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Friday, June 29, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 29 Edition

By Chris Siciliano

You've probably heard by now—ten area breweries have teamed up to create one epic brew to honor Grand Rapids' recent naming as Beer City, USA. Beer City Pale Ale, a red pale ale brewed with nugget and cascade hops (all from Michigan), was devised by brewers through a collaborative process and will be on tap at most GR breweries throughout July. You can read more about it here.

At Siciliano's, we happen to think communal efforts like this are a pretty good idea, and we'd like to see them continue. In fact, this whole Beer City Pale Ale things opens up a great opportunity for discussion—if it became tradition for GR's breweries to all make the same recipe once each summer, would you like to see that recipe change from year to year, or would you rather have consistency? For that matter, what style of beer do you feel most represents our small corner of the world (West Michigan, that is)? Feel free to express your opinion in the comments section, which you'll find just below the list of this week's new suds.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager, $1.79/12oz - "UnderDog is light and refreshing with crisp hop lage and pairs best with foods like simple salads, provolone and Monterey jack cheeses, seafood and light proteins" (source).
  • Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, $1.79/12oz - "A dry stout brewed with Rappahannock River oysters" (source).
  • Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed for Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman’s 25th Anniversary. This brand new brew is an unfiltered American IPA hopped with Citra and fermented with Saison yeast" (source).
  • Flying Dog Woody Creek Belgian-style White, $1.79/12oz - "This unfiltered and traditionally spiced Wit beer is brewed with coriander and bitter orange peel" (source).
  • Short's Spruce Pils, $1.99/12oz - "This Imperial Pilsner, fermented with local, hand-picked blue spruce tips is the quintessential symbol for Joe Short’s love of hops and craft beer. The spruce presence, rooted in historical brewing practices, is enormous and gives the beer a refreshing quality reminiscent of gin. This beer is impressively light bodied, considering the immense spruce flavors and the prodigious additions of hops" (source).
  • Great Lakes Wright Pils, $1.79/12oz - "The Wright Pils, a classic pilsner style with a flowery bouquet and elegantly dry finish, is named after the Wright brothers who invented and built the world’s first successful control airplane (WARNING: Please do not operate an airplane while enjoying this brew!). The Wright Pils is light and crisp, but not too light for true craft drinkers (5.3% ABV and it’s a pilsner people). Serve as an aperitif or pair the brew with salads, salmon, tuna and marbled meats" (source).
  • Breckenridge Imperial 72 Chocolate Cream Stout, $3.29/12oz - "Rich, toasted chocolate with hints of dark fruit" (source).
  • Breckenridge Summerbright, $1.79/12oz - "The craftsman's touch combines white wheat, two row pale and munich malt with the pacific northwest's most intriguing hops to create a bright, clean ale ideal for picnicking, evenings on the screen porch and enjoying the whims of the summer breeze" (source).
  • Left Hand Good JuJu, $1.99/12oz - "Fresh ginger kisses the lithe malty body, copulating with the hop in this pale ale ancestor" (source).
Picture of the Week

Beer tokens for the world-famous Flea Roast in Irons, MI.
Have you ever been?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Wisdom of Vito Brunelli

Fiction by Steve Siciliano

In exchange for the six hours he spent raking leaves at the Dominican convent Vito Brunelli got a ham sandwich, a twenty dollar bill and a holy card with Raphael’s crucifixion on the front and the Serenity Prayer on the back. He stuck the bill in his pants pocket, the holy card in his shirt pocket and tossed the half-eaten sandwich to a dog that was licking a Slim Jim wrapper on the sidewalk in front of C’s Convenience Store. He leaned on the five iron that he used for a cane and rubbed his aching right knee before going into the store for a package of Bugler cigarette tobacco and two fifths of Wild Irish Rose.

Two hours later he stumbled into a clearing next to a stretch of abandoned railroad tracks where three men were huddled around a camp fire passing a bottle. He sat at the base of a small tree, took a long, final swig of wine, tossed the empty bottle in a high arc towards the tracks, then took the pouch of tobacco out of his shirt pocket and began rolling a cigarette. “Hello you lousy, drunken bums,” he said.

“This here’s a private party,” said a man who was sitting on a ripped lawn chair and poking at the fire with a stick. “Ain’t no cheap ass wops allowed. Ain’t that right, Lennie?”

Lennie was standing next to the fire warming his hands. “He can stay if he got more wine. You got more wine there, Vito?”

“If I did I wouldn’t share it with you bums.”

“Look who’s calling us bums,” said another man sitting on a five-gallon bucket and looking at a Hustler.

“I think there ain’t nothing worse than a cheap ass wop,” the first man said. “I ever tell you guys about them cheap ass wop tires?”

“Shut up with that damn joke already, Dugan,” said Vito.

