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Friday, November 21, 2014

New Beer Friday, Too Early for Snow Edition (Nov 21)

Brady the Bulldog loving the snow.
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“It’s way too early for this!”

I wish I had a bottle of Westvleteren 12 for each time I heard someone yelling, shrieking, screeching, bellowing, muttering and growling those words this week. Throw in a bottle of Kate the Great for every time a colorful expletive was included somewhere within those exasperated statements and I’ll be sipping on two of the world’s most sought after beers through next February.

It is, of course, way too early to be moving twelve-inch plus piles of lake effect snow off driveways, to be constantly scraping windshields, dealing with drifts, negotiating ice-covered roads and knocking thick columns of frozen water off eaves and gutters. Usually we here in the environs of Beer City USA are afforded the opportunity to gradually acclimate ourselves to the trials and tribulations of a West Michigan winter, but it appears that Mother Nature has decided to be unreasonably cruel this year.

We can take a little solace in the fact the forecast is calling for warmer temperatures and for the Big Lake snow-making machine to shut down over the weekend. But then of course there’s that slightly irritating prognostication about an attack of freezing rain. It’s a good thing that we have a nice lineup of new and returning beers this week to help soften the pummeling we’ve been taking from this way too early bout of nasty midwinter weather.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium Frambozen, $1.89/12oz - "Frambozen begins with the aroma of fresh red raspberries, followed by the ripe seductiveness of a fruity brown ale with depth and delicate malt notes. It is deep ruby in color, with flavors just as rich. Every year, New Belgium sends a delegate to the Pacific Northwest to oversee the process of turning freshly picked berries into a pure juice to be added in fermentation. The coming of Thanksgiving at New Belgium is ushered in with the first sighting of our cellar operators scuttling about, covered head to tow in a festive crimson berry wash" (source).
  • North Peak Dubious, $1.79/12oz - "North Peak Dubious is a Dark Chocolate Stout that has the perfect combination of chocolate, roast and black malts resulting in a smooth rich beer. Judicious use of hops bring out a complex, yet subtle bittering finished off with a big Goldings nose. This swirl of aroma, flavor and body is underscored by the rich chocolate that is added at the end of the boil. This medium bodied beer is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tart Side Of The Moon, $4.39/16oz - "This dark ale is fermented with a blend of two rustic Belgian yeast strains which gives the beer an up front farmhouse tartness followed by hints of coffee, dark chocolate, and black cherries. We aged the beer for over three months to give the yeast time to work its magic and let the flavors meld together. Listen to that lunatic in your head, dust off that vinyl, pour the beer into a glass and sip your way into a happy, chilled out groove" (source).
  • Leinenkugel Big Eddy Cherry Doppelscwarz, $2.99/12oz - "Bittersweet chocolate and coffee-like malt character blends beautiful with the subtle tartness of Door County, Wisconsin cherries to create a decadent, yet amazingly balanced Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz. The result is everything an Imperial Schwarzbier should be…with a cherry on top" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Old Detroit, $1.69/12oz - "A full-bodied, reddish brown ale with medium maltiness and low bitterness" (source).
  • Short's The Curl, $1.99/12oz - "The Curl was one of the first Imperial beers made at Short’s. This American Pilsner has an appealing clear, bright, and golden straw color. Faint esters of grain and aromas of fresh baked bread are prominent throughout the beer. The flavor results from the abundance of flake maize used in this recipe. There are also hefty doses of hops that create a pronounced dryness that seamlessly blends into a crisp, clean finish" (source).
  • Griffin Claw 3 Scrooges, $2.19/16oz - "Brewed with honey, orange peel and spices, this winter ale is perfect for the season" (source).
  • Arbor Fig Jam Quad, $2.89/12oz - "Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like this FIGJAM QUADRUPLE with it’s warming alcohol, figgy undertones, dark dried fruit flavors of raison dates, hints of fresh baked bread, and a beautiful dry finish that leaves you wanting more" (source).

Picture of the Week | The Bandit Queen Ramen Bar

Click here for our own Doug Dorda's review of The Bandit Queen
a new Ramen restaurant in downtown GR.


Friday, November 14, 2014

New Beer Friday, Deer Camp Edition (November 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The deer in the vicinity of Irons, Michigan will have nothing to fear from a group of men who will be gathering in a cabin in the woods this weekend. Instead of stalking whitetail, they’ll be cooking up big pots of stew, chili and chicken cacciatore. There will be loaves of crusty bread, cases of craft beer, jugs of hard cider, some good bourbon and numerous bottles of homemade wine. There will be poker games, a good deal of cigar smoking, and much talking, laughing, bantering and good-natured ribbing around the camp fire.

The men might raise a toast to the relatives and friends who are gone and may reminisce a little about mid-November weekends past. They’ll probably add an episode or two to their collection of deer camp memories.

