Park, in lovely New York City. Wherever you are, this beer was made nice, simply for you" (source).
  • Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, $3.99/16oz - "An oatmeal stout with 25.0% oat-based ingredients and a nice touch of gourmet coffee. A beer that goes extremely well with breakfast" (source).
  • Mikkeller California Dream, $2.99/16oz - "Hoppy Pilsner" (source).
  • Mikkeller Waves Bolger, $2.99/16oz - "American IPA" (source).
  • Green Flash Ideal Belgique, $12.89/750ml - "Our Belgian-style Dark Ale is inspired by traditional Abbey ales to deliver the richest roasted malt flavors. Dual-yeast fermentation, spicy hops, and the addition of Muscovado brown sugar provide increased complexity and depth of flavor which effortlessly combine to present a delicious, balanced brew with a velvety smooth texture that pleases the palate" (source).
  • Green Flash Divine Belgique, $12.89/750ml - "Rich, pale malt flavors provide a solid base for zesty Czech Saaz and Styrian Golding hops. Monastery Ale Yeast lends a fruity, spicy profile reminiscent of classic, Trappist ales—a time-honored monastic brewing method. Our Trippel is a luscious, fiery, golden brew—a contemporary Green Flash interpretation of the historic Belgian style" (source).
  • Green Flash Blonde, $1.79/12oz - "GFB has an approachable flavor with hints of honey and orange peel complemented by a mellow malt character" (source).
  • Ridge Hop'd, $1.99/12oz - "Hop’d uses three varieties of hops to impart a bright citrusy flavor to this dry gem" (source).
  • Ridge Porch Sittin, $1.99/12oz - "Perfect for a fall evening of “porch sittin’,” this cider is comprised of a blend of vanilla and cinnamon that comforts you like a warm blanket.  Enjoy warm or cold with caramelized cinnamon sugar on the rim of your glass" (source).
  • Short's I got 5 on It, $1.99/12oz - "I Got 5 On It is a medium-bodied American India Pale Ale brewed with five different hop varieties.  A blend of earthy and sweet citrus hop aromas softy rise from this hop forward brew.  Bready malt and fruity tangerine flavors lead into a prominent bitterness that resonates pleasantly and finishes dry" (source).
  • Short's Nicie Spicie, $1.99/12oz - "Northern Michigan spiced wheat ale. A 50% mixture of premium two-row malted barley and malted white wheat makes golden wheat ale balanced with Ahtanum and Cascade hop varieties. This ale is spiced with fresh grated lemon and orange rind, coriander, and black peppercorns. It’s truly a fermented wonder of the Short’s Brew formula family" (source).
  • Short's Melt my Brain, $1.99/12oz - "Melt My Brain is an experimental Golden Ale brewed with coriander, juniper berries, limes and blended with tonic water to create the tasting experience of drinking a gin and tonic cocktail.  Delicate aromas of citrus and pine flow into bold bright flavors of sweet lime with a slightly sticky bitterness.  Refreshing and clean, a tasty tonic effervescence provokes the palate for more" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Nawt A Cawp, $3.59/16oz - "Imperial IPA" (source).
  • Ommegang Behind the Knee, $9.99/750ml - "When fans last gripped their glasses at the end of Game of Thrones' sixth season, the great houses of Westeros were on the brink of an epic conflict. Cersei had ascended to the Iron Throne as the first queen of Westeros, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark had just reclaimed the North, and Daenerys Targaryen had set sail for the Seven Kingdoms. To commemorate the coming mêlée in the Emmy® Award-winning show’s epic seventh season, Brewery Ommegang and HBO Global Licensing are excited to announce a new beer in their collaborative series: Bend the Knee Golden Ale" (source).
  • Deschutes Cultivator, $17.19/22oz (1 per) - No commercial description.
  • Goose Island Lolita, $9.29/12oz - "Lolita is a pink rose colored Belgian style pale ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on raspberries in wine barrels. Aromas of fresh raspberries, bright jammy fruit flavors and crisp, refreshing body make Lolita ideal for beer drinkers fond of Belgian Framboise" (source).