“Dago through mud, dago through snow…”

“Shut your trap,” Vito said again, “or I’ll run this here goddamn five iron down your throat.”

“…and when dago flat, dago wop, wop, wop.”

When Vito was trying to get up Lennie reached over and grabbed the five iron. “What you going to do now you cheap ass wop cripple?”

Vito knew it could have been worse. He felt lucky that he had gotten out of the fight with only bruised ribs, a sprained right hand and a swollen left eye. He felt lucky even though Lennie broke the shaft of his five iron against a tree trunk and now, leaning against the iron railing outside the Catholic church, he felt lucky that it was raining. He knew the rain would make him look even more forlorn and more forlorn meant more money in the tattered baseball cap he was holding. Vito waited for the people to file out after the Saturday evening Mass, and when he took the pouch of Bugler out of his shirt pocket the holy card came out along with it. Leaning against the iron railing in the cold, steady rain, he read the Serenity Prayer in the light of a flood lamp.

While he limped in the rain down Division Avenue, the change heavy in his pocket, his knee hurting, his ribs aching, Vito Brunelli prayed that God would give him the courage to change the things in his life that he could and the serenity to accept the things that he couldn’t. He knew that he had enough money in his pocket to get his cane back from the pawn shop. That would be a start. He imagined that if he tried real hard there were some things that he could change; other things it didn't much matter what he did, the change would never come. When he was in front of the house where he rented a room he stood on the sidewalk trying to decide which was which. Then he limped across the street to the convenience store, and thanked God for giving him the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rye Whiskey - For All the Rye Reasons

By Steve Siciliano

In the Academy Award winning film The Lost Weekend (see trailer below), Ray Milan won an Oscar for his portrayal of an alcoholic writer who goes on a three-day drinking binge. Strictly from the perspective of a purveyor of packaged spirits, I find it interesting that the booze Milan’s character imbibed on his bender was cheap rye whiskey.

Until recently one would have a difficult time finding enough rye on liquor store shelves to get a good buzz on let alone fuel a weekend drinking spree. Rye at one time was the predominate whiskey in America, especially in the northeastern states, but after prohibition it gradually sank into obscurity. It is now being produced again by a small group of distillers and is making a small yet noticeable comeback.

In order for whiskey to be designated as “rye” in the United States it must be made from a mash consisting of at least 51% rye with corn and barley making up the remaining ingredients. It is distilled to no less than 80 proof and is aged in charred, new oak barrels. The preponderance of rye in the mash imparts distinctive, spicy notes to the whiskies that are noticeably drier than those made predominately from corn, wheat and barley. Siciliano’s currently has three rye whiskies from three different distilleries on the shelves: Jim Beam Rye ($19.97), Bulliet Rye ($25.95), and Redemption Rye, ($28.98). All come in 750ml sizes.

While it is doubtful that rye will ever replace Bourbon and blended American or Canadian whiskeys in popularity, its distinctive flavor offers a fine alternative, either as a straight sipper or as the main feature in a variety of classic cocktails.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tasting with multiple bodies

When it comes to tasting craft beer, context is king.

By Weston Easton, Professor-in-Training

In this short tale, I’d like to explore the way one thinker has changed the way I experience taste on an everyday basis. In a yet-unpublished book chapter, Annamarie Mol writes about taste as being a lynchpin between the physical world of nature and the intangible world of human society. She roots this suggestion in the physical act of tasting, which, she argues, is a bodily act as much as it is a human social and psychological experience. Moreover, Mol uses this act of tasting to make an argument about the body: the idea that the body is multiple. 

Here’s how this works. The argument is actually quite simple. Yes, our bodies are whole things. But if we trace the way we taste (keeping in mind the definition above) from one situation to the next, this changes. The body becomes multiple as it too varies situation to situation. Her example is that we mobilize taste differently in different contexts. She gives the cases of tasting for poison, as undertaken by tasters screening the dishes of ancient emperors, of tasting to acquire specialized knowledge about food and drink, or tasting to eat less food, or to eat enough. So then our bodies, as represented here by taste, change in different contexts and situations.

I think this idea is interesting and useful for people who think deeply about the food they eat and the beer they drink. Or better yet, for recognizing that people who do think deeply about things such as craft beer probably do not always taste in the same way in every context. Let me give an example. Think about some of your favorite beers. Do they always taste the same? My bet is that you, like, me, experience variability from beer to beer, even if its the same brand or label. When the taste is different, do you ever wonder whether this is do to a chemical difference as much as a difference in place, company, or mood? These questions deal with expectations.

Another set of questions might get at intentions. Do we always drink or eat for the same reasons? I think this is especially important for craft beer drinkers. Our kind are known for seeking out new tastes and getting excited about new horizons. But we’re also known for being painstakingly nuanced and distinguishing tasters. When we are tasting a craft beer, we are deliberate in our intentions: we evaluate the beer based on a certain set of standards or criteria. The point here is to recognize that in craft beer culture, taste has been mobilized as a highly specified (think style), codified (IBU’s), and standardized (see practice, the aim of which is to objectify taste—an act Mol shows to be a highly subjective and contextual thing. At the same time, taste (in beer) has also been transformed into a symbol of who we are as people, what our food values and ethics are.