Here's to another year of deer camp. If you're heading out into the woods this weekend, be careful, have fun, and don't forget to stop at Siciliano's before you hit the road out of town.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Nut Brown, $1.79/12oz - "Our Nut Brown Ale is a full bodied English-style brown ale with a deep mahogany color. We use six different types of premium malted barley to create a flavor that includes hints of chocolate, raisins, dates and almonds. The malty sweet finish is balanced by a smooth bitterness and a subtle fruitiness in flavor and hop aroma" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $1.69/12oz - "For many, our little town of Frankenmuth is known as Christmas Town. So, it's no wonder we created an ale to celebrate the Merry Season. Enjoy toasted sweet dark malts and American hops which combine with holiday flavors to create a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas" (source).
  • Dark Horse Too Cream Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number Too - This beer is made with milk sugar (lactose) which gives this beer a nice creamy mouth feel which mingles with hints of chocolate and roasty flavors" (source).
  • Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout, $7.19/22oz - "Thin mint cookie, meet John Niedermaier A stout made with organic locally-grown whole leaf mint. She’s just back from a stint in the cooler for being too naughty. She might have mellowed out but this stout is still naughty at heart" (source).
  • Odd Side Firefly, $2.59/12oz - "Pale Ale with Habanero and Mango" (source).
  • Odd Side How Now Brown Cow, $1.99/12oz - "A brown ale" (source).
  • Shorts Evil Urges, $2.19/12oz - "Evil Urges is a Belgian dark strong ale with a deep dark brown color. A sharp aroma of chocolate and molasses hits the senses, reminiscent of a rich liqueur. Aided by additions of Belgian amber candi sugar, the initial flavors are sweet and malty, with some unique, dark fruit qualities. This full bodied beer is defined by its roast malt character and slight black coffee bitterness that lead into an intense warming finish" (source).
  • O'fallon Wheach, $1.79/12oz - "Imagine our smooth, clean wheat beer with a touch of peach and you get the idea behind O'Fallon Wheach, our peach wheat beer. Refreshing and crisp, it's perfect for warm summer weather" (source).
  • Big Sky Ivan The Terrible, $3.19/12oz - "Big Sky Brewing’s Ivan the terrible Imperial Stout is brewed according to the traditional style using english hops and the finest american malt. It’s aroma and flavor balance well between esters of dried fruit and roasted cocoa with a slight bourbon presence" (source).

Beer & Spirit Tastings

Video of the Week | Let's Have a Pastie, Eh?

Escanaba in da Moonlight, a deer camp classic.


Friday, November 7, 2014

New Beer Friday, The Big Easy Edition (November 7)

Steve in New Orleans, LA
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Whenever Harry Winston gets back in town he stops by Siciliano's and we make plans to meet up at our favorite tavern. If no one’s on the pool table those nights we might play a couple of games of eight ball and if the dart board is open we might throw a game or two of cricket. Mostly though we sit at the corner booth and drink a few beers and Harry gives me the low down on his latest travels. The last time I saw him he had just returned from another trip to New Orleans.

“I can’t believe you were in New Orleans again,” I said after we sat down with our Two Hearteds. “You seeing a woman down there?”

“Nope, no woman. I’m in love with that city.”

“As much as you go you must love it a lot.”

“I do,” he said. “I think it’s one the most interesting cities in the world.”

“More interesting than Rio?” I asked.

“Much more,” he said.

“San Francisco?”

“No comparison.”

I tried to think of some of the more exotic places Harry has been. “More than Cairo, Singapore, Casablanca, Istanbul, Mexico City and Tierra del Fuego?”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.”

“What’s so special about New Orleans?”

“There’s just something about it that’s hard to put into words.”

“Try,” I said.

He sat thinking for a moment while he finished off his pint. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve then motioned to Sam for two more beers. “Okay,” he said. “I love being on Bourbon Street in the morning when there’s no one awake and you have to walk down the middle of the narrow street because they’re hosing the sidewalks. I love walking in the Quarter when it’s bustling in the heat of the afternoon and cooling off in some of those hole in the wall saloons on Royal that are so dark you can’t make out the words on the tap handles. I love the Quarter at night when the neon is lit and there’s a damp breeze coming off the river and there’s gutter punks and street performers on every stoop and music coming from every juke joint on Decatur and Frenchmen.

“I love the architecture. The townhouses in the French Quarter with their cast iron railings, the shotgun shacks and Creole cottages in the Faubourg Marigny and the Bywater and the Irish Channel and the way the sidewalks in those old neighborhoods are all heaved and slanted because of the tree roots. I love riding up and down St. Charles on the streetcar and looking at the antebellum mansions in the Garden District.

“I love the food. The jambalaya, the shrimp creole, the gumbo, the po boys and the red beans and rice. I love drinking Sazeracs and Ramos Gin Fizzes in the bars in the Monteleone and Roosevelt hotels. I love sitting on a bench in the Riverfront just as the sun is going down and watching the big cargo ships making their way around the sharp bend in the Mississippi at Algiers Point.”