Video of the Week | Beer City Whisky

Doesn't sound like this will be available at retail outlets (aka Siciliano's),
but do visit our pals down at Long Road for a taste!


Friday, May 19, 2017

New Beer Friday, Buyer and Cellar Edition (May 19)

By Steve Siciliano

After a pleasant drive through the rolling hills and blossoming orchards of northern Kent County this past Tuesday, my wife Barb and I decided to check out Cellar Brewing Company's new digs in downtown Sparta. We're glad we did. Solid beer, well prepared food and a comfortable taproom made for an enjoyable late afternoon visit to this nicely appointed brewpub located in the heart of west Michigan's fruit-growing region.

Cellar Brewing's new facility is only a short distance away from the old, but in terms of a comfortable and inviting space the two locations couldn't be more different. The old location was windowless, dark and somewhat gloomy. The new facility is bright and airy and has a large, triangular-shaped bar situated in the middle of the large taproom. Patrons can look down through a glass wall at the basement brewhouse, two large windowed garage doors face the street and five gleaming 10-gallon fermenters are lined against one of the walls.

Guests also have the option of enjoying head brewer Adam Mill's excellent beers and chef Nathan Ingersoll's solid cuisine in another large and nicely appointed dining space adjacent to the taproom.   The facility offers cider and a large selection of wine, and owner Chuck Brown plans on having locally produced Bier Distillery spirits available in the near future. Visit Cellar Brewing Company's website for hours and additional information.

Cellar Owner Chuck Brown and Steve Siciliano

New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Pooltime, $1.89/12oz - "Pooltime Ale is a refreshing Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale with light clove notes. The truly distinguishing feature is the use of 100% Montmorency tart cherries grown in the Traverse City region of Michigan. These cherries add a subtle tartness and bright counterpoint to the other flavors, enhancing Pooltime’s fruity character and making it the perfect beer for all summer activities" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Devastation, $6.59/16oz - "Devastation is a curious experiment of what happens to hops when aged in wood. Tree Bucket, our Belgian inspired DIPA, is aged in freshly drained bourbon barrels until the balance of hops and wood is just right. This hedonistic pairing of huge mango aromas from Citra hops and rich vanillin from charred wood will make your wonder why it's dark beers that get the barrel time" (source).
  • Founders Doom, $3.89/12oz, $11.99/750ml - "Doom may be impending but that doesn’t mean you have to fear it. A collision of worlds, the intense hop character of our imperial IPA mingles with the warm vanilla and oak notes imparted from time spent in our favorite bourbon barrels. Like all good things, Doom comes to those who wait" (source).
  • Grand Armory Mother Schmucker, $2.09/12oz - "A blonde ale with 100 pounds of raspberries added to the fermenter. Try pairing with Nutter Your Business for a Grand Armory PB&J! Or as we like to call it, "Nutter Your Business, Mother Schmucker"" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, $1.29/12oz - "Our brewers selected the finest, most flavorful hops, pushed them beyond their limits and forged them into this all-new triple IPA. This reimagined Hoptimum is our hoppiest beer yet, providing a blend of tropical and citrus hop aroma that delivers a refined yet aggressive character" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Ovila White, $2.29/12oz - "The monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux hold themselves to a higher standard. So when they challenged us to create a beer that transcends all others, our brewers blended Old World tradition with modern-day mastery to deliver the perfect expression of Belgian witbier worthy of a goblet but comfortable in a pint" (source).
  • New Belgium La Folie 2017, $15.99/22oz (1 per) - "La Folie, French for "the folly," is a beer steeped in New Belgium brewing tradition. This wood-aged, sour brown spends one to three years in big, oak barrels, known as foeders. And when the beer finally hits the glass, La Folie is sharp and sour, full of green apple, cherry, and plum-skin notes. Pouring a deep mahogany, the mouthfeel will get you puckering while the smooth finish will get you smiling. Not a beer for the timid, La Folie is a sour delight that will turn your tongue on its head. Find out why it's considered one of the best sour beers around" (source).
  • Deschutes Hop Slice, $1.79/12oz - "A trio of hops come together in this crisp session IPA. Brewed with Meyer lemon, Hop Slice balances floral hop notes and a subtle citrus kick. Malt: Pale, Honey malt, C 60, Munich. Hops: Galaxy, Azacca, Amarillo" (source).
  • Right Brain Spinal Tapper, $1.79/12oz - "A medium bitterness IPA using only Calypso hops, a new crossbred variety from the West Coast. Expect an earthy hop flavor accented by subtle notes of pear and green apple and showcasing a beautiful copper/orange color similar to that of Oktoberfest style beers" (source).
  • ROAK Beach Lord IPL, $1.69/12oz - An India Pale Lager.
  • Avery The Reverend, $3.29/12oz - "A divinely complex and beautifully layered beer with hints of dark cherries, currants, and molasses, complemented by an underlying spiciness. Sinfully smooth considering the high alcohol content" (source).
  • Ommegang Pale Sour, $3.29/11.2oz - "A beautifully clean and balanced sour beer that drinks like a fine white wine, Pale sour pours a bright golden hue with a brilliant white head. The flavor is an elegant interplay of subtle sweet malt, and clean lactic sour. With a soft mouthfeel, a delicate body, and a bright clean finish, Pale Sour Ale is eminently drinkable" (source).