Why point this out? For one, I think its important to recognize that the way we interact with craft beer is a specific thing. We do not mobilize taste the same with craft beer as we do, say, with water. We use personal discretion, but this discretion is not entirely of our own devising. Moreover, in different contexts, we taste differently. As others have recently pointed out, even craft brewers themselves do not always drink craft beer. PBR, for instance, is popular with West Michigan brewers as a “good corn beer.”

A brewer is an especially good example of the way taste operates differently in different contexts and of how the body is multiple. Brewers' professional identities depend on creating distinguishable tastes consistently, yet they themselves drink outside of their own brand’s portfolio. Tasting sweet wort, a brewer uses all her skills to adjudicate and determine if the specimen meets established standards. Yet out in the tap room, he/she may drink a pint for either “quality control” or for simple relaxation. These shifts are bodily shifts. Using the example of a latte or other coffee drink, Mol points out that treats like these provide our bodies “a break from working” where instead of trying to “master the world” we can “just live” and “be appreciative.” The latter could certainly involve corn beer.

So, for me at least, thinking about Mol’s point—that we mobilize taste differently in different contexts, and that our bodies are therefore multiple and contextually located—has led to a new personal mantra: be aware of the different ways I mobilize taste. I like to think of this as a first step. A successive step is to reflect back on how the way I (consciously or unconsciously) mobilize taste steers my preferences and intentions and therefore my body/mind’s experience of taste. Said differently, we get what we’re looking for with taste, and are therefore capable of fooling ourselves even before we do any actually tasting.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 22 Edition

Snapseed By Chris Siciliano

It's officially summer. Siciliano's recommends you celebrate the fact appropriately by following these simple steps. (1) Peruse the selection of new beers located on the list below. (2) Mark, check, highlight, or otherwise indicate the beer(s) from the list that you most want to try. Feel free to mark all of them. (3) Tell your boss you have a dentist appointment. (4) Stop by Siciliano's to purchase beer in the necessary quantities. (5) Play hooky for the rest of the afternoon. (6) Repeat steps 1-5 every Friday until September.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • MacTarnahan's Spine Tingler Golden Belgian-Style Triple, $5.79/22oz - "A surprisingly sublime Belgian-style triple offering an electrifying blend of spicy aromatics balanced with a lively malt palate that is so good it's scary" (source).
  • Victory Summer Love, $1.79/12oz - "With the sublime, earthy familiarity of noble, American and German hops backed up by fresh and clean German malts, Summer Love Ale® ends with a surprising burst of lemony refreshment from fistfuls of American whole flower hops. Love Summer, now" (source).
  • Sprecher Black Bavarian Lager, $2.59/16oz - "This intensely dark Kulmbacher style lager has a superb malt complexity with the distinctive flavors and aromas of coffee, caramel and chocolate. A renowned smoothness and a creamy, tan head make it an all-time brewery favorite" (source).
  • Sprecher Hefe Weiss, $2.29/16oz - "This coarse filtered wheat ale is fermented with a German yeast culture for a refreshingly light spiciness and hints of citrus fruit. A cloudy appearance and an immense creamy head are characteristic of this lightly hopped Bavarian brew" (source).
  • New Holland Golden Cap Saison, $1.79/12oz - "Golden Cap Saison is a modern interpretation of a traditional farmhouse ale. A soft, pale beer, Golden Cap embodies the flavors and aromas of summer fields. Brewed with an ancestor of wheat called spelt, its straw-colored body, lively carbonation and a unique fermentation profile evoke fresh cut hay and cracked peppercorn" (source).
  • Round Barn Summer Wheat, $1.79/12oz - "An unpretentious American pale wheat beer, our Summer Wheat pours a cloudy golden-orange, just like a sunset over Lake Michigan. Its assertive wheat flavor is complimented with hints of citrus zest. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon" (source).
  • Echt Kriekenbier, $4.19/11.2oz - "This refreshing ale is based on Vichtenaar and has the aroma of Kirsch cherry brandy, smooth, vanilla-like oaky palate and late surge of passion-fruit flavors with some acidity. Local sour cherries are added during the maturation process to the wooden casks containing Vichtenaar. The final product is a blend of 1, 2 and 3 years old beers" (source).
  • Unibroue Taster Pack, $11.29/(4)12oz bottles - "Taste our Legends"
      • Blanche De Chambly - "Subtle bouquet of spice, citrus notes, aromas of yeast breads, coriander, and cloves" (source).
      • Ephemere - "Delicate balance of fruit and spice, hint of sweetness, hint of tartness, redolent of Granny Smith Apples" (source).
      • Chambly Noire - "Smooth roasted grains, mildly smoky notes , and spices (cloves, green anis, mint) with a chocolaty finish" (source).
      • Raftman - "Smoked malt whisky, low acidity masked by a caramelized apple flavor with a taste of fine yeast" (source).
Photo of the Week

Impromptu tasting at Pike 51 Brewing Co.
By the way, they now have about this many beers on tap,
give or take.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Deal of the Week - Don Manuel Villafañe Keltehue Malbec

By Chris Siciliano

Good things come in small packages—that old saying is never more accurate than when the package is a bottle and the good thing is wine.