While Harry was talking he had the dreamy look of a man who was reciting the qualities of his lover.

“It does sound like a pretty fascinating city,” I said.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he said again. “You just need to get down there and see it for yourself.”

“I’ll put it on my list.”

“Put it at the top of the list,” Harry said.

Before we left the bar that night I assured him that I would.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brash Urban Achiever, $15.49/22oz - "Barrel Aged Smoglifter Stout" (source).
  • Victory Moving Parts, $8.19/22oz - "We like to mix it up. New flavors, new ideas, new ingredients; we welcome them all. In celebration of our penchant for prolific experimentation, we present Moving Parts: The Ever-Evolving IPA. Each release in this series (every four months) celebrates a tweaked ingredient or two, creating an endless array of possible flavor profiles. For us, Moving Parts are a good thing" (source).
  • Founders Backwoods Bastard, $3.89/12oz - "Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice, and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale represents a time honored tradition of brewing a special beer for the holiday season. There are generous portions of barley malts and fine whole hops of several varieties, creating a brew with a full, rich and hearty character" (source).
  • Bells Christmas Ale, $1.89/12oz - "The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. At 5.5% ABV, it stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them" (source).
  • New Holland Cabin Fever, $1.79/12oz - "Cabin Fever is a roasty brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long, mind-bending winters" (source).
  • Finch Pig In The Wood, $12.59/22oz - "A deep red malt-forward ale brewed with plenty of caramel malts and a touch of rye. Brewed and dry-hopped with Palisade and Zythos hops and aged for over six months in Koval barrels, a local Chicago distillery" (source).
  • Dark Horse 4 Elf, $2.19/12oz - "A spiced Winter Warmer brewed with nutmeg, clove, allspice and other holiday flavors" (source).
  • Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Another Big Sister of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale…. Loads of Malted Wheat for a Curious Malt Foundation and a Light Color, But Our Belgian Yeast Leaves a Huge Flavor and Complexishness" (source).
  • Greenbush Remnant of Dragon, $3.49/12oz - "Imperial red IPA" (source).
  • Saugatuck Serrano Pepper Ale, $2.59/12oz - "An amber ale spiced with fresh Serrano Peppers, pleasing to both the nose and palate. A great beer for casual enjoyment and perfect for food pairing" (source).
  • Traveler Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy, $1.69/12oz - "Driven by a desire to embrace all things wintry, the Jolly Traveler warms the spirit during the months when it’s needed most. Embracing the flavors of the season, Jolly is the first-ever winter shandy with notes of orange, pomegranate and spice" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2XMAS, $1.99/12oz - "Double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg" (source).
  • Left Hand Warrior IPA, $6.69/22oz - "
  • Brewed only once a year with fresh hops hand-picked in Longmont, CO and Warrior hops straight off the vine from Yakima, WA. 
  • Warrior is brewed using a unique style called 'Wet Hopping,' which requires only hops that are no more than a day from the vine. 'Wet Hopping' imparts only a mild aroma, but an exceptionally fresh unfiltered hop flavor" (source).

New and Returning Spirits

  • Journeyman Old Country Goodness, $18.99/1000ml - "The taste is in the secret. Let your imagination run wild with this apple cider liqueur to excite your taste buds from a recipe passed down generations ago" (label).
  • Buffalo Trace Buffalo Cream, $19.99/750ml (limit 2) - "
  • Bourbon Cream is handcrafted using Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, making it a perfect marriage of rich delicious cream and smooth Kentucky bourbon. You can enjoy it chilled, on the rocks, or pour it in a cup of coffee for an indulgent after dinner treat. This liqueur is rich and sweet. The smooth taste of Buffalo Trace Bourbon compliments the creamy vanilla flavor" (source).
  • Glenglassaugh Torfa, $74.99/750ml - "Glenglassaugh Torfa, with its smoky, peaty, phenolic nature, is a unique expression and quite different to the usual type of whisky produced in the Highlands. Torfa has a brooding, edgy character whose personality is to be found at the darker end of the spectrum. Its name takes its inspiration from the Old Norse language with which the Scots dialect spoken in North East Scotland has an affinity and translates to 'turf' or 'peat'" (source).
  • Glenglassaugh Evolution, $79.99/750ml - "Glenglassaugh Evolution is created by maturing the whisky in a unique combination of the finest hand-picked ex-Tennessee first-fill whiskey barrels. This expression shows great depth of character and finesse, a harmonious combination of whisky and oak. Bottled at 50%, natural colour and non chill filtered, Evolution represents the heart of Glenglassaugh’s distinctive personality, and indeed the landscape in which it is set" (source).
  • Glenglassaugh Revivial, $67.99/750ml - "The Revival is the first expression released from Glenglassaugh distillery after being mothballed for more than 20 years. The Glenglassaugh Revival has been matured in a balanced mix of ex-red wine and fresh bourbon casks, vatted and re-racked for double maturation in rich sherry casks. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and of natural colour, Revival is a stunning Highland single malt with a coastal charm" (source).