Video of the Week | La Folie

The history of New Belgium's sour program.


Friday, May 12, 2017

New Beer Friday, Big Brew Day Revisited Edition (May 12)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The sun was just coming up when I pulled into Trail Point's parking lot last Saturday but homebrewers were already busy setting up tents, pots, propane burners, mash tuns, gas grills and portable kegerators at their designated brewing stations.

After helping our handyman Rod unwind fire hoses and offload buckets, immersion chillers, PVC pipe, a sink, garden hoses and the six manifold Scorpion wort chiller, I left the setup of the chilling and cleaning stations in Rod's capable hands, grabbed two power strips and two long extension cords and walked over to where Barb had placed the brewing teams that needed electric. “You guys are here early,” I shouted to the Rivertown Homebrewers.

Steve Morren looked over at me and smiled. “Of course. It's Big Brew Day.”

In 1988 the United States Congress decreed that the hobby of brewing beer be added to the list of National Days and in that same year the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created The Big Brew Day as a way for homebrewers to gather and celebrate the national recognition of their hobby. AHA Big Brews are now held each year at hundreds of venues around the country on the first Saturday in May.

Five years ago Siciliano’s Market sponsored its first Big Brew Day and the event has since become one of West Michigan’s most popular public homebrewing celebrations. Last Saturday twenty-five teams of dedicated hobbyists brewed batches of Beer City Oated Pale Ale at the Trail Point location and a steady stream of visitors were able to sample a wide variety of homebrewed, hand-crafted beer.

When Barb and I approached Trail Point owners Gary Evans and Jeff Knoblock about the possibility of hosting a Big Brew event at their brewery they immediately said yes. Gary and Jeff are both former homebrewers and they recognize the importance of staying in touch with the homebrewing community.

It was late morning before I had the time to sample my first beer — an excellent Flanders Red that Rich Lord brought to the event. I tasted many great home brews that day, many of which were awarded medals at this year's Siciliano's Homebrew Competition.

Shorty before 1 p.m. I crawled up on the bed of my truck, grabbed the microphone and asked the assemblage to gather around in preparation for the simultaneous, country-wide toast. I kept an eye on the time while sipping on one of Nick Rodammer's excellent hand-crafted brews.

“Here's to the life enriching hobby of homebrewing,” I shouted into the microphone at the top of the hour. It was wonderful knowing that all across the country thousands of homebrewers were cheering.