Sicilliano's featured deal this week is a half or "split" bottle of a delicious Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. It's called Don Manuel Villafañe Keltehue Malbec 2009 ($4.49/375ml) and while clearly not the best choice for dinner parties, the smallish size makes perfect sense for picnics or your favorite outdoor summer concert series (providing the park rules permit alcohol, that is).

What's the one drawback of a half-sized bottle? This wine is so tasty it'll be gone before you know it. That's why we recommend buying two. Or three. Or, well, you get the idea. At $4.49 per bottle, you can afford to buy in bulk. Here's the full description from the label.
Our talented ancestor Don Manuel de Villafañe began making wine in Argentina in the year 1611. It is in his honor that we have created a superb line of wines representing the finest varietal grapes of Maipú, Mendoza. We think he would be very proud.
Malbec is the backbone of the Argentine wine industry for a good reason, it is fantastic. The grape that came from Cahors near Bordeaux has found its perfect home in Argentina, and more specifically in Mendoza. This is an absolutely superb example of how good this wine can be at an affordable level. The wine's dense red color gives a full and rich fruit nose of wild berries and black currant. The mouth is lush and full leading to a very well-balanced and long finish...the true mark of a great Malbec.
This is the red that can be enjoyed with everything or nothing. Any meat dish will love to be paired with this wine. Also has a great acidity for tomato based pasta dishes. Truly a fit-all read.
Limited quantities. Get yours today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Beer that Began it All: Edition Steve

Welcome back to "The Beer that Began It All," the new Buzz video series in which industry professionals recount specific life-changing moments that led them down the road to craft beer enthusiasm or, in some cases, obsession.

Today's installment features Steve Siciliano, owner of Siciliano's Market, senior contributing writer for The Buzz, signer of paychecks and, for that reason, a pretty decent fella.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 15 Edition

IMG_3106By Chris Siciliano

Sunday is Father's Day. With the exception of Christmas, New Year's Eve, and maybe World Sauntering Day, there is no other holiday where it makes as much sense to shop at Siciliano's.

We are, in effect, the go-to place for all your father-pleasing products. Cigars? Sure. Beer? You bet. Homebrew equipment? Yes, and ingredients, too. Not to mention winemaking stuff and books on the subject and Scotch if you must or cider if that's more to your dad's liking. The list goes on and just so know, it also includes gift certificates.

There is, in fact, absolutely nothing else in the world your old man would rather have than a gift that you, wonderful son or daughter, picked up at Siciliano's Market. It's a proven, indisputable fact, verified repeatedly using the most rigorous scientific methods.*

Okay, now that the obligatory marketing speil is over, all of us at Siciliano's would like to say this—Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Your guidance, wisdom, and so forth is much appreciated. (I'm talking to you, Pop.)