Video of the Week | Sierra Nevada

The story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.


Friday, October 31, 2014

New Beer Friday, Killer Beer Edition (Oct 31)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I was dumping another load of acorns in the woods behind the pole barn when I saw Tom pedaling down the gravel road on his fat-tired Schwinn. When I walked back to the yard he was sitting on the bike looking at the big piles of acorns that I had spent the morning raking up on the grass and sweeping up on the concrete driveway. “Morning Tom,” I said after setting the wheelbarrow down. “Out for a little exercise?”

A gust of wind shook loose another salvo of acorns and Tom lowered his chin and put the hand that was missing the pinky finger over his head. “Doc said it’d be a good idea after the heart attack,” he said after the pinging, thudding, bouncing and rolling stopped. “It’s afternoon by the way.”

“You should wear a hat in an acorn storm, Tom,” I said. “What time is it?”

He looked up at the October sun filtering through the brown leaves of the tall oaks. “About two I reckon.”

“Can’t be that late,” I said.

Tom squeezed his five-fingered hand into the front pocket of his overalls and extracted a wrist watch that was missing its leather band. “Two-fifteen,” he said matter of factly, then after a pause and just as matter of factly, “It’s going to be another hard winter.”

“Why do you say that, Tom?”

“Lots of acorns,” he said. “Never seen so many acorns.”

“Were there a lot last year?” I asked.

Tom shifted a little on the bicycle seat and looked out at the lake. “Not many.”

“Wasn’t last winter hard?”

“Oh yes,” he said.

I was about to tell Tom the real reason why there are so many acorns this fall but then remembered the morning last summer when he showed me how to catch grasshoppers when their wings were still heavy with dew and how he took me to his secret spot near Bear Lake and how he taught me to fish for brookies while laying on my belly next to the creek. Then I remembered the afternoon I was cutting wood on the edge of the swamp and how I got the truck stuck in the mud and how all the other neighbors kept kidding me and how Tom said “That’s enough boys” and how he pulled the truck out with his old Ford tractor. I remembered sitting on his porch that night sipping bourbon and still feeling stupid and how he kept on saying “shit happens” and me asking him if he ever did anything stupid and him telling me about the day he lost the finger.

When my wife came out of the cottage Tom told her the best way to keep the mice out of the basement and how to get rid of the black ants and repeated his prognostication for the upcoming winter.

“Didn’t you tell him what you read about the acorns?” my wife asked after Tom left.

“No,” I said and dumped another shovelful of acorns into the wheel barrow.