New and Returning Beer

  • Batch Brewing Handsome Stranger, $13.19/750ml - "Hibiscus Saison. Floral. Slightly Tart. Balanced" (source).
  • Batch Brewing Second to Last Word, $13.19/500ml - "Our tribute to the classic Detroit cocktail. A kettle sour brewed with gin botanicals from Two James distilling. Served with a cherry and lime rim" (source).
  • Evil Twin Mission Gose, $2.289/12oz - "Effortlessly cool, popping up up in a cultish fashion and constantly on a tasty mission. This is mission Gose: our take on a old-fashioned and slightly odd German style beer that is with good reason trending as the tastiest right now. It’s tart, salty, low in alcohol and probably the most refreshing beer you’ll have. Perhaps enjoy this beer in a restaurant with a mission near you. Wherever you are we made it stylishly good and exclusively well balanced just for you" (source).
  • Evil Twin Geyser Gose, $2.89/16oz - "Our first ever collaboration brewed with Jeppe from Evil Twin. Two Evil twist on gose with ingredients sourced from Iceland including Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr and birch smoked sea salt" (source).
  • Evil Twin Falco, $2.59/16oz - "What makes a great leader? First of all a perfectly balanced blend of qualities, the ability to stand out,be authoritative without overpowering. Sho courage and endurance, you will lead the way and set the standards. Very important, be appealing and refreshing to the people. This stereotypical portrait applies whether referring to politics, religion or maybe even this outstanding IPA" (source).
  • New Holland Tasmanian Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Tasmanian Hatter brings you flavors from the region of the Tasman Sea. Hops from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest combine to present bright, tropical flavors of mango and citrus, beautifully framed with biscuity malt character" (source).
  • Short's Slurm, $1.99/12oz - "Slurm is a hazy, juicy New England style India Pale Ale. Light orange in color with a prominent haze, Slurm has aromas of pineapple and mango. Big tropical fruit flavors hit you up front and carry through to the finish. This easy drinking, medium-bodied New England style IPA has a slightly bitter, dry finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Nu Skool, $1.69/12oz - "We spent over a year prototyping R&D versions of Nu Skool. This final version is one special beer. It is an IPA with a slight malty sweetness, but overall balanced & brimming with tropical, fruity, spicy, piney & citrus character. To contrast our IPA, which most closely resembles a traditional English IPA in malt & hop bills, we wanted to brew an India Pale Ale in a new way. West Coast brewers have been brewing lighter, more “Americanized,” yet still full of hop character & our brewers wanted to try their hand by brewing their take" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Isla Estrana, $14.29/750ml - No commercial description.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Bière de Mars, $14.99/750ml - "A sustaining beer that is brewed to comfort in the gusty ides of March and welcome in a wealth of warmer weather" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Clementina, $14.99/750ml - "Brewed with clementine, yuzu peel, lime peel, pink Himalayan salt, and coriander" (source).
  • B. Nektar Death Unicorn, $8.19/500ml - "Hard cider with black currant" (source).
  • Ommegang Brunetta, $3.29/12oz - "A new collaboration beer coming from Ommegang and Liefmans.  This is Brunetta and it is an Oud Bruin ale that will hit 5%-AbV" (source).
  • Odd Side Grapefruit Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "A wheat beer brewed with grapefruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Wheatermelon, $2.19/12oz - "The perfect summer treat. A wheat ale brewed with tons of fresh cut watermelon" (source).
  • Odd Side El Dankerino, $2.49/12oz - "West Coast IIPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Lemon Party, $1.69/12oz - "No commercial description" (source).
  • Kona Lemongrass Luau, $1.69/12oz - "Ale brewed with ginger with lemongrass and ginger added" (source).
  • Arcadia Berry Vice, $2.09/12oz - "A sweet, tart refreshing fruit wheat beer fermented with red and black raspberries as well as blueberries. Hazy fuchsia in color topped by a white head with a hint of pink, this beer looks as sweet as it tastes. Aromas of raspberries, blueberry skins and bready malt match its slightly dry flavor while wheat malt accentuates the tartness of the berries. Its medium-light body and effervescent carbonation make it a perfect summer refreshment" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Ninja Turtle Milkshake Stout, $2.39/16oz - "Our efforts toward continuous improvement have paid off with the latest batch in the Flavored Mikshake Stout series. Complex layered notes of chocolate, caramel and toasted pecans mix with the familiar taste of the original Milkshake Stout and raise the decadance of this dessert beer. Ninja Turtle pours jet black with an off white to tan colored head" (source).

With Special Guest Star

We were pleased and honored to have this special guest show up
at our Big Brew event. See you next year!