*No actual science was used in the writing of this or any other New Beer Friday.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • New Holland White Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "An innovative hybrid of styles landing between white ale and India Pale Ale. White Hatter brings spice, hops, and fermentation notes together flavorfully. Pairings: seafood, fennel, mushrooms" (source).
  • New Holland Black Hatter IPA, $4.79/22oz - "A blackened version of Mad Hatter brewed with black malt for a dark, roasty sweetness to the base of the flavor profile. Finishes with a strong centennial hop character from dry hopping" (source).
  • New Holland Rye hatter, $4.79/22oz - "This beer showcases it’s grain-bill, made up of rye and barley malt. The rye adds a slight spiciness to the caramel-malt base, while also creating a creamy texture. Dry-hopping contributes a fresh citrus finish" (source).
  • New Hollland Oak-Aged Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "Mad Hatter IPA aged in Kentucky Barrels. Round, smooth wood character brings a new dimension to dry-hopped, aromatic hoppiness" (source).
  • New Holland Farmhouse Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "Farmhouse Ales were originally brewed as 'Provision Beers' by farmers in Belgium and France, brewed in the winter months to be consumed during hot summer work days. They were traditionally brewed light and refreshing to aid in both hydration and energy. Wheat and Pilsner malts were used to lighten up the body of this Mad Hatter version. It was also fermented hot with a strain of Belgian Saison yeast to develop flavors of green apple, pepper and fresh cut hay" (source).
  • New Holland Four Witches Black Saison, $2.39/12oz - "The Four Witches art, illustrated by Kyle Bice, develops on Golden Cap’s theme, with a nod to Wizard of Oz, as L. Frank Baum wrote the book while summering in Holland, MI. White and dark roasted wheat provide deceptively delicious body, and a playful reference to Oz’s contrast between good and wicked witches. Caramel rye and barley continue the story, along with a unique yeast character and mild spicing" (source).
  • Blue Point Summer Ale, $1.69/12oz - "The delicious golden taste of Summer Ale comes from a substantial portion of wheat malt added to a traditional barley malt mix which gives this delicious brew a unique tartness not found in many beers today. No surprise – this light, thirst-quenching brew is best enjoyed on hot Summer days" (source).
  • Lagunitas Under Cover Investigation Shut Down Ale, $1.89/12oz - "Our oxymoronic 'Imperial Mild' - A redux to remember the '05 St. Paddy's Day Massacre. Defiant as to style...we can say for sure it is unforgiven and unrepentant" (source).
  • Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, $1.89/12oz - One of your favorite German hefes now available in cans.
  • Dundee Summer Wheat Beer, $1.19/12oz - "An American-style wheat beer. Brewed with 40% wheat and a touch of rye malt to produce a refreshingly unique flavor. Aroma hops, fruity esters and a thick, creamy head top off this summer classic" (source).
Picture of the Week

This Father's Day, treat your old man to a cigar from Siciliano's.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Michigan Micro Caps - It's a game about beer

By Chris Siciliano

On the Buzz recently I wrote about a new Michigan craft beer-themed smartphone game being developed by Fusionary Media, the good folks who built the Siciliano's website. We're pleased to announce that the game—Michigan Micro Caps—is now available on the Apple app store. Go here to check it out!

Just a reminder, this free-to-download game also functions as a portable index, cataloguing Michigan breweries and providing users with links to websites, maps, and social media pages. In this sense, the app is a very useful (and did I mention free) tool that will most certainly come in handy on your next extended Michigan-centric road trip.

And who knows, with 101 breweries included, you might just discover one or two you never knew existed. I know I did. Red Jacket in Calumet, Jasper Ridge in Ishperning, Founders in Grand Rapids—tell me you've heard of these before.

Apologies Android users, Michigan Micro Caps is currently available for the iPhone/iPad only. Michigan MicroCaps now available for Android!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Review: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The boss with two good NZ Sauv Blancs
By Steve Siciliano

I don’t always drink white wine, but when I do, I prefer a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

With apologies to the most interesting man in the world, I couldn’t think of a better line to describe how I feel about the Sauvignon Blancs coming out of New Zealand. I enjoy good Chardonnays, I like bone dry Rieslings, and sometimes I’ll opt for a bottle of Vignoles or Pinot Grigio, but right now no other white wine blows my hair back like an NZ Sauv Blanc.

Like many other vinifera varietals, the Sauvignon Blanc grape originated in France where it is grown primarily in the regions of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Solid wines are also being made from the grape in California, Chile and Australia. But it's the opinion of some wine experts that New Zealand is producing the finest Sauvignon Blancs in the world.

With individual grape varieties it’s always about how the fruit is affected by a particular region’s specific soil composition and distinctive micro-climate. One region that produces Cabernet Sauvignons of incredible depth and balance will produce Pinot Noirs that are thin and acidic. New Zeeland’s gravelly soil and maritime climate combine to produce Sauvignon Blancs that are perfectly balanced with layers of bright tropical fruit and racy acidity.

Arona and 3 Brooms are two excellent Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand’s Marlborough region that we currently carry at Siciliano’s. Priced at $11.49 and $14.49 respectively, they are excellent values and are perfect accompaniments to grilled fish and chicken, or are wonderful for just sipping on those hot summers’ nights on the deck.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Everyday masterpieces: the art above us

The sky over Lake Michigan,
Sleeping Bear Dunes
By Steve Siciliano

Sometimes when I look at the sky I imagine that I’m gazing at a painting. It could be a painting of a clear summer morning when the horizon is brightening and a white ghost of a moon is fading into the gradually deepening blue. I study how tree-top greens look against the expanse of blue and if I’m lucky a few high flying crows will add distant specks of ebony to the canvas.

Other times it might be a picture of billowing, snow-white clouds floating silently like icebergs in a crystal blue ocean. Sometimes the artist will choose to use the darker colors of the palette—slate, ash and charcoal grays, boiling dark purples and roiling burnt umbers. If it’s a painting of the sky at twilight there could be pastel layers of crimsons and pinks, reds and yellows, magentas and oranges.

Above us each day are works of art that rival museum masterpieces. An upward gaze is the only price of admission.

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 8 Edition

IMG_3083 By Chris Siciliano

Assuming my calculations are correct, today is the 53rd edition of New Beer Friday. That means we published the first NBF one year and one week ago today, give or take a day or two. And though our weekly list of new arrivals looked much different back then, lacking the features we've all become accustomed to, like basic beer descriptions, the foundation was in place for a resource we think—we hope—our customers look forward to and find useful every week.

If nothing else, we're pleased that New Beer Friday has remained relevant for this long, which, unfortunately, is more than we can say for at least one of the beers that appeared on the first edition. We won't name names. All we'll say is that some things, pizza for instance, are better served alongside beer rather than in it.

On with the show!

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Founders Cerise, $2.59/12oz - "Using only fresh Michigan tart cherries, this beauty tantalizes with intense flavors combined with a no-hesitation malt bill. Adding fresh cherries at five separate stages of fermentation achieves the ultimate balance between tartness and sweetness" (source).
  • Lakefront Cherry Lager, $1.69/12oz - "This light ruby-red beer pours with a thick, slightly pink head resulting from the ample amounts of real, juicy Door County cherries. Aromas of tart cherries lead into a nice spritzy cherry flavor, balanced by a subtle malty background and low hop bitterness" (source).
  • Napa Smith Hopageddon Imperial IPA, $8.59/22oz - "Hopageddon is an end-of-the-world Imperial IPA with an intensely aromatic hop profile that defies expectations and will leave you wondering, "What just happened?" at 144 IBUs, Hopageddon flows with a gorgeous fiery orange color and showcases a distinct, full white head. The unique flavors from our obscenely extend dry-hopping and shockwave of bitterness lingers on the palate and leaves hopheads with a Post-ahopalyptic yearning for more" (source).
  • Southern Tier Mokah, $9.29/22oz - "When empirical and creative impulses collide, the result is often timeless. The classic utility-art aesthetic of the coffee maker is an example of design and engineering working in concert. It is through similar cooperation that the simple bitter cocoa bean is transformed into a sweet treat. As scientists, our brewers utilize their materials to exacting standards. As artists, they couldn’t resist the temptation to combine the best flavors of two of our highly acclaimed Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts, Jahva and Choklat. Alone each is perfect, but together as Mokah, they are an inimitable expression of two of the world’s most sought after flavors" (source).
  • Tri-City Brewing Loons Summer Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Loon’s Summer Ale is a smooth, clean, light blonde ale. This all-malt beer is perfectly balanced to provide a clean, clear presentation without the heavy cloudiness that is often found in summer wheat-beers. The hops that were selected accentuate the light malt flavor and provide a touch of bitterness. The unique yeast and hop combination give this beer a hint of citrus aroma with a delicate Belgium flavor that provides a refreshing, thirst quenching finish" (source).
  • Avery Karma Belgian Pale Ale, $1.89/12oz - "We believe in Karma. We suspect most of you do, too. It truly is a global concept. Very simply put, "you get what you give." Inspired by this principle and the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, we've created Karma Ale, a decidedly fruity and estery ale, intricate in body and nose, all driven by a unique Belgian yeast strain" (source).
  • Left Hand Smoke Jumper, $10.29/22oz - "A twenty-one degree plato porter made with barley malt hand-smoked by our brewers. Roasty brown in color, the long lingering smokiness wraps around flavors of molasses, toasted malt and an earthy hoppiness" (source).
Picture of the Week

Nearing the end of asparagus season
at the Fulton St. Farmers Market.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

The beer that began it all: Doug Dorda edition

Siciliano's staffer Doug Dorda introduces a new Buzz video series showcasing the life-changing craft beer moments that led industry professionals and everyday beer fans down the road to enthusiasm and, in some cases, obsession.

By Doug Dorda

When I was younger, it was difficult for me to understand the purpose of a picture. Of the people snapping them, I thought, why not put the camera down and join in the festivities yourself? The value of memory had not been known to me quite yet. I feel foolish now, looking at the photo albums that showcase my youth – I feel a deep gratitude for the camera wielders of the world. Each photo holds the essence of a place in time, a cue to travel into one's own history and, if you will, reflect on things that have been, are now, and have yet to come.

After looking at some recent pictures I was captivated by a world of self history – I toiled late into the night, scribbling down the stories of my history that lacked a photo to help me remember. It was then that I wrote the tale of my first craft beer, or rather the beer that changed my opinion of beer. The story immediately returned my mind to the day I enjoyed that beer, every wonderment I felt as I experienced the flavor capacity of craft beer, and how earnestly I wanted to try every other style of beer in order to know what I had been missing.

The memory struck me as particularly fun, and I found myself asking many people I knew what their “genesis beer” was, and how they came to drink it. In this spirit, Siciliano's is introducing a new video series so that we may all share our stories, and never forget where we came from. The first installment is a brief telling of my own “beer that began it all." I hope it inspires you to travel into your own libation history, and reflect on what it was that truly made you appreciate "the craft." We would love to hear your own stories (should you feel so inclined to share), either in the store, or right here on The Buzz.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Collaboration and symbiosis in the craft beer world

When it comes to selling, serving, or brewing craft beer, no one business can afford to be an island unto itself (a peninsula maybe).

By Steve Siciliano

The other day when Barb and I were at Founders one of the bartenders mentioned that he recently sent some folks our way who were looking for some Michigan beers. I thanked him and said that we in turn direct many out-of-towners to the brew pub.

I love having this type of rapport with Founders, Hop Cat and other local brew pubs and craft beer bars. We are always referring folks to these establishments and they constantly send customers to our store. Sharing the common denominator of craft beer, our businesses have formed mutually beneficial associations that I like calling symbiotic relationships.

Two ancient Greek words meaning “living” and “together” combine to form the word symbiosis. It is a term that was initially used by anthropologists to describe how people in a community have to cooperate to live together. The word has, however, been appropriated by biologists and today is most often used to describe the mutually beneficial relationships that exist between separate biological species. Because I feel that it’s an apt way to describe the cooperative attitude that exists within the craft beer industry as a whole, I’m appropriating it back.

There is a refreshing non-competitiveness amongst folks in the craft beer community. Unlike mega breweries that spend millions on advertising trying to snatch a bigger piece of the market, the vast majority of craft brewers seem more interested in spending their dollars on producing quality beer. And unlike the big boys, craft brewers are eager to share ideas, knowledge and resources. I highly doubt, for an example, that we’ll ever see a collaboration brew from MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch.

Doubtless this spirit of cooperation exists because craft brewers realize that the strength of the individual enhances the strength of the whole and that synergy rather than cut throat competitiveness is the key to the continued success of the craft beer community. I feel fortunate indeed to be part of a community that realizes that symbiotic relationships can be mutually beneficial and more productive than Machiavellian business tactics.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Review: The Glenlivet 15 French Oak Reserve

By John Barecki

For the Tuesday Review this week I decided to try a whisky from one of the most well-know distillery's in the Speyside region in Scotland, The Glenlivet. I chose their 15-year-old French Oak Reserve, the wood characteristics of which conjure up some interesting new flavors on the palate. In fact, the flavors intrigued me so much I began researching the various effects of wood-aging in the world of whisky. I looked specifically at Limousin oak, the wood used to age The Glenlivet 15.

Limousin (pronounced lee-moo-ZAN) is a European oak and is popularly used in the production of fine Cognac's. It is medium-grained and a bit harder than other European oaks. It's also quite porous, which in turn provides the whisky more ability to leech larger amounts of tannins and characters from the wood itself. That being said, the flavors imparted are mainly a rich vanilla quality similar to that of the American white oak used in bourbons and whiskies, and the distinct hints of wood are strong but balanced. I should note too that the casks made from this oak are some of the most expensive in the world.

The Glenlivet 15-year-old Reserve shares similar notes with the 12, in that it has the smooth mouthfeel and general fruity character found in most of The Glenlivet lineup. The nose is filled with resinous oak, almond, marzipan and candied citrus fruits. A very smooth body compliments tastes of baked apple with a medium nuttiness and toffee, followed with the complexity of the wood adding a nice vanilla finish that lingers just long enough. This is a very good dram and at $52.99 a bottle it once again is an affordable luxury that most can enjoy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

German Invasion, Army of Steve

"Hey Steve, how 'bout buy one
get one free?"
By Steve Siciliano

I was knocking out pieces of the store’s shattered plate-glass windows with the butt of my M1 rifle when it really started raining. I ducked when I heard another explosion and when I rose back up two German Tiger 1 tanks were rumbling east down the middle of Lake Michigan Drive. Doug ran out, crouched behind a smoldering car in the parking lot, and began lobbing bottles of peach schnapps at each tank. The bottles bounced off the tanks' four-inch armor plates and exploded in bright orange flashes in the street.

A steel-helmeted Greg was perched atop a telephone pole pelting the Tigers with one pound bags of grain that Katie and John were shooting up to him with a giant sling shot. The tanks stopped at the edge of the parking lot, aimed their 88-mm cannons at the store, and when the guns fired, huge soap bubbles blew out from the muzzles. I heard something behind me and turning saw Joseph Stalin standing on the counter holding an open bottle of Popov and screaming obscenities. Meanwhile Winston Churchill was in the walk-in humidor filling the pockets of his suit coat with cigars. When the telephone began ringing Stalin motioned towards it with the half empty bottle of vodka. “Answer it, comrade” he said.

“Hello,” I said.

“Sorry to bother you but I.. .”

“Who is this?”



"Sarah. I work for you, remember? I need to know how many…”

“You tell Churchill to pay for those cigars!”


“And tell that commie bastard Stalin to get his ass off the counter.”

“Steve, what the hell are you talking about?”

I noticed suddenly that a hard rain was driving in through the den’s open windows. There was a flash of lightning and an echoing rumble of thunder. I glanced at the television and saw a column of jack-booted Nazis goose-stepping under the Arch de Triumph.

“Have you been drinking?” Sarah asked me.

I got up from the recliner to close the windows. “No,” I growled. “But you did wake me up from a nap.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 1 Edition

John poses with a Lake Eerie Monster
By Chris Siciliano

Our friends at Pike 51 Brewing Co. are celebrating their grand opening this weekend. As luck would have it, it's also the third anniversary of the founding of Hudsonville Winery, which is owned by the same three guys and housed in the same building as the new brewery. So they're celebrating that occasion too. (Why not, right?) Here's the official announcement straight from the source, i.e., their Facebook page.

"In very last minute fashion, here's some details on our Grand Opening party THIS WEEKEND! Friday and Saturday, June 1 & 2, noon till 9 both days. We will have lots of beer, wine, wine tastings and food. No cover/door charge. Tickets will be $4.50, and are redeemable for a beer, a glass of wine, a wine tasting or a plate of food. Come on out and have a beer and celebrate with us!"

Pike 51 is located at 3768 Chicago Dr, Hudsonville, MI 49426. If you go, tell 'em Siciliano's sent you. If don't go, stop by our place for a six or twelve pack of the latest brews to hit the shelves.

New (and Returning) Beers

  • Great Lakes Lake Eerie Monster, $2.69/12oz - "An unfiltered imperial India pale ale with hug hop flavor" (source).
  • Harpoon Summer Beer, $1.49/12oz - "A beer brewed to be enjoyed with summertime activities. It is light, refreshing, and crisp. The traditional serving style is in small, straight glasses which are constantly circulated among the tables in Koln’s beer halls. This beer goes well with a wide variety of foods, including delicate dishes such as salads and seafood. The overall character is light and refreshing, with a crisp, dry finish" (source).
  • Lagunitas Lucky 13, $4.79/22oz - "Our 13th Anniversary Beer in was a Staff Favorite, So We Make it Each Year. BIG on the Amarillo Hops and Rich Dark Malts for a Round and Huge, Smoky Flavor" (source).
  • Blanche De Bruxelles, $2.29/16oz (can) - "Blanche de Bruxelles owes its natural cloudiness to the large percentage (40%) of wheat that goes into its composition. The natural spice aromas of coriander and bitter orange peels are added during the brewing process. The brewing method, which includes infusion, is very slow. You need only take a sip of this delicious drink to appreciate the fresh and mellow flavour with its hint of orange. It is really not like any other beer" (source).
  • Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout, $8.59/22oz - "Big chocolate and roast flavors abound as subtle hop bitterness evens out the sweetness of a rich malt profile in our most decadent brew yet.  The blushing black beer is complimented by a thick tawny head and lively chocolate nose" (source).
  • Short's Kolsch 45, $1.69/12oz - "This thirst quencher is just what you need on a hot summer day. Kolsch beer originated in Cologne, Germany and is unique in that it is a warm fermented ale, but is aged like most traditional German lagers at a cool temperature. Though light in body and color, its prominent hoppiness and radiant yellow “straw” color set it apart. As you taste Kolsch 45, you’ll note that the sustaining head retains prominent, pleasant aromas. Light pilsen and munich malts lend grain flavors, aiding in the crisp, refreshing nature of this beer. Hop bitterness is present but complimentary with hardly any lingering resonance" (source).
  • Short's Nicie Spicie, $1.99/12oz - "A Northern Michigan spiced wheat ale made with a 50/50 blend of malted barley and malted white wheat. Packed with fresh citrus zest, then spiced with coriander and a three peppercorn blend, this light bodied ale is complex yet scrumptious. Exemplified by its gorgeous golden color, this beer is crisp and refreshing" (source).
  • Short's Sustenance Black Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Classically referred to as a Schwartz beer, this dark American lager is brewed in the spring. Soft and sweet on the palate, the roasted and dark caramel grains give the sensation of a satisfying and filling beer, while lager yeast lends refreshing thirst-quenching ability, providing a rich, full flavored, light bodied experience" (source).
  • Short's Black Licorice Lager, $1.99/12oz - "Chocolate and roasted malt characteristics compliment the additions of Madagascar vanilla bean, anise, and fresh chocolate mint. Vanilla aromas greet the nose and are tasted in the initial flavors, followed quickly by the anise. The finish, especially when the beer warms a bit, show cases the crisp, sweet chocolate mint. This well balanced beer is a bronze medal winner at the 2010 WBC" (source).
Picture of the Week

Poblano pepper beer with Brett (and Jacob)