New and Returning Beer

  • Odd Side Ales Grannys Apple Pie, $2.29/12oz - "Ale made with cider and spices" (source).
  • Odd Side Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Mayan Mocha Stout, $4.79/12oz - "Stout with coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and habaneros added then aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest, $5.99/22oz (Limit 1) - "Each fall, hops reach their peak flavor- bursting with aromatic oils that give ales layers of complex flavor and aroma that can only happen at harvest time. For us, fall comes twice a year- once in each hemisphere. This Harvest Ale features "wet" or un-dried whole-cone hops from Yakima, WA that are plucked from the bine and delivered to our brewery within 24 hours of picking" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Estate Series Harvest Ale, $8.69/22oz (Limit 1) - "Our handmade Estate Ale highlights the flavors of home. From the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley comes our Estate Ale. It’s rich with the flavors of the valley—hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas, and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Enjoy this remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery in Chico, and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew" (source).
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale, $2.39/12oz - "It has a cinnamon and ginger spice flavor, a rich copper color, and a medium body that will fit with any holiday meal" (source).
  • Shorts Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, $2.19/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a Double Belgian IPA brewed exclusively with Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons. It also has subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense, clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile, with little malt character to compete with. A fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish, alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
  • Arbor Jackhammer Old Ale, $2.29/12oz - "The Jackhammer is a very dark brown ale with a nice reddish hue. Offering a welcome warming sensation, it has a rich malty sweetness. Fruity esters, expected in this style beer, add to the already complex palate and help to provide an immensely satisfying experience" (source).
  • Stone Coffee Milk Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Though Stone Brewing Co. is well known for massive stouts such as the venerable Stone Imperial Russian Stout (10.6% abv) and the more recent collaborative w00tstouts (13%-13.5% abv), at a mere 4.2% abv Stone Coffee Milk Stout presents a walk on the significantly milder, far opposite side of the stout spectrum. Rather than being as bombastic as it’s MUCH higher alcohol cousins, this beer is even on the palate, bringing on a hint of coffee with a highly drinkable yet quite modest backdrop of chocolate and roasty notes. At a mere 4.2% ABV, it’s the lowest-alcohol bottled beer we’ve released in 15 years (the previous being our 3.9% abv one-off release called Lee’s Mild in 2009), and you can expect a correspondingly modest body and mouthfeel. Additionally, while some milk stouts have more residual lactose sugar, we opted for a less sweet approach to the category, so you’ll notice it finishes fairly dry on the palate. Want more body or a more intense flavor profile? We got that, but this ain’t it. This is the lil’ one in our stable. Enjoy it for what it is and for what it’s not" (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Project Hibiscusicity, $8.69/22oz - "The recipe for a citrusy, hibiscus-flavored wheat ale that Steele conceived was first brewed on the 10-barrel brewhouse at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Originally named “Going Red,” the beer was a special-release offering to promote awareness of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. The addition of Magnum and Sterling hops provides a balanced bitterness to the beer’s citrusy, berrylike spiciness, while the malted wheat adds a subtle yet sweet bready flavor to complement the tartness of the hibiscus flowers. Giving the beer tropical fruit and banana characters, the Belgian yeast strain Ardennes was used to complete the unique brew. As a result of this serendipitous combination of ingredients, fans will savor a flavorful beer that is complex, refreshing and easy to drink. Stochasticity Project Hibiscusicity may be enjoyed now or cellared for several months or years" (source).
  • Stone double Bastard, $8.69/22oz - "This is a lacerative muther of a beer. The evil big brother of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It is strongly suggested you stay far, far away from this beer. Those foolish enough to venture close enough to taste will experience a punishingly unforgiving assault on the palate" (source).
  • North Peak Hoodoo, 2.79/12oz - "North Peak Hoodoo MidWest Wet Hop IPA is brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for exceptional flavor. Hoodoo is hops from start to finish with a little malt in the middle" (source).
  • Green Flash Green Bullet, $3.59/12oz - "A full-bodied Triple IPA, Green Bullet combines New Zealand grown Pacific Gem and Green Bullet hops. Significant pine and citrus hoppiness hit the palate at first sip, accentuated by tropical notes of mango and pineapple, ending with a moderately aggressive, bitter finish" (source).
  • New Holland El Mole Ocho, $8.19/22oz - "Our exploration into the flavors of mole, the legendary sauce of central Mexico. Malty aroma and rich, cocoa-laden body laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilie" (source).
  • Arcadia Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter, 8.59/12oz (Limit 1) - "Aged in in 22 year-old Bourbon Barrels for almost two years" (source).
  • Corsair Old Punk Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, $45.99/750ml - "Pumpkin and spice flavored whiskey aged in American oak" (source).
  • Corsair Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, $39.99/750ml - "Pot distilled pumpkin and spice flavored whiskey" (source).

Video of the Week | Killer Beer

Happy Halloween, everyone.


Friday, October 24, 2014

New Beer Friday, Slows Bar BQ Edition (Oct 24)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Slows Bar BQ. Coming Soon to GR!
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and you love authentic Southern barbecue you have to be excited about the announcement this week that Slow’s Bar BQ is opening a location in the Downtown Market next spring.

Slow’s has garnered national attention since opening in 2005 in a renovated building in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood a few blocks away from the massive vacant lot that once was the site of Tiger Stadium.

Barb and I visited the Detroit location a few years ago and were impressed by the restaurant’s quality of food and by its extensive selection of craft beer. Click here to read the review of our 2012 visit.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium Accumulation, $1.69/12oz - "Accumulation White IPA was inspired by the white beauty that falls each winter from our Colorado sky. Flurries of Mosaic and Amarillo hops bring soft fruit and citrus flavor, followed by a layer of bitter. Piled high in IBUs, Accumulation will make your winter brighter" (source).
  • Sam Adams White Christmas, $1.69/12oz - "As crisp as the first snowfall of the year, this unfiltered white ale is blended with holiday spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, & orange peel. The familiar citrus and wheat characters of the ale are complimented by the warmth of the spices for a festive brew that’s perfect for the season" (source).
  • Sam Adams Merry Maker, $7.19/22oz - "This rich dark gingerbread stout entices with the aromas of the holidays. The flavor of gingerbread comes alive, beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat. But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Kvasir, $14.39/750ml - "With the help of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, we've re‐created another Ancient Ale, this time from the Nordic climes of Scandinavia. The recipe for Kvasir was developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500‐year‐old Danish drinking vessel. The vessel, made of birch bark, was found in the tomb of a leather‐clad woman Dr. Pat says was probably an upper-class dancer or priestess. The analysis pointed to the ingredients used in this unique brew: wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup. The base of Kvasir is a toasty red winter wheat, and the bog-grown berries deliver a pungent tartness. While a handful of hops is used, the earthy, bitter counterpunch to the sweet honey and birch syrup comes from the herbs" (source).
  • Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA, $13.19/750ml - "Blend two Dogfish Head favorites, add maple syrup and carbonate the mixture naturally. What do you get? 75 Minute IPA. The carbon dioxide trapped during bottle conditioning gives 75 Minute IPA a soft and velvety mouthfeel. Dry-hopped with whole-leaf Cascades, this complex IPA has been known to inspire pilgrimages to our brewpub" (source).
  • Southern Tier Krampus, $7.79/22oz - "Dark malts and aromatic hops create the diabolical spirit of this brew. It is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days. This Imperial Helles Lager will warm even the darkest hearts. This season, replace the cookies with a bottle of Krampus" (source).
  • Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale, $1.69/12oz - "With the onset of winter, the brewer’s mind turns to providing warmth. For our winter seasonal, Southern Tier offers Old Man Winter Ale, a rich and complex amalgam of hops and barley that will put the feeling back in your toes and lift your spirits above the snow. Old Man Winter throws a deep and inviting hue with a thickness that clings to the glass and the warmth of an open flame. Because of its high alcohol content, Old Man Winter is a heady brew that encourages sipping and pondering its essential richness. Drink it fresh now, or cellar some bottles to see how this old man becomes wiser with age" (source).
  • Greenbush Unicorn Killer, $2.19/12oz - "Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices" (source).
  • Left Hand Nitro Wake Up Dead, $3.19/12oz - "Wake Up Dead lurks in our cellars for over 4 months before being unleashed. Hints of raisins, black licorice, coffee and dark chocolate are followed by earthy, herbal hop notes. Any apprehensions about the rest of your day are quickly forgotten, for whatever the mind expects, it finds. Sometimes you’re not in the mood for what everyone else is having" (source).
  • Bells Winter White, $1.79/12oz, $1.99/16oz can - "A Wheat Ale brewed with American Wheat and a proprietary blend of Hefe and classic Belgian-style yeasts. A refreshing winter alternative created from the subtle fusion of two classic flavors" (source).
  • Leinenkugel Cranberry Ginger Shandy, $1.49/12oz - "Did you know that Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any state in America? Our hometown pride inspired us to brew Leinenkugel’s Cranberry Ginger Shandy. The combination of wheat beer, cranberry and ginger is as refreshing as a toboggan ride" (source).
  • Saugatuck Neapolitan Stout, $2.59/12oz - "A perfect blend of classic dry stout character with brilliant flavors of Neapolitan Ice Cream. Experience the nostalgic flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry all in one glass – because sometimes ice cream just isn’t enough" (source).
  • Shorts Lil' Wheezy, $1.99/12oz - "Lil’ Wheezy is a light bodied, heavily hopped, amber colored lager. Unique earthy hop characteristics are balanced slightly by the full grain attributes. The finish is bitter, and sharply resonates on the palate" (source).

Video of the Week | Dogfish Head Kvasir

Available now at Siciliano's (see above)


Friday, October 17, 2014

New Beer Friday, Local Watering Hole Edition (Oct. 17)

Local watering hole. Pullman, Michigan.
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“How can you experience the rich fabric of life in a locale without visiting bars?”

—Jim Harrison

When you’re far from home and you go into certain bars you must be prepared to get the once-over by the regulars. I’m not talking about touristy bars or genteel bars or bars in big cities that see an unbroken stream of unfamiliar faces. I'm talking about those out of the way, hole in the wall bars where you go to get a taste of the local color.

The degree of scrutiny you get in these watering holes is directly proportional to the remoteness of the locale—a tavern, for instance, in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula—or the sheer inexplicableness as to why you are there— a seedy waterfront saloon, for example, a block off the Malecon in the sleaziest part of Havana.

You’re allowed to take mental photographs in these bars as long as you follow some common sense rules. You don’t brashly place quarters on the edge of the pool table the minute you walk in. If there’s country music playing on the jukebox you don’t replace it with heavy metal. You don’t sniffle about the drink choices or get friendly with the women unless they get friendly with you and you don’t stare back at a table of burly dudes after asking them what the hell they’re looking at.

I’ve gone to a lot of these bars over the years and have accumulated an album full of memories.

There was that bar in Seney many years ago where Harry Winston and I drank Blatz out of long neck bottles all night after fishing all day on the Two Hearted and where we ate pickled pigs feet, pickled eggs and pickled bologna. We were listening to an old guy who lost his leg in a mining accident talking about why the U.P. should be a separate state when a dwarf walked in with two of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. The dwarf was wearing a tuxedo and the women were wearing evening gowns.

There was that night playing pool with a bunch of stoned locals at the Green Parrot Bar in Key West back before it was discovered by the tourists. No one could knock me off the table but no one cared because they were stoned and I kept buying the drinks. A warm spring breeze was coming through the open windows and Al Green was playing on the jukebox.

Then there was that time in Old Havana when Barb and I went into a bar down the street from the Plaza de la Catedral where street vendors hawked black berets and Che Guevara t-shirts and where an old woman smoking a foot long cigar asked us for money. We met a young doctor in the bar who told us there was never any food in the government ration stores. When I asked him what he thought of Fidel and Raul he smiled and looked away.

New and Returning Beers

  • Alaskan Smoked Porter, $8.49/22oz - "The dark, robust body and pronounced smoky flavor of this limited edition beer make it an adventuresome taste experience. Alaskan Smoked Porter is produced in limited "vintages" each year and, unlike most beers, may be aged in the bottle, much like fine wine" (source).
  • Alaskan Winter, $1.59/12oz - "Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol" (source).
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate, $2.19/12oz - "This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, our award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. We use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specialty roasted malts. We brew it every year for the winter season. It is delicious when newly bottled, but also ages beautifully for years" (source).
  • Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number one in a series of five stouts produced for the fall and winter seasons. This beer is full bodied with hints of chocolate, roasted barley, coffee flavors and a nice creamy head" (source).
  • New Holland Hopivore, $2.59/12oz - "Michigan-grown hops are the story in this seasonal harvest ale. Hopivore is wet-hopped, with hops added to the brew just hours after harvest, creating rare, fresh flavors" (source).
  • Shorts Beard of Zeus, $1.99/12oz - "Beard of Zeus is a super hoppy India style Pale Lager. We heavily hopped the final runnings of a Peaches and Créme batch with Zeus hops and then lagered it. Small amounts of bitter orange peel was added to provide subtle sweet flavors to the beer and enhance the aromas of the Zeus hops" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Snowpack, $18.39/12-pack - "Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. filled its third and final seasonal mixed 12-pack of the year with beers that ward off winter’s bite. Aptly named, Snowpack features two brand new beers and two steadfast recipes. The variety pack starts heading to distributors this week and will be available through January 2015. Whether harnessing the comfort of coffee or borrowing a little bit of summer from the Southern Hemisphere, Snowpack helps uplift those hunkering down for the storm.
      • Boomerang IPA is a blend of American brewing style with Southern Hemisphere flavor. Sierra Nevada added heaps of vibrant Australian hops to this bold beer. With a light, balanced malt body and compelling floral and fruity hop aromas, Boomerang is an intriguing international spin on the classic IPA.
      • Coffee Stout combines the best of Sierra Nevada’s two favorite brews—coffee and beer. The brewery blended the hearty flavors of coffee with dark roasted malts to create a complex and layered mix of dark chocolate, caramel and light fruity notes punctuated with a roasty, dry finish for the perfect cold-weather drink.
      • Porter was part of Sierra Nevada’s inaugural lineup decades ago. Its big malt flavor earned it permanence, and craft drinkers continue to relish the rich, bittersweet and roasted gem. Medium bodied and balanced by crisp American hops, Porter is a great finale to a long winter’s day of work.
      • Pale Ale began as a home brewer’s dream, grew into an icon, and inspired countless brewers to follow a passion of their own. Its unique piney and grapefruit aromas from the use of whole-cone American hops have fascinated beer drinkers for decades and made this beer a classic, yet it remains new, complex and surprising to beer drinkers every day. It is—as it always has been—all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold." (source).
  • New Belgium Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale, $15.99/22oz - "Le Terroir: French, meaning ‘from the terrain, soil, land, ground, earth.’ You may have heard it as a wine term speaking of the environmental conditions of the vineyard, the pH of the soil, even the slope of the land. But beer has it too, especially a New Belgium sour beer, which oozes terroir from the pores of the wooden foeders we age it in. They produce a base beer that’s golden-colored with a soft overripe peach aroma and just the right amount of tart. And after 3 years in the foeders, you can bet it has some nice earthy tones. Round out that fruity base with even more unique fruity hops like Amarillo and citra, and this beer may just have more terroir than your classiest wine. And with the hop burp, compliments of the dry-hopping, Le Terroir is definitely classy" (source).

Picture of the Week | Blandford Nature Center

Less than a mile from Siciliano's, Blandford Nature Center
is a great place to walk off all the tasty suds from New Beer Friday.


Friday, October 10, 2014

New Beer Friday, The Road North Edition (Oct. 10)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

A shadow swept across the road just as he was turning off the roundabout and when he looked up he spotted a red-tailed hawk banking north above the apple orchard. While he followed the curve of highway around Half Moon Lake he imagined he was the hawk. He flew over fallow muck fields and roadside shacks with huge front yard satellite dishes. He gazed down at the farm with the weathered red barn and the ivy covered, yellow brick silo and the clapboard house with the rusted steel roof and fieldstone porch. He saw a village in the distance and when he was on the outskirts of Grant he circled down and landed at a gas station on the edge of a brown corn field. While he filled his tank he watched an old man slowly get out of a faded blue pickup and he wondered what the man did that day to get his overalls so dirty.

Driving through the tight cluster of buildings along the south bank of the Muskegon River in Newaygo, he remembered the day he sat with his father drinking dollar draughts at the Sportsman Bar. His father was dying but he was very happy because they were drinking dollar draughts and were heading up north. On the way out of town he remembered how bare the river banks looked after they took out the dam and how bad the traffic jams at the narrow steel bridge were before they straightened the road.

In White Cloud he smiled at the faded outdoor banner on the side of Charlie’s Pub announcing the arrival of Oberon. He knew the banner would be there until it was replaced by a bright orange one welcoming the deer hunters. He smiled again in Baldwin when he thought about the chain-smoking waitress in the Log Cabin Bar who told him he couldn’t smoke his pipe. When he was passing the boarded up Crossroads Tavern he remembered the time, many years afterward, when the tattooed bartender hid an ash tray because he thought he was a cop.

He turned west on 6 Mile and the autumn colors of the tall roadside weeds in the muted afternoon sunlight reminded him of Monet’s haystacks. He was thinking of the haystacks and wondering about this remarkable ability to see in color when it suddenly occurred to him that if humans could only see in shades of greys, blacks and whites, they wouldn’t even realize that there was this incredible beauty in the universe that they were incapable of seeing. This made him begin to wonder whether there was something else that he was not seeing.

He reflected on this while standing at the end of his dock that evening listening to the cries of the loons and while watching a V-shaped gaggle of honking geese flying south over the deserted lake. Later when he stepped outside into the enveloping blackness of the night he was momentarily blinded by the light of a billion blazing stars.

New and Returning Beers

  • Deschutes Black Butte Porter, $1.79/12oz - "With a dark beer as our first and flagship brand, Black Butte defined Deschutes as a radical player. A slight hop bitterness up front enhances the distinctive chocolate and roasted finish. It’s prized for its creamy mouthfeel and intense complex flavors" (source).
  • Deschutes Jubelale Winter Warmer, $1.79/12oz - "A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family" (source).
  • Deschutes Inversion IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Enter, if you will, all the glorious aromatic complexity of the hop. This big, bold IPA's intense multi-hop kick gets a subtle dose of restraint from select Crystal and Carastan malts. For discriminating hop heads" (source).
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale, $1.79/12oz - "Our most popular beer, Mirror Pond Pale Ale is the quintessential northwest pale ale. Cascade hops and more Cascade hops give this tawny colored ale delicious hop-forward aroma and flavor. Pale malt allows the hops to linger, not overpower" (source).
  • Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the “American Brown Ale” style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped" (source).
  • Smuttynose Robust Porter, $1.69/12oz - "A hearty ebony colored ale that starts with a rich malty palate finished with clean hops and notes of coffee and chocolate" (source).
  • Bell's Cherry Stout, $2.79/12oz - "This unique ale begins its life as a powerful and richly sweet stout to which Michigan tart cherries are added. The resulting black brew is complex, sweet and tart with a distinct cherry finish. It will improve with cellaring" (source).
  • Bell's Special Double Cream, $2.09/12oz - "Sweeter and smoother than Kalamazoo Stout. A beer for special winter occasions. Great with chocolate desserts" (source).
  • Bell's Java Stout, $2.79/12oz - "The satisfying elements of both stout and coffee come together in this full-bodied treat. A marriage of Sumatra's best with rich chocolate and roasted malt provides for a truly enlightening beer" (source).
  • Founders Harvest Ale,  $3.39/12oz - "This liquid dream pours a hazy golden orange straw color with a large puffy white two-finger head. First sip of this beer rewards with a super juicy hop presence bursting with fresh orange and lemon citrus then continues to introduce toasted malt undertones" (source).
  • Ommegang Valar Morghulis, $9.29/750ml - "Valar Morghulis possesses a deep chestnut brown color with a persistent and creamy tan head. Rich aromas of caramel, toffee, ripe fruits and burnt sugar, with a hint of cloves. The taste is delicately balanced with rich malty sweetness, caramel and just enough bitterness to balance out its malty backbone. A surprisingly dry finish is light on the tongue, which belies the initial aroma" (source).
  • Ommegang Scyth and Sickle, $2.79/12oz - "Scythe & Sickle Harvest Ale is brewed with barley, wheat, oats and rye. Scythe and sickle is a seasonal brew that celebrates the richness of the grain harvest. Brewed with barley, wheat, oats and – in a nod to traditional upstate New York grains – rye, this fine ale is malty and creamy on the palate. The flavors of the grains and earth shine through. Enjoy the refreshment of the season and joys of fine brewing" (source).
  • Oscar Blues Ten Fiddy, $4.19/12oz - "This titanic, immensely viscous stout is loaded with inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee and hide a hefty 98 IBUs underneath the smooth blanket of malt. Ten FIDY (10.5% ABV) is made with enormous amounts of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY is the ultimate celebration of dark malts and boundary-stretching beer" (source).

Picture of the Week | Wood Aged Beer Fest

Thanks to Brewery Vivant for throwing a great event last weekend!