Siciliano's house Cicerone looks ahead to one of her favorite times of year.
Its Michigan and fall is in the air. Let’s face it, that means winter is just around the corner. Now, before I get booed right off of this blog, let me present one piece of serious pro-winter propaganda: Stout Season. Yup, stouts are one of my main reasons to look forward to winter, not only for the annual uptick in special releases, but also for the appropriate chill in the air that makes drinking them all the more enjoyable. Luckily for us our good friends at the many Michigan breweries also know the secret of stout season and are determined to keep us stocked all winter long. So, lets take a sneak peak at the goodies to come and one classic stout that is already available.
No discussion on stouts can take place without mentioning Bell's Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Every winter, on a quiet Wednesday morning, we receive stacks of Bell’s stouts: Expedition, a thick and intense imperial stout; Special Double Crème, as smooth a cream stout as it sounds; and one mystery stout. For years Java Stout filled this position, and as a coffee junky I can’t complain. But is seems that Bell’s is slowly moving Rye Stout (an earthy, slightly spicy stout) into the mix. Which will it be this year, rye or java? I don’t know and I’m not worried; they’re both excellent.
Dark Horse Brewing in Marshal, Michigan also has their Stout Series starting soon: One, Too, Tres, Fore and Plead the 5th (oatmeal, crème, blueberry, smoke and imperial stouts respectively). Each beer is its own unique offering, yet all of them are wildly delicious. Dark Horse tries to extend the season by releasing their stouts throughout the winter months, finishing the series with Plead the 5th, which comes out well into the new year.
For those with a more adventurous palate Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, Michigan has its own winter offerings. These rare and elusive stouts hit the shelves of Siciliano’s Market for roughly one week a year. Uber Goober (peanut butter), PB&J (a blend of Uber Goober and Soft Parade), Cup of Joe (coffee crème stout) and Mystery (oatmeal, cocoa and molasses) defy normal conceptions of what ingredients make up beer. Barley, hops, water, and yeast are all present but Joe Short’s imagination knows no bounds.
Finally, my favorite: Founder’s Breakfast Stout. It is simply a classic and it is already available. Oatmeal, coffee and chocolate blend together to create this rich dark brew that keeps me fueled even as the days grow shorter. With all the hype about KBS and CBS we sometimes forget that Breakfast Stout is not some simple platform for these specialties but a well-developed masterpiece of its own.
Hopefully this brief rundown of winter offerings keeps you optimistic about the upcoming months. As of publication of this blog only Founders Breakfast Stout is available. But don’t despair, that only means you have plenty to look forward